Warrington-based firm, which also provides DNA testing for ITV’s The Jeremy Kyle Show, says the test has previously only been available in the US and Canada. Tony McDonough reports
AlphaBiolabs is now can now settle paternity disputes using DNA samples from a toothbrush – the first time this service has become available in a UK lab.
The Warrington-based firm, which also provides DNA testing for ITV’s The Jeremy Kyle Show, says studies by its own in-house geneticists showed that toothbrushes can provide a good source of DNA.
The company recently achieved a UK first by introducing non-invasive prenatal paternity testing, and in 2018 added medical assessments to its range of services amid growing demand for workplace drug and alcohol testing.
Commercial director Rachel Davenport says each toothbrush submitted for analysis is examined for up to 35 DNA markers, making it one of the most accurate DNA tests on the market. Results are available in up to five days.
The usual method of DNA collection in paternity and other relationship disputes is from a sample taken by rubbing a swab on the inside of the donor’s cheek. The DNA is extracted from the buccal cells collected in the sample when the swabs are returned to the lab for testing.
Rachel added: “Our extensive tests have demonstrated that the method of brushing and the type of toothpaste used has no effect on the DNA extracted from a toothbrush of any kind. Once the toothbrush has been returned to our lab for testing, the first step is to extract the DNA from the sample using one of the latest techniques.
“An advantage of toothbrush testing is that it can be used even when an individual has died. The DNA collected from their used toothbrush could be used to prove a biological relationship in the case of unresolved issues. Alternatively, a DNA profile could be a lasting memento of a loved one.
“Another advantage is that it could prevent awkward questions from children in the case of paternity disputes, as they need not be aware that a test is being undertaken.
“For example, in the case of a paternity dispute, using a swab on an older child could lead to awkward questions. Choosing the option of their regular toothbrush instead allows for discreet sampling.”
Consent must be provided for all toothbrush samples that are sent in to be analysed. Next of kin or another qualifying relative can sign consent for an individual who has died. A parent or guardian must provide consent for a child under 16 years of age.
AlphaBiolabs provides DNA, drug and alcohol testing services to a client base which includes members of the public, businesses, family and immigration law solicitors, social services, the media and universities.