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: Kerry Chatburn

Top 5 considerations when selecting a saliva-based DNA collection method


The past decade of genetic advancements has proven DNA from saliva is reliable and effective for both research and diagnostics applications. The benefits of collecting DNA from saliva are clear:

  • Non-invasive, self-collection makes it easier for donors to provide samples, maximizing recruitment;
  • Collection is both cost and time effective as there is no need for phlebotomy and clinical infrastructure;
  • Collection kits that provide ambient stabilization of DNA eliminate the need for cold chain transport and freezer storage; and
  • Collection kits that deliver high quality and high quantity DNA are reliable for even the most stringent DNA analysis platform (including Whole Genome Sequencing further evidenced by the recent launch of Illumina’s Nextera DNA Flex Library Prep for Whole Genome Sequencing validated with Oragene/saliva samples).

That being said, not all saliva kits are created equal.  The following 5 questions should be considered when choosing a saliva-based collection method:

  1. Will your saliva collection kit deliver sufficient high quality DNA for accurate data analysis? The most important factor in selecting a DNA collection device is determining if it will provide sufficient DNA to meets your quality metrics for downstream analysis.  Review the product claims (consider sample size and methods used), third party literature (peer-reviewed articles, posters, validations, etc.), as well as validated 3rd party protocols to ensure the product will perform on the analysis platform you are considering.  Also consider storage conditions – how long will the DNA remain stable in high molecular weight fragments?  Is this sufficient for your collection, transport, storage and analysis requirements?
  2. How easy and reliable are the sample collection steps? Consider your donor population and their ability to follow the required steps and complete collection accurately. How many steps are involved?  Will the donor come in contact with a stabilization chemistry? Is there supporting collateral (e.g. assisted collection techniques, how-to videos and translations) to ensure successful collection for your donors’ age, language and ability? Consider the possibilities for human error resulting in unsuccessful collection and failed DNA quality metrics downstream.
  3. Will each saliva kit pass quality standards for collection, transport and storage? What quality certifications or compliance measures has the saliva collection kit company achieved for delivering consistent high quality products? How will you know that each collection kit has the appropriate amount of stabilization fluid, or proper labeling for accurate donor tracking? Will the collection kit withstand transport conditions (e.g. physical forces, air pressure changes, freeze/thaw cycles, etc.)?  Select a saliva collection device from a company committed to medical device quality standards and one that is focused on customer satisfaction and continuous improvement.
  4. How will you be supported to ensure success with your sample collection? Good service and support can be as critical as product quality especially when dealing with outside factors such as donor collection, transport regulations, sample chain-of-custody, laboratory processing, analytics, etc. Consider the level of support and expertise the saliva collection kit company will provide to ensure your samples are optimized for high quality results.
  5. Who will process your DNA/saliva samples effectively? Not all saliva kits are equal and not all genomic services are equal either. Choose a laboratory experienced with your saliva collection device to optimize sample yield and integrity to ensure accurate data results. If your lab is not experienced with your chosen saliva collection device, will the collection kit company work with the lab to ensure an optimal workflow?

DNA Genotek offers a variety of proven saliva collection solutions for all ages and abilities. If you would like to try any of DNA Genotek’s saliva collection kits for your own DNA sample collection, click on the button below to request complimentary trial kits.

Request free trial kits of any DNA Genotek saliva kit

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