The History of DNA Tests:
The world of DNA tests and their numerous purposes can be confusing and daunting, but it really isn’t. Basically, the science of DNA, the types of tests that can be taken, and the purposes for which they are being used for, has evolved and advanced in huge strides in recent years. A brief history of this science is presented here:
Forensic Testing: starting in 1985, it became possible to use DNA samples, which are found in all biological material (skin, hair, blood and other bodily fluids) to determine a “genetic fingerprint” of any individual that is absolutely unique (with the exception of identical twins). By comparing DNA samples taken from crime scenes with DNA samples from possible suspects, a match could be determined absolutely. This science has been used broadly ever since 1985 to convict or exonerate many suspects. However, this same technique can also be used to link individuals that are closely related genetically:
Paternity Testing: starting soon after 1985, just like in Forensic testing, samples of two or more individuals can be analyzed, and the DNA fingerprints compared. Knowing that a child of two parents receives half of its DNA’s chromosomal information from each parent, it is very easy to compare two individuals’ DNA patterns, and if there is approximately a 50% match, then it is absolutely certain that one of the individuals is the offspring of the other. This science began to be used soon after Forensic testing became available.
Medical Testing: As medicine’s use of DNA information has increased, many scientists have been studying the DNA patterns of people with or without certain diseases or conditions. As has been known for a long time, there are certain traits of people that are determined by their genetic makeup- and these are fairly simple to understand- for example, there are genes that determine the colour of eyes, of the colour of hair, in each of us. However, as this science is advancing, it is becoming possible for scientists to discover specific DNA sequences or patterns that could be responsible for more difficult to find conditions, such as specific patterns of DNA that, if found, increase the likelihood of certain cancers, or the likelihood of contracting other types of diseases or conditions. The use of DNA test results to determine medical conditions or their increased likelihood began in the early 2000’s. This type of science is quite distinct in purpose from the DNA analysis that links individuals to certain global regions (ancestry-based DNA testing). Medical DNA testing opens up many questions, in terms of ethics and privacy of information:
These are just a few of the questions that must be thought about very carefully before submitting one’s DNA sample to a medical testing company.
DNA Ethnicity Testing: this is one of the most recent uses of DNA information, and the branch that we are interested in at BeyondDNA. This branch was developed into a viable science only about eight years ago, and has now become widespread and popular. The reason that it took a little bit longer for this branch to catch on was that before being able to determine someone’s ancestry from DNA samples, much field testing had to be performed by the testing companies, in order to determine what a DNA sample from someone from a certain geographic region of the world actually should look like. In other words, if we were to consider one individual from England, and if we were to look at this person’s DNA, it is easily possible to record this DNA, and every other person can be compared to this person’s DNA, in order to see how many chromosomes match up in some way with this person’s chromosomes. However, if we consider England, there are over 50 million inhabitants of this nation, and they all have differences in their DNA. Therefore, it is necessary to
-take DNA samples of a reasonably large sample of people from a certain region, in order to discover common traits among this group
-it is also necessary to ensure that the sample population that was chosen to represent a geographic region actually stems from this region, In other words, the sample population should be comprised of individuals that actually have lived in this region for multiple generations.
Now, by taking samples of “native” people from many different regions around the world, and only after samples have been collected and compared, does it become feasible to take a random person’s DNA sample, and to compare it to the multiple sample populations that have already been established by all of the field testing. This is the reason that it has taken a significant amount of time for this branch of DNA testing to evolve to the level at which it is now.
Initially, the cost of having a DNA test performed to check for Ethnicity was quite expensive, but in the last year, the cost has been reduced dramatically, and this type of test is now very affordable.
The good news is that it is possible to take DNA tests from one of many reputable companies. We would only caution you that if you take a DNA test with a company, please read about whether they also offer medical test results, and if you are not interested in these, to not purchase or analyze your DNA for medical purposes, but only for the purposes of establishing your Ethnicity.
Popular Ethnicity (Ancestry) DNA Testing Companies:
Some of the most popular DNA testing companies for Ethnicity test are: (there are others too).
There are also some Ethnic DNA companies that target specific ethnic groups (for example, to determine if an individual has any Native North American ancestry).
These companies have conducted significant field studies, and have very complete databases of information from around the globe, which means that the results that you receive will be based on very good background samples. You should have a look at these companies’ websites to check which of these companies provides the type of information that you are looking for.
Still confused about which DNA Testing Company to use?
We are always willing to help; if you want our advice, based on what you are looking for, just send us a note to BeyondDNAOrders@gmail.com, and we will be happy to give you our recommendations.
How DNA testing is performed:
All of these companies will ask you to pay for the test that you are interested in, and then they will send you a DNA kit to your home. You can then use a swab to take a DNA sample from the inside of your cheek. You send this sample back to the company, and generally, within two or three weeks, your personal results will be either sent or e-mailed to you. These results are generally very complete, and will give you a good idea of where your ancestry stems from.
However, this is where some customers experience confusion. Once they read their DNA test results, they often don’t agree with the results. This can be because they have always believed that their ancestry from a different region than what the results show.
What we can do for you: BeyondDNA’s Value Added Services:
This is where BeyondDNA comes in. While we believe that the results obtained from DNA testing labs are for the most part very accurate, these results do not inherently include any historical data that may explain the background of the results more clearly to a customer. We are here to take a close look at the results that you received, and if you have a different idea (or confusion) of where you stem from (based on family tree, or word of mouth), please tell us about what causes you confusion, and we will research your individual DNA test results, and provide you with the historical perspective that is missing from the DNA Test results. It is possible that a series of events that occurred far in your past (generations ago) will provide you with the answers that you cannot find from the raw DNA Test results that you have been given- and your family tree or parents are not even aware of it.
We will connect the dots, to show you how the DNA results most likely do make sense, by exploring your personal DNA’s trail through history!