Getting blood for DNA test

A single drop of blood, as obtained from a finger prick such as is used for blood glucose testing contains an enormous amount of usable DNA, and is perfect as a form of DNA storage to use for both genetic and human identification testing purposes.

The traditional very low-temperature freezer storage of DNA samples is no longer necessary. GENiSYSS technology has an alternative way to store DNA long-term without requiring bulky refrigeration.

GENiSYSS uses a patented DNA stabilization material in its products. This material is Whatman FTA and enables blood samples to be stored long-term in a simple, patented dry medium, at room temperature, or around 68°F (20°C). The use of this material has many other advantages over freezing, in addition to keeping samples viable while using virtually no energy, making it a truly green product.

DNA samples are easy to collect, and may be stored virtually anywhere, where temperatures are moderate, making them readily available to the user when needed.

GENiSYSS DNA storage capsule1

Other specific advantages of our FTA material include:

  • Chemical protection: Patented chemical impregnation guards against enzymatic, microbial, oxidative and free-radical degradation.
  • Pathogen and enzymatic inactivation: Infectious organisms, dangerous pathogens and harmful nucleases are inactivated upon contact with the FTA material matrix.
  • Long-term storage: Blood on FTA has been stored for over 17 years at room temperature and DNA successfully recovered, and is suitable for high quality profiling purposes.
  • Easy processing: Proprietary FTA technology simplifies the collection, shipment, storage and purification of DNA and RNA.
  • Wide source variety: Animal, plant or microbial samples as well as purified DNA can all be applied directly to FTA material for later recovery.
  • Secure shipping: Along with pathogen and enzymatic inactivation, samples on FTA material are protected from environmental stress, allowing them to be safely handled and shipped through standard mail.

The System:

GENiSYSS has developed a system to enable simple and reliable long-term collection and storage of DNA based upon the time-tested qualities of FTA material. Our patented system is based on the use of a room-temperature biosample, co-resident with a digital memory containing information and software related to the resident samples. This system incorporates a micro-environment that maintains sample quality and enhances sample life while maintaining portability and ruggedness while living in a room-temperature environment.

GENiSYSS has exclusive use of this material for its products. Samples collected and applied to the material may be stored for years, depending on sample condition and environment, with a high probability of recovery. Our products allow the storage of multiple, unrelated samples to reside on a single device with no related maintenance costs.

Companion products, such as GenSolve from GenTegra® may be used to recover a high degree of quality DNA from samples.

FTA™ tests demonstrate storage effectiveness.

by Dr. Michael Hogan, Ph.D

It is now known that a single drop of blood, as obtained from a finger prick that is similar to that used to perform blood glucose testing, contains an enormous amount of DNA, especially in the context of modern (miniaturized) genetic testing and the (miniaturized) DNA testing used for human identification. Although blood collected in that way can be stored for many years when frozen, it has recently been verified that blood collected from a finger prick (or from a heal prick in an infant) can be stored dry for many years at room temperature on simple filter paper (sometimes called Whatman 903 or a Guthrie Card) or on chemically treated paper (called Whatman FTA paper) which additionally enhances the stability of DNA in the dried blood spots.

The data to validate those ideas are impressive. In the important area of human identification, the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST, Gaithersburg, MD) which sets standards in the area of science and engineering, have completed a long term study which shows that when human blood is stored as a dried blood spot on Whatman FTA paper for 11 years at body temperature (37°C) the DNA in the dried blood spot remains of high enough quality to support detailed, high-accuracy human identification (1). When the same sort of dried blood samples on Whatman FTA are stored at ordinary room temperature (25°C) the stability becomes much greater, suggesting that if stored at room temperature, dried blood on FTA paper will support human ID for much longer than 11 years (1).

Those human ID data from NIST are confirmed by Whatman, a division of GE Healthcare: Life Sciences, who show in their technical literature that dried blood spots stored on FTA paper produce unaltered, high quality human identification data after at least 14 years of room temperature storage (2).

Recent studies from the human genetics community also confirm the long-term stabilization of DNA in dried blood spots in the context of human genetic testing: tests that are much more complex (perhaps as much as 100 fold more complex) and demanding of high sample quality than the DNA tests used for human identification.

Perhaps the most impressive of those studies is a recent publication by the German Bone Marrow Registry (DKMS) who routinely use DNA testing to determine who may donate and receive bone marrow (i.e. tissue matching) for tissue transplantation: perhaps the most high value and demanding DNA test in all of clinical diagnostics. In that study, DKMS has shown that dried blood stored at room temperature for 4 years on FTA paper generated DNA that was of identical quality, in all respects, to the DNA obtained from a fresh clinical blood sample, in the context of the critical medical value of DNA based tissue typing (3). That DKMS study not only confirmed the value of Whatman FTA paper to stabilize DNA in dried blood spots, but it is arguably one of the highest-profile scientific papers published thus far in the area of DNA preservation and biobanking.

Although the untreated Whatman filter paper (Whatman 903, Guthrie Cards) that is used for newborn screening lacks the extra chemical stabilizers that are added to FTA, it has recently been shown that even the untreated 903 paper can provide for substantial stabilization of dried blood DNA over time.


Dried blood as collected from an ordinary finger prick can be transferred to treated Whatman FTA paper and stored dry. In that dried state, it has been shown that the DNA in those dried blood spots remains of high quality and capable of supporting human identification for at least 11 years if stored at body temperature (1) and much longer than 11 years of stored dry at ordinary room temperature (1,2). Companion studies, based on very high complexity human medical genetics (3) or based on genome wide analysis (4) suggest that the DNA stabilization obtained when finger prick blood is allowed to dry on Whatman FTA paper extends for much longer than a decade and may be used for both human identification and for very complex medical testing and public health screening.

References Cited
  1. Margaret C Kline. DNA Stability Studies: FTA vs 903. NIST, National Institute of Justice Presentation.
  2. GE Application Note. Whatman FTA DNA Archiving. Analyze Blood and Buccal DNA after Years of Room Temperature Storage.
  3. Lange V(1), Arndt K, Schwarzelt C, Boehme I, Giani AS, Schmidt AH, Ehninger G, Wassmuth R. High density FTA plates serve as efficient long-term sample storage for HLA genotyping. Tissue Antigens. 2014 83(2):101-1015
  4. Jill Hardin, Richard H Finnell, David Wong, Michael E Hogan, Joy Horovitz, Jenny Shu, Gary M Shaw Whole genome microarray analysis, from neonatal blood cards. BMC Genet. 2009; 10: 38. Published online 2009 July 22. doi: 10.1186/1471-2156-10-38
More information on FTA storage:
  1. GEHC application Note. Whatman FTA for Microbial Inactivation:
  2. GEHC application Note. Whatman FTA for the protection and storage of DNA
  3. GenSolve recovery solution for FTA:
  4. DOE guide to Ultra Low Temperature freezers: