Panda’s DNA Mapped

December 14th, 2009

Called one of the living fossils, the China’s giant panda’s entire genome has been mapped out. A study conducted by an international consortium led by scientists in China laid out the 2.4 billion DNA base pairs of a 3-year-old panda named Jing Jing, which was the mascot of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.Compared to the 3 billion base pairs humans have, the black and white panda’s DNA is smaller, but it contains an estimated 21,000 genes that encode proteins, a number similar to that of humans.The genetic make-up of the panda helps scientists to study the bear’s genetic history, behavior, and its finicky diets. It turns out that pandas have mutations in two copies of a taste gene called T1R1, which encodes a protein that senses the savory taste of meats, cheeses, broths and other high-protein foods. These mutations may have robbed pandas of the ability to taste meat, pushing them toward their bamboo diet, the researchers suggest.A surprise to the scientists, the panda genome does not show signs of inbreeding, inconsistent with one theory that suggests that the decline of the panda population may be caused by inbreeding. Jing Jin is an offspring of parents from two regions of wild pandas in China, which also may explain why his genome shows a diversity of genetic heritages.  

DNA Paternity Test in ART

November 13th, 2009

More and more couples choose assisted reproduction technology (ART) or surrogacy to realize their dreams of parenthood. These procedures include artificial insemination, using a gestational carrier or both. The process can require vast amounts of time, money, and patience to succeed. The last thing the intended parents expect to hear is that, after all the financial and emotional investments, the parentage of the born child comes into question.

Recently in media, a couple in Greenwich, Conn. filed a law suit against the doctor who helped them with fertility treatment. The case began in 2002 when a woman visited Dr. Ben Ramaley to have an intrauterine insemination performed.   The woman’s husband’s sperm sample was supposed to be used and help her get pregnant. Nine month later, the woman gave birth to twin girls. The couple got suspicious right after the babies were born because the babies’ skin color was way too light coming from a black father.

After several months of speculation and anxiety, the couple took a DNA paternity test and discovered that the father was not the biological father of the twins. The couple filed a suit against the doctor, and one court ruled that the doctor intentionally used his own sperm sample in an “extreme and outrageous” act.

Further investigation found that the doctor’s chart recordings were “scant in detail, hardly legible” and there was no indication who performed the procedure. There was no record that Ramaley’s patient had signed an “informed consent form, and some of the samples found at his office were not clearly labeled either.

Although this type of incident is not very common, it is important to note that human errors could occur at any fertility clinics, and not every service provider offers the same quality treatment. When there is doubt about maternity and paternity of a child produced with fertility treatment or surrogacy, a simple DNA test can answer the question and bring peace of mind.

Universal Genetics is an AABB accredited DNA testing laboratory that can help in this type of situation. Call us at 1-800-914-1002 to talk to one of our caring DNA consultants or email us at info@universalgenetics.com if you have questions.

DNA testing may resume for refugees

November 7th, 2009

According to a news article published by Associated Press, the American government is discussing the use of DNA tests once again for some foreign refugees seeking residence in the U. S. This may lead to reinstating the pilot program that found massive fraud among those claiming family ties to join relatives already in the U. S. during the Bush administration.

Known as Priority 3, the suspended pilot program was conducted between late 2007 and early 2008, which used DNA testing to verify the blood relationships among family based refugee applicants. The program found that nearly 90% of the family claims were fraudulent. The program initiated DNA testing on applicants from a few African countries including Somalia, Ethiopia and Liberia, who claimed biological relationships with each other and applied to reunite with their family members who had already resettled as refugees and legal residents in the U. S.

The program didn’t test those already in the U. S. because the State Department said the overseas applicants made up 95% of the applicants to the program. The testing started when suspicions of fraud were first raised among refugees in Kenya. Fewer than 20% of the cases confirmed the claimed family relationship, and a large proportion of the applicants refused to take part in the requested test.

There is not a specific standing DNA testing program in place in the United States targeted at immigration and refugee applicants. However, the immigration officers will request a DNA test to be performed on applicants when they are suspicious of the relationship, and the submitted proof is not sufficient to prove the claimed relationship. Although no decision has been officially made, the State Department said in a statement given to the media that the new procedures would likely include DNA testing.

Are you born noble, genetically?

September 26th, 2009

Most recently, genetic scientists have done some research into the genetic composition of different castes in India to see if there is any genetic difference between them. Since the separation of castes in India has been so rigid, scientists started with this assumption that long time isolation of each group may have shown in their DNA. The rigidity of the system still present in rural India has also made many wonder exactly how long castes have existed.

