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Advancing DNA analysis to support the justice system

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27th September, 2022

Predicting geographical ancestry and physical characteristics from a single DNA profile

There is extra­or­di­nary DNA analy­sis and research work being done by the experts at our Foren­sic & Ana­lyt­i­cal Sci­ence Ser­vice (FASS) in sup­port of crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tions as well as miss­ing per­sons and uniden­ti­fied human remains cases.

Since March 2021, the FASS Foren­sic Biology/DNA team has been using Mas­sive­ly Par­al­lel Sequenc­ing (MPS) tech­nol­o­gy to pre­dict bio­geo­graph­i­cal ances­try and a person’s phys­i­cal appear­ance such as hair and eye colour from a DNA sample.

This infor­ma­tion can help crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tions and sup­port the work of the Coro­ner by help­ing to build a pic­ture from unknown human remains or from the DNA found at a crime scene. The FASS DNA Research team are now under­tak­ing test­ing to fur­ther enhance this analy­sis and add skin colour to the infor­ma­tion provided.

Also, FASS has begun using MPS for what’s known as “whole mito­chon­dr­i­al genome sequenc­ing.” This fur­ther enhances the mito­chon­dr­i­al DNA sequenc­ing ser­vice that has been pro­vid­ed by FASS since 2015 and will be par­tic­u­lar­ly use­ful for com­pro­mised or degrad­ed sam­ples from unknown human remains and miss­ing per­sons cases.

It’s expect­ed that in the future oth­er traits such as age and height will be incor­po­rat­ed into the test­ing of DNA sam­ples as well as what’s known as “mol­e­c­u­lar autop­sy” which, among a num­ber of appli­ca­tions, can help iden­ti­fy the cause of sud­den car­diac death.


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