When we say DNA testing, the first thing that probably comes to mind is commercial testing services. We often hear about cases and stories of long-lost family members reuniting after getting their DNA samples tested through a consumer service. It’s also through these services that we can explore our ancestry and origins.
But while these stories are truly happening, genetic testing is more than finding out more about family history. Genetic testing involves the analysis of an individual’s DNA for various purposes. The collection of a DNA sample varies, too. The methods typically include swabbing, blood testing, and in the case of pregnant women, amniocentesis.
Traditionally, genetic testing has been done in hospitals, but with consumer testing services, participants are allowed to collect their own DNA samples and mail them to the laboratory for testing.
There is so much more to the science of DNA testing, and if we look at this technology more closely, we can see that it plays a significant role in many other technological advancements. Here are 5 ways genetic testing is changing the world as we know it.
1. Medical Intervention
Genetic testing is one of the most efficient ways to assess an individual’s susceptibility to certain diseases and other medical conditions as early as possible. Even with a lack of symptoms, an analysis of a person’s DNA profile can reveal underlying health risks that may not be detectable through a simple medical check-up.
Some of the diseases and conditions that can be detected using genetic testing include various forms of cancer, lactose intolerance, celiac disease, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Because genetic testing can yield accurate risk analyses, an individual can work with their medical practitioner to create a comprehensive health and nutrition plan that suits them best.
2. Newborn Risk Assessment
It is one thing to evaluate an individual’s genetic risks for certain diseases; it’s another to detect a foetus’s risks and abnormalities in utero. Pregnant women can undergo genetic prenatal screening to detect conditions such as Down syndrome. Through early detection of diseases and conditions, doctors can create a medical treatment plan as early as possible, which can make a world of difference in managing the condition and its symptoms.
3. Family History Tracing
Knowing their roots and origins is a common desire among many individuals and families. Through genetic ancestry testing, tracing one’s family history, even older ancestors, has become a doable and accessible option for many.
Through this kind of DNA testing, millions have been able to trace their personal family lines and document their own ethnic origins. Also, through relationship tests, families have been reunited despite long years of separation.
4. Child Protection
Aside from reuniting families, through DNA testing, it has become a lot easier to prove a child’s parentage. A legal paternity test is an easy and accurate way to prove that a man is, indeed, the child’s biological father. This allows the child to enjoy their rights, such as child support and inheritance.
On the flip side, paternity testing is also a tool men can use to protect themselves against paternity fraud, which can occur if they have been misidentified, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to be a child’s father.
5. Health Research
Finally, another way genetic testing changes the world is through the collection of data intended to further health research. Results of genetic testing can be included in official electronic health records, which can be used in many clinical research programs. Through this, they can identify links between medical conditions or diseases and certain genetic markers.
Research conducted on the virus that causes COVID-19, for example, heavily uses genetic data collected from patients. This helps scientists and doctors identify the characteristics of the virus and, in effect, know how to combat it.
It’s becoming clearer and clearer that genetic or DNA testing can play a significant role in many advancements across the fields of science and research. From reuniting families to assessing an infant’s medical risks in utero, it seems like there isn’t much DNA testing cannot accomplish.