Monday, December 18, 2006

A home paternity test?   posted by the @ 12/18/2006 08:21:00 PM

I left a comment on a hilarious post at GNXP-SB in which I suggested the near-term feasibility of a disposable home paternity test.

I can pretty confidently predict that we are less then 5 years from having the technology for a *disposable* home paternity test kit.

Matt was skeptical, and outlined his reasoning in a post here.

An exercise for GNXP readers in the comments thread: is a home paternity test feasible as outlined in this discussion?

Update: Really more important than the "ha ha" home paternity test issue, and the guess what I'm thinking challenge, is the issue of cheap and easy DNA profiling. Assuming I'm right and this is feasible soon, you can expect to start offering up a DNA sample at many more occasions. Previously I predicted and welcomed a universal DNA database[1 2].

Some background:

* The FBI database (CODIS) uses 13 loci to uniquely identify individuals.
* Betagenetics sells home kits (mail in samples). Their advertisement suggests they use 16 loci for more reliable testing.
* The loci tested are STRs - short tandem repeats - alleles of which are discriminated by size.
* Paternity testing appears to involve the comparison of the child, the mother, and the putative father.

I specifically mention CODIS/FBI to point out that there are intermediate applications of the underlying technology which would drive their development -- a disposable DNA profiling kit.

Eventually, whole genome, single molecule sequencing will be possible for negligible costs -- imagine functional nanopore sequencing. Developed into a disposable package, this would a paternity test -- among other things.

In the intermediate-term, is a disposable paternity test feasible?