That’s right April 25th is National DNA Day. It was proclaimed by both the US Senate and the House of Representative in 2003 and while you might not have the day off you might want to stop and think about just what DNA has done for us.
DNA Day is a remembrance of the day in 1953 when a gound breaking article on the structure of DNA was published as well as the the day that the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003.
DNA has made big changes in our lives whether we know it or not. So this April take some time to think about DNA and some of it’s many uses:
1. In archeology DNA helps record genetic information of life on earth many centuries ago. This creates a data base that can be used to learn more about our planets past.
2. Genetic testing is used to determine the paternity or maternity of a child.
3. DNA testing can be used to help create a family tree or genealogical chart. Through genetic data bases one can trace lost relatives or find ancestors. Using both the Y chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA people can use DNA testing to establish ancestral lines (both remain unchanged for generations).
4. Prenatal genetic tests can help doctors determine whether or not the unborn fetus will have certain health problems.
5. DNA tests are also used to help solve murders and other crimes. In recent years many unsolved mysteries have been solved due to new ways of analysis as well as clearing many people found guilty of crimes that the did not commit.
6. DNA testing finds great use in the health field as DNA sometimes is the cause of rare medical conditions or heritable diseases.
7. Genetic testing is used in healths checks. For example it can be used to help determine the presence of viruses or cells that have mutated (causing cancer).
8. DNA tests are often used to reunite lost siblings or families or identify remains of the unknown. The genetics of a person leaves an indelible mark and this is used by police, military and authorities as well as individuals to confirm relationships.
9. DNA tests on new species or on material from outer space help scientists and researchers determine the origins of a species and where they stand with reference to known living forms.
Most people don’t realize that there are many different types of twins in the world. Not only can you be identical or fraternal twins but you might be one of any number of other type. Below are some of the most common other types of twin.
1. Conjoined Twins are monozygotic multiples that do not fully separate from each other due to the incomplete division of the fertilized ovum. The individuals will be connected at certain points of the body, and may share tissue, organs or limbs.
2. Twins Conceived Separately or Superfetation Twins occurs when an egg is released while a woman is already pregnant, resulting in twins that are conceived at different times.
3. Twins with Different Fathers or Heteropaternal Superfecundation occurs when fraternal (dizygotic) twins which are the product of multiple eggs being released in a single cycle are fertilized by sperm from separate incidences of sexual intercourse. In a case where a woman has sex with different partners, the twins could have different fathers and the appropriate term is heteropaternal superfecundation.
4. “Half Identical” Twins or Polar Body Twins is a theory at this time. There are two types of twins, right? Dizygotic (fraternal) twins result when two eggs are fertilized. Monozygotic (identical) twins come from a single fertilized egg that splits. But what if the egg splits and then each half meets a sperm? That’s the proposed theory for polar body or “half-identical” twins, twins who are very much alike but aren’t a 100% DNA match. Although it seems to be a reasonable theory, there is no definitive test to confirm polar body twinning.
5. Boy/Girl Identical (Monozygotic) Twins occurs when there is a genetic mutation in male twins where one twin loses an Y chromosome and develops as a female. The female twin would be afflicted with Turner’s Syndrome, characterized by short stature and lack of ovarian development. Of course, another explanation for gender differences in identical twins is an identical twin who undergoes a sex change operation.
6. Mirror Image Twins are monozygotic, twins that form from a single fertilized egg. When the split occurs late – more than a week after conception – the twins can develop reverse asymmetric features. This term is not really a type of twin, just an way to describe their physical features. For example, they may be right- and left-handed, have birthmarks on opposite sides of their body, or have hair whorls that swirl in opposite directions. In theory, if the twins faced each other, they would appear to be exact reflections of each other. About 25% of identical twins are mirror image twins.
7. Parasitic Twins is a type of conjoined twins that develops asymmetrically, with a smaller, less formed twin dependent on the stronger, larger twin. A variation of parasitic twinning is fetus in fetu, where an abnormally formed mass of cells grows inside the body of its monozygotic twin. It survives during pregnancy, and even occasionally after birth, by tapping directly into the blood supply of the host twin.
