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DNA jewelry: A gift that screams you

British company takes personalized presents to new extreme

By Jeordan Legon
CNN

The 5-feet-tall glass screen can be expanded with up to three panels to incorporate the genetic profiles of three people.
The DesigNAgifts glass screen is 5 feet tall and can be expanded to three panels to incorporate the genetic profiles of three people.

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(CNN) -- Talk shows have used DNA to identify wayward fathers. Detectives have used it to absolve the falsely convicted. But now, English scientists are using strands of life to create the ultimate brand name.

Your DNA can be tagged on a silver and garnet necklace, woven into a wool rug, or stamped on a handmade glass screen.

"You're unique, and this is one way of proving it," said Neil Sullivan, head of Complement Genomics, a Sunderland, England, DNA testing company that runs DesigNAgifts.com. "They're one-offs that can never be replicated."

Scientists intrigued

The company presented the firm's site at the International Biotech Conference in London last week. Sullivan said he was concerned he would be snubbed by serious geneticists. But he said the firm's booth was mobbed.

"We thought they would see it as trivial," he said. "But people were fascinated by the merger of science and art."

Using the company's kit, customers collect saliva samples by swabbing the inside of the gift recipient's mouth. They send the swab back to the lab with the gift order.

In two to eight weeks, the gift arrives. But Sullivan warns that the company already is swamped with requests, and orders may take even longer to ship.

Making the gift

The DNA patterns imbedded in the gifts could never be used for scientific purposes. Sullivan said his lab uses the strands of chromosomes in the DNA profile to provide the basis of a pattern. They then increases the size of the DNA barcodes. Artisans from northern England use the information to make the jewelry and glassware by hand.

Gifts range in price from 175 pounds (about $250) for a framed DNA certificate to 4,000 pounds ($5,900) for the stained glass screen. If sales continue to be brisk, Sullivan said he plans to introduce new ways of putting the strands of life into gift boxes, including a line of clothing and paintings.

"It's a fun way to deliver molecular biology to the consumer," he said.



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