On the evening on 24 May we asked participants to spit and scrape, as we opened our doors to the event “ A Genetic Crystal Ball? Turning Spit into Data “. Through 5 stations the participants were guided through the processes of a genetic test, and were allowed to feel and see the equipment and stuff needed to discover risks of diseases in a gob of spit.

At the first station we collected saliva samples. You need quite a bit, so this can be challenging. The saliva contains cells from the mouth, and each of these cells contain the DNA that we wish to examine. The extraction of the DNA from the saliva took place at the second station. Here, Mattias demonstrated the extraction of DNA using silica membranes. When the DNA has been extracted and washed, it needs to be duplicated in order to reach a quantity sufficient for further analysis. At the third station Signe showed how DNA can be copied using the PCR method. Using this method you can achieve vast copies of DNA. At the fourth station Daniel displayed the chips on which the analysis itself is carried out. The shiny chips were examined up close in a microscope and photos of the machine that scans the chips were shown. At the end we were left with a list of around one million genetic varations that were interpreted at the fifth station by Jens-Ole. How does one letter in the genetic code determine if your risk of cancer is increased?

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Finally we discussed whether people would like to have their own genes tested. Many were sceptical and uncertain as to what the knowledge could be used for. What do you do if you find out that you are genetically predisposed to a serious, incurable disease? Don’t you run the risk of abuse of information obtained in a genetic test? There are many issues to consider, but at least one person got the chance of learning more about his genes. Morten Krøyer was the lucky winner of personal genetic test. Congratulations!

You can catch the highlights of the events in the video below. There were plenty of refreshments for the participants to moisten their dry palates 🙂

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