The study by geneticist David Reich and colleagues, published in the September 24 issue of Nature, takes a new approach to understanding the genetic history of India.

Reich’s team examined more than 550,000 points across all segments of the human genome. In doing so, they hoped to obtain a more complete picture of Indian genetic history. The research team analyzed the DNA of 132 individuals from India and neighboring regions, dividing them into 25 distinct groups based on geography, caste and language. They calculated how genetically ‘closed’ each of these groups were. In the caste system it is rare to marry someone from another class, making caste societies very closed, or ‘endogamous.’ If this endogamy continues over many generations, it will leave a behind a genetic signature for scientists to discover.Reich and his team found such a signature, indicating a long history of endogamy in several of the groups. In fact, the research team calculated that the DNA of six of the groups can be traced back to just a few individuals who lived anywhere from 30 to more than 100 generations ago. Assuming a generation time of 25 years, that establishes the existence of the caste system in the range of 750 to more than 2,500 years ago — long before the British colonial era.

In a second analysis, Reich and his team examined how ancient migrations could have influenced the formation of castes. First the researchers divided the Indian groups into language families: Indo-European and Dravidian. Dravidian tongues, like Tamil and Malayalam, are mainly spoken in southern India and are believed to be a remnant of languages spoken by some of the earliest inhabitants of the region. Indo-European languages, like Punjabi and Urdu, are more common in the north. They are believed to have arrived with a migration of farmers from southwestern Asia or the Near East about 9,000 years ago.Reich and his colleagues then compared the genetics of each of the Dravidian and Indo-European groups to a sample of European DNA. The team reasoned that, if Indo-European groups were really descended from the farmers, they would show more genetic similarity to the Europeans than the Dravidians.Not surprisingly, the authors’ hypothesis held true. The Indo-European speakers, like the Kashmiri Pandit and Vaish, were more genetically similar to Europeans. And because the majority of the upper castes speak Indo-European languages, while the lower ones tend to be Dravidian speakers, there could be a relationship between the arrival of Indo-European people and the formation of caste structure. Further evidence that an ancient caste system has permeated through India for thousands of years.

U. S. Immigration DNA testing

August 31st, 2009

Recently, we have heard a lot of what our clients called “myths” about immigration DNA testing. Most of these tales were generated by the fact that a lot of our clients did not have a clue what AABB accreditation was and what DNA labs were qualified to perform DNA testing for U. S. immigration purposes. Another factor that contributes to this phenomenon is that some unaccredited DNA laboratories and resellers are posing as AABB accredited facilities to sell this service to the immigration population in need of this critical service.

As recently as yesterday, I got this press release from my Google alerts, which was about a facility in New York expanding their DNA testing services to the entire country and the rest of the world. One group of clients they are trying very hard to woo is those who need DNA testing to complete their immigration process.

First of all, what the immigration applicants should be alerted about is that there is not one single AABB-accredited DNA testing laboratory in the entire state of New York, and AABB accreditation is the basic qualification the U. S. immigration authorities require for any DNA testing lab to perform immigration related DNA tests.

AABB, formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks, is the accrediting agency for DNA testing laboratories that produce legally admissible results. The AABB accreditation focuses on DNA testing procedures, specimen collection procedures, chain of custody documentation and lab policies. Because of the stringent standard AABB sets up for the accredited DNA laboratories, the U. S. immigration authorities only entrust these AABB accredited laboratories with handling DNA testing for immigration.

What the immigration clients can do to avoid any possible scam is to make sure that they actually follow the instructions in the paperwork concerning DNA testing issued by the consulate/embassy/USCIS office they are dealing with. Additionally, AABB’s website offers this complete list of DNA laboratories that can be used for immigration DNA testing. Although a lot of unaccredited DNA labs or resellers will often claim they are AABB accredited, a few clicks on AABB’s website can ensure that you make the right choice. You will find the complete list of AABB accredited DNA labs by following this link.

Our laboratory Universal Genetics has been performing immigration DNA testing for years, and is the only DNA laboratory specialized in this critical service. Over the years, we have accumulated in-depth knowledge about procedures and protocols adopted by American immigration offices across the world. Our staff also speaks English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean so that our clients won’t find any language barrier when communicating with our lab. Simply call 1-800-914-1002, and you will have your myth clarified today!

