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At AlphaBiolabs, we analyse DNA from buccal cheek cells, blood and toothbrush samples. The latest addition to our DNA testing services is nail clippings.

Extensive trials by our in-house analysts have proven nails to be a good source of DNA. The sample collections are less invasive than using mouth swabs or requiring a blood sample. Nail clippings are easy to self-collect without needing a collection kit or assistance by professional sample collectors. The collected nails are stable so can be stored long-term at room temperature and can be transported to the lab for processing by normal post.

Nail DNA sample collection

Both toe nails and finger nails can be used for nail DNA testing. Larger nails are preferred and clippings need to be taken as near to the nail bed as possible as this provides more sample to be analysed. The advantage of using toe nails over finger nails is that there is less potential for contamination. Acrylic nails, Shellac and other forms of nail varnish may need to be removed as this may impact on the DNA results.

Nail samples can be used for both peace of mind testing and for legal cases but it is important to gain consent for all samples that are sent in to be analysed. For legally defensible results, the nail samples would need to be collected under chain of custody conditions. This means that the nail samples do not leave the custody of those who are legally responsible for ensuring the authenticity of the DNA testing results.

Unique applications of nail DNA testing

One of the main applications of nail DNA testing is when an individual has passed away. Consent would be needed from the next of kin or another qualifying relative to process a deceased individual’s nail sample. For legal cases, the nails would need to be collected by one of our trained sample collectors, funeral directors or occasionally by coroners. The sample collector must sign the sample collector declaration and a copy of the death certificate may need to be sent in as a form of ID.

The DNA profile created from the nail DNA test may be needed to prove a biological relationship in the case of probate or will disputes. Alternatively, a DNA profile could be made into a lasting memento of a loved one.

The extraction of DNA from nail clippings is a more laborious process than analysing DNA from a mouth swab and can take up to 5 working days. Call 0333 600 1300 now for more information on nail DNA testing or email us at info@alphabiolabs.com. For information on any of AlphaBiolabs’ DNA testing solutions, please visit our website https://www.alphabiolabs.co.uk/services/dna-testing/

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