Scientist loading a centrifuge.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Scientist loading a centrifuge to separate DNA- containing white blood cells, Great Ormond Street Hospital, May 2000. Red blood cells do not contain DNA as they lose their nucleii (the compartment in a cell that contains the DNA) as they mature. Blood DNA is contained in the white blood cells. To extract it, a small sample of blood is spun at high speed to separate the cells from the blood fluid. Next, the DNA is released from the cells using a detergent and a special enzyme. Finally, alcohol is added, which makes the DNA appear as a sticky blob in the mixture.