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What is a viability study? How is it different from a normal DNA test? When and why would you need one? Read our latest expert article to find out…

What is a viability study?

AlphaBiolabs’ range of DNA relationship testing kits use DNA samples obtained from cheek (buccal) cells. This is a simple process and just involves rubbing a mouth swab on the inside of a donor’s mouth for 20 seconds. As well as being convenient, it is also the most reliable method of sampling DNA.

In cases where it is not possible to use a swab, we could accept alternative samples, although we cannot guarantee a successful result. Because of this uncertainty, our in-house scientists will initially carry out a viability study. This is a test to check for the presence of usable DNA. An extraction technique is used to identify if a usable DNA profile is present in 5 working days.

If a profile can be retrieved, we will contact you and see how you wish to proceed with testing. Our range of relationship tests can all be used in conjunction with the DNA profile obtained from a viability study. Please note that there will be a cost for this additional testing.

In the event a DNA profile cannot be retrieved from the sample, we will contact you and let you know. The cost of any DNA relationship test you have already purchased will be refunded from your total cost. However, a refund will not be possible for the viability study because of all the laboratory work already undertaken.

What other samples can be accepted?

AlphaBiolabs can accept a range of samples for viability studies, such as toothbrushes, nail clippings or blood. Other items where potential DNA may have been left behind can also be tested, but our DNA team will advise on the likelihood of success.

Our DNA scientists regularly undertake viability studies on used toothbrushes. Our toothbrush DNA test can provide a good source of DNA. The method of brushing and type of toothpaste used has no effect on the results. All you need to do is send us a used toothbrush in the sample envelope provided. Samples sent in plastic packaging other than the sample envelope (such as sandwich bags) may cause degradation of the DNA present.

Nails have also been proven to be a good source of DNA. The collected nails are stable so can be stored long-term at room temperature and can be transported to the laboratory for processing by normal post.

Why would alternative samples be tested?

A major advantage of analysing alternative DNA samples is that the collections are less invasive than using mouth swabs and they can be collected in a more subtle manner. For example, children don’t need to be made aware that a test is being undertaken when their toothbrush can be sent in for analysing. Such a discreet method may be particularly beneficial in the case of a paternity dispute, for example, where using a swab on older children could lead to awkward questions.

Another advantage is to gain a DNA profile from an individual who has passed away. DNA can be easily collected from the deceased’s used toothbrush or nail clippings. However, it is still possible to obtain DNA profiles from the cheek cells of a recently deceased individuals.

Does secret DNA testing exist?

AlphaBiolabs understands that you may not want close family or friends to know that you are undertaking a DNA relationship test. However, consent is still needed for all individuals undergoing the DNA testing process. For deceased samples, the next of kin or another qualifying relative can sign consent. For toothbrush testing, a parent or guardian must provide consent for a child under 16 years of age.

We do take various steps to help minimise any chance of the company name being recognised in any correspondence. All our DNA relationship testing kits and letters are sent out in discreet plain packaging without company logos or branding. In addition, online payment transactions do not name AlphaBiolabs as the recipient on bank statements.

You can rest assured that our DNA testing is 100% confidential and data security is paramount.

To view all our DNA testing services, please visit our website https://www.alphabiolabs.co.uk/services/dna-testing/. If you have any queries or require further information, please call AlphaBiolabs on 0333 600 1300 or email info@alphabiolabs.com