8. Semi-Identical Twins is a type of twinning identified as identical on the mother’s side but sharing only half their father’s genes, the rare twins developed when two sperm fertilized a single egg, which then split.
9. Twins with Different Birthdays the most common explanation is a labor and delivery that begins before midnight and ends on the following day. If that day happens at the end of the month, or even the end of a year, the two babies can have birthdays in different months and even different years. Sometimes a pregnancy is prolonged to provide each baby with an optimal chance for survival. If preterm labor forces the delivery of one baby, doctors can successfully control the labor and delay delivery to give the other baby more time in the womb. Twins and higher multiples have been born days and even weeks apart.
10. Twins of Different Races can be caused by heteropaternal superfecundation. There are cases of fraternal (dizygotic) twins with differing racial characteristics. In one case, the differentiation was due to a lab mix-up during an in-vitro procedure. However, there is a case where two bi-racial parents conceived fraternal (dizygotic) twin girl twins, experts explain that the girls inherited different genetic characteristics from their mixed race parents. One is fair-haired and light skinned, while the other has dark hair, eyes and skin.
By Brooke Hayles
What do you think of when you hear about DNA testing? Is it specified testing that looks for DNA sequences? Your genetic information is inside every cells.
Deoxyribonucleic acid is the scientific name for DNA, and it determines each cells behavior, function, and structure. What is great about DNA is that not only can it tell the identity of a person, and their relationship to others, but it can also give information about thousands of genetic conditions and diseases. Because DNA testing is becoming cheaper, it is becoming more popular.
There are many uses of DNA testing, such as to establish paternity. Paternity can also be established in an unborn child. This is done with amniocentesis or CVS (Chorionic Villi Sampling). The CVS test is generally done in the early stages of a pregnancy between ten to thirteen weeks along. While the amniocentesis is generally done between the fourteenth and twenty-fourth weeks of pregnancy.
Breakthroughs with DNA testing happen often. One DNA tests that has been gaining in popularity is ancestry DNA testing. Our DNA comes from both of our parents. Most areas of our DNA go through changes. However, there are some areas of the DNA do not change at all or change very slowly. By looking at the changes and at the DNA that does not change, ancestry testing is able to link many generations together and reconstruct the history of families.
DNA testing has also become popular with people who have been adopted. DNA testing can allow them to trace their ancestors and find biological parents.
To perform most kinds of DNA testing, a cotton swab is rubbed on the inside of the clients’ mouth. It is painless, easy, and quick, this means even a baby can undergo testing. The cheek swab contains skin cells that have the same DNA material that is in blood. Then the swab is sent to the laboratory to analyze the DNA in the cells, and determine if there is a match between the people participating in that test.
DNA is also used to solve crimes. DNA testing has been used to prove guilt or innocent in those that stand accused of crimes.
DNA testing has been used to conduct an evaluation of health risks and health. The tests can even aid a person in loss by defining foods they crave.
Back in the 1700s, the best way to determine who a persons father was, was by taking a good hard look at the child, followed by a good hard look at the father. If there were enough coincidences then maybe a relationship could be possible. by the 1800s, it was discovered that eye color could be a paternity identifier. With recent DNA advances we have learned that the eye color theory is flawed. We now know that eye colour is determined by at least six different alleles, or genetic markers. Fortunately paternity testing has become a lot easier and much more affordable over the past few years due to advances in DNA science.
Although an estimated 200,000 DNA tests are conducted each year by states needing to determine child-support and welfare issues, not as many people are willing to conduct their own at-home paternity test because they don’t realize the simplicity and convenience of an at-home paternity test.
How does home DNA testing work?
Paternity testing requires a painless sample from both the child and possible father. Even without a sample from the mother, DNA paternity test results are up to 99.9% accurate. Most companies provide testing material which they will mail directly to you so that you can provide the samples.
Because of advances in DNA testing it is no longer necessary to draw blood. Buccal (mouth) swabs are the standard. These swabs have the same genetic information that is carried in blood but none of the hazards. By gently massaging the inside of the child’s mouth, cheek cells are collected. These cells are then sent to the lab for testing. Labs analyze up to sixteen genetic markers of the child and match them against the markers of the alleged father. Because each of us receives half our genetic markers from each parent, the results of DNA paternity testing are still accurate without the DNA information of the mother but a really good test will include the mother this helps insure that there is no chance of a false positive.
