Entries in DNA Testing (3)


Who’s Your Daddy? Mobile Truck Offers DNA Tests to Go

WABC(NEW YORK) -- In what may be a first anywhere, a “Who’s Your Daddy” truck is cruising New York City selling DNA tests to people who want to confirm their child’s paternity or even whether their parents are biologically related to them.

The brown and white RV, which is bedecked in eye-catching signs advertising its services, is more than just a moving billboard, according to driver and operator Jared Rosenthal. “The RV is set up to be a drug testing clinic and a DNA testing clinic,” he told ABC News. “It’s essentially a mobile office so while we’re working people will walk up and ask questions and sometimes even take a test right on board.”

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Rosenthal, who works at mobile and clinic based testing company Health Street, came up with the idea for the truck himself. "Necessity is the mother of invention,” he said. "I couldn’t afford to rent an office, so I thought, we can convert the RV to a mobile office. People love the artwork -- it makes them smile and they share it with their friends on social media and get in touch with people who maybe do need DNA tests.”

But it’s not all smiles aboard the Who’s Your Daddy Truck, which often plays host to the full spectrum of human emotions. “DNA really gets at a person’s identity, it gets to the core of their identity, who your parents are, who your children are, how you define yourself ethnically and culturally.” Rosenthal said, “The RV is a little more intimate than a clinic, clients tend to talk more. They tell us things, we experience some of these life-changing moments with them.”

Rosenthal brought up the story of one woman in her early 20s who came in for a test, only to find out that the people she believed to be her father and her three half-sisters was not related to her at all. In fact, the test revealed she was from an entirely different ethnic background. “When she found out her father wasn’t her biological father it totally rocked her identity to the core,” he said.

He recounted meeting an 18-year-old woman from another state who had contacted the man she believed to be her father living in New York. A DNA test at the truck proved it was true, bringing a broken family back together. “He began to form a relationship with this woman and it was great.” Rosenthal said. “They lost 18 years but they found each other.”

Drama aside, Rosenthal insists that the truck is much more than a mobile Maury (paternity testing is a common topic associated with the talk show hosted by Maury Povich), providing a service that is “very approachable, very accessible, and very available to the community.”

The DNA, drug, and alcohol tests, which range in price from $79 to $599 are available at the truck or at local health street clinics. Although based in New York, the organization has partnered with out-of-state clinics and the U.S. Consulate to provide testing in the event that one or more of the parties may live out of the state or country.

For more information on the Who’s Your Daddy Truck and Health Street visit their website.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


DNA Testing Not So Potent for Prevention, Study Says

Comstock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- When scientists developed the ability to catalog a person’s genes, many hailed whole genome sequencing as modern medicine’s best tool to predict and prevent serious diseases, such as cancer. But according to a new study, whole genome sequencing is not the magic bullet for prevention -- at least not yet.

A team of researchers from Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center found that the test fails to provide solid predictive evidence for a large portion of people. The findings were published online Monday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

“From a public health perspective, basically, it’s a reality check. It tells us what will we be able to do, and what won’t we be able to do with whole genome sequencing,” said Dr. Bert Vogelstein, co-director of the Hopkins’ Ludwig Center for Cancer Biology Research in Baltimore, and an author of the study.

The researchers analyzed data from thousands of identical twins, noting how many of them had developed any of 24 different diseases, including cancer and autoimmune, cardiovascular, genitourinary, neurological and obesity-related disorders.

Vogelstein said data from identical twins, who share the same genome, give scientists an opportunity to study the genetic components of disease. If the genome was the determining factor for common diseases, then the number of twins who have a certain disease that their twin also has could show how well whole genome sequencing could predict an individual’s disease risk, he said.

Using what they knew about how many of the twins developed certain disorders, the researchers created a mathematical model to calculate the capacity of whole genome sequencing to predict the risk of each disease.   

They found that the majority of people would receive negative results for 23 of the 24 diseases, even though the risk of developing 19 of them in people who tested negative would still be 50 to 80 percent of the risk in the general population. The researchers reported that the best-case scenario would mean that 90 percent of people tested would be alerted to a clinically significant predisposition to at least one disease.

Vogelstein told ABC News that the study found that whole genome sequencing is not a perfect predictor of a person’s future health.

“In some cases people may find it useful, but others will decide that it’s less useful,” Vogelstein said. “All we’re trying to do is provide the limits so people will know what they’re paying for and what the capacity is of these tests.”

A number of private labs provide whole genome sequencing services for about $3,000 per genome, but prices are dropping as the technology improves.

Dr. Ronald Crystal, chairman of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, said the tests are still a valuable way to test for the risk of certain diseases that have definite genetic links, such as Alzheimer’s disease or type 1 diabetes. But for many diseases, for example cancer, which are shaped by a symphony of genetic, environmental and behavioral risk factors, scientists still need much more research before learning what genetic results mean for a specific individual’s risk.

“In terms of disease prevention, what we tell patients now still holds:  Don’t smoke, don’t do drugs, don’t be obese, eat sensibly and exercise,” Crystal said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Advance In DNA Testing Could Make Law and Order Easier to Keep

Comstock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- When it comes to cracking crime, DNA analysis can often help investigators confirm or eliminate suspects. But it has one central limitation: when one DNA sample mixes with another, there's no method to identify one DNA strand beyond a reasonable doubt -- making evidence inadmissible in court. But a new technique developed in Israel may change that.

The method -- developed at Hebrew University and written up in the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics -- uses existing technology to look for a person's very rare DNA sequence changes.

"If in the DNA mixture you find the presence of all the, say, 100 rare variants, that's proof that the DNA of that specific person is present in the mixtures," said developer Ariel Darvasi.

He says the algorithm he developed to test his method proves it's accurate enough to be used in court.

Darvasi is in talks to develop the product.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio