Self-sampling in epidemiological studies: product development and evaluation
In order to deliver relevant and robust statements, epidemiological research on infectious diseases relies on high-quality biospecimens and high-resolution analyses. Technological advances, particular on the part of molecular detection technology, have been progressing much faster than the field of biospecimen collection. Nowadays, the detection of single molecular species is possible even in complex bio samples, sometimes in a high throughput process. This is in contrast to small amounts of samples with low quality that sometimes result from inadequately standardised sampling procedures obtained in the field.
In addition, outdated sampling methods along with elaborate preservation techniques lead to increased donor fatigue as well as to samples, which do not reflect the actual condition at the time of sampling. Collection of biospecimens is thus caught between proximity to participants, if study personnel travels, accompanied by poor sampling conditions but possibly higher response, and of the investment of participants travelling to a study centre with good sampling conditions with a possibly lower response. This sample generation dilemma is becoming a growing bottleneck in complex studies, especially in large-scale infectious disease-epidemiological field studies that are conducted outside of a controlled highly standardised environment. In order to define solutions for this, we develop devices for self-sampling of study participants. These are based on preservation and stabilisation methods accompanied by user-friendliness as development focus. The collection methods are being developed from the initial idea to an applicable concept in collaboration with experts from various disciplines of natural and engineering sciences.
Additionally, we evaluate existing methods in feasibility studies and work on formats applicable to the field of infectious disease epidemiology or clinical studies.
As a guiding principle for future developments, the following key words apply: Non-invasive, cost-effective, easy and intuitively to use, easy to ship, and safe.
Dr. Tobias Kerrinnes
Head of Laboratory and Scientist
Dr. Stefanie Castell
Deputy Head of department for Epidemiology and Scientist
Dr. Jördis Ott
- Epidemiology- Dr. Berit Lange