Interesting Uses For DNA Testing

September 17, 2023

Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is material in humans inherited from parents and past generations. DNA is the same in almost every cell in the body, and while a small amount is in the mitochondria, most DNA is present in the nucleus of the cells. DNA is unique to every person. The DNA code is comprised of four different chemical bases, including guanine, thymine, adenine, and cytosine. Due to the composition and uniqueness of DNA, studying it can provide a wealth of information about a person. This biological molecule can tell you who is related to who, provide information about health, and is even used to solve crimes and mysteries. Learning more about DNA lets you see how many ways it is used in today’s society.

Reveals Inherited Conditions

Certain medical conditions can be passed down to children from their parents, so DNA reveals inherited conditions, such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia. Testing DNA is one way to determine if parents have certain genes or to see if the patients have certain genes associated with an increased risk of particular diseases.

There are two methods used for this purpose, including predictive testing and carrier testing. Carrier testing is used to determine if two individuals have specific genes they may pass down, resulting in the risk of their child developing the condition. In these cases, the parents are not sick, and they simply carry the genes and might pass them down. Predictive testing is done on the actual patient and can tell you if you are at risk for certain medical conditions. For example, it might help to identify genes or gene mutations associated with colorectal or breast cancer.

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Accuracy Of A Diagnosis

Many medical conditions are associated with mutations affecting specific genes, so testing DNA can help with the accuracy of a diagnosis. Looking at genes can help doctors to determine if your symptoms are due to a specific condition. For example, if you have the signs of Huntington’s disease or cystic fibrosis, DNA testing can confirm this diagnosis, which is important because many conditions do not have any other definitive diagnostic methods. To test DNA, doctors may take a sample of blood, skin, saliva or hair, depending on the condition they are looking to diagnose. This is typically done in addition to other testing that will vary based on the condition the doctor suspects the patient has.

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Prenatal Genetic Testing

When women are pregnant, prenatal genetic testing can be helpful to determine if their fetus has any abnormalities with their genes. Two of the disorders most often noticed this way include trisomy 18 syndrome and Down syndrome. It is common for doctors to recommend their patients be tested for these disorders. When women know ahead of time their baby may be born with abnormalities, it makes it easier to make the appropriate plans. Amniocentesis is typically used for this type of genetic testing. This test takes a sample of the women’s amniotic fluid and tests it. There is a newer option doctors might also consider that is referred to as cell-free DNA testing. It involves taking a blood sample from mom to check out the baby’s DNA.

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Social And Legal Obligations

When two individuals have a baby, they each contribute genetic material to the child. This allows individuals to use DNA for situations involving social and legal obligations like paternity. This can be done both during pregnancy and after the child is born. After the child is born, a blood or saliva sample is taken from the child and their parents to look for a familial relation. During pregnancy, amniocentesis and other prenatal genetic testing methods can be used to look for familial relation. While this is usually done to determine who a child’s father is, maternal DNA can also be used to determine who a child’s mother is. In the legal realm, DNA is also used to solve crimes. When body fluids are collected, they can be tested for DNA.

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Solves Ancient Mysteries

DNA is now being used as a method to solve ancient mysteries and archeologists are recording the progression of human life and genetic codes through the use of DNA. They can go back to the earliest centuries to track humans and other organisms. There is now a DNA database historians and other interested parties can use for comparison purposes and as a reference. Other living organisms have also been studied using this method, as it allows scientists to look at genetic mutations and evolution. It also tells them more about how a species originated. The testing methods for this purpose vary, and it ultimately depends on the organism samples available.

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