Forensic DNA Analysis: What is it?

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Forensic DNA analysis uses genetic samples to identify individuals and is commonly used in criminal investigations. Samples are obtained from bodily fluids or personal items and compared to a reference sample using various techniques. DNA databases are used to match suspect DNA with existing samples. The use of genetic material from a suspect’s family members and racial profiling are concerns.

Forensic DNA analysis is used to identify individuals using genetic samples. Basically, the system uses a series of identification numbers to match two different samples. The concept was first designed by Sir Alec Jeffreys at the University of Leicester in 1985. Today it is standard practice in conducting investigations into crimes such as murder and rape.

The forensic DNA analysis process begins with an individual’s DNA samples. This can come from bodily fluids such as blood, saliva or semen. It is usually obtained from personal items or stored samples. A reference sample must be derived from a number of techniques and compared to samples to determine a genetic match. This is most commonly conducted using a cheek or cheek swab in the mouth.

There are several ways to create a DNA sample. Restriction fragment length polymorphism uses a digestion process that identifies a person’s DNA. However, this method makes it difficult to identify individual chromosomes. Polymerase chain reaction has the advantage of using small starting samples and can closely identify DNA. It is limited to mixed samples such as blood and saliva. Short tandem repeat analysis is the most commonly used method. Use repeating base sequences of DNA to make matches.

Forensic DNA analysis relies heavily on DNA databases from around the world. These are large collections of genetic codes that forensic scientists can match suspect DNA with existing samples already recorded. Some of these databases are private, however, most are maintained by government agencies. The largest of these DNA databases is the United States government-run Combined DNA Index System. As of 2007, he has held over five million records.

In the early days of forensic DNA analysis in the 1980s, concerns existed about the likelihood of DNA being used to prosecute criminals. However, as progress was made, law enforcement determined that individual matches were able to both convict and exonerate individuals in the cases. This has been standardized by limiting the exposure of DNA to foreign substances in laboratories and other tests in cases.

One aspect of forensic DNA analysis is the use of genetic material from a suspect’s family members. Often a closely related suspect can be used to build a match. However, this concept receives a number of concerns due to the fact that an exact match is not required. In addition, matching DNA research leads to racial profiling, which can be matched to unrelated people.

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