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Aug 23, 2017Print this page

Minimize DNA Specimen Degradation With the Right Transport System


We've outlined different types of specimen transport systems to help you better understand your options. But before you select one, it's best to identify the key elements of your process. 

  • Will the specimen be immediately prepared for assay upon collection?  

  • Will it be stored for future processing?   

  • Will it be shipped to a processing lab? If yes, what is the expected length of time from collection to processing?   

What’s critical here is the need to minimize degradation of your specimen. Moisture and time are your specimen’s enemies, so knowing the answers to these questions will guide you to the right choice.

Consider these products to protect your specimens: 

Dry Swabs    

A standard sterile dry swab is commonly used for DNA collection because it is economical and user-friendly. When handled properly, this basic device is an excellent collection device.

However, drying of the specimen is essential if the specimen is to be stored or shipped without any preservative solution. When the specimen is held in a warm, moist environment, precious DNA cellular material degrades quickly. Whether cotton tip, foam, or flock, a dry swab will air-dry in a short length of time. Under normal conditions (room temperature in your home, office, or lab), 30 minutes is adequate to dry a buccal cell specimen, though some variation—due to collection method and material or extreme humidity conditions—should be taken into consideration.  

Stand the swab up or cradle the tip to protect it from contact with any surface until thoroughly dry. It can then be returned to its original wrapper or placed in a suitable envelope for storage or transport.

To minimize concern about inadequate drying prior to transport or storage, or incidental cross contamination, consider CapShure®, a dry swab with a secure, aerated cap that allows the specimen to continue to dry without unwanted contact to any surface. CapShure is available in cotton or flock tip materials.


This style of collection devices is offered to provide protection from cross-contamination as well as ensure adequate drying while in storage or transport. The unique design, which also uses a dry swab, consists of a vented plastic transport tube that incorporates a filtering material to protect the specimen from contaminants as it dries.

Rugged enough to withstand shipment without breakage, your specimen will be protected from damage whether stored for later retrieval or shipped to the lab for processing. This transport configuration is available with various cotton tipped applicators or a Puritan UltraFlock tip, the swab recommended for ultimate collection and release properties.

Liquid Transport  

For best results, consider utilizing a DNA/RNA stabilization solution for transport of your specimens like Puritan's PurSafe® Molecular Media. These solutions contain detergent to prevent microbial proliferation, while the reagent in this solution assures the integrity of the nucleic acids. In transport, stabilization solution functions to lyse the cellular specimen, releasing and preserving the DNA and RNA. 

Puritan offers its PurSafe DNA/RNA Preservative solution as stand-alone media, or with Puritan’s HydraFlock swab, to bring you the ultimate device for DNA collection and storage. PurSafe® will protect your sample for up to four weeks at room temperature.   

The bottom line is, you should always choose a specimen collection swab that is designed to partner with your solution to save time and money. Please contact Puritan for details today.


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