"Archiving Your Family's DNA"
by Kevin F. Duerinck, Esq.
27 March 2001

Last revised 25 May 2009 (GeneSaver current information)

You wake up one morning and finally decide to do it. You have been thinking of saving your DNA, as well as that of your parents, for future DNA testing. Your ideas may be for genealogical purposes, such as finding whether people with the same or similar surname are related to you. Maybe you thought that if your DNA was in a database you might run into people who match your DNA even though they have different surnames and live half the way around the world. Maybe you thought that you might be a relative of Cheddar Man, a 9,000 year old man who lived in the area now known as Great Britain.

Maybe your idea was to save a family member's DNA for future medical DNA testing if a medical problem ever arose that might lend itself to resolution through genetics. Who knows? Medical cures unknown today could be cured in the future through gene therapy, the injection of a new, working gene. So you reason that in order to avail yourself of this technology, you better start collecting the DNA of all of your family and establish that Family DNA Library.

These are just two examples of why people want to collect and preserve the DNA of their family members. But how does one go about collecting that DNA and how is it stored? An article of this scope cannot solve all your problems. You have to be the one to do research by reading books and articles on the subject, visiting web sites, sending e-mails and calling companies that are involved in this area. As with all areas of life, it is buyer beware. Who knows if some of these methods will keep the DNA available for analysis in 10 to 25 years or more? Some of the methods used for collection, while cheap, may prove to add costs on to any future testing because of the difficulty of extracting the DNA by the company. Such is the case with collecting lockets of your loved one's hair. However, if you have hair of an ancestor and nothing else, as is the case sometimes, it may be worth the extra money to have their DNA tested. More about that later.

Types of DNA:
For our purposes here, there are two types of DNA to be concerned with. The first is y-chromosome DNA (y-DNA) which is found in the nuclear DNA of the cells. Y-DNA testing follows the paternal line back in time. Males comparing like or same surnames generally send samples of cheek cells or blood to a testing lab and find out if they are related through a most recent common ancestor. The second DNA type is mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) which is in the portion of the cell that does not contain nuclear DNA. MtDNA testing follows the maternal line back in time. However, you should also know that male and female offspring receive their mtDNA from their mother. That means that females as well as males can have their mtDNA tested in order to follow the ancestors of their mother, their mother's mother, and so on. As a result, a male can begin a mtDNA test project, and he will try to find other people who may match the mtDNA of his maternal line, hopefully ending up with a most recent common ancestor that matches another supposedly unrelated individual.

Collection Methods:
From a scientific viewpoint, the order of preference for testing DNA samples would be 1) blood, 2) buccal swab, 3) hair. I will talk a little about each type of sample in the following paragraphs. See also DNA Banking for Epidemiologic Studies

While this is a preferred method, buccal swabs have come into their own subject to provisos set out below. Blood provides high quality and high quantity of DNA. The testing labs are able to run numerous tests for analysis on the same sample. It is a bit more invasive than the other sample types of cheek swabs and hair, requiring your blood to be drawn by a medical professional. This is the preferred method for DNA testing for medical conditions.

Buccal (cheek) swabs:
Buccal swabs are being used more and more in identification and relationship testing. They provide sufficient quantity and quality of DNA. Their collection is a less invasive procedure than blood. People can scrape the inside of their cheeks within the privacy of their own homes and ship the samples to the lab. A caveat is that the DNA generally must be isolated or fixed within 30 days for best results. Most if not all genealogical testing companies use this method.

You can have hair analyzed for y-DNA and mitochondrial mtDNA. For mtDNA analysis, you can just use the hair itself. However, for y-DNA you must get the "root" or "bulb" of the hair. The root contains the nuclear DNA which includes y-DNA. You will also see discussions about the "shaft." The shaft is the hair without the root or bulb, and thus without the nuclear y-DNA. Trying to retrieve DNA from hair shafts is difficult and time consuming and could add costs to any tests. There is a lab that specializes in extracting DNA from odd sources such as licked postage stamps, envelopes, ancient artifacts, etc. If this lab finds DNA from hair, they could extract it and then forward it to another lab for Y-DNA testing. See Trace Genetics.

