One Company Makes Almost All the Home DNA Test Spit Tubes

I found an article by Kristen V Brown in the Bloomberg web site to be interesting reading. It isn’t about genealogy as much as it is about one of the tools genealogists use to determine their ethnic origins.

Almost all DNA tests today are made by spitting into a vial (which is a small tube) or by swabbing the insides of a cheek and then inserting the swabbing stick into a vial for shipment to the testing company. The vial carrying your saliva needs to make its way safely to the testing company’s lab. That vial was almost certainly designed by OraSure’s subsidiary, DNA Genotek.

Quoting from the article:

“A plastic tube may not sound like a mind-blowing invention, but saliva samples are extremely sensitive to time, temperature, and other factors, and the genetic information encoded within can easily degrade if not properly stored. For companies offering cheap DNA analysis, safely transporting saliva is no small feat. Each half-teaspoon sample needs to survive delays in delivery and any hot or cold spikes it’s exposed to on its journey through the postal system, as well as on the customer’s end.”

Even more complex is the fact that saliva is never pure. It’s got a lot of bacteria and other stuff swimming in it. The chemical in the vial that carries the saliva sample has to be able to isolate the human DNA from the nonhuman DNA.

You can read the full article at:

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