Transportation of human blood from the Himalayas

Andrew F. Cockburn afc at
Wed Jul 1 08:57:21 EST 1992

> One of my friends is an anthropologist, and works on the inhabitants
> of the high altitudes, particularly, Tibetians.  She would like to
> isolate blood from many individuals representing several populations.
> She would like to preserve the blood samples for future use in 
> molecular studies.  
> She asked me the best method of storing and transporting the blood
> samples for DNA isolation.  Please understand that some of these
> people live in some of the remotest parts of the earth, and it 
> could take a few days to mail the blood samples.  I do not know
> the answers.  Could anyone help?
> Thanks,
> Raju

We have faced a similar problem in working with tropical mosquitoes
that transmit malaria.  Collecting trips to the Amazon basin may last
several weeks, and no dry ice or liquid nitrogen is available there.
I have two suggestions.

1. We use a liquid nitrogen container that has a porous interior that
soaks up the lN2.  There is no liquid sloshing around so airlines
_generally_ do not consider it to be hazardous material.  We have
checked and this container maintains at least -20 C for three weeks.

2. For DNA work, we have tried various room temperature preservations.
(Mitochondrial DNA RFLPs, so DNA has to be in good shape.)  Drying and
preservation in ethanol or isopropanol have been suggested for this
purpose, but we had problems with all of these.  The best preservation
was in EDTA/SDS.  We can recover good quality DNA after at least three 
months in EDTA/SDS at 37 C.

Andrew Cockburn

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