AlphaBiolabs, which performs the DNA tests for ITV’s The Jeremy Kyle Show, has achieved a UK first by introducing non-invasive prenatal paternity testing at its laboratory in Warrington.
Previously, samples had to be sent to the United States for analysis, leading to a wait of at least two weeks before the results were known.
The company has invested in advanced technology at its lab to test samples from the mother and the alleged father entirely in-house, from as little as six weeks after conception.
Managing director David Thomas said there has been a 72 per cent increase in the number of tests that have been ordered since the venture was launched last month.
The test can safely identify whether a man is a baby’s biological father before the child is born. A blood sample is taken from the mother and a mouth swab sample from the man.
The DNA of the adults and the unborn baby is extracted at the lab and AlphaBiolabs’ team of geneticists then examine up to 35 markers in these profiles.
The testing process works on the same principle as standard DNA paternity tests. By examining the baby’s DNA together with that of the mother and alleged father, it is possible to determine whether the baby shares the man’s DNA. When the tested man is not the biological father, there will be differences.
AlphaBiolabs’ test gives at least 99.9 per cent probability of paternity where the father is confirmed as the biological father.
Previously, procedures such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling would have been relied upon to gain a sample of an unborn baby’s DNA. Both of these invasive methods incur a slight risk of miscarriage.
Under the new method, there is no risk to the unborn child, as a blood sample is only needed from the mother.
AlphaBiolabs is offering results within a week as standard, with an express service providing the outcomes in four days.
Samples can be collected by the company’s staff at a convenient address or customers can use one of AlphaBiolabs’ 10 walk-in centres across the UK.
Managing director David Thomas said: “Bringing the paternity testing service in-house is a significant move for AlphaBiolabs.
“Not only are we speeding up this process, we can also now offer the test as early as six weeks after conception. This is a first for the UK and for Europe.
“This investment further demonstrates our position as the industry leader for ground-breaking services. We have been extremely pleased with the take-up in the first few weeks of the roll-out and are excited about future offerings in the pipeline.”