Sunday, November 1, 2009

DNA Identity Testing

Although it may seem outlandish at first thought, it is becoming more common that questions of relationship surface at or around the passing of a relative. Many times, the issue is personal, that perhaps a biological relationship was never established with the now deceased relative, or was uncertain. In other situations, the issue may regard legal matters, such as inheritance of assets. Whatever the questions or reasons may be, DNA testing laboratories are experiencing a greater number of cases involving decedents.So, then the question of how to determine the relationship arises. Of course, DNA testing is the answer, but what type of sample can be collected after a person is deceased? In theory, any human biological tissue, which contains nucleated cells, may be used for the purpose of DNA testing. However, many factors may affect the viability of a sample. If it is decided that DNA testing is necessary and a deceased individual is to be a test participant, if at all possible, a DNA sample should be secured immediately, at or around the time of death. Otherwise, it may then become more difficult to obtain a viable DNA sample. Unless the cause of death is under investigation, most bodies will be released from a morgue to an undertaker, if opted, relatively quickly. Upon release to an undertaker, embalmment, if opted, will then take place rather quickly, as well. The chemicals in embalming fluid contaminate the tissues of the body. This poses a problem if a DNA sample is to be collected from a decedent, for the purpose of DNA testing.Recognizing the need to find a solution to this problem, the DNA Identity Testing Laboratory of Bio-Synthesis, Inc. underwent an experiment. Since it is widely known that after embalmment, the soft tissue of the body will not be adequate for DNA testing, the lab had to identify a unique source of DNA. The type of sample selected to perform the experiment was eyebrow hair. As opposed to hair from the scalp, eyebrow hair tends to be thicker in diameter and, therefore, has a more substantial root. In nuclear DNA testing, any type of hair must have an intact root in order for nuclear DNA to be obtained. The selection of eyebrow hair over hair from the scalp was also due to the fact that many hair products have been found to act as PCR (polymerase chain reaction) inhibitors, which can prevent successful amplification of DNA (one of the steps in DNA testing).The experiment involved eyebrow hair samples (with roots) taken from 15 embalmed cadavers, ages 20 years to 75 years. The time that the samples were taken after embalmment ranged from 8 to 24 hours. The result was that, from all samples, a full DNA profile was obtained. This is remarkable because, in many cases, non-standard, forensic samples yield only partial DNA profiles. However, in this experiment, again, full profiles were obtained from every sample. Prior to this experiment, other experiments were performed with other types of samples, nail clippings for instance, with inconsistent results.The DNA Identity Testing Laboratory of Bio-Synthesis, Inc. has, in the past, dealt with many cases where a decedent was required to have DNA testing performed, and the body may have had to be exhumed. This process is not only invasive and time-consuming, it may be a distressing decision to make by a family member. By recognizing the need for DNA testing early on, long and complicated measures may be avoided. Family members of a decedent can then rest assured knowing that not only is their loved one at peace, they will also have peace of mind in finally having the answer to their questions of relationship.--DNA testing.Source:

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