At a baby shower this weekend, I had one of my two regular party conversations. Someone says, “Genetic testing? Cool! Do you do all that CSI stuff?”
No, I don’t wield big flashlights and hang around crime scenes. DNA can tell more than one interesting story. In addition to forensics, DNA technology is used for…
Predispositional Tests. These tests can give you permanent, life-long insight. They look at your genetic makeup to see if you carry a gene that puts you at higher risk for a certain disease. This type of testing can also be used to confirm a diagnosis, or determine whether a condition you already have is genetically based.
Screening Tests. Similar to X-rays or other tests that record a moment in time, these tests look at a cell sample for “acquired” DNA mutations (not inherited) that can indicate whether a disease, such as cancer, is present in a part of the body.
Paternity Tests. This type of testing looks at the DNA of a mother, child, and the man thought to be the child’s father, to see if the man is indeed the biological father of the child.
Ancestry Tests. These tests look at your Y chromosome (men only) and mitochrondrial DNA for specific genetic markers that are unique to certain populations. These markers indicate your deep ancestry migration patterns, and thus, genetic ethnicity. (Have I raved about the Genographic Project yet?)
Drug Metabolism Tests. These tests tell you how quickly your body processes certain types off drugs, and whether or not you are likely to experience side effects or toxicity. For some drugs, testing will tell you whether the drug in question will be effective.
So what’s the other party question? “Can you test my dog to see what breeds he’s made of?” (No, not yet :-))