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FTA® Technology

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FTA Paper

FTA® is an acronym for fast technology for analysis of nucleic acids. It was originally developed by Burgoyne and Fowler at Flinders University in Australia in the 1980s as a means of protecting nucleic acid samples from degradation by nucleases and other processes. The concept was to apply a weak base, chelating agent, anionic surfactant or detergent, and uric acid (or a urate salt) to a cellulose based matrix (filter paper). A sample containing DNA could then be applied to the treated filter paper for preservation and long term storage.

Whatman® licenses the FTA® technology from Flinders University. They offer a line of products using this technology, most notably filter paper cards.

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electron micrographs of genetic material intewoven with FTA cards

Biological samples, such as blood and saliva, adhere to the paper through the mechanism of entanglement, while the mixture of chemicals lyses cells and denatures proteins. Because nucleases are inactivated, the DNA is essentially stable when the sample is properly dried and stored. Nucleic acid damage from nucleases, oxidation, ultraviolet light (UV) damage, microbes, and fungus is reduced when samples are stored on the FTA card.09, 10

A marketable advantage of the FTA® technology is that samples spotted on treated cards may be stored at room temperature. The chemicals on the FTA cards enhance the preservation of the DNA and inactivate many dangerous pathogens that may be found in liquid blood samples or dried biological stains. Because the cards are small in size (approximately 3.5” x 5”), they are easily packaged, shipped, and stored for databasing.

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© 2007 NFSTC Science Serving Justice®
NOTE TO USERS: The President’s DNA Initiative DNA Analyst Training program and assessment were completed and published in 2005, in cooperation with the National Institute of Justice. The science and techniques in the program are sound and proven, however, program content has not been updated to include tools and technologies developed and in use after 2005, including many kits and robots. Assessment questions address only content delivered in this program and may not contain the full range of tools in use in your laboratory.