What else can a DNA test do?
DNA test kits can also be used to analyze sibling relationships, establish cousin or grandparent relationships, determine twin zygosity (i.e. whether twins are fraternal or identical), identify ancestral origin, verify Native American decent, assure parents they left the hospital with the right baby, and most important, provide legal evidence – be prepared to pay a bit more for legal tests. Legal tests can be used to settle adoption issues, settle child-support disputes, and provide information for immigration files. Legal tests can not be preformed using a home test kit.
How to choose a DNA laboratory
Enjoy piece of mind. Be confident that the questions you have can be answered and that DNA testing is safe easy and stress-free.
By Alex Blake
DNA testing is done for a variety of reasons. DNA evidence can link an alleged criminal to a crime scene. DNA paternity and maternity testing can identify a child’s father or mother. DNA relationship testing can determine if two individuals are from the same family. DNA ancestry testing can determine ethnic origins and genealogical roots.
How DNA testing is done depends on the what kind of results are desired and on what types of samples are available. DNA fingerprinting (or profiling as it’s also known) is the process of analyzing and comparing two different DNA samples. Only identical twins have the exact same DNA sequence, everyone else’s DNA is unique. This makes DNA the perfect way to link individuals to each other or to locations where they have been.
The entire DNA chain is incredibly long, much to long to examine all of it in one test. Human DNA is made up of about 3.3 billion pairs. The differences between DNA samples occur only in small segments of the DNA–the rest of the DNA is pretty much the same. DNA testing focuses on those segments that are known to differ from person to person.
As DNA testing has evolved over time, the testing methods have become more precise and are able to work with much smaller DNA samples. Early DNA testing was done using dime-size drops of blood. Today’s tests can extract DNA from a drinking container. The DNA is extracted from whatever sample is provided (some times there is not enough DNA to provide for testing). DNA must be isolated and purified before it can be compared. In essence, it has to be “unlocked” from the cell in which it exists. The cell walls are usually dissolved with a detergent. Proteins in the cell are digested by enzymes. After this process, the DNA is purified, concentrated, and then tested.
DNA testing is done most often today by using a process called “short tandem repeats,” or STR. Human DNA has several regions of repeated sequences. These regions are found in the same place on the DNA chain, but the repeated sequences are different for each individual. The “short” tandem repeats (repeated sequences of two to five base pairs in length) have been proven to provide excellent DNA profiling results. STR is highly accurate–the chance of misidentification being one in several billion.
A blood test that can determine the gender and genetic abnormalities in a unborn baby as early as five weeks has proven to be successful according to Dutch researchers. The researchers claim that the test has almost 100 per cent accuracy in determining the fetus’s gender.
The blood test uses the mother’s plasma to extract Genetic information about their unborn baby. The test can be used to determine if the unborn baby carries specific genetic abnormalities, such as muscular dystrophy, this test can be conducted shortly after conception.
Currently, testing for genetic abnormalities and gender cannot be carried out until at least 9 weeks and as late as 24 weeks. The current methods of testing are either through a Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) or an Amniocentesis.
Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) is a medical procedure conducted by an OBGYN that is typically performed between 9 – 13 weeks gestational age, which is often mistakenly referred to Chronic Villus (or Villi) Sampling. CVS is a vaginal procedure that removes a very small portion of the placenta.
Amniocentesis is a medical procedure conducted by an OBGYN that is typically performed between 14 – 24 weeks gestational age. The amniocentesis procedure involves insertion of a needle into the womb and drawing out approximately 10cc’s of amniotic fluid, which surrounds the unborn baby.
Professor Michael Chapman, head of women’s and children’s health at the University of NSW, said that this new testing method was the “holy grail” of research. “Scientists have been chasing this for about 25 years,” he said. “The biggest advantage of this in a wanted pregnancy is there is no risk of miscarriage during testing.”
