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

Saliva DNA helps cancer research project meet recruitment goals


Cancer affects everyone in some way. In Alberta, Canada, 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and 1 in 4 will die from it. In 2001, the Tomorrow Project, the largest research study ever undertaken in Alberta was established to discover more about what causes cancer, so that it may be prevented in the future. Information provided by people who join the Tomorrow Project may also be used to learn more about other long-term health conditions.

The Tomorrow Project originally began in Alberta as a local research study. But in 2008, the Project joined forces with four other provinces to form a pan-Canadian research study known as the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project. This national study, supported by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, is devoted to helping medical researchers find new ways of preventing cancer and other diseases. To answer questions about the causes of cancer in our community, researchers need to build a study based on health information over a long period of time.

To help achieve this goal, the Tomorrow Project aims to recruit 50,000 Albertans between the ages of 35-69, who have never had cancer to join the long-term study. So how do they go about recruiting such large numbers of people? Participants have two main options to choose from to join the study. They can visit a Tomorrow Project study centre or they can participate by mail only by completing a questionnaire and providing a small saliva sample in the Oragene saliva kit provided.

People who want to become involved in the Tomorrow Project will be asked to:

  • Answer questions about health and lifestyle
  • Give simple physical measurements
  • Give small amounts of urine and blood, or saliva (with Oragene) for DNA analysis
  • Agree to be contacted in the future

Oragene’s non-invasive, saliva-based collection method has enabled Albertans who were unable to attend a study centre to participate in the study by mail. These individuals received a package by mail that includes an Oragene/saliva collection kit to collect DNA samples and a Tomorrow Project questionnaire. In the future, the DNA samples may be used to explore how exposure to certain aspects of the environment affects long-term health outcomes or to explore how genes contribute to future health.

Although the Tomorrow Project has permanent centre in Calgary, mobile study centres were added in 2011 to help increase enrollment throughout the province. A Study Centre Coordinator along with a team of eight Research Assistants and three Lab Assistants travel to different areas of the province, to ensure that people from rural and smaller urban centres are represented in the study. Over 100 mobile study centres have now been conducted across the province.

So how much progress has been made on this research study? The recruitment methods are working. As of December 2013, over 34,000 Albertans have been enrolled in the project with the numbers growing daily. With progress this rapid, it won’t take long to reach their goal of 50,000 participants.

We are proud that our Oragene product has played a vital role in this cancer research study. We look forward to frequent updates and we will celebrate their success when they soon reach their target of 50,000 people.

For more information or to enroll in the Tomorrow Project, please visit or call 1-877-919-9292.

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