Commercial DNA Preservation Sites/Storage Methods:
You must look at why you want to store DNA. Is it for genealogical relationship testing purposes? Is it for dna testing for genetic medical diseases? Is it for hopefully regenerating body parts in the future? For cloning? On the internet there are many links to company sites that offer various methods of preserving your DNA. Generally you use a swab (foam tip applicator is the best) to brush the inside of the cheek (buccal swab), spread it on a card that has chemicals on it to preserve the DNA. Then you just store the card in a dry place. Some companies offer a range of services at all price levels. These include sites where you place your DNA on cards you store yourself or send to storage at the company's facility (eneGene). Some of these storage companies will store a frozen blood sample for many years, at a cost of a few hundred dollars (BankDNA).

The FTA chemical fixing of DNA for card storage was invented in 1988 by Associate Professor Leigh Burgoyne of Flinders University in Australia (Flinders Technologies PTY LTD). The Flinders site previously took you to another site: (Whatman BioScience--FTA Products). Whatman has a license to distribute products with the FTA preservative (developed at Flinders University). Note: Regarding FTA preservative, ongoing testing has indicated that this technology is good for 11 years (and counting).

See the Genetic Identity website which offers the FTA cards as part of their "DNA Archiving Kit".

Affiliated Genetics Inc.
P.O. Box 58535, Salt Lake City, UT 84158
Phone: (800) 362-5559 (9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Mountain Time)
(801) 582-4200 (9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Mountain Time)
Fax: (801)582-8460 Cost as of April 2002: US$19.95 per kit

eneGene Genetic Services LLC
5988 Mid Rivers Mall Drive
Suite 121
St. Charles, Missouri 63304
(436-3522, toll-free)
Fax: 636.441.4625

Gene Tree
3150 Almaden Expressway #203
San Jose, CA 95118-1253 USA
Toll Free: (888) 404-GENE
Phone: (408) 723-2670
Fax: (408) 723-2671
DNA Identification and Banking Services:
SecureGene DNA Banking and Identification Service:
DNA Identification Service (GeneCard only): $__
25 years DNA storage (including GeneCard): $__
50 years DNA storage (including GeneCard): $__

DNA Analysis Inc.
Your loved one’s DNA is securely stored at -80°C for a period of 25 years. This may be extended for a nominal fee by contacting DNA Analysis, Inc. Actually, I found little information on what cells are extracted, how they are extracted, and what the price is, especially if you order a kit, extract your own DNA, then mail it in for storage. The price page dealt with parentage testing, and I felt that if you wanted to do things yourself, that the pricing was not evident from the information on the website.
DNA Analysis, Inc.
3900 Montgomery Road
Cincinnati, Ohio 45212
Call Toll Free 1- 87- STORE DNA
Local: (513) 531-1515
Fax: (513) 351-2273

DNA Capsules Your DNA is placed into a single vial and then in resin. Kind of like an insect trapped in amber type of thing--very Jurassic Park-ish.]

GeneSaver DNA collected on a buccal smear (inside of cheek) is mailed to GeneSaver. [We also preserve blood samples, but the buccal smears are easier to obtain and work fine. The effectiveness of our method was checked annually for many years by the DNA Lab at UCLA Medical School under Wayne W. Grody, MD, PhD]. Samples are lyophilized in small vials, after which the air is replaced with inert gas. The sealed vials are returned to the family in custom engraved containers. They can be stored at room temperature or below indefinitely -- NO REFRIGERATION NEEDED. GeneSaver does no DNA analysis and permits none on samples in its possession, so confidentiality is assured.
125 Hawthorne Village Rd.
Nashua, NH 03062
Telephone: (603) 897-0220

