TotheletterDNA Update – August 2019

I saw this on Totheletter DNA’s Facebook page

We are about to introduce an exciting new step in our process, where we identify quickly and simply whether there is DNA under an envelope flap or stamp.

What does this mean for our customers? Firstly, no long waits to find out whether the item has DNA. Secondly, a cheaper price for this first step! We can even provide the customer with a photograph of the cells that we’ve found!

For customers who currently have a sample with us that is yet to undergo extraction, we will be using this method with your item/s. Any savings to you can be used for any recommended downstream processing of the DNA, or for further tests of other items you may wish to submit.

All new orders will follow this process.

New pricing will be published over the next week – stay tuned!

A word of caution – the DNA may not be from the person who wrote the letter or licked the stamp. It may also be contaminated with other DNA. Hopefully, if the DNA sample can be successfully extracted, it will generate enough DNA to compare on a site like GEDmatch Genesis. At that point, you may find out if it’s the DNA of the person you think it was.

Word of caution #2: each use of a DNA sample with this process destroys that sample, but that’s true of any other company that tests DNA. If the person licked a large section of the flap, you may have multiple chances to test. However, there is no guarantee that enough DNA on other portions will be available to get results. With cheek swabs or spit kits used by companies like 23andMe, FamilyTree DNA (FTDNA), etc., there may be enough DNA to run additional tests. I had two cheek swabs at FTDNA. I have done enough DNA testing with the company that one swab was used up, and I expect the second one is close to being used up. If I wanted to do a Big Y-500 to Big Y-700 upgrade, I believe the remaining DNA sample on the second swab is unlikely to be a large enough sample to successfully complete.

I would wait until such time as the technology for collecting DNA from stamps, envelopes, and other sources improves significantly. As the technology improves, the cost should become more reasonable; the current price for Totheletter DNA – can run very high if you want the best test; $2385 USD unless you ordered before 20 January 2019 where it’s only $1909 USD.I would recommend going with option one as it’s only $235 USD and they store the sample for later upgrades. From the article, WGS is the better way to go in most cases, but they will usually let you know if it GSA is feasible since it’s a cheaper test.

If DNA is found in the customer’s sample, we offer three options:

  1. Pay for extraction and store the customer’s DNA sample until they are ready (or can afford) to progress to GSA or WGS ($341AUD / approx $235USD for envelopes, stamps and aerogrammes / price on application for other artefacts)

  2. Pay for extraction and offer to progress the customer’s sample to the GSA if the sample is suitable ($831AUD / approx $575USD including the already paid extraction cost – pricing is for all artefact types)

  3. Pay for extraction and progress the customer’s sample to WGS if GSA is not suitable or the customer prefers the WGS option ($3460AUD / approx $2385USD which includes the already paid extraction cost – pricing is for all artefact types)*

*Customers who placed orders before 20 January 2019 are offered Option 3 for $2766AUD / approx $1909USD.

I remember when I first considered DNA testing at any of the major DNA companies, the cost at FTDNA and 23andMe was $199. Within a year or so, it dropped to $99. These days a good sale nets you a DNA test at most of the companies for $49; a decent sale runs $59. Some experts have said they expect full DNA testing to run $99 in the very near future. The early projections were a decade away, but some tentative newer projections estimate 3 – 5 years. The price may be higher for extracting DNA from stamps, envelopes, etc.

About Wichita Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's
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