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: Erin Carpenter

Innovation to facilitate oral microbiome studies


A fascinating area of research that has been gaining a lot of momentum concerns the influence of our microbiome with overall health and disease. The human microbiome encompasses the totality of microbes, their genetic elements and their environment. Studies have shown an association between the human oral microbiota and risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and certain cancers. There are many factors that influence microbial populations, such as dietary factors, exposure to pathogenic organisms and overall health status. The relationship between the host and its resident commensal and pathogenic organisms is complex and dynamic; and an exciting area of science with so much yet to be discovered.

The Forsyth institute, in collaboration with the Human Microbiome Project, is at the forefront of identification of bacteria residing in the oral cavity. One of the main challenges with this area of research is to collect samples from a large enough population and geographical distribution to characterize the natural flora, and the external influences that play a role in the variations. In doing so, researchers such as Jacques Izard at the Forsyth Institute need to be confident that within these precious samples the collected bacterial and viral nucleic acids remain constant and preserved from the time of collection to the eventual detection in downstream assays. More specifically, the sample needs to be a perfect ‘snapshot’ of what is occurring in the participant’s mouth at the time of collection.

Microbiome studies require that we can stabilize DNA and preferentially also the RNA. If the population is scattered around the country, a shippable self-collection kit with fixative becomes crucial. Most existing  kits have been designed to be used for  on-site collection that does not require shipping by the participant in order to recover human cells in absence of fixative, or detect small molecules and by the process eliminate particulates which contain part of the microbiome,” says Jacques Izard, Ph.D., Instructor in Oral Medicine, Infection and Immunity, The Forsyth Institute.

DNA Genotek offers a product to specifically overcome challenges around stabilizing samples post collection. OMNIgene•Discover provides a non-invasive collection device that allows participants to simply donate a saliva sample that remains stable at ambient temperatures through long term storage and transport. Not only does this allow for scalability with large population studies, the OMNIgene kit also eliminates the need for either storage at -20 degrees or a cold chain for transport. Working with RNA can be very difficult as it is prone to degradation; OMNIgene provides stability and reliability for both  DNA and RNA sample collection.

UPDATE: OMNIgene⋅Discover is now called OMNIgene⋅ORAL 

“DNA Genotek provides a range of kits tailored to specific needs of  microbiome studies, all in a kit well accepted by our experience by the participants. The OM-505 is the only kit we have found that provides preservation of both DNA and RNA that can be used easily at home by participants,” commented Dr. Jacques Izard.

DNA Genotek is committed to enabling human health-related research and this certainly includes microbiome studies.  Whether you are working with saliva or an alternative biological specimen that requires stabilization, please contact us to find out what solutions we have to simplify and facilitate your studies!

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