PRO-DNA Diagnostic [buccal swab sampling kit, purification and storage for 50 years at a temperature of –80°C.]
5345, Boulevard de l'Assomption
Bureau 165
Montréal (Québec)
H1T 4B3
Phone: (514) 253-9998
Fax: (514) 899-9669

DNA Diagnostic Center [In-home collection and 15 years storage. Have other options where need a chain of custody for legal issues]
205 Corporate Court
Fairfield, OH 45014 USA
Toll Free: (800) 613-5768
Phone: (513) 881-7800
Fax: (513) 881-7803

DNA Archive™ Home DNA Storage DNA Direct ( and Biomatrica ( have a method for storing extracted DNA that allows consumers to maintain full control of their DNA. This method makes it possible to keep a DNA sample safe and stable at home and at room temperature. DNA is collected using a standard cheek swab which is then mailed to the lab for extraction. Once extracted, the DNA is dried. Any laboratory can then use the DNA for all types of genetic testing including clinical genetics, identity, or ancestry.]
DNA Direct, Inc.
Pier 9 - Suite 105
San Francisco, CA 94111 USA
Phone: 415-646-0222
Fax: 415-646-0224

COMPANIES NO LONGER IN BUSINESS--will keep archived here for now

DNA Identification Systems (out of business)
DNA Identification Systems
DNA Home Collection and Storage Kit
One stored DNA sample offers you information on disease risks, inheritance rights, genealogy, identification, and medical history. However, they do not tell you on their website what cells you collect and how. Kits are $29.95 each plus shipping/handling.
DNA Identification Systems
PO Box 130159
Birmingham, AL 35213
Phone: (205) 970-5501
Fax: (205) 970-5502

Flatt Solutions (out of business but as of Aug 24, 2007 still have hundreds of "Genetic Family Tree" kits and "Kid Tracer" kits that use the FTA paper for self storage of DNA. They write that they "would love to sell these kits at a bulk cost of $100 per 100 kits." That's $1 per kit.)
Flatt Solutions
Genetic Family Tree and Kid Tracer is an inexpensive DNA Storage Kit for loved-ones to preserve a sample of their family member's DNA at home.
Genetic Family Tree Kit (formerly $10 per kit): A simple cheek swab is all that is needed. (A drop of blood could be substituted)
The swab is pressed onto the patented paper contained in the kit and after it has dried is stored in the protective bag. The patented paper that the sample is pressed onto is treated with special chemicals that kill viruses and bacteria. This treated paper also has chemicals that prohibit degradation and allows the sample to be stable indefinitely. The Kid Tracer Kit was formerly priced at $3. This company used to speak of starting a family DNA Library.
Anna Flatt (formerly of Flatt Solutions)
PO Box 1177
Ardmore, Oklahoma 73402
Phone: 800-272-1995
Fax: 15802268761

Youth Cell Technologies (out of business)
Lee Skidmore, president of YouthCell
YouthCell charges $300 to gather and store the DNA. Customers can order a sample collection kit on the company's Web site or through the mail. Each kit contains instructions and swabs to collect the cell samples from a person's mouth. Samples are mailed in, processed and then stored at YouthCell at 270 degrees below zero.
YouthCell Technologies, Inc.
308 Pomona Drive
Greensboro, NC 27407
Fax: 336-315-0093
Toll-Free Order: 1-877-315-8076 from 9:30AM to 5:30PM EST

GENE*R*ATION LINKS LLC (out of business)
Generation Links
$29.95 per kit plus shipping and handling
106 North 21st Street East
Suite 215
Superior, WI 54880-6546

LEGAL NOTICE: Kevin Duerinck does not make any recommendations as to the veracity of any material on this page and certainly does not endorse or warrant these products or services. It is up to each person to investigate these claims and information with people knowledgeable about the subject before purchasing these products or services. Prices are subject to change by each entity.



Copyright © 2000-2009 Kevin F. Duerinck