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Play DNA

How It Works

At PlayDNA we have combined art with science in a novel take on portraiture that is both beautiful and fascinating, and best of all, it's completely personal to you.

Want to know if you’re genetically more prone to being an early bird or night owl, or if you have the genes of an Olympic sprinter? Your PlayDNA portrait will give you the answers. Not only do you receive an enchanting contemporary piece of bespoke artwork, but you also get a detailed analysis of your genetic profile.

You can select from two packages: Personal or Sports. Each package analyses five traits of interest, giving a distinctive, interpretable and unique banding pattern that we decipher to tell you your ’type’ for each trait.

So how do we do it? Well, the first thing we need to do is collect a sample of your DNA.

We will send you a cheek swab through the post with full instructions on how to take your DNA sample. It is a simple non-invasive procedure involving a quick rub with the foam tip around your mouth to collect the numerous cheek cells there. You then pop it back in the tube, seal in the self addressed mailing bag and send it back to us.

 We take client confidentiality extremely seriously and as a result your sample is identifiable only to us, using a special barcode on your swab.

Once your cheek swab arrives at our secure premises we extract the DNA from the foam tip and begin the laboratory processing. To generate your unique DNA image we amplify selected regions of your DNA that are related to particular traits of interest such as the gene for speed or memory. This process is known as PCR, which stands for polymerase chain reaction.

Amplifying your DNA in this way gives us a number of DNA fragments that differ in size depending on what ‘type’ you are for each gene we look at. There are always three possible gene ‘types’ for each of the traits we analyse.

Once amplified, we need to visualise your unique set of DNA fragments. We start this process by loading your DNA into a gel-like block and then ‘pulling’ the DNA through the gel using an electrical current (DNA is negatively charged so it migrates towards the positive electrode). The larger fragments of DNA find it harder to navigate through the gel and so don’t travel as far as the smaller fragments, physically seperating your DNA out on the gel. This technique is called ‘gel electrophoresis’.

The final laboratory process involves taking a digital image of your illuminated DNA. We place your gel on a lightbox and use UV light to make your DNA fragments visible to the eye as bands on the gel (we stain the DNA beforehand so it fluoresces under UV light). We then use a high resolution SLR camera to capture a high quality image of your unique DNA profile.

At this stage, every PlayDNA image is personally analysed by trained scientist and founder of PlayDNA Dr Samantha Decombel, who interprets and scrutinises your results for accuracy. We actually use two different laboratory techniques to analyse your DNA and make sure your results are as accurate as possible. Once confirmed, your results are recorded in your own authentic Certificate of Analysis. 

Next we move on to the post-laboratory processing of your DNA image. Our professional image editor digitally customises your image, applying your chosen colour shade along with any additional product choices.

Finally your DNA image is sent to our specialist printers, a UK-based Fine Art printing company specially selected by us as they offer high quality digital fine art of outstanding archival quality. They only use materials that are FSC-sourced, acid free and to conservation standard. 

Once printed to your specifications and quality checked, your artwork is carefully packaged and dispatched to you via our professional couriers. As well as your bespoke artwork and accompanying Certificate of Analysis, we also include an easy to understand guide to help you understand your artwork and the science behind it.

We keep hold of your DNA sample until 28 days after your artwork is dispatched in case you have any queries over your results. After this time it is safely destroyed on our secure laboratory premises.