The research team from the University Medical Center, in The Netherlands, used the test on 200 women. Only in 10 cases could the gender not be determined. The procedure works by taking a sample from the mother’s blood plasma and extracting fetal DNA, which circulates in the mother’s blood. Looking for a specific gene sequence, doctors can then determine if the baby is a boy or a girl and is a carrier of specific disorders. In most cases, the test will be performed on a seven-week-old fetus.
But Australian obstetricians warn the medical breakthrough is unlikely to be used in Australia because it could be used for gender selection and due to “ethical and moral” dilemmas.
The test did not address the fact that fetal DNA that is found in a mother’s blood can be from previous pregnancies even years later. The research have not address how to determine if the DNA is from the current fetus. While their are some DNA testing companies that have offered to use “simple” blood test to determine paternity for several years. These test can often be unreliable. While this new test promise great answer at no risk there are still some very big questions that haven’t been answered.
Paternity for many is a tough issue, both emotionally and legally. Paternity is assigned to men and boys in a few ways. The first is by marriage. Men are automatically assumed to be the father if they are married to the mother or in many states if they attempted to marry the mother and did not do so in a legal manner. The second is by voluntary acknowledgment. This is a typically a form that is signed in the hospital prior to the release of the mother and child. The third is by court judgment.
Most if not all states have a law that looks something like this:
(1) A man is presumed to be the father of a child if:
(a) He and the mother of the child are married to each other and the child is born during the marriage;
(b) He and the mother of the child were married to each other and the child is born within three hundred days after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or declaration of invalidity;
(c) Before the birth of the child, he and the mother of the child married each other in apparent compliance with law, even if the attempted marriage is, or could be, declared invalid and the child is born during the invalid marriage or within three hundred days after its termination by death, annulment, dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or declaration of invalidity; or
(d) After the birth of the child, he and the mother of the child have married each other in apparent compliance with law, whether or not the marriage is, or could be declared invalid, and he voluntarily asserted his paternity of the child, and:
(i) The assertion is in a record filed with the state registrar of vital statistics;
(ii) Agreed to be and is named as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate; or
(iii) Promised in a record to support the child as his own.
(RCW 26.26.116 Presumption of paternity in context of marriage. on leg.wa.gov)
While this law might seem reasonable to many it does not take into account that it is estimated that 40% of wives will have an affair at some point in their marriage (www.caughthercheating.com) What if that child is not the husbands?
The second way is for the father and mother to sign Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form at the hospital when you have your baby. The hospital staff will give you this form and help you complete it. When you and the child’s father sign the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form, the father’s name will be placed on the birth certificate.
If you and the baby’s father are unable to sign the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form at the hospital, you may complete it at home. Your signature must be witnessed by someone over 18 years old, and by a person not named on the voluntary acknowledgment.
You don’t have to be the biological father to sign this form there is no proof required you are stating you are the father and will be responsible the moment you sign this from. Most states but not all have laws that allow you to challenge paternity that is assigned based on the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. They typically have a set time period with in which you can contest your paternity.
The third way is to have paternity assigned to you by a court. This can happen if the alleged father does not responded to a woman’s claim for paternity or if the Judge or Jury feels that it is in the best interest of the child. For example a section of Missouri’s bill requires courts to balance the best interests of the child and the hardships of the man who is contesting paternity regardless of a DNA test proving that he is not the father.
“James McClendon knows he’s not the biological father of his ex-girlfriend’s 16-year-old son. He’s got a DNA test to prove it. But his wages are trimmed each month to pay thousands in child support debt. McClendon, who lives in St. Louis, has been fighting a 10-year legal battle to overturn a paternity ruling that says he’s the child’s father. Between legal bills, supporting his three biological children and several failed jobs, he’s built up $25,000 in child support debt.” (States move to allow DNA paternity challenges, By LEE LOGAN The Associated Press www.kansascity.com)
Stories like this are not all that uncommon unfortunately and have been a leading reason why in over 30 states laws are being or have been enacted to allow men to challenge paternity with a DNA test. A major force lobbying for changes to paternity laws is Carnell Smith, an engineer in Atlanta. Smith successfully lobbied for a Georgia law that allows men to challenge paternity at any time. Smith who calls himself a victim of “paternity fraud,” used this same law to erase his own paternity ruling in 2003. Carnell Smith has formed a national organization lobbing for similar laws in other states.
