Q) What's included in the $119 DNA Minipanel?
A) We have created a comprehensive testing platform designed to make testing your horse much easier. You may click here to see a larger view of the comparison menu and look through all of the tests currently included in each package. Updates occur frequently, so please stay tuned.
Q) What's included in the $159 DNA Minipanel PLUS?
A) All of the traits from the DNA Minipanel PLUS "Warmblood" Fragile Foal Syndrome, Hoof Wall Separation Disease, Hydrocephalus, "Roaring" (Recurrent Laryngeal Neuropathy), Squamous Cell Carcinoma, LCORL, Curly Coat, Sunshine (new dilute color) and more!
Q) Do I get a kit in the mail?
A) No - you have all you need at the time of purchase! Once you've completed your payment transaction, you will be provided with a pre-filled Sample Submission Form. The form will have all of the information you provided for the horse being tested, along with instructions for where to place the hair sample. Just print, pull hair, and send it in to us.
Q) Do I need to send a blood sample?
A) No. Our testing can be performed using the DNA extracted from hair roots, so there is no blood, pain, needles or expensive shipping necessary. Hair samples are incredibly stable as long as they are kept dry and below 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Q) What if it's really hot weather, should I worry about my sample?
A) If the weather is excessively hot (shipping samples from Texas in July for example), consider including a cold pack, otherwise, cool to freezing temperatures are absolutely fine.
Q) Why should I test my horse?
A) People test their horses for a number of reasons. From prepurchase exams to performance, genetics is incredibly helpful. You may want to know more about breeding possibilities related to colors or performance traits for instance, or you may have a suspected health issue you would like to investigate. From critically important health issues (such as Lethal White or Lavender Foal Syndrome) to simple fun and novelty (ie. temperament) there are many reasons to test. Know your horse!
Q) Is testing painful?
A) No. This test is run using root hairs. No blood, no sweat, just hair! A good sample pulled from the mane or tail will work (tail is always better, especially on foals) - usually 30-40 hairs with root will do nicely.
Q) How long does it take to get results?
A) Etalon is a couture service geared toward personal attention and accurate, helpful results. We begin processing samples twice each week (be aware: some holidays may cause slight delays). Sample reports for diagnostics testing typically takes 5-8 business days from receipt of the sample in the lab. For Ancestry you can expect results within about 4 weeks. We run multiple controls and each test report is personally reviewed by a scientist. We want to provide the best possible experience for our clients and questions/consults are always welcome and encouraged.
Q) I live outside the US – can I still order a test?
A) Yes, we accept samples and orders from anywhere in the world. Order a test on the etalondx.com order site, download and print a PDF Sample Submission Form for each horse, attach the hair samples, and mail them in to us. We recommend that you send your samples by the fastest, tracked postal method so that you get your results as quickly as possible. Once we have your report ready we will email you the results.
Q) I never received my order confirmation email. What should I do?
A) It is possible that the order confirmation email from Etalon was caught by your spam filter. Check your Spam folder and look for an email with the sender “EtalonDx.com”. It is also possible that your sample was misplaced by the mail service, or stalled in customs. We always recommend sending samples via a tracked system so we know where and when to expect your sample. Never hesitate to contact us and ask about your incoming sample.
Q) Can Etalon help us find new genetic markers in our horses?
A) Yes. Etalon is specifically geared toward discovery using a unique scientific platform, but, more importantly, input from YOU the horse owner. No one knows their animals like horse people know their animals and that's why we want your input, opinions, and ideas. We actually WANT to talk about your horse all day and please do send us pictures! To see some of our discoveries, please visit our blog.
Q) I'm trying to order a test, but my computer is not cooperating, now what?
A) No worries. We are a small, but rapidly growing business and we fully expect computer glitches to occur. Should our online automated setup not work for you, please feel free to email or call and we can send you the forms or just a link for easy payment. We are flexible and willing to make it work.
