Tips for Carrying out a Home DNA Test

The demand for DNA tests of all types has soared over the past decade. The latest ones to gain popularity are home DNA tests; these are cheaper and considerably more convenient than those DNA tests offered by private clinics or hospitals. Nowadays, you can easily find the DNA testing services you need online, at your local pharmacy or even via mobile vans which can be found in many USA states. Of course, getting hold of your kit from your local pharmacy or from a mobile van kind of defeats the idea of an “at home” test.

Should I opt for an Online DNA test?

DNA

As stated, you can purchase your test online or from a pharmacy. If you intend buying your test from a pharmacy it is important to note that all you purchase in this case is a sample collection kit. The kit will set you back only around $40 but once you collect the samples using the oral swabs you find inside the kit, you will need to pay the additional fee for laboratory testing. This will set you back something around another $100.

Online DNA testing companies enable you to do everything from the comfort of your own home. You can place your order and receive the kit at your chosen address. Once you collect your samples, you can then just return them for laboratory analysis. Typically, companies operating online offer an all inclusive cost for the postage of the kit, the DNA analysis and the result.

How do I select a paternity testing provider?

The main criteria for selecting a DNA test provider should be laboratory accreditation. The most widely recognized accreditations in the USA are ISO17025 and AABB (American Association of Blood Banks). Any company offers DNA tests and having these accreditations will clearly state so on their website. What these accreditations do is ensure consistently high level of technical competence for genetic testing facilities. ISO 17025 is a globally recognized accreditation whilst AABB is an important accreditation recognized mainly in the USA. Other countries might have their own specific laboratory accreditation bodies.

What are the best samples to use?

DNA testing technology is so advanced nowadays that minute samples of genetic material can be tested. This is why the sample most widely used is a saliva samples collected by rubbing a swab inside the mouth. The term “saliva sample” is widely used although misleading- it is not your saliva which is analyzed but the cheek cells which get attach to the cotton ended part of the swab when it is rubbed inside the mouth.

Other samples can be used but might not offer such a high probability of success of a saliva sample. The success, in terms of extraction of genetic markers, very much depends on how old the sample is and how it has been stored. It is always best to speak to someone before sending in any samples that are not the standard oral swab samples.

It should be affordable

DNA testing does not need to run into hundreds of dollars to be reliable or accurate. You can have your mind at rest that cheap DNA testing can be very accurate. So as long as you have chosen an accredited laboratory you do not need to worry so much about the price. If you do however, come across a complete DNA test for just $50 or so dollars by a company that also claims to have accredited laboratories, you might want to ask them to provide you with a copy of their accreditation certificate.

Results should be accurate

The results of your DNA test should be accurate (although this very much depends on the type of test you do). It is always worth speaking to somebody about your DNA test so that they can explain the type of results you can expect and how accurate these will be.

Choosing the best samples for a DNA test

DNA testing can be carried out with many different samples. Even the smallest traces of genetic material can provide enough DNA to extract a genetic profile of the person to which the sample belonged.

Which sample do I choose?

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In the vast majority of cases, the choice of samples you can actually use will be limited to one or perhaps two. Often people think that DNA can be extracted from any source but the truth is that often this is unlikely or if possible, would be far too costly for a normal direct-to-consumer DNA test. Forensic films often show experts successfully extracting DNA from the lip mark of a glass or from a single cigarette end and whilst this is possible, it requires much more thorough and advanced forensic DNA testing laboratory.

So which sample do you chose? If everyone involved in the test is actually aware of the test and willing to be tested the answer is simple: all test participants can collect their own samples of genetic material by using oral swabs. All one needs to do is rub the swab inside the mouth, under the tongue and inner cheek for about ten seconds and then allow it to dry. This sample is ideal because it always offer a high probability of successful DNA extraction.

If collecting samples with orals swabs is not possible you will need to discuss other samples which might be viable for a DNA test; perhaps nail clippings, used Kleenexes or plucked hairs. The probability of successful DNA extraction will vary depending on the type of sample you use. A used Kleenex offers a 95% success rate whilst a cigarette end offers a 65% success rate. Whilst DNA can also be extracted from a licked envelope the chances of a successful extraction of a DNA profile is of only 25% with this sample.

How do I collect and store the sample?

Different samples might require a different method of sample collection and storage. Oral swabs are the easiest because they can just be placed in a paper envelope and sent for testing. The vast majority of DNA samples should be placed in a paper envelope. Nails clippings or hairs are ideally collected with a pair of tweezers. The most problematic sample to collect, store and post is blood. Medical blood draws are a bit of a hassle to collect; postage of such as sample is also problematic- not only does it need to be packaged in such a way that the sample collection tube does not leak or break, but the sample itself will need special labels and an official certificate declaring that it is free of pathogens.

Postage and storage is not such an issue with other samples – you can in fact test a DNA sample that is several weeks old so as long as it has not been exposed to extreme temperature or chemical solutions that may have altered the DNA.