Home Education Marker tip–No ink!–Great medical probe

Marker tip–No ink!–Great medical probe


Simple swabs and vials play a critical role in transporting blood, saliva and other fluids during medical laboratory tests. However, samples on cotton swabs dry quickly and may require an additional transfer step before analysis in vials. Now, researchers have discovered that the fibrous tip of a felt-tip marker — without the ink, of course — can serve as an effective and long-lasting probe.

Physicist Igor Popov and his team at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology bought replaceable nibs designed to hold ink for long periods of time without drying out, which are used in a popular commercial marker. After soaking these highly porous tips in blood or saliva with the pain reliever acetaminophen, the researchers successfully tested their MacGyvered probes to identify the drug and determine its concentration—even after seven days of storage at room temperature. Popov says that such samplers are best suited for tests to detect drugs and hormones that do not break down quickly. “This technology could be used for medical research in harsh environments, such as at sites far from large cities,” he adds. Use the tool in detail Art Acta Astronautica and Art Molecules.

Another potential implementation: space travel. Popov says the probes used to test astronauts on the job must be compact, lightweight and usable without extensive training. The samples must also be easily stored for return to Earth; space station astronauts currently use vials that take up valuable freezer space.

The marker idea “is a new application that I’ve never seen before for this purpose,” says University of South Carolina chemist Susan Richardson, who was not involved in the research. She adds that future research should test how long the compounds of interest remain viable in bodily fluids such as saliva, which may harbor microorganisms that break them down.

The researchers then compare different types of markers to see which qualities contribute to the best sample storage – testing tips of every composition, shape and size.

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