DNA Hair Testing
Are you wanting to do a DNA test on some hair from a hair brush or from a deceased person? The question of whether or not this is a viable choice comes up fairly regularly. If you watch the CSI type shows they do it all the time but it isn’t that easy.
From Family Tree DNA:
“At Family Tree DNA, we do not extract from forensic samples, such as hair, razors, toothbrushes, teeth, bone, sperm, tissue (FFPE etc.), in addition to other sample types.
We are, however, able to accept blood cards for extraction. We charge a non-refundable $250 fee for each extraction, and this fee does not include the cost of testing with Family Tree DNA. We do not guarantee the extraction will be successful, and if it is successful, we do not guarantee the results for any tests you purchase in which the extraction is utilized. Please note that the blood card will be destroyed in the extraction process and will not be returnable. It is possible that we will be able to get multiple extractions from a single blood card, but there is a $250 fee for each extraction.
For blood card extractions, we recommend only the Y-DNA testing, and caution against using these extractions for the Family Finder and mtDNA Full Sequence testing.
If you would like to proceed with an extraction, please use our contact form and submit a request to customer service.”
If you are trying to confirm paternity, DNA hair testing might be the answer. There are several companies offering DIY hair analysis kits for paternity. Universal Genetics is an accredited lab and offers unconventional testing. This is from their website:
Some non-standard DNA specimens include the following:
• Hair (must have roots attached)
• Muscle or organ tissues
• Chewing gums
• Cigarette butts
• Other frequently-used personal items
Non-standard DNA specimens require special treatment and procedures so that the DNA testing laboratory can maximize the chance of obtaining enough viable DNA for the requested test. Our laboratory has very successful experience extracting DNA from difficult samples. However, each type of specimen and each case scenario are different. The success rate of obtaining viable DNA varies depending on the type of specimen, and how it was stored and handled before it arrives in our laboratory. Because of the extra work and more sophisticated techniques required during this process, there are additional charges for handling non-standard samples.
In addition, the circumstances under which the specimens were collected, stored, and handled before they arrive in our laboratory are factored in to satisfy the chain-of-custody requirements, which determine if the results are legally admissible.
In our experience, some of the good chain-of-custody specimens may come from a hospital, coroner’s office, medical examiner’s office, or funeral home. If one of your tested parties has the specimens stored with these facilities, you will need to provide some information about them when you call. Our staff would like to know the name and contact information of the facility that has the specimen, the age and storage condition of the specimen, and the size and amount of the specimen available for the DNA test.
If you are interested in DNA hair testing, read this 2013 article. Forensic Magazine. It is a little dated, but still has excellent information. From this article “Highly advanced DNA testing techniques, resources, money, and time are all factors which come into play when carrying out a DNA test. Forensic laboratories used by the FBI have more resources to allocate toward trying to extract a complete DNA profile from whichever sample is available, no matter how small the probability of successful extraction of DNA is. Thus, in crime scene investigations where meticulous searches by forensic teams yield a single hair, without the root or follicle, thorough and extensive DNA analysis will still be carried out despite the very low chances of success.” Also regarding success “Even when hairs do have the hair roots, the probability of successful extraction of a complete DNA profile using standard PCR technology is somewhere between 60-70%. When hairs do not have the root attached, analysis can in rare cases yield a nuclear DNA profile. This is possible in cases where living hair cells are still present at the tip of the hair shaft or where, as mentioned, there has been an incomplete breakdown of nuclear DNA during the process of cornification.”
Please leave us a comment if you have used a hair sample for DNA testing and let us know your success and anything that might help others with their journey.