Using Super-Absorbent Polymer (SAP) Beads to Extend the Shelf Life of Liquid Samples
Xing Xie of the Georgia Institute of Technology in the U.S. will test whether super-absorbent polymers in sample tubes can improve the accuracy of diagnostics by absorbing molecules like DNA and viruses from liquid samples such as blood, and protecting them during transport to the laboratory. Normally, blood and urine samples degrade over time, particularly when they are exposed to heat or cold. This makes the subsequent diagnostic result unreliable. They propose that low-cost, super-absorbent polymers can preserve diagnostic target molecules by separating them from contaminating cells and bacteria, which can be poured away from sample tubes, and providing a pH buffer and preservatives to extend their shelf-life. They will optimize synthesis of the beads and test their ability to preserve different analytical targets including a human virus surrogate and an antibody against HIV.