Everyone talks about how fast computing power has grown over the past generation. However, we tend to forget that its exponential growth has led to spectacular gains in other fields as well.
Biotech is a prime example of this. In 1990, the idea of sequencing one’s DNA was little more than a dream. The Human Genome Project kicked off that year. Eleven years later, we achieved this goal, but at a staggering cost. In all, multiple governmental agencies spent 2.7 billion USD to make it happen.
Seven years later, in 2008, that cost fell to 10 million USD. Another seven years reduced that figure to just 1,000 USD. Today, you can get a “quick and dirty” analysis of your DNA for 100 USD or less.
The ability to peer into one’s genetic code is now available to almost everyone. In today’s post, we’ll talk about DNA testing kits, and what people are using them for.
What Is A DNA Testing Kit?
It’s exactly what it sounds like. A DNA testing kit is a product designed to collect a sample of your DNA for in-depth analysis.
After ordering your kit, you’ll receive it in approximately five business days. The process is simple – either spit into the collection vial provided, or swab your cheek with an applicator. After securing the container, send it back to the lab for analysis.
Within three to five weeks, your DNA testing firm will send results, either by e-mail or snail mail. These reports break down everything from your ancestry to health conditions you may have a predisposition for.
What Do People Use DNA Testing For?
The answers these reports contain have driven the exponential growth of the DNA testing industry. Who wouldn’t want to know where they came from? After all, not everyone has a genealogy-obsessed uncle.
Others worry about health conditions they might develop in the future. Using a home DNA test kit cannot predict whether you will actually get Parkinson’s or late-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. However, it can identify those at higher risk of developing these and other disorders.
DNA Testing Can Uncover The Truth About Families
Let’s look at cases where DNA testing had significant effects on the lives of testers. Michele from New York State had tracked her family tree back four centuries. She even thought, through her research, that she might have Native American lineage.
A DNA test sent to AncestryDNA wiped out all that hard work. Rather than getting expected results, she was shocked to find out she was half-Italian. After calling her aunt, she found out the truth. Her mother had a prom date that matched the Italian last name provided in her report.
The man who she thought was her father – wasn’t.
DNA Testing Can Uncover Life-Saving Information About Our Health
As mentioned earlier, DNA tests can also uncover risk factors for serious diseases. Some, like late-onset Alzheimer’s, have no cure. But other markers, like a predisposition for breast cancer, can be addressed.
Sara is a Los Angeles-based writer. As a self-confessed hypochondriac, she gladly paid for the health upgrade when she tested her DNA through 23andMe. When Sara got the results back, there was good news and bad news. She had no proclivity towards Alzheimer’s, but she also tested positive for BRCA2.
The presence of this gene makes it far more likely that its carrier will develop breast cancer later in life. Upon receiving confirmation of this fact, Sara opted to undergo a double mastectomy. This result marked a significant shift in her life, but it may have extended her lifespan significantly.
Who Are The Primary Providers Of DNA Testing Kits?
Have some unanswered questions about your family or your health? Using a home DNA test kit can guide you towards the answers. The DNA test kit market is rapidly expanding, with dozens of firms vying for your business.
The two companies already referenced in this article – AncestryDNA and 23AndMe – are industry leaders. AncestryDNA has collected samples from over 15 million customers. Their parent company Ancestry took in an estimated 460 million USD in 2019.
Meanwhile, 23AndMe has analyzed over three million samples as of February 2018. However, thanks to higher price points, they took in an estimated 475 million USD in revenue last year.
Your choice isn’t limited to these firms, as there are scores of other options. Family Tree DNA is known for its in-depth scientific analysis. MyHeritage is best for those on a budget, and who don’t care about contacting relatives. And, there are even firms like Embark. Embark is a firm that specializes in testing dog DNA – it details the lineage of your dog, with over 200 breeds covered.
For the most recommended kits, click on the link. It’ll take you to CompareDNAKits.com, a site that breaks down the pros and cons of major DNA testing firms. By spending a few hours researching there, you’ll have a better idea which company can best meet your needs.
Discover Who You Are
Life’s too short to leave existential questions about your past/health unanswered. By using a home DNA test kit suggested in this post, you can get the closure you’re seeking.