DNA is something that most people have heard of, but a lot of people don’t really understand. A lot of people know the basics but very few people understand what DNA is.
In short, DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic Acid and is a molecule formed of 2 chains that coil together to form a double helix that is responsible for carrying genetic instructions.
DNA carries the genetic information for all organisms, so every living being has its own DNA. You will have heard of our DNA as human beings because it is discussed all the time, concerning illnesses, evidence at crime scenes and so many other situations.
But you might not have known that plants, and even bacteria, have DNA too.
For us, as human beings, DNA is talked about a lot because we value connections.
Despite DNA being totally unique, it can be used to connect us to our biological family, and in recent years DNA tests have become increasingly popular.
Thanks to companies such as Ancestry, and 23 and Me, home DNA tests have become a fun way of researching your history and even making connections with distant relatives.
It is because of companies like this, that DNA is so commonly spoken about and that DNA tests have become so popular, with people even purchasing them as Birthday or Christmas presents.
Now that we’ve established what DNA is, this article will look at how long it takes for you to receive your DNA results once you have completed a test.
How do DNA Tests work?
As we’ve established what DNA is, let’s take a look at how DNA works, and how scientists can get so much information about us from a single molecule.
DNA can be a very confusing concept, and the extraction and testing process can be just as confusing. There are lots of different types of DNA tests, but before we get into those, let’s take a basic look at how DNA testing works.
While there are a variety of different types of DNA tests, they all follow the same basic system, so let’s take a look at what your DNA test will consist of.
DNA tests can be used for a variety of different things. They can determine a child’s paternity, connect you to your ancestors, and tell you if you are at increased risk of diabetes or kidney problems.
Similarly, DNA tests can be used to determine what percentage of German Shepherd your dog is, and whether or not your regular short-haired cat has a pedigree breed in their background.
It can be hard to understand how all of this information can be gathered from one tiny piece of your DNA, but this is completed through a process called DNA sequencing.
But before we get into what this is, let’s take a quick look at what DNA tests consist of. Anybody who has completed a DNA test of any kind will be aware that they are not an unpleasant task to undertake. While the wait for results can be quite an anxious time, in some cases, overall it is not a hard process.
The majority of DNA tests will consist of you taking a swab of the inside of your cheek, or spitting on a tube. If you are completing a DNA test on your pet, this might also consist of plucking some fur from their back or allowing them to chew on a swab so that their saliva transfers onto it.
These DNA samples are then usually placed in an airtight tube or container, bagged up in a secure package, and posted to the return address on your kit. Once the sample has been received by the company it will be transferred to the company’s scientists who will then complete the DNA sequencing to produce your results.
Of course, there are some situations where this will differ, for example, if you have to complete a Court-Ordered DNA test. However, in this situation only the collection process will differ, once the scientists receive your sample, the process will be the same.
So let’s take a look at what DNA sequencing is. Once your DNA is analyzed by a computer, it will show your unique DNA sequence which will be a series of “letters”, also known as nucleotides.
The only letters you will see are A, C, T, and G, and these are the chemicals that pair together to form your DNA. The order that these letters are organized into will determine the genetic instructions that are sent out to each cell in your body.
Although there are only 4 different letter options, every strand of DNA is about 6 billion letters long and it is the scientist’s job to analyze these letters to make predictions about you from your DNA, and connect your DNA to other possible family members, ethnicities, or potential health risks.
We have already mentioned that there are a variety of uses for DNA tests, but let’s take a deeper look at the different types that are available.
Different types of DNA Tests
While the process of DNA collection and data analysis is the same, the results of DNA tests can be used in very different ways. To understand these, let’s take a look at some of the most common ways that DNA testing can be used to prove results.
Surprisingly, the most common DNA tests now are commercially available. Since DNA was first used to solve a criminal case in the 1980s, DNA has become household knowledge and a lot of companies saw this and capitalized on it.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably will have heard of companies like Ancestry DNA and 23 and Me. While Ancestry started as a database of historic records to trace your family history, it soon expanded to include DNA tests as well.
This can be used to give you an ethnicity estimate and connect you to possible family members. Similarly, 23 and Me offer a family tree service, however, they are most famous for their DNA test which gives insight into your health and wellbeing.
But these companies are only the tip of the iceberg, and there are lots of other companies that offer the same services with unique selling points which make them different from their competitors.
With the rising popularity of human DNA kits, it is unsurprising that companies also began to produce DNA tests for our furbabies.
From cats to dogs, there are lots of different tests available that will report on your pet’s health and also give you a breakdown of their breed history.
Traditionally, DNA tests were very different. They have been used to determine the paternity of a child when the mother has been unsure of the father, and also used in a variety of criminal cases to determine who the culprit is.
They have been used now to determine ancient DNA history between famous kings and queens and can be even used to connect people who are alive today to these ancient monarchs.
The opportunities of DNA testing are endless, but let’s move onto the real question, how long does it take to get DNA results?
How long does it take to get your DNA Results?
As you will probably expect, the length of time that it takes to receive your DNA results will differ depending on the company that you purchase the kit with, and the situation in which you are taking a DNA test.
If you are completing a DNA kit through a court order, your results will likely be fast-tracked and received a lot quicker than if you were to purchase a DNA test yourself on a company like Amazon.
In criminal or civil investigations, the Court can likely push for test results to be processed and received within 24 hours, but this can often take up to 72 hours.
At particularly busy times, it could even take up to 14 days for these results to be received, however, they are usually completed quite quickly. If you have completed a paternity DNA test, the time that the results will take depends on the lab that you have chosen.
Some companies will get your results back to you within 5 days, while others can take up to 8-12 weeks, so it is important to do your research if you want your results quickly.
Finally, commercial DNA tests such as Ancestry or 23 and Me will usually take longer than court-ordered or paternity tests. 23 and Me report that their results are ready within 2-3 weeks of them receiving your results.
Whereas Ancestry expects their results to be ready within 6-8 weeks, however, it is very common for your Ancestry DNA results to be ready quicker than the timeline that the company gives you.
These numbers will continue to differ through the commercial DNA companies, so you should do your research if you want your results quickly.
In short, the time that it takes to receive your results will differ from company to company.
Unsurprisingly, in most cases, court-ordered test results will be received quicker than commercial DNA tests.
However, a lot of home kits can also give you test results quickly, if you choose the right company.
Court-ordered tests will usually produce results within 24-72 hours, while commercial kits can produce results in as little as 2-8 weeks depending on the company that you choose.