The Genetic Link

Welcome to The Genetic Link, a blog providing new insights into DNA and RNA sample collection by DNA Genotek. DNA Genotek is a subsidiary of OraSure Technologies, Inc.

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Article by: Shauna White

Oragene•DNA facilitates Italy’s ‘Basketball Players to the Bone’


Many readers of The Genetic Link will be familiar with DNA Genotek’s involvement in event-based collections for breast cancer, epilepsy and for bone marrow donor registries. Most recently, we learned that the Oragene•DNA product was involved in another such event, although with a slightly different approach. The event was a campaign-based recruitment for the HLA-typing laboratory at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, Italy to increase the number of donors in the registry. So what does this have to do with basketball? It all comes back to a man named Tarcisio Vaghi. Tarscisio was a professional basketball coach for the Legadue Castelletto Ticino with a career that covered many professional teams in Italy.

In 2009, Tarcisio was diagnosed with leukemia. His best chance for survival was a bone marrow transfer. Tarcisio, along with friends and classmates, used this opportunity to create ‘Basketball Players to the Bone’, an organization with a mandate to encourage more people, particularly young, active people, to join the bone marrow donor registry. Adding people to the donor registry improves the chances of finding a match for those needing bone marrow transplants. Since the creation of ‘Basketball Players to the Bone’, multiple events have been held to drive recruitment on the registry. However, the collection of the DNA was with a blood draw, making the event collections difficult to coordinate and complicated to set up. In October of 2010, Oragene•DNA was chosen to alleviate the difficulties of using blood-based collections. According to Elisabetta Zino of the San Raffaele Hospital:

“Oragene•DNA is very safe to handle, gives a very high DNA yield and can be stored at room temperature. We were looking for a product like this so that we could more easily collect DNA at events and recruit a significant number of new potential bone marrow donors. In addition, Oragene•DNA can be mailed to relatives of patients awaiting a bone marrow transfer who live far away and the DNA collection can be done in their home. Finally, the DNA extraction is seamless and is compatible with the method we are currently using in our lab. Overall, the product has worked extremely well for the ‘Basketball Players to the Bone’ campaign.”

Since the switch to Oragene, 3 additional collection events have been held with great success. Unfortunately, Tarcisio was unable to win his battle with leukemia and succumbed to the disease in March of 2011. The ‘Basketball Players to the Bone’ campaign lives on and continues to raise public awareness about bone marrow donation. It is the expansion of the donor base that is making this campaign successful as it continues to provide hope for those who are waiting for a bone marrow transplant.

This scale of campaign-based DNA collection would not be possible without the Oragene•DNA self collection kit and we are proud that our products are helping to build Tarcisio’s legacy.

Note: Oragene•DNA is not available for sale in the United States. Please click here to view our products available in the United States.

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