The storage and transportation of biologic samples is a business in itself. When biological specimens are stored, they need to remain equivalent to freshly-collected specimens and consequently the temperature of storage becomes an important factor. Biological samples are primarily handled and stored cold (4˚C, -20˚C, -80˚C and liquid nitrogen), which is costly and not eco-friendly. Expensive freezers are used by academec and commercial research facilities, domestic and federal crime labs, the military, hospitals and doctor’s. Companies such as Biostorage Technologies offer “cold chain management” solutions that allow the transportation and storage of biological samples at frozen, or liquid nitrogen temperatures. One company that is providing innovative tools to stabilize biological materials at room temperature is Biomatrica.
Biomatrica was founded in 2004 by two previous Scripps Research Institute molecular biologists, husband and wife scientists Rolf Müller, PhD, and Judy Müller-Cohn, PhD. According to Crunchbase, Biomatrica has taken in just over $9 million in funding to date. In 2011, a strategic investment was made in Biomatrica by I-Q-Tel, the venture capital firm which supports the missions of the US Central Intelligence Agency.
Origins of Core Technology
Biomatrica’s technology platform provides sustainable, room temperature-based stabilization of biological samples including DNA, RNA, proteins, cells and assays. The core technology behind this platform is based on microscopic creatures that live in the dessert called Tardigrades. These hardy creatures can tolerate 1,000 times more radiation than other animals, be chilled for days at −200°, and have the ability to protect their DNA, RNA, proteins, membranes and cellular systems in a dried state for a period of 10 years. This creature’s natural molecular mechanisms that allow it to dry up and reconstitute by adding water 10 years later is what Biomatrica’s technology mimics.
The company’s first product, “DNAstable”, is a chemical formulation that stabilizes purified DNA at ambient temperature and was licensed to Qiagen in 2007 to sell under the trade name QIAsafe. The “Stable” product lines, such as DNAstable and RNAstable enable long-term room temperature preservation of purified DNA, purified RNA and unpurified bacterial DNA for shipping and storage. In 2012, Biomatrica launched DNAgard Blood Tubes which allows collection of samples directly from patients which can then be shipped and stored at ambient temperatures for up to 14 months with no loss in DNA integrity. RNAgard offers the immediate stabilization of RNA in whole blood, which lasts for up to 14 days at room temperature. The company’s various products have been adopted by the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, the Washington State Patrol, Kaiser Permanente, the California Department of Justice, the US Army, and Darpa. Biomatrica’s services ans products can be seen below:
The products are available through a global network of distributors in over 20 countries. Just last week Biomatrica signed a worldwide distribution agreement with Sigma-Aldrich, an $11 billion life sciences and high technology company with over 9,600 employees and operations in 40 countries. Biomatrica’s products will meet the future needs of increased collection and processing of biological samples in terms of scalability, reduced costs (operational and energy), and an eco-friendly solution (zero emissions). Other companies with temperature sensitive storage and transporation solutions should keep a watchful eye on Biomatrica.