Human Tissue Authority

The regulator for human tissue and organs

About DNA and the role of the HTA

DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. DNA is found in the nucleus of all cells, and contains the genetic information for the development and working of living organisms including human beings. The study of DNA is used in forensics, gene therapy, relationship (including paternity) testing and bioinformatics. Newspaper articles and television programmes detailing the uses of DNA over the past decade have meant that public interest and public consciousness of DNA has risen sharply. 

Consent and DNA

In all but exceptional cases (such as the prevention or detection of crime), the law requires that consent is obtained from the person whose DNA is to be tested.
The applicable law is contained in the Human Tissue Act 2004 (HT Act). The HTA's remit in the area of DNA analysis is overseeing the consent provisions of the HT Act.
Practical guidance on the consent requirements for DNA analysis can be found in the HTA's Code of Practice A: Guiding principles and the fundamental principle of consent
For frequently asked questions please see Consent and the use of DNA FAQs
If you are unsure whether DNA analysis is an exceptional case follow the steps laid out in Flowchart A ‘Consent and the use of DNA'
Flowchart B ‘Qualifying consent' outlines whose consent is required in specific situations.
The glossary on consent and the use of DNA includes definitions specific to section 45 of the HT Act. This glossary should only be referred to when section 45 of the HT Act is being considered.
For information on non-consensual DNA analysis, for obtaining scientific or medical information about the person whose body manufactured the DNA, and how to apply to the HTA to do this, please see our policy on non-consensual DNA analysis.
If, having viewed these documents, you have any questions that have not been answered then please contact us.


Last updated on: 22 May 2019