Specialist Warrington firm offers DNA relationship and workplace drug and alcohol testing and has boosted capacity with new people and laboratory equipment. Tony McDonough reports
A specialist laboratory that carries out DNA testing for ITV’s Jeremy Kyle Show has embarked on a £500,000 expansion as it looks to meet soaring demand for its services.
AlphaBiolabs in Warrington specialises in DNA relationship and workplace drug and alcohol testing and has boosted capacity and extended its range of services with the installation of new laboratory equipment.
This includes additional advanced instrumentation for analysing drug and alcohol test samples.
AlphaBiolabs has also installed new generation DNA analysers. These enable the company to increase the number of markers examined in DNA tests to from 21 to 25 as standard, with the option of extending this to 62 markers for complex cases.
The company’s relationship with the Jeremy Kyle show stretches back several years. Guests on the show often consent to DNA tests to settle paternity disputes and the announcement of the results often provides a moment of drama on the morning show.
And the business also sells home DNA testing kits via Liverpool-based discount retailer Home Bargains. The kits have provided extremely popular and are priced at just £4.99 – although people then have to pay £99 to have the results tested at the lab.
To support its expansion, AlphaBiolabs has strengthened its scientific team based at its Warrington laboratories. The recruits include Harriet Challenger to the new role of laboratory manager to oversee the growing DNA and toxicology teams.
She has more than 20 years’ experience in the forensic field. Her previous roles include ones at the Forensic Science Service, Heinz and pharmaceuticals giant Sanofi.
The other new recruits are DNA reporting scientist Dave Beesley, DNA laboratory scientist Claire Nicholson, toxicology analyst Stephanie Sherwood and toxicology administrator Kirsty Shaw.
AlphaBiolabs managing director David Thomas said: “The new DNA instrumentation enables us to conduct more complex relationship tests using the very latest chemistries, and to reduce the industry standard rate of inconclusiveness for certain relationships from approximately 40% to below 10%.
“For workplace drug and alcohol samples, we can now offer an industry first with same-day test results, which is better for clients who may have suspended employees on full pay, as it means cases are resolved quicker.
“Investing heavily in our laboratories and driving innovation are essential to our growth strategy, to ensure we can meet the demand of our customers who require rapid DNA or drug and alcohol testing services.”