Who's your daddy? DNA tests go retail

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Sandra Porter
GenomeWeb reports that Rite Aid drug stores on the West coast are now selling kits for doing paternity tests. The kits are made by Sorenson Genomics in Utah. Sorenson Genomics calls it the "peace-mind-test." Really! Each kit contains a swab for collecting cheek cells from the inside of your mouth and a container for mailing the sample to the lab. As far as I can tell, you buy the kit for $29.99, take a sample, fill out the consent forms, and mail the sample to Sorenson along with the $119 lab fee. Maybe I'm too imaginative, but I'm a little puzzled by some of the information that wasn't in the news brief or on the Sorenson Genomics web site.
  • The first thing that puzzles me is the implication that you can test for paternity with a single DNA sample. To do this test, you need samples from both the child and the father. Do both people have to buy the kit? Does the kit contain collecting tubes for two people or just one?
  • Next, the kit contains consent forms, but what if one of the parties is a child? If one of the parties is a child, who signs the form? One parent?  Both parents?
  • How would Sorenson Genomics really know if the proper people signed the consent form?
  •  Would the results from this test be legally binding?
  • Are there methods for ensuring the chain-of-custody? What would happen if samples got mixed up? How would you know?
  • What happens to the data after you've gotten your results? Does Sorenson keep it?
  • Who validates or regulates DNA testing labs like Sorenson? Anyone?
I guess with Sorenson Genomics, 23andme, and Navigenics, all testing the limits, we're not just the West coast anymore. Now we're the wild west of DNA testing.

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