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Marshall U. Explores Paternity Testing

December 17, 2003

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) _ Marshall University hopes to develop a new business with a biotechnology venture announced Wednesday that focuses on paternity testing.

Marshall University Parentage Testing Services will help families, lawyers, doctors and other clients by doing DNA testing for paternity, immigration status, kinship relationships and other cases.

``This is an extension of our DNA laboratory,″ said Lynda Holup, biotechnology business developer. ``It’s the first venture into a commercial area.″

DNA testing to amplify and analyze blood samples from convicted felons is already being done at the Combined DNA Index System _ or CODIS _ laboratories at Marshall.

While the paternity testing service is initially working with the university and the DNA analysts are using CODIS equipment, the goal is for it to eventually become its own business.

``It takes highly qualified, technical people, scientists to do the work in these laboratories,″ Holup said. ``We would hope that as this business grows we would be able to hire more people and keep more people here and turn the dollars around here in the state, keep the money here.″

In the future, Parentage Testing Services could provide other DNA services, such as clinical diagnosis in conjunction with the planned Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center in Huntington, said Terry Senger, the testing service’s laboratory director.

``Economic development is a key reason that we do what we do,″ Senger said Wednesday at a news conference in Huntington.

``It is very important that we provide jobs for people who are qualified. ... It’s an excellent learning and training exercise.″

People seeking paternity testing currently can go to the state Department of Health and Human Resources, which contracts with a lab in North Carolina to do such testing, or look for individual laboratories over the Internet. Marshall’s service provides another option, Holup said.

Consulting Director Rob Allen said Parentage Testing Services plans to submit a bid to handle the DHHR’s testing next year.

``This is the first time in the history of West Virginia that we are doing our own parentage testing,″ Senger said.

Parentage Testing Services is accredited through the American Association of Blood Banks and has been working with clients for about three months, Holup said.

The program would work with the university’s Forensic Science Center on criminal paternity testing, but would do separate work concerning private cases.

Paternity testing is done by taking swab samples of cells along the inside of a person’s cheek. Samples are collected from the mother, child and potential father in standard cases for a cost of $450.


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