Fishy species? DNA can tell

July 20th, 2009

Fishy species? DNA can tell

I never thought we could be eating fresh water tilapia instead of raw tuna as advertised in a sushi bar. But, according to this study conducted by two New York school girls, half of the time, we are eating substituted fish. Another study published in the science journal Nature also found that 77% of fish sold as red snapper were actually another species.

Apparently, substituted fish not only reveals unethical business conducts, but also presents some health issues. To help address this problem, FDA is teaming up with fishermen in the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo to barcode fish species using DNA technology.

FDA scientists will be at the rodeo collecting samples of different species caught, and DNA from those samples will be used to create a genetic profile, or literally a DNA bar code, for each species. The DNA barcodes of the species in the FDA fish DNA database can then be compared against DNA found in any suspect fish served or sold anywhere in the U. S.

FDA is also collecting fish samples at other locations and from seafood shops across the nation.

So, next time, you shell out $9.95 for a grouper sandwich and wonder why it tastes like catfish; you have a way to find out. Simply send the sample to FDA, and let DNA tell the truth!

Everyone’s fun to play with DNA

July 9th, 2009

On June 18, 2009, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that prisoners do not have a constitutional right to DNA testing, which could prove their innocence. This makes me think that the application of the DNA technology has really come a long way.

Since DNA testing for human identification was introduced in the middle of 1980s, the genetic fingerprinting technology has already become a very popular technology to confirm identities and verify biological relationships.  TV shows such as CSI and Maury Show have also helped spread the word of this technology to tens of millions of American households.

An expensive test in the beginning, it has a much more affordable price tag nowadays, which allows common people to turn to the technology seeking answers to their questions about relationships and identities. Among the first users of this technology, the forensic world relies more and more heavily on it to identify victims, convict perpetrators, and solve crimes. Now, this technology has just made itself a topic for constitutional right debate.

More intriguingly, this technology is widely used in areas most people may never imagine. DNA family relationship test is requested by government immigration agencies to verify the claimed family relationship in family reunification cases; DNA test is required to confirm maternity in some countries before the birth mother can give up the child for adoption; DNA test is helping genealogy lovers find their roots; and DNA test is used in animal farming and pet breeding business to detect genetic diseases, and ensure better breeding programs.

DNA testing is also entering people’s leisure life because of the uniqueness of each person’s genetic fingerprint. Some super-rich people are seeking to map their entire human genome at a six figure price while some companies are offering more affordable genetic compatibility test to help you find the perfect other half. If you like, it is not very difficult to make your DNA fingerprint a piece of art that hangs on the wall in your home, or you can choose to bank your DNA materials for the unlimited potentials of testing for various purposes in the future.

After all, DNA is unique to you and does not change. With this type of ownership, everyone can find some fun playing with it!

Universal Genetics Launched a New Website

May 26th, 2009

Our new website has been launched for a couple of weeks, and you’ll find a lot of new features and contents added to this site.

After careful planning, we updated the structure and content of www.universalgenetics.com (www.dnatestingforpaternity.com), adding features such as the instant chatting tool to offer online service support, our clients’ testimonials to share their experience with us, the DNA testing blog to let our lab staff and clients talk about anything interesting about DNA, the FAQ section to answer questions our new visitors may have, and the business partners section to expand our service network for our clients all over the world.

We are also proud to offer a few new sites in other languages such as Spanish (www.dnatestingforpaternity.com/spanish), Chinese (www.dnatestingforpaternity.com/china), and Vietnamese (www.dnatestingforpaternity.com/vietnamese). Our clients whose native tongues are those languages now have easy access to the critical information they need on our sites.

The chatting tool also offers instant support to whoever has a question to ask while surfing our websites. We have service representatives speaking different languages ready for you to consult when you need.

The improved corporate website is also very simple to navigate through. Most pages are within reach in one or two clicks. The homepage provides entries for the most critical information any DNA testing client needs to know. Based on our experience with demand, we also featured some of our most popular services on the homepage, which include the legal DNA testing service, the immigration DNA testing service, and the prenatal DNA testing service.

When you have questions or are ready to order our services, you can easily use our contact or order forms to get in touch with us.

We hope our website users and clients find this new website helpful and informative, and the surfing experience easy and pleasant. If you have any suggestions and comments, please send it to info@universalgenetics.com.

Happy surfing!

 

Univesal Genetics Launches DNA Blog

March 17th, 2009

Universal Genetics is proud to announce that we launched this DNA blog to offer another channel of communication with our clients. You will find information about our DNA testing services, the DNA industry and the interesting stories happening in our zone here. For those who want to participate in the fun of blogging, please let us know, and we will share this blogging sphere with you!