Researchers who study how drugs like morphine affect infants are bedeviled by the fact that newborns' tiny bodies can't readily spare much blood for testing. As a result, pharmacology in babies often involves guesswork. That could soon change.
A new method of screening miniscule amounts of dried blood for chemicals could allow researchers to get all the information they need from small amounts of blood. The researchers' first goal is to produce a drug-dosing guide for infants. But the list of potential applications is far longer, says Jeffrey Galinkin, an anesthesiologist at the University of Colorado who heads the effort. Infection specialists could use the technique to diagnose HIV or tuberculosis, for instance, while sports officials could use it to monitor athletes for banned substances, he says.