Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Another DNA database update

For those of you anxiously awaiting the release of the Donor Offspring DNA Database....good news!!  The actual database is nearing completion.  John, our amazing donor-conceived CS professor, spent many many hours this summer putting together the framework that will be able to take the equations Damian and I determined and do the math for us.

If you are new to reading Cryokid (or want a refresher), here are some other posts that will explain the DNA database and DNA tests in general:

While it is not yet complete, I am going to discuss what we have so far and what it means for you, the offspring.  What we are creating is a free online database capable of determining varying degrees of potential relatedness among all members.  Offspring can register and then upload their own DNA results from a previous test/profile.  They can also upload the results from their biological mother, if available. 

A short comment about DNA results:
There are many types of DNA tests on the market today.  Currently we only have the capabilities to look at one type of test.  That is what is called the CODIS markers.  Most commonly these tests are used in paternity, maternity, siblingship, and avuncular (grandparent or aunt/uncle) DNA tests, as well as DNA profiles.  CODIS markers are 15 of the most common DNA markers used throughout the world, and they rely on what are called STRs (short tandem repeats).  A person inherits at a specific marker, two sets of "alleles", one from each parent.  The alleles are different in the number of repeats of nucleotides (the bases that make up DNA) in that location.  The "alleles" that are inherited from each parent appear in a DNA test as a number, that being the number of times a specific sequence is repeated.

What we cannot do, as of now, is analyze a DNA test that looks at the X or the Y chromsome.  That would be any test used for genealogy purposes, such as Y-STR or X-STR tests, tests done through CaBRI's Donor Gamete Archive, and those from FTDNA's FamilyFinder test.  

We hope to be able to provide this service to offspring in the future, but for now we simply do not have the capabilities.  For males who have done a Y-STR test, please take a look at Y-Search for a database of all Y-chromosome results from various companies. 

Upon registering and uploading either just your DNA results or those of both you and your mother, you will be able to "scan" the database.  By scanning the database it will return to you a list of other members who have a Combined Siblingship Index (CSI) that is over our threshold.  While most countries hold a threshold of 90% (a CSI of about 10.0) probability of relatedness as being conclusive, we understand that often those inconclusive results may be pushed either direction with more information, and we are planning to set our threshold significantly lower to catch as many potential matches as possible.  We can then advise members of how to get the most of their DNA tests.  Sometimes having one or both mother's tested can raise a CSI through the roof!  Other times, if the mother's are not available to be tested, we can suggest other types of DNA tests (such as X or Y chromosome tests) or a second panel or markers on what has already been tested. 

Besides a list of members with CSI's over our threshold (we will provide the CSI and probability of relatedness for each potential match), we will also provide you their name, contact information (email), year of conception, place of conception, and any other relevant information (i.e. sperm bank/clinic, donor number, etc), that may or may not be of use in determing the likelihood of relatedness beyond a number.  These members will be listed in descending order so you will be able to quickly identify your most likely siblings.

We strongly suggest that if a potential match is made, no matter how high of a probability, that you proceed with a professional DNA test for more conclusive results.  We will be happy to recommend what companies we feel are the best to work with and the most economical. 


John, Damian and I have discussed where we want to be with this database in the near future and we have decided that to begin providing information to offspring as soon as possible, we will be manually entering the first 100 members.  That means, you will be entered into our database as it is now (not available to the public yet), and we will return to you by email any list of potential matches.  Once we have reached around 100 members we will move over to having the members upload their own results and having the database function automatically.

Understand that as we get this up and running the chances of finding matches are small, but as we grow and the more members involved, the higher the chances of finding a potential sibling!

Please email me if you would like to be a part of this database!!

Lastly....if you have not yet done a DNA test in the past, please check out Genetic Testing Laboratories DNASafe DNA Profile.  For $90USD you will get your CODIS markers that can be uploaded into our DNA database. 

If you are looking to have you and your mom tested I'd suggest Genetic Testing Laboratories Maternity Test.  This test is only $110USD and both you and your mother will be tested.  I would hope that it come back conclusive (otherwise you might have a bigger issue to deal with....), but we are not looking at maternity here.  This is simply a cheaper way for you to get both DNA profiles (yeah, I know it's sort of deceitful, but it gets the job done!!).

And as always, paternity and siblingship tests done in the USA and abroad are always acceptable!!  Remember, these tests do not need to be a "match".  If you've done ANY negative DNA test in the past, that will work!!

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