September 25, 2019
Until now, forensic scientists have only been able to extract DNA from hairs found at crime scenes if they have their root attached. Unfortunately, most hairs do not have the root attached, so using DNA sampling to discover whom it belonged to has been impossible.
Thankfully a researcher from the University of California, Santa Cruz, has had a breakthrough in the way DNA can be extracted from hairs. Using a technique first used to extract DNA from fossilized bones Dr. Ed Green was able to create his own genotype using one of his own rootless hairs. He uploaded this genotype, as well as one created using a saliva sample, to a DNA database, and discovered both genotypes matched him with the same relatives. This proved that his technique could extract an accurate genotype from the rootless hair.
Following this test, Dr. Green used the technique to extract DNA from the hair of four unidentified murder victims from New Hampshire. DNA extracted from hairs allowed for identification of two of the victims, and DNA extracted from liver tissue identified a third. This breakthrough in DNA extraction will be extremely beneficial for solving crimes, both cold cases and current cases, although Dr. Green cautions that the technique is expensive, so it won’t be standard practice for all cases any time soon.
Source: The New York Times
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