The Genetic Link

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Article by: Kerry Chatburn

Can saliva replace blood for DNA collection and analysis? (Part 2 of 3)


Welcome to the second article in a 3 part series discussing whether or not saliva can replace blood for DNA collection and analysis. In part 1 of this blog series, we examined the quality issue of blood and saliva. In part 2, we look at the functionality and ease of use. We hope you find this content interesting. Let us know what you think of this series by leaving a comment. Thank you in advance.

Functionality / Ease of Use

When collecting a sample from a distant relative, a child or someone with a psychiatric disorder, obtaining a blood sample can be difficult and stressful on the patient. Oragene is an easy to use self-collection kit which improves patient care by providing a simple, painless alternative and removes the inconvenience, anxiety and cost of going to a clinic for a blood draw. Oragene has also been shown to improve compliance rates and speed up collection and extraction processes when compared to blood, rendering healthcare more efficient. 

dna saliva orageneAbraham, J.E. et al. states “… advantages of saliva … include lower overall cost, lower infection risk, increased patient convenience, acceptability, compliance, and uptake.”1

Bahlo, M. et al. reports in their study

“The Oragene kit … presents minimal inconvenience to the participant, resulting in high response rates. Further, we have shown that saliva samples can be sent in the mail to a central collection point, thereby reducing transportation costs and the risk of duplication.”2

Another work by Viltrop T. et at. states

“Saliva collection is a painless procedure with no risk of disease transmission and no requirements for specialized medical personnel. Also, saliva collection allows wider population sampling as it is possible to collect DNA samples by mail.” 3

Zhang, L. et al. also affirms

…saliva collection (Oragene DNA self-collection kit) … is especially attractive for maximizing the participation rate … [and] clinical situations in which patients and/or their relatives are not available for on-site whole blood collection. We have also adopted this test to provide rapid turnaround (1 week) results ...”4

And in their 2009 breast cancer study, Ambroson, C.B. et al. transitioned from blood to saliva collection using Oragene kits to reduce costs and to facilitate participation.5

It should further be mentioned, Oragene/saliva samples are compatible with high-throughput DNA processing, enabling seamless integration into existing automated lab extraction procedures. With convenience established for the donor, clinician, and lab, our focus now turns to cost.

With that, we are closing this second article on the functionality of saliva vs. blood and hope we've made you eager to read the final part  next week. The series will continue as follows:

  • July 25, 2012: We examine the cost of saliva vs. blood collection and analysis

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Request free trial kits of any DNA Genotek saliva kit


1 Abraham, J.E. et al. (2012). Saliva samples are a viable alternative to blood samples as a source of DNA for high throughput genotyping.

2 Bahlo M. et al. Saliva-Derived DNA Performs Well in Large-Scale, High-Density Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism Microarray Studies. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 19(3): 794-798 (2010).

3 Viltrop T. et al. Comparison of DNA extraction methods for multiplex polymerase chain reaction. Anal Biochem. 398(2): 260-262 (2009).

4 Zhang L. et al. A Rapid and Reliable Test for BRCA1 and BRCA2 Founder Mutation Analysis in Paraffin Tissue Using Pyrosequencing. J Molecular Diagn. 11(3): 176-181 (2009).

5 Ambrosone C.B. et al. Conducting Molecular Epidemiological Research in the Age of HIPAA: A Multi-Institutional Case-Control Study of Breast Cancer in African-American and European-American Women. J Oncol. 2009: 1-15 (2009).

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