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DNA Bank

The Division of Laboratory Sciences (DLS) has established a DNA specimen bank containing DNA samples from a representative cross-section of the U.S. population. The bank stores 17,000 specimens suitable for amplification by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and 7,500 cell lines suitable for DNA analysis (ScienceScope, Science 1997;278:1389).

Because these samples are representative of the genetic makeup of the U.S. population, they will be used in future investigations to:

  1. Establish national prevalence data for DNA variants.
  2. Establish the relation of specific variants to disease.
  3. Increase understanding of genetic factors that relate host susceptibility to environmental exposures.

DLS began preparing these samples for distribution to researchers throughout the country.

In collaboration with National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), DLS has developed a mechanism to review proposals for using samples from the DNA bank and presented the mechanism to the NCHS Institutional Review Board.

In collaboration with the National Center for Human Genome Research at National Institute of Health, DLS has helped to develop recommendations for use of stored tissue samples containing DNA. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, these recommendations are the focal point of a national debate on ethical issues related to DNA testing. The recommendations are expected to set a standard for ethical use of stored samples in genetic research.