There are currently only two reliable methods of prenatal, prebirth DNA Paternity or genetic testing – Amniocentesis and Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS). Both are also more typically used to detect birth defects with the fetus. There is generally quite a bit of confusion about both methods of testing. Please allow us to explain:
An AMNIOCENTESIS is a procedure which removes a small sample of amniotic fluid that surrounds a fetus. Amniotic fluid contains fetal cells and waste products which are discharged from the fetus. These cells can provide genetic, or DNA, information just like blood or a cheek swab. The Amniocentesis procedure is performed by an OBGYN by inserting a needle through the mother’s abdomen and into the uterus. Approximately 2 Tbsp of amniotic fluid is drawn out, which is then shipped via overnight mail on blue ice and tested in the laboratory. An Amniocentesis is performed, on average, between weeks 14 and 24 of the pregnancy.
The fluid that is obtained through the draw can be used to test the parentage of the child, or in determining the sex of the child, in addition to screening for over 100 types of disease inherited from the family. Examples of these diseases are Down Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, Sickle Cell disease, and Huntington’s disease. While this procedure is routinely performed and can be safe, some risks are involved and the pregnancy can be endangered. This is why most physicians do not want to perform the procedure unless it is medically necessary. (A DNA Paternity test is not deemed medically necessary.)
RISKS: During an Amniocentesis there is the possibility of injury to the mother or the fetus from the needle. The most common injury occurs from puncturing the placenta, but it is also possible that an infection can occur due to the introduction of bacteria into the amniotic fluid, as well as cramping, bleeding and leakage of Amniotic fluid. This procedure also carries some risk of causing a miscarriage and when it is performed prior to 15 weeks. Studies have also shown an increased risk that the fetus will develop clubfoot from the procedure. Unfortunately, all pregnancies have a risk for miscarriage, whether a test was performed or not. In the second trimester (when an amniocentesis is typically performed), the normal risk for miscarriage is between 2-3%. The risk for miscarriage is increased slightly with amniocentesis and the risk of amniocentesis-related miscarriage is 1 in 250 to 1 in 300.
CHORIONIC VILLUS SAMPLING, or CVS for short, is a test that can find certain problems with a fetus. CVS is performed late in the first trimester, most often between the 10th and 14th week.
CVS samples can be collected in one of two ways - either by putting a thin flexible tube (catheter) through the vagina and cervix directly into the placenta (transcervical CVS), or by inserting a long needle through the belly into the placenta (transabdominal CVS), which is similar to the amniocentesis procedure. The method that is used is dependent upon the position of the placenta and uterus. This will be determined the day of the procedure during the ultrasound examination. A thorough ultrasound examination is performed prior to and during the procedure.
The type of sample that is taken during a CVS procedure are the Chorionic Villus Cells. Chorionic Villi are similar to tiny fingers and grow inside the placenta. The genetic material inside these cells are the same as those found in the fetus’s cells.
The reasons for having a CVS performed are the same as those for an Amniocentesis - to determine health of the fetus and parentage, if necessary.
RISKS: Just like the Amnio, there are some risks involved with the CVS procedure. They include infection of the uterus, cramping, spotting, leakage and miscarriage. While miscarriages may occur following CVS, many can be unrelated to the CVS procedure. Studies in the United States and in Europe now suggest that the risk for CVS-related miscarriage is between 1/100 – 1/200.
While both tests offer the possibility of grave risks, the benefits can be educational or rewarding. The knowledge about your baby and it’s health can be good news, if there were concerns, or will have a different outcome which will influence your preparation for a new family member. You might need to make special arrangements for birthing or for the child’s life and care.
When prebirth Paternity DNA Testing is being considered by the mother, her OBGYN must be consulted. The physician will be the one to approve and perform the test and therefore, the mother must begin with a visit to her doctor. As stated above, in most cases, an OBGYN will not want to perform either of these procedures if it is just for a Paternity Test, which is not medically necessary, as the risks can be too great. Some doctors have even told their patients that this kind of test is not even possible. This is not true.
