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The RedTracer DNA Test

The RedTracer DNA Test is a DNA analysis procedure that will determine the full DNA makeup of your MC1R gene and identify all possible variations. Since red hair is a recessive trait, it will require two carrier parents to have a redheaded child. If only one copy of your MC1R is a red hair (r) variant then you are a red hair carrier (as shown in the left panel of the figure above). The RedTracer DNA Test uses a state-of-the-art DNA technique to unambiguously decipher your MC1R gene and identify any red hair causing variants that you might carry.

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Will I have a redheaded baby?

Ever wish for a baby with beautiful red hair even though you are not a redhead yourself? If there have been any redheaded indivudials in your family history, you have a good chance of carrying the trait. Due to the recessive nature of the red hair trait, it is generally
masked by the presence of a non-redhaired copy of the MC1R gene. As a result, redheads frequently seem to pop out of nowhere among non-redhead families. Roughly 2% of the 300 million people in the US are redheads. This translates to a much greater number (25%) of red hair carriers in US. If your family originated from northern Europe, you have a high chance of being a carrier.

How does the test work?
Once you order the RedTracer DNA Test, we will send you a DNA collection kit by mail. You collect your buccal samples in the comfort and privacy of your own home according to the easy-to-follow instructions included in the kit. You then send the sample back to our laboratory using the pre-addressed envelope that comes with the sample collection kit. Our staff scientists will isolate the DNA and determine your MC1R variants to ensure the accuracy of the test.

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We will then compare your test result to a database of all the variants known to cause red hair. A test report is compiled and sent back to you detailing all the variations your red hair gene might harbor and whether or not you are a red hair carrier based on the test results.

Who should take the test?
If you are one of these people, you might be interested in the RedTracer DNA Test:

1. You suspect you might be a carrier; or are a couple who have a redheaded baby, but do not know you are carriers.
2. You are a redhead who wants to know which variants you carry, discover your redhead family pedigree, or help identify new red hair alleles.
3. You are just curious to know whether you might be one of the 20%-30% carrier population.
4. You feel this is an excellent gift idea for your loved ones or friends.
5. You are alarmed by the prospect of the decreasing redhead population and want to do something to preserve the redheads.

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What would I learn from the test if I am a redhead?
There are over 35 variants known in the MC1R gene. Among them, only 5 have strong associations with red hair phenotypes, while several additional SNPs are known to weakly associated with red hair color. We all know red hair comes in different shades. However, the correlations between genetic variations and variations in hair redheadedness is poorly understood. We plan to host a global database with information about each genotypes (red hair gene mutations) and resulting phenotypes (auburn, copper, titian, strawberry blonde, ginger). This will allow identification of new red hair causing variants. Your participation can help us achieve this goal.