Sequencing Education Center

How Does DNA Testing Work

By Dr. Brandon Colby MD, a medical expert in the fields of genetic testing and personalized medicine.

Millions of people have taken DNA tests worldwide. Most of these people simply do it for information about their ancestors or health, while others want to know much more about their genetic makeup. For instance, they want to know if they’ve inherited any life-threatening diseases or if their a carrier for a disease their children may inherit.

how does dna testing work

If you’re like the many people who have taken a DNA test, you’re likely wondering how does DNA testing works. The following information will give you a better sense of what to expect when taking one and afterward when receiving the test results. 

Purchasing the DNA Test

The first step is to purchase the DNA test. There are many available online and offline, and most people buy their DNA test kits online. With more variety, people find they can find the best one for their needs this way. 

The most popular DNA testing company that offer DNA test kits are:

To understand the difference between DNA tests, consider this:

Most DNA testing companies such as 23andMe and Ancestry.com test less than 0.1% of the genome, but Sequencing.com tests 1% of the genome with their Ultimate DNA test. While 1% may not seem like a lot, it produces 50x more data than the other DNA tests. 

dna tests

“The Ultimate DNA Test uses an advanced DNA microarray to obtain data on almost 30 million variants within your genome.” Dr. Brandon Colby, MD, Medical Geneticist, Preventive Medicine Expert, and Founder of Sequencing.com explains.  

Individuals seeking even more data from their DNA test should consider the Ultimate Genome Sequencing test from Sequencing.com. It tests 100% of the genome, which produces 5,000x more data than other DNA testing companies. 

Learn More: How Accurate Are DNA Tests for DNA Analysis

Taking the DNA Test

Some DNA tests require the test taker to swab their cheek with a Q-tip and then insert it into a sterile container. Other DNA tests instruct test takers to spit into a test tube, mix it with a saline solution, and then package it for transport to the lab. 

The exact way to obtain a DNA sample does not matter. It’s the type of DNA test that matters when it comes to the accuracy of results AND the amount of data obtained from it. This is why it is important to choose the best DNA test available online for your needs. 

Submitting the DNA Sample

Once the DNA sample has been obtained, test takers mail it to the DNA testing company’s lab. It takes at least a couple of weeks for processing but can take much longer during busy times of the year, such as during the holidays. 

Obtaining the DNA Test Results

dna analysis app marketMost DNA testing companies have a DNA storage platform. Once the DNA sample has been tested, the data file is uploaded to the storage platform. The user is notified the DNA data is available, as well as the analysis results. 

DNA test results are not the same as analysis results. DNA data doesn’t make much sense as it is displayed in test results. Most people simply see a bunch of letters. However, these letters and their arrangements provide a lot of information when analyzed. 

Many DNA testing companies offer two types of analyses - health + ancestry. They identify risks of common illnesses and conditions and where their ancestors may have lived. For instance, someone’s genetic makeup may indicate a higher likelihood of heart disease and they may be mostly European and British. 

What to Do After Obtaining the DNA Test Results and Analysis

Many people wonder what else they can learn about their DNA after they see how amazing their results are from their simple DNA test. Unfortunately, the DNA testing companies only offering health and ancestry analyses are limited in the information they provide. This is why Sequencing.com has created an App Market with free and paid apps to use for analysis. 

Users can download their DNA data from the DNA testing company they used and upload the DNA to Sequencing.com’s secure and confidential storage platform. The data can then be used with any of the analysis apps to learn more from it. 

We Got Our DNA Tests - How It Actually Works

DNA testing can change your life. The information derived from it can be used to make changes in your life that will prevent many different challenges, such as health conditions or weight issues. The investment made in DNA testing is an investment in personal development and future health, happiness, and success.

Want more information? You may want to read our Guide to DNA Tests.


About The Author

Dr. Brandon Colby MD is a US physician specializing in the personalized prevention of disease through the use of genomic technologies. He's an expert in genetic testing, genetic analysis, and precision medicine. Dr. Colby is also the Founder of Sequencing.com and the author of Outsmart Your Genes.

Dr. Colby holds an MD from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, an MBA from Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, and a degree in Genetics with Honors from the University of Michigan. He is an Affiliate Specialist of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG), an Associate of the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM), and a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC).