On May 27, 2008, it was announced that Dr. Marjolein Kreik recently became the newest member of a very exclusive group of people. Thanks to a group of geneticists at Leiden University Medical Centre located in The Netherlands, Dr. Kreik is now the fifth person to have her DNA sequence determined. What makes this event even more notable is that she is the first woman— as well as the first European—to have had her DNA sequence confirmed. The first person to have their DNA sequence determined was James Watson, discoverer of the DNA double helix. His sequence was analyzed in 2001.
Archive for May, 2008
Scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., have recently detected the presence of human DNA in household dust. These findings, which where reported in Forensic Science International, revealed for the first time that human DNA could be detected in dust and measured. Scientist gathered 36 dust samples from eight locations around the university’s campus. Forensic DNA testing yielded human DNA from all but one sample. While the amount of DNA that was recovered was miniscule—only about ten of micrograms of total DNA per gram of dust– there was sufficient biological material needed for amplification and forensic DNA profiling. Researchers could not, however, pinpoint one person’s individual DNA profile because the results produced overlapping signals from numerous people. The team hopes that as forensic DNA analysis progresses, technology will become more advanced and will eventually solve the problem of pinpointing a particular persons DNA profile.
A new method of human identification is being tested, and researchers involved say it may prove to be a useful tool for the military, detectives and forensic experts. This emerging methodology is based on the analysis of antibodies that are unique to each individual. Antibodies are proteins the body uses to defend itself from viruses and antigens. An “antibody bar code” can be extracted from biological fluids, such as blood, saliva, and semen, which are sample types routinely used to obtain DNA profiles.
Most often, the public associates forensic DNA testing as being used for the sole purpose of solving a crime. We know it is quite useful in proving the guilt and innocence of a suspect, and can help identify the remains of an unknown victim. Rarely, however, do we associate DNA testing with aiding in the identification of an unknown U.S. soldier, but that is exactly what the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) uses the technology for.
This year the United States government will spend $105 million trying to locate and identify a combined total of 88,000 missing service members from the Vietnam, Korean, and World War II conflicts. Their mission to recover dead Missing In Action, or MIA, soldiers of past wars serves two main purposes. The first is to give grieving families some closure to decades of and unanswered questions, and the second is to provide a proper burial to a deceased veteran. (more…)