What Is RNA Isolation?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Leigh
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2019
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RNA isolation is the process of extracting ribonucleic acid from cells, where it is then used in a number of experiments and procedures. The process of RNA isolation is generally performed by scientists and researchers to study various diseases and cell functions. This is a complicated process that requires attention to detail and care in order to avoid harming the RNA. There are many laboratories that perform this procedure as well as many kits that are available for purchase to isolate RNA.

There is RNA located in all living cells, as it is an important part of the biology of life. This means that RNA isolation can occur in any type of living cell, whether plant, animal or bacteria. In order to isolate the RNA, individuals must take measures to keep the RNA intact during the process. Without keeping the RNA intact, it is more difficult to perform experiments that can be helpful to scientific learning.

After RNA is isolated, it is used for a wide variety of purposes. Experiments include basic things such as studying the structure of RNA in a manner that is more helpful than learning about it from a book. Advanced scientific experiments that involve RNA isolation include such topics as cloning, stem cell research and gaining a deeper understanding of the process of evolution. Diseases such as cancer are studied through the use of healthy RNA being compared with unhealthy RNA.


The process of RNA isolation is not easy, but has become simpler throughout the years. RNA has to be handled properly during the procedure to avoid damage. Scientists use specialized chemicals, freezing techniques and grinding the cells to keep the RNA intact prior to isolation from the rest of the cell. A specialized solution made from enzymes is then used to break down cell walls and strip the protein that surrounds the RNA. DNA can be stripped away with another solution if the scientist does not wish to study both at the same time.

Products are available for purchase in the marketplace that contain all of the solutions and directions necessary for RNA isolation. This works well for teachers as well as those interested in learning more about RNA at home or in a small lab. For certain experiments, the RNA isolation should be left to professional scientists as they can be complicated and difficult to perform. There are labs available for RNA to be sent to, isolated and analyzed as well.


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