Dog may be man’s best friend, and even genetically similar to humans to boot, but there are enough key differences that it shouldn’t be too hard to distinguish between human and doggie DNA.
Not a human, just FYI. Photo: David Locke (Flickr)
And yet, an investigation into home DNA testing kits by NBC Chicago found that at least one DNA testing company could not distinguish between the two.
As part of an investigation into the accuracy of home testing kits, NBC Chicago sent in the DNA of Bailey, a Labrador retriever, to several companies. Most companies reported back that the DNA was unreadable. But one, Orig3n, “failed to note that Bailey was not human,” the network said.
Orig3n sells lifestyle DNA tests that purport to give consumers advice on things such as diet and exercise. I tried a bunch of the company’s tests last year and found that it was mostly a bunch of useless data.
Orig3n also came under legal scrutiny from the US federal government last year for selling tests without the proper lab certifications. The company frequently makes appearances at professional sporting events, offering free DNA tests to fans.
NBC Chicago decided to have Bailey try out the company’s “Superhero” test, which looks at strength, intelligence and speed.
…After we submitted the $29 [$AU39] test, the company sent a 7 page report, saying that her muscle force would probably be great for quick movements like boxing and basketball, and that she has the cardiac output for long endurance bike rides or runs.
Bailey, the test suggested, also might want to work with a personal trainer.
The company did not respond to requests for comment on the finding from either NBC Chicago or Gizmodo.
This isn’t the first time that Orig3n’s test have been called into question. The good news is that most companies did detect that the doggie DNA was in fact not from a human. Still, it’s a good reminder that every time you spit in a test tube and send your DNA away for analysis, it’s good to take the results with a fairly large helping of salt.