Thursday, 18 February 2016

Tips for taking a DNA cheek swab

DNA is fast becoming a essential tool for those of us interested in family history research.

Step one - taking a sample for Family Tree DNA testing company. This service provides a kit in the post which consists of two swabs and two small vials. Your sample comes from inside cheek swab.

Here are some tips to make sure you get enough clean DNA in the vials. There are two swabs and two vials, one for each cheek. Try not to touch the cotton swab end of the test stick on anything except the inside of your cheek.

1. Take the test first thing in the morning before cleaning your teeth, swallowing ANY pills or medication or even a glass of water, definitely no coffee or tea or toothpaste or even a mouthful of water. Oh and if you have false teeth it is best if they have not been in your mouth over night - something in the denture cleaner can affect the testing :-(

2. Gently chew your cheeks - aka the sides of your mouth. This loosens some skin cells increasing the amount the swab can collect.

3. Then open the first test stick, one at a time is best. Sample one cheek at a time, rub up and down on that cheek, inside your mouth for at least a minute - two is better.

4. the long stick has a plunger at the end opposite to the swab, pressing this drops the small brush like cotton swab into the vial.

Can be hard to tell but the small vials with the red lids have liquid in them to preserve your sample, so I sat up in bed took the lid off before taking the test and put it on a flat surface beside me, then opened the test stick, did the rubbing. Then it was then easy to pop the swab into the open vial. Make sure you have done the lid up tightly.

5. Open the second test stick, repeat the rubbing on the other cheek and sealing into the second vial.

6. Sign the green paper

7. pop them all in post in the enclosed pre-addressed bag at your earliest convenience. On the customs form write "genealogy data".

It takes 2 or 3 weeks to get to the lab and usually another 4 - 6 weeks to get a result. If there has been a sale then these times can be a tad longer.

Then the analysis begins, I am currently trying to find out about my West Indian Ancestor - Ann SAVEALL formerly LEWIS nee unknown from my father's lines. Am hoping tests from my father's only sister and his first cousins will help work out more about her. Is she the ex slave brought back after the slave trade ended? Or was this another of our ancestors...

Mum and I have both tested so far and I have found 3 third cousins and one 5th cousin with my test results. All from people born prior to 1830. Not enough data as yet though to help with this particular line. So will be interesting to see what turns up for the generation of my relatives who are one step closer genetically. More people are being tested every day in England, Australia, New Zealand and from around the world, so over time there will be more matches.We live in exciting times...