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Published On: Sat, May 24th, 2014

Unlocking the Secrets of DNA

Years ago, the use of DNA testing was highly restricted and only used in certain, unique circumstances. As advanced technology became more readily available, people were able to see the many applications that genetic testing has in the everyday lives of the general population. One of these advancements in DNA testing is the home genetic testing kit. The innovative DNA test kit makes it possible for people to conduct a simple and painless DNA test in the comfort of their home. They then simply send it to a laboratory where their unique genetic profile is created. For some, this may seem like a scientific miracle.

DNA double helix photo by This image was released by the National Human Genome Research Institute, an agency part of the National Institutes of Health

DNA double helix photo by This image was released by the National Human Genome Research Institute, an agency part of the National Institutes of Health

Collecting the Sample

The DNA testing kit contains several swabs which are used to obtain a DNA sample. In order to collect the sample, the swab should be rubbed on the inside of the cheek several times. The swab will collect mucosal cells which contain a substantial amount of DNA. After the sample has been collected, it should be placed in the container supplied in the kit. This will protect the sample as it is transported to the laboratory.

If conducting an ancestry test, the DNA kit will include one swab. However, a paternity DNA kit will have at least two swabs. One sample swab should be used to collect skin tissue from the father and the other will collect a sample from the child. In some cases, a third swab will be used to collect a DNA sample from the mother. Keep in mind that the results of an at-home paternity test are usually not admissible in court as proof of paternity. There are simply too many variables that can be altered or tampered with, making the test less accurate.

Creating a Genetic Profile

During a paternity test, fragments of DNA from the father are compared to the DNA of the child. Since a child obtains one half of their DNA from the father and one half from the mother, half of the DNA profile should be identical to the father in question. In order to prove that the father is the biological parent of the child beyond a reasonable doubt, they must have a complete match that is 99.99 percent accurate. Having a maternal DNA sample available will help to improve the accuracy of the results.

Ancestry genetic tests use a Y-chromosome testing method. By evaluating specific fragments of the Y-chromosome, the genetic test can determine whether two people are related, or share the same ancestors. The more sites that are analyzed on the chromosome, the more accurate the results will be.

Why Use Genetic Testing?

Genetic tests are used for many personal reasons other than determining paternity or researching ancestry. These include the following:

  • Diagnostic Testing: Used to diagnose a person who has symptoms of a disease.
  • Predictive Testing: Used to determine the likelihood that a person will get a disease, even before they show signs of developing the disease.
  • Presymptomatic Testing: Indicates whether or not a family member is at risk for developing a certain genetic condition.
  • Prenatal Testing: Indicates whether a child will be born with a certain disease.

People who are interested in finding out their unique genetic profile should consider using an at-home genetic testing kit or speak to their physician about their testing options.

By: Jimmy Simond

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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