September 2, 2008

DNA breakthrough can identify an individual in a public place

They have found a way of picking an individual’s DNA out of a mixed sample – even when that sample is contaminated by the DNA of up to 200 others. The method works even when the DNA of interest is only 0.1 per cent of the sample. At present, it is hard for forensic investigators to detect an individual’s DNA if it constitutes less than 10 per cent of a mixture, or if many other people’s DNA is present.

This means that it is almost impossible to identify a suspect’s DNA out of, for example, a collection of skin cells from the handrail of a public staircase. The new method could resolve this problem.

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