Q) I have a very unusually colored horse - does Etalon care?
A) Absolutely! Please DO tell us all about your unusual equine and send us photos and information. The more the merrier and we'll share your precious pony with our equine friends.
Q) Is Etalon a licensed lab for equine DNA testing?
A) Etalon is ISAG accredited (International Society of Animal Genetics) with an absolute genotyping score of 99.54% (a Class I) lab! A common question posed with much misinformation floating about with the meaning of "licensed' as there is currently no known licensure available for any type of equine genetic testing laboratory. Labs are free to function as they see fit. However, Etalon is born of scientists and biotech professionals from the human clinical setting (very rigorous licensure and regulatory standards) and our lab is run in a GLP or CLIA - like setting. We also uphold the standards for industry animal testing labs including AAALAC, and USDA. All of these regulatory standards we follow here at Etalon are self-imposed and voluntary, but we feel it's how all labs should be run.
Q) Has Etalon received licensing for the genetic testing of horses?
A) Again, there is no "license" or "licensure" available for equine genetic testing (as there is no official regulatory body). Ownership of a genetic sequence (the "code chain" for each trait, color or disease) is not possible as of a court ruling in 2013. On June 13, 2013, in the case of the Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that human genes cannot be patented in the U.S. because DNA is a "product of nature." The Court decided that because nothing new is created when discovering a gene, there is no intellectual property to protect, so patents cannot be granted. As for actual genetic testing for horses, the highest standard today is to volunteer to participate in ISAG testing for evaluation, scoring and accreditation. Etalon participates and has received the highest classification and accreditation possible (Class I lab with an absolute genotyping score of 99.54%).
Q) What about reverse engineering genes or genetic tests?
A) Although we award points for creativity when we hear that certain tests, "have been reverse engineered" that is not possible. Simply put, when we look at a particular DNA sample either an organism does have a gene sequence or it does not, there is no "reverse engineering". No mysteries or magic, just science.
Q) Is genetic testing accurate?
A) Although the platform used at Etalon is highly accurate, no medical, scientific, or genetic testing is ever 100% accurate - there are simply too many places for errors to occur. The errors can come from any number of places (barn, factories for reagents, persons handling samples, allele dropout, heat degradation, contamination, etc.) and any result should be checked against good strong controls, then rechecked, then questioned. At the end of the day, even with an accuracy rating of 99.54% (Etalon's current rating) that still leaves room for error and questions should be asked. Reviewing your results for any type of medical or scientific testing is simply a wise practice and a responsibility. We ask questions and we think any responsible owner/breeder should as well.
B) "Correlation is not causation" - Although some genetic testing is highly predictive (i.e. so far, a horse testing positive for "Red" or e/e has always been "Red"/Chestnut/Sorrel, etc) not all genetic testing is absolute. For example: Not all horses testing CA/CA (homozygous for Cerebellar Abiotrophy) have been known to exhibit the disease symptoms. There are a few individuals who appear asymptomatic or unaffected. The sample can be true for colors: Not all horses testing positive for Tobiano have large white markings, there are a subset of horses with little to no white markings at all, yet they carry the same Tobiano gene and, visibly, pass it on to their offspring. While genetic testing is highly reliable and predictive, nothing is 100% - do your homework and look with an educated eye.
Q) Is there any kind of validation for Etalon or other equine genetic testing laboratories?
A) Yes. There is one acting governing body that helps to keep genetic laboratory testing standards held to some kind of common measure: The International Society for Animal Genetics (ISAG). They offer standardized testing every other year for any lab who wishes to participate. Each lab is issued unknown samples for testing and questions are posed. The subject lab must run the analysis on the samples, answer the questions and complete a report. The report and answers are graded by the ISAG committee and a ranking and score is issued. The Etalon score is currently a 99.54% accuracy rating for absolute genotyping with a laboratory rating of Rank I (highest ranking available).