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Researchers fly human blood samples 161 miles by drone

Johns Hopkins researchers have set a new record in the up-and-coming field of medical drones.

A team from the university successfully transported human blood samples across 161 miles of Arizona desert.

The samples maintained their proper temperature during the three-hour flight, ensuring they would be viable for use after landing and further proving the concept of using drones to deliver vital medical supplies.

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Johns Hopkins researchers have set a new record in the up-and-coming field of medical drones. The team successfully transported human blood samples across 161 miles of Arizona desert. This test shows progress for the team's first in New Jersey in 2016 (pictured)

Johns Hopkins researchers have set a new record in the up-and-coming field of medical drones. The team successfully transported human blood samples across 161 miles of Arizona desert. This test shows progress for the team's first in New Jersey in 2016 (pictured)

JOHNS HOPKINS MEDICAL DRONE TEST

Johns Hopkins researchers set a new medical drone delivery record after successfully transporting human blood samples 161 miles.

After collecting 84 pairs of blood samples, they loaded one of each into a temperature-controlled chamber on a drone and kept their pairs in a car at the airfield with active cooling to maintain target temperature.

The goal was to see if the samples that took flight with the drones would hold up. 

After the three-hour flight, the flown and not-flown paired samples showed similar results.

Among the two groups, the results for red blood cell, white blood cell, platelet counts, sodium levels, and other measures were all similar. 

'We expect that in many cases, drone transport will be the quickest, safest, and most efficient option to deliver some biological samples to a laboratory from rural or urban settings,' said Timothy Amukele, assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the paper's senior author.

In the report published in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, the team details an experiment in which they collected 84 pairs of blood samples at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Next, they drove them 76 miles to an airfield where they loaded one of each sample into a Latitude Engineering HQ-40 drone and kept their pairs (the control group) in the car at the airfield with active cooling to maintain target temperature.

The goal was to see if the samples that took flight with the drones would hold up - if successful, this would be the longest drone flight of medical samples.

The samples flown by drone were contained in a temperature-controlled chamber designed by the Johns Hopkins team. 

Prior to the flight, the average temperature of the flown samples was 24.8 degrees C (76.6 degrees F) compared with 27.3 degrees C (81.1 degrees F) for the samples kept on the ground with the cooling agent.

The team then flew the drone for 161 miles in the restricted airspace at the military test range.

After the three-hour flight, all of the samples from both the drone and ground were transported 62 miles by car to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, where they were tested for 17 of the 19 most common chemistry and hematology tests that would reveal how the samples held up.

 The samples flown by drone were contained in a temperature-controlled chamber designed by the Johns Hopkins team (pictured)

 The samples flown by drone were contained in a temperature-controlled chamber designed by the Johns Hopkins team (pictured)

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