If the mother is already planning on having one of these procedures performed (which should be covered by insurance ) the doctors office will send the samples to a genetics lab for which ever test is needed. That lab can then grow more cells and send them along to a DNA Paternity Testing lab. Mother will usually be granted a prebirth procedure if she has an abnormal ultrasound, has a family history of certain birth defects, has previously had a child or pregnancy with a birth defect, or will be 35 or older at the time of delivery.
If the mother is not planning of having one of the procedures, and her doctor still approves the procedure, she will most likely have to pay the OBGYN thousands of dollars for the procedure, on top of the DNA testing fee and shipping.
In all cases, a prebirth, prenatal DNA Paternity Test begins with a consult at the OBGYN, for methods, risks, approval or denial. DNA Testing is then performed when the mother and possible father have their samples collected, typically via cheek swab, and sent to the Paternity Testing Lab.
Autism is a brain development disorder and behaviors of those who have autism range from: hindered or impaired social interaction and communication; repetitive behavior such as hand-flapping, body rocking or head rolling; compulsive behavior such as arranging objects according to size, shape or color; the dislike of change; ritualistic behavior; self-injury; all starting before a child is three years old.
Up to this date, diagnosis has always been based on behavior – the child must exhibit at least six symptoms, such as lack of social or emotional reaction, repetitive use of language, problems with all types of communication and a fixation with objects. Autistic children may fail to respond to their name and often avoid eye contact with others. They have difficulty interpreting what people are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions, and they don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior. In a nutshell, they lack empathy.
Unfortunately, Autism is a common disease and effects approximately 1 in 150 births, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2007. This means as many as 1.5 million Americans today are believed to have some form of autism.
Based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, autism is growing at an alarming rate of 10-17 percent per year, and affects all races and ethnicities. At this rate, it is estimated that autism could affect 4 million Americans in the next decade! And although the overall incidence of autism is consistent around the globe, it is four times more prevalent in boys than in girls.
So how does Autism occur? What causes it to happen? This has been an ongoing debate for quite a long time.
According to Carolyn Abraham from the Globe and Mail (January 10, 2008):
Two independent research teams have pinpointed the genetic glitch behind certain cases of autism, paving the way for the first DNA test to reliably predict who will develop the disorder.
Researchers with the Boston-based Autism Consortium have found that children who carry a missing or duplicated stretch of chromosome 16 have a 100-fold increased risk of developing autism. The mutation, confirmed through genetic scans of more than 1,400 people with autism in three separate study groups, appears most often to be the result of a random quirk not seen in either parent. Published in today’s New England Journal of Medicine, the Boston paper estimates the mutation is linked to about 1 per cent of all autism cases.
If the genetic code in this region is deleted – like a sentence missing several words – it cannot be read, said Dr. Scherer, and this seems to result in more severe cases of autism. If the code is duplicated, the disorder appears to be milder – like a sentence in which repeated words make it difficult, but not impossible, to read.
According to Dr. Scherer, “The link between the mutation and autism is so strong that it will herald “the first highly predictive DNA test for an autism disorder. We are transferring the technology [to perform the test] from our research lab to the diagnostic clinic as we speak.”
Interestingly enough, other types of mutations at Chromosome 16 have been identified as responsible for diseases such as: Crohn’s Disease; Inflammatory bowel disease, tuberous sclerosis, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, polycystic kidney disease and others. Now Autism can be added to it’s list.
As previously stated, in the past Doctors have relied on behavior to diagnose the disease. However, with this new technology, an inexpensive DNA test could identify those who are still in the womb, or infants who are suspected to have the disease. No doubt this pre-birth identification will generate either a positive, or negative, controversial reaction from people, depending on their beliefs.
Children’s Hospital in Boston is now also offering the test for the Chromosome 16 mutation for Autism.
For more information on the original article, please visit: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080110.wautismgta10/BNStory/specialScienceandHealth/home
Hello and welcome to DNA Identifiers blog about DNA testing!
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