October 24, 2020

My DNA | Things you should know before buying DNA tests

If you are considering getting a DNA test, here are the things that you should know. How to get tested, deal with data privacy concerns, and
Tomohiro Takano

DNA - or deoxyribonucleic acid - is a molecule that carries your genetic information. This information is used by your cells to create proteins, which are like tiny cellular machines that give your cells certain abilities. Together, all of the cells in your body work together to make you - a completely unique individual! 

By getting a sample of your cells, scientists can extract this DNA molecule and “read” the code. Scientists have been able to correlate certain genetic variants that you carry with traits, disease risks, and can also use them to analyze your ancestry! If you are thinking, “What can my DNA actually tell me about my life?” - this article is for you!

How can I get a DNA test kit? What is Genetic Testing?

Though genetic testing used to cost billions of dollars and was limited to the laboratory, modern advancements in how we read, measure, and analyze DNA have allowed DNA test kits to be delivered directly to your door! You can easily order genetic testing kits from companies like 23andMe or AncestryDNA, and they will send a medical-grade DNA sample collection kit right to your house.

Depending on the company, you will either have to use a cheek swab or a spit tube to collect cells for analysis. Both are easy to use. With a cheek swab, you simply wipe a cotton swab on the inside of your cheek, and place it into a collection vial. With a spit tube, you simply spit into the tube provided until it is full of saliva. Both methods collect hundreds of cells, which you mail back to the testing company.

The companies will extract your genome, measure measure your genetic data, and use an algorithm to determine your test results. Depending on the company and the test you selected, you can get results on genetic information related to healthcare, ancestry composition and ethnicity, wellness, and genetic insights on traits you may have. 

What does My DNA look like?

Technically speaking, your DNA is a string of molecules that is invisible to the naked-eye. Each cell in your body contains around 5 feet of DNA, if you were to stretch it all out. But, you would need a microscope and advanced staining techniques to actually see this DNA.

When you get your sequencing results from a DNA testing companies, they simply read certain parts of your DNA and put the results in an electronic file. They also store these results in a DNA database, which they can use to study diseases like the coronavirus, genomics, and information about health that can help healthcare professionals.

What can I do with DNA data?

We’re glad you asked!

There are a million things you can learn from your DNA data, and many places you can use it. Not only does each DNA testing service offer a different set of traits that you can learn about, but there are many places that can analyze your raw DNA data so you can learn even more about yourself!

Check out our article on the Best DNA Tests to find the DNA test kit that is right for you!

Then, download your raw DNA data so you can free analyses from a variety of companies. In fact, that’s what we do here at Genomelink! We have also compiled a list of other great companies that offer third-party analysis of your DNA and traits in our Best DNA Upload Sites article. Check it out!

Tomohiro Takano
Tomohiro Takano
Co-Founder and CEO