Celebrity / NYJSM Consult / Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks consults Dr. Vasey and NYJSM.com

March 9, 2010

Matthew Vasey, MD

"Dr. Vasey, what can you tell us about DNA testing?"

(This answer is a more complete response than what was filmed on The Tyra Show)

DNA Information
A genetic fingerprint unique to each person found inside every cell in your body

DNA History
Understanding of structure dates back to 1950's (zipper-like)
This knowledge allowed for infinite replication (unzip and replicate)
Learn what segments / genes are responsible for what characteristics / traits
Ultimately allowed science to map the entire human genome
Goal of targeted therapy to particular segments / genes

Utility of DNA
Paternity testing & Family tree lineage
Ancestry & Ethnic origination
Information for those adopted seeking biological relation
Predisposition for medical illness ie. Aging, heart disease, cancers, autoimmune disorder
Genetic counseling for families with known genetic illness
(risks of passing potentially fatal illness on to their children)
Treating disease
(shown success in bone marrow transplants for some cancers)
(hopeful for ability to prevent cancers, replace damaged cells with new grown ones ie. pancreas/diabetes, brain/alzheimers, heart/heart attacks, etc ... )
Invitro fertilization involves sperm and egg harvesting
DNA profiling / Forensics used in law enforcement / criminal investigations

Obtaining DNA
Commonly obtained from cheek, adult blood and umbilical cord stem cells
RE: Obaining cheek cell sample
Before food or drink, or one hour after
(avoid warm/hot temperatures)
Clean hands
30-60 seconds up and down, top to bottom, while rotating swab on cheek inside mouth
(not a saliva or spit sample)
(sensation similar to that of toothbrush)
Follow kit instructions for packaging and mailing
RE: DNA testing for health and disease:
Be wary of Direct Consumer or Commercial DNA Kits
Recommend working with your Primary Care Physician / Genetic Counselor
(someone to explain results and application to your life)
Important to go through Informed Consent process
(identity, health insurance ramifications, unintended consequences)

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