Everything you need to know about DNA Testing

DNA Testing

What is DNA?

Deoxyribonucleic Acid otherwise known as DNA, has been the topic of conversation for the past few years. It was only in the 1950s when DNA was actually observed by Watson and Crick who were responsible for the double-helix DNA model. However, DNA has been around since the beginning of life; because it is what composes the genes that make up living organisms. Therefore, it was first observed back in the 1800s by Frederich Miescher. While it was observed, it was not identified; and therefore, went unidentified for an entire century before Watson and Crick came along and re-created the double-helix DNA model. There is still so much left unknown about the complexity of DNA, but scientists continue to learn more about its structure and function on a daily basis. There are now many every day uses for DNA testing available for the average person.

What is Genetic Testing?

Over the past few decades genetic testing has become quite popular for a variety of reasons. Many people wish to undergo DNA testing so that they can learn more about their ancestry and connect with relatives that they were unaware even existed. Other people wish to undergo DNA testing to determine their ethnic backgrounds; or if they have specific genes that may predispose them to serious medical conditions.

Why should you get a DNA test performed?

Whether your interest is to find long lost relatives, or it is to diagnose medical conditions before they present, DNA testing can offer many benefits. DNA testing has created an endless number of possibilities to help people learn more about themselves and their history. Being able to have the ability to learn about one's history and background, can provide a sense of connection and inclusion between people who have never even met. It also provides an opportunity for those who have long, lost relatives to connect through these DNA testing websites and they can bond over their heritage. It is a great opportunity to connect those who wish to look further into their ancestry.

How does DNA work?

DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic Acid; and the double-helix model was established by Watson and Crick in the 1950s. Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) is the genetic material that is present in all living organisms. This genetic material is passed down from parents to their offspring. Each parent has 46 chromosomes or 23 pairs of chromosomes. Each offspring receives 23 chromosomes from their mother and 23 chromosomes from their father, which in total makes up the 46 chromosomes. Of these 23 pairs of chromosomes 22 of them are considered autosomal and contain the same genetic material. The 23rd pair of the 23 pairs of chromosomes is the sex chromosome. It is what determines the sex of the offspring.

For babies that are male, the sex chromosomes will consist of a X and a Y chromosome. For babies that are female, the sex chromosomes will consist of a X and a X chromosome. Each living eukaryotic cell has genetic material, or DNA. The DNA is located inside the nucleus of the cell. The DNA is basically the roadmap used to create a living organism. It is composed of building blocks that make up nucleotides. The nucleotides are composed of a sugar, nitrogenous base, and a phosphate group.

There are four different nitrogenous bases that bond together to form the double-helix molecule. The four nitrogenous bases include: Adenine, Guanine, Thymine, Cytosine. Adenine forms hydrogen bonds between Thymine, and Guanine forms hydrogen bonds Cytosine. Because of the tight hydrogen bonds between the nitrogenous bases, the structure of the DNA becomes a double-helix and curls upon itself. These combinations make up specific genes that encode the physical characteristics that are present within the development of the organism.

Every human receives two copies of each gene; one parent donates one copy of the gene and the other parent donates the other copy of the gene. There are over 20,000 known genes; but with the complexity of the genome there are still many unknowns when evaluating the DNA specifically.

DNA is what defines us as humans; and that is also how we can be linked back to our ancestry or heritage. Understanding the science behind the actual DNA molecule, will help to us to determine how it can be used to link us to relatives that we never even knew we had.

Reasons to get DNA Testing done

Being able to evaluate one's DNA can provide many different benefits depending on the reason for the DNA testing. Some individuals wish to use DNA testing to determine predispositions to certain genetic diseases. It can provide patients with the opportunity to implement prophylactic interventions if they have genes that encode for specific diseases. DNA is commonly used as a source in crime scene investigations as well. Each individual has a unique DNA imprint that allows for individuality. DNA can be used to determine family tree lineages all the way back to the 1800s. There are endless possibilities when testing an individual's DNA sample.

How are DNA samples taken?

There are many different ways to prepare a DNA sample. Undergoing a DNA test is actually quite easy. There are many different ways to obtain a DNA sample, but some of the most common methods include: saliva, hair and blood. By undergoing a simple blood test, or simply spitting into a test tube the DNA sample collected will then be sent to a laboratory for evaluation. The laboratory will evaluate the DNA sample and compare it to the different genetic material obtained from other DNA samples in the database. The results can provide information as to the different types of ethnic backgrounds that are present within his or her DNA. It can also provide information about ancestral linages, to provide comparison results to other long, lost relatives. Finally, undergoing DNA testing can provide insight into genetic diseases that may be hereditary and passed down from generation to generation.

DNA Test Kits

There are many different ways to obtain a DNA test kit. The DNA testing kits can be purchased through online websites as well as in specialty pharmacy or medical supply stores. Your physician can also order specific genetic, or DNA testing through a simple blood test. Other websites that promote finding your ancestors may also offer a mail in DNA testing kit. With these kits, the test will be mailed to the recipient and the recipient will either spit in a tube or provide a lock of their hair to mail back to the site. After the DNA sample is received, it will then be tested and evaluated. The results will then be provided to the individual that provided the DNA sample. Results can take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks to populate. The more people that give their DNA samples to these online websites, the more population they will have to compare their genetic material to. Therefore, it is imperative to make sure that the online site that is offering these DNA testing kits has access to databases with a large sample population size. DNA testing can only be compared to those DNA samples that are within the database; so it is important to remember that it is not a complete representation of your entire genetic ancestry.

DNA Testing History

It was just a few decades ago when DNA was actually identified and observed. When scientists were able to identify this entity, it changed the scientific world. Now scientists had a way to identify and isolate genes within the DNA to advance science and medicine. With genetic testing, the sky is the limit; there are great opportunities to connect families who may have been separated prior. It is also a way to trace one's linage back to the 1800s. With DNA testing, genetic diseases can be identified and new treatments can be developed. As the science and medical worlds continue to evolve, there will continue to be more advances with how this DNA can be evaluated. There are so many genes that have yet to be isolated, and as science continues to advance, new genes will be identified and isolated.

DNA testing is a new, innovative way to evaluate one's genetic material. It is becoming more popular; and as it does so more and more people will be providing their DNA samples to get a closer look into their own genetics. These scientific advances have changed history; and have influenced our ability to look to our ancestral past. It is an amazing advancement that will continue to make a difference in the lives of others. This can provide the individual with an entire new outlook on their history and ancestry. If you, or someone you know is interested in learning more about your heritage or just concerned about hereditary diseases passed from generation to generation, please speak with a Geneticist or a healthcare provider to direct you on the right path to DNA testing. These DNA kits can be accessed through the online ancestry websites or at specialty medical stores. There is plenty of opportunity to undergo DNA testing, if you are interested in looking further into your roots and history. There are many at home DNA testing kits that can provide you with the opportunity to look further into your ancestry and heritage.