Monday, May 5, 2014

Using Insects to Collect Blood Samples

Collecting blood samples is an important part of many research projects and clinical testing to keep animals healthy. It is also very stressful.  Not just the blood draw but the handling and restraint associated with it.

One of the more interesting approaches to making this procedure less stressful is to use another animals that has evolved to steal other animals blood without them even noticing --blood-sucking insects.Two different researchers have used Dipetalogaster maximus (common name: "the kissing bug:) to collect blood from rabbits and found the  blood collected equivalent in quality to a traditional blood draw with a hypodermic.

This technique is also promising for use with wild and captive exotic animals who are even more easily stressed than animals kept in a laboratory.It might seem like a complicated way of going about something that can be done more easily by using physical restraint, but I think this is the kind of innovation that will ultimately lead to animals living complete, enjoyable lives in the laboratory without the kinds of routine stress many currently experience.

  • Markvardsen, S. N., Kjelgaard-Hansen, M., Ritz, C., & Sørensen, D. B. (2012). Less invasive blood sampling in the animal laboratory: clinical chemistry and haematology of blood obtained by the Triatominae bug Dipetalogaster maximus. Laboratory animals, 46(2), 136-141. 
  • Voigt, C. C., Faßbender, M., Dehnhard, M., Wibbelt, G., Jewgenow, K., Hofer, H., & Schaub, G. A. (2004). Validation of a minimally invasive blood-sampling technique for the analysis of hormones in domestic rabbits, Oryctolagus cuniculus(Lagomorpha). General and comparative endocrinology, 135(1), 100-107.

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