Information for healthcare professionals

Cellmark participated in the development of the original Dept. of Health's voluntary Code of Practice on Genetic Testing, launched in 2001, and abides by its replacement the Human Genetics Commission's "Common Framework of Principles".

DNA testing is a complex scientific process which can positively identify relationships between people. Most commonly used to establish if a man is the true biological father of a child but it also used in the analysis of more complex relationships.


  • DNA testing overview
  • Ethics and DNA testing
  • Advising on testing
  • DNA relationship testing

    Relationship testing is undertaken using DNA analysis called Short Tandem Repeat (STR) profiling. A minimum of 22 STR tests are used to analyse a claimed relationship. In paternity cases when a mother, child and father are tested, Cellmark will either exclude the man with 100% certainty, or provide a probability of paternity in excess of 99.9999%.

    The use of the amplification technology Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) means that small cellular samples can be used, such as mouth swabs (buccal scrapes).

    Any reputable DNA testing company, such as Cellmark, will be accredited by the Ministry of Justice as a body that may carry out parentage tests as directed by the civil courts in England and Wales under section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969. This means that they abide by the terms of the Human Tissue Act, adhere to the Human Genetics Commission's "Common Framework of Principles", that their labs have the relevant ISO accreditation (ISO17025) and they market their services in an ethical manner.

    Established in 1987, Cellmark pioneered the introduction of DNA analysis for paternity testing and over the years has been recommended by healthcare professionals whose patients are looking into DNA testing.

  • Using an experienced company is essential

    The provision of DNA paternity testing direct to the public, using test kits sent off for analysis, raises the possibility of samples being tested without the individual’s consent. As a sample from the mother is no longer required, although we would still recommend they are sampled, for meaningful results the possibility of testing without the knowledge or consent of the mother has increased.

    The Human Genetic's Commission's "Common Framework of Principles" and the BMA's Ethics Department have provided detailed guidance in these matters.

    Ethically, health professionals should only agree to provide assistance where the testing is in the best interests of the child.

    The BMA believes that, ethically, ‘motherless’ paternity testing should only go ahead where the mother, and, if sufficiently mature, the child, consents.

  • Providing correct and appropriate information

    Paternity testing is not available on the NHS, nor is it considered a ‘healthcare’ matter, subsequently doctors may feel this is a subject not suited to the remit of their practice as a doctor, GP or otherwise. However, there is an implicit responsibility to provide those seeking a test with correct and appropriate information.

    Is testing in the best interests of the children involved and does everyone consent to testing taking place?  Consent is required before a sample is taken for paternity testing.  People with parental responsibility must give consent on behalf of children or young people, but when they are capable of understanding the issues, the views of young people should be taken into account when deciding if a paternity test would be in their best interest.

    Cellmark offers a convenient sampling service which allows the samples to be taken by an independent and suitably trained person. The sampler should not be related to the sample giver, nor have any financial or personal interest in the outcome of the paternity test.

    Cellmark provides all the relevant documentation and instructions to simplify the process for your patients. If you have any concerns please phone, or get your patients to phone, our Customer Services team free on 0800 036 2522.

  • "I wanted to thank you so much for your help with this case. You really made this happen and we had the hearing today. Things will now be sorted out so much more quickly for this baby because of your efforts."

    Local Authority Childcare Team
  • "To Cellmark, Firstly I would like to say thank you to all of you for a great service. Just last night I revived my DNA reports well with in my deadline period. Secondly the reason why I chose Cellmark out of 4-5 DNA companies from the list given was due to the fact that Cellmark responded to all my inquiries efficiently, professionally and promptly. Other companies were quite poor in that so I decided to go ahead with Cellmark."

    Unsolicited testimonial
  • "I would like to thank you and the Cellmark team for the first class customer service you gave me, the timely responses and the efficiency. My first time using Cellmark but I will definitely recommend to everyone. Your service can't go unnoticed and I hope your managers recognise that."

    Private Individual
  • "Thank you very much for getting the results back to us so quick and in time for the hearing...... You’ve all been a massive help!"

    Family Law Solicitor
  • "May I take this opportunity to say how very pleased and impressed I am with your firm’s efficiency and professionalism, as well as your flexibility. I have been using a variety of different firms for DNA and drug and alcohol testing for years as solicitor for the local authority, before I found you, none others have the approach with all the staff members that I was seeking, or the speed at which you respond to queries, issues etc.. before I came across Cellmark. Thank you."

    Local Authority

Useful links

From ensuring that your patients have the right information before commencing the process to understanding what the final test report means - we aim to provide assistance every step of the way.