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DNA testing helps with family histories

Patt Heise, of Palatine, explains the migration routes of her ancestors. She used a home DNA test to help her discover her family history and connect with relatives. (Anthony Souffle, Chicago Tribune)

As she swabbed the inside of his cheek, Patt Heise assured her 84 year old father that she wasn’t crazy, just curious.

She mailed off the saliva sample and waited for results. Her dad died a month later, too early to find out what DNA testing had revealed a list of potential relatives from all over the world and a migration chart dating back to Adam.

That would be “Genetic Adam,” who lived between 70,000 and 140,000 years ago in Africa, scientists believe.

“People are really into genealogy or they think you are crazy and wasting your time,” said Heise, 61, of Palatine, who acknowledges she cheap jerseys is overwhelmed with the information but eager to use it to fill in her family tree.

“I really would like to see a book on ‘DNA for Dummies.’”

Genetic testing for genealogists has gone mainstream, with costs plummeting as private companies refine their techniques and improve the accuracy of results. For as little as $99, anyone can order a do it yourself kit that comes in the mail, then submit their spit for analysis and receive results cheap wholesale jerseys within six weeks.

Genealogy hobbyists liken the quest to track their family tree to a scavenger hunt, laden with clues, surprises and dead ends. For some, a snippet of genetic material has helped confirm a specific family tie or provide new leads when a paper trail has run cold. Others have blown up ancestral land mines along the way, shredding oft repeated family stories or, as in Heise’s case, discovering a notorious distant relative.

“I found out I was related to Charles Manson eeewww,” Heise said, who hasn’t been able to keep up with her email. cheap jerseys Her account is filled with messages from strangers, at least one in German, asking about her family lineage because of DNA test results.

Recently, scientists used the technology to confirm the identity of a skeleton buried beneath a parking lot in Leicester, England, as King Richard III, who died in battle in 1485. The scientists matched the bones to two living maternal line relatives, according to the University of Leicester, which conducted the analysis along with radiocarbon dating and a skeletal exam.

Closer to home, not everyone is excited about the DNA technology, as some remain cautious about privacy or simply don’t see the need, such as Heise’s dad. But for others who are adopted or are trying to explain a gap in their family tree, the tests may provide a crucial breakthrough, experts said.

“I think a lot of people find it of use to them, personally, especially if they are searching for a form of identity they are able to uncover in this way,” said Noah Rosenberg, associate professor at Stanford University’s Department of Biology and expert in evolutionary biology and genetics.

“Many people have a missing relative or have a parent die young and are searching for some kind of connection,” he said. “We see a significant trend where African Americans are searching for some understanding of the populations from which their ancestors originated from Africa.”

There are no federal regulations that govern the direct to consumer ancestry tests, said Hank Greely, a Stanford law professor who specializes in the ethical, legal and social implications of new biomedical technologies.

“Basically, both state and federal regulation only cover tests sold or done for health purposes,” Greely wrote in an emailed response to questions.

“I would note that various false advertising statutes and regulations could be applied to genealogical testing and, frankly, I think some of the sites are not always very clear about what they can and cannot detect.”Meanwhile, as more people contribute their own DNA to the mix, the pool of potential genetic matches grows. Private companies store the saliva samples and promise more information in years to come for additional fees as technology improves.

Drawing from the large databases, scientists have been able to determine where groups of people who share matching threads of cheap jerseys china DNA likely came from and where they migrated.

“The percentage was rather large,” said O’Connell, who expects the company to release more information this year. “On their website, they group together people they think are related to you. I have almost 100 people in this list. It will break it down like, ‘We think you are fourth or fifth cousin.’”

O’Connell started studying her family’s Irish lineage because she was young when her grandparents died.

“I wanted to know who they were and what they went through,” said O’Connell, who was saddened by some of what she found. “They had these big families but by the time you look back again, half the kids had died.”Articles Connexes:


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