What is the difference between VTM and MTM (Molecular Transmission Medium)?

Release time:


What is a molecular transmission medium?

MTM (Molecular Transport Media) is specifically designed to safely inactivate disease-causing samples while retaining and stably releasing DNA and RNA. The guanidine thiocyanate contained in MTM can destroy the protective viral outer shell (capsid) of the virus, making it impossible to reinfect it, while retaining the viral nucleic acid for molecular diagnosis, sequencing, and biobanking.

Compared with traditional microbiological tests, molecular tests are now very common due to their improved performance and turnaround time. Most of the currently approved tests for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 virus) and other infectious diseases are based on nucleic acid molecular tests, thus eliminating the need and risk of transporting live pathogens in routine tests.

MTM is specifically designed and optimized for molecular applications, including qPCR and next-generation sequencing. It uses unique patented technology to safely collect samples from patients with highly infectious diseases. It was first launched in 2006 in preparation for a global pandemic and has been used to detect many infectious diseases and high-consequence pathogens, including influenza, RSV, tuberculosis, HIV and coronavirus.

Advantages of MTM over VTM and UTM

From the perspective of safety, reliability, and cost, MTM is seen as a real changer in the sampling and transportation of pathogen samples. The main differences between MTM and general UTM/VTM media are shown in the table below. VTM in this article refers to non-inactivated virus preservation solution.




Do you need cold chain storage and transportation?



Is the sample inactivated? Yes. Testing can be performed outside the container No. The virus is still deadly and testing should be under control
Sample integrity Destroy enzymes and nucleases, retain RNA and DNA May contain enzymes and nucleases that damage RNA and DNA
Suppress PCR?



Shelf life 24 months Less than 6 months


Once the swab or biological fluid is added to the MTM, the user will get a "snapshot" of the inactivated microorganism sample in time. Microbial DNA, and more importantly, unstable RNA is immediately stabilized and preserved at the sampling point. Therefore, the samples in MTM do not need to be pre-processed according to the BLS-III or even BLS-II safety level, only safe routine laboratory testing practices are required. To

Another major advantage of MTM is that the samples can be safely stored at ambient temperature for up to 7 days or at 2 to 8°C for 28 days, and can be reused many times. In addition to reducing the risk of handling live pathogen samples, this also reduces costs by eliminating cold chain requirements and the need for category 3 facilities, as testing can be performed outside of the container.

In addition to not requiring expensive cold chain transportation and sample storage, MTM can perfectly preserve RNA and DNA for up to four weeks. This means that it can be tested for safety immediately after arriving in the laboratory, without containment. As far as COVID-19 is concerned, this provides options for more testing laboratories, making the equipment a key part of the testing supply chain, which can support safe and rapid improvement of testing capabilities.