We all know that science has come a long way in recent years and continues to do so. DNA testing is often the keystone to any good murder mystery on television, but it is growing in popularity.
Due to the popularity of DNA testing, independent labs have started popping up all over. A quick internet search will connect you to hundreds. This means that there are many different ways of testing for DNA.
DNA Testing and Quality Control
The growing demand for DNA testing from the general public, as well as professionals, have broadened the field. Now, there are varying methods for testing DNA because there are now people with different training and education performing these tests.
This is why close monitoring of these labs is necessary. Varying results can have catastrophic effects. Some new labs may go on for a long time without being monitored at all.
There is also the storage of DNA data. These storage databases are growing all the time, as each crime scene has DNA traces left. There is also the general public using DNA testing for their own needs.
People now can simply send a sample to a lab and get results back with information about their past and relations. But are they accurate and who is storing or using that information?
One of the main databases is CODIS. This CODIS or Combined DNA Index System is a national DNA profile repository maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Now, DNA is collected from people who are involved in crimes that involve violence or sex. Some states gather DNA from people who have committed a felony, regardless of whether they are convicted or not.
Now, scientific and technical advances have made DNA analysis even more accurate and useful. Because of this, the demand for DNA labs far outweighs the capacity of the lab.
Monitoring DNA Testing
Genetic testing for DNA is done with a sample of blood, saliva, skin, hair, and other tissues. Once the sample is collected, it is sent to a laboratory where technicians look for specific changes in chromosomes, DNA, or proteins.
Because most DNA is the same, there is very little room for error. Each individual will have unique proteins. These can not only let you know about relations, but they can determine if you are susceptible to certain diseases.
The FBI administers the NDIS (National DNA Index System) and CODIS, but the information stored in the national database comes from the federal government and the states.
Checking the accuracy of a DNA test has two different methods. Analytical validity looks at whether a DNA test can accurately detect if a specific gene has a mutation or not.
Clinical validity means if there is a mutation, is it related to a specific disease or condition. All labs that perform DNA tests are regulated by federal and/or state standards. The standards are designed to ensure the accuracy of genetic tests.
With the use of DNA kits, monitoring these can be difficult, if not impossible. If you are wanting to administer a genetic test yourself, get the kit from an accredited lab or clinic.
In fact, let them perform the test for you, as it is very easy for you to make a mistake. Doing these kits at home can provide misleading or incorrect results, which can cause a lot of upset and stress.
Federal DNA Database Unit
For law enforcement, the FDDU has a vast database for DNA. If there is a match in their system, they can build a profile on individuals. Once they have the profile, they upload it to the National DNA Index System (NDIS).
These profiles can be run through the database and matched with other samples that were uploaded. Even samples of unknown persons can be matched, which is most helpful when looking for criminals.
Scientists are responsible for the initial testing and analysis. With advanced technology, these samples can be processed and uploaded once the scientists approve of the results.
The FDDU is supported by DNA expert scientists and DNA program specialists who monitor and take responsibility for all the information and samples for quality control.
The FDDU also has top administrative teams to oversee the budget, procurement, inventory, and logistical applications. They work very closely with the technology team.
As for technology, a DNA Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) is critical for the automated development of specimens. It is carefully monitored throughout the entire analytical process.
It mostly relies on robotic systems to ensure there are no mistakes or interruptions throughout the whole process. Without human interruption, there is far less chance of contamination or other issues.
Of course, DNA testing has not been without its doubts and controversy. But due to advanced technology, there leaves little doubt about its results. If you are considering a DNA test for medical purposes.
People get genetic tests done for many reasons. To determine if you have a genetic disease if your future children will have the same disease, Or for cancer screening.
When you have your test done at the lab, you can be confident that the results are accurate and done professionally. You should avoid the kits you can buy yourself as the results can vary widely.
Even if you are looking for long-lost family members, you should go through your health care provider rather than ordering a kit online. You can never know what is happening with your results if you choose that way.
The CDC has guidelines in place for DNA testing, so always check with your own medical professional rather than buying a kit and trying to get the results yourself.
If you are concerned about a medical condition, it can be helpful for all your immediate family members to have the test completed, just to make sure everything is as it should be.
DNA testing has made enormous leaps in discoveries over the past decade or so.
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