Technological Gamechanger in Forensic Suspect Identification

Photo illust. Wikimedia

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Human DNA is 99.9 percent identical and only 0.1 percent difference in it makes each of us genetically different from one another. During a crime scene investigation, forensic experts rely on this 0.1 percent difference to trace or identify the suspects.

An advanced DNA sequencing technology enables the prediction of the physical appearance of potential suspects. The technology, also known as Massive Parallel Sequencing (MPS), makes use of the DNA left by criminals at a crime scene. Using it, law enforcement agencies will be able to predict the gender, biogeographical ancestry, eye color, etc. of a suspect even if there’s no matching records in police databases.

Australian federal police have announced they are using next-generation DNA sequencing technology to predict the physical appearance of potential suspects.

Traditional DNA profiling focuses on 24 sites on the genome where chains of nucleotide bases differ in length between people. The site sequences do not encode for specific genes that determine physical characteristics such as eye or hair color. The new method can determine biological sex because one of the 24 target sites is on the X chromosome and another is on the Y chromosome, according to

Experts say the technology is a “gamechanger” for forensic science but also raises concerns over racial profiling, heightened surveillance and genetic privacy.