MELT™ Total Nucleic Acid Isolation System (Ambion, Inc.)

PI Institution Title IMAT Award
Gary Latham Ambion, Inc. Enzymatic Tools for Degrading Tissue and Preserving RNA R43
Gary Latham Ambion, Inc. Ultra Rapid Methods for Streamlined Tissue to RT-PCR R44

The MELT™ Total Nucleic Isolation System was developed to isolate RNA with minor protocol modifications. The MELT™ system can process freshly procured or flash-frozen tissues.

The patent-pending MELT™ system allows the hands-free disruption of several solid tissues at the same time without the need for tissue grinding or a polytron, which can create toxic aerosols. MELT™ can be used to lyse samples in a closed-tube format without cross-contamination. The system can liquefy up to 10 mg of fresh or frozen tissue at room temperature in less than 15 minutes using a combination of catabolic enzymes and a small-molecule RNase inhibitor.

After digestion, the RNA or DNA is purified using a streamlined process based on Ambion’s MagMAX™ magnetic bead technology (patent pending). The purified RNA or DNA can be eluted from the beads in concentrated form in as little as 15-20 µL. Ambion has validated the MELT™ technology and verified that the purified RNA is functionally equivalent to traditionally isolated RNA.

The IMAT award to Dr. Gary Latham at Ambion, Inc., was first funded in FY 2003 as an IMAT Phase I SBIR, and the funds supported development of the MELT™ system. The research funded by the Phase I award showed that the technology was feasible for further development.

Dr. Latham and colleagues filed a provisional patent application (serial number 60/514,313) for the technologies developed with funding through the IMAT Phase I SBIR award.

Ambion commercially released the MELT™ Total Nucleic Acid Isolation System in February 2005. The Ambion investigators successfully competed for the IMAT R44 Phase II SBIR award, which was funded from 2005 to 2007. The Phase II award is being used to further optimize the reagents for greater stability of RNA, reduce procedure time, and achieve greater RNA purity, including efforts to make the product compatible with Ambion’s RNAlater® tissue-stabilizing reagent.