When one hears about a DNA test, they have no idea what the process involves. The first step in the process is to extract DNA or genetic material from the cells of a patient. Samples can be had either from blood, saliva swabs, skin, or hair. Today, noninvasive prenatal testing facilities are available for paternity test while pregnant. Tests can be done for a number of different issues, based on need. It could be for paternity, to determine if a person was present at a crime scene or if a person has mutations, which are indicative of a specific disease. Most often, changes in DNA are the cause for a particular disease; DNA tests can also provide important information so that timely health care can be delivered to a patient (especially newborns).
DNA can be described as a large molecule, which has two entwined strings of smaller molecules. Diseases happen when changes/mutations occur in any part of the DNA. Mutations can cause one or more of the small molecules to change or not exist in the string. If mutations happen only with one molecule, the time taken to find the change can be long and tough – considering the fact that there are 3 billion of these in an individual’s DNA. On the other side, mutations that occur in large segments of the DNA can be easily seen under a microscope and work is needed to pinpoint all the problems. Quite a few procedures and techniques have been developed to detect different mutations.
Why DNA Testing is necessary:
There are quite a few reasons to do so and they are as follows:
• Accurate Diagnosis: Of late, paternity testing is done to ensure that a disease has been diagnosed right and to start with treatment. In many cases, diseases can be hard to detect or diagnose; there are cases when diseases are so similar that is hard to pinpoint the right one. It is important to find the right cause so that proper treatment can commence. The other reason to do so is to find out whether a particular disease runs in families or specific ethnic groups.
• Preventing/Delaying disease: There are indications of problems even if a disease does not manifest overtly. Consider the case of families in which specific diseases keep occurring on a regular basis, DNA tests will be able to identify specific persons who are likely to get a disease in the future. In many cases, when a particular disease is common to particular groups, doctors do tests overall group to find out whether it is present. This works well as form of intervention and prevent the disease from occurring as well as to delay the onset. Intervention could be in the form of surgery, medication or a change in lifestyle.
• Social and Legal reasons: In many cases, paternity tests are done to identify the biological father. In case of a lack of history, DNA tests can help in finding out specific health issues especially for adopted children.
• Organ transplants: DNA tests helps to check the compatibility of the donors well before organ transplantation. DNA banks are available at labs, which do testing as well.
DNA banking is a process by which cells are extracted and frozen for future use or even testing. DNA is stable and can be stored for decades.