DNA Testing in Forensics

DNA contains the body’s entire information in the form of a coded molecule. Very much like a blueprint chart.

It is used by the body when it constructs its own building blocks, identifies foreign bodies and contaminants, and in many other capacities. Our entire system is determined by the complex code in those storage units, from superficial things such as hair or eye color, body height or skin tone, to more complex things such as metabolism rates and even the proneness to develop certain chronic illnesses.

The DNA molecule is so complex and the combinations of genes in it so varied, that there are no two human beings alive who share the exact same genetic code. This has found a large array of uses in many fields these days. DNA test results can help determine who the parents of a baby are, tell a person his exact ancestral origins and more.

Another use of DNA testing is Forensics.

DNA testing has caused the next big revolution in police work after the discovery of the fingerprint. But the fingerprint can be fuddled with. Moulds of fingers can be made, actual fingerprints can be altered by applying physical damage (burning, scarring), or counteracted by the simple use of gloves.

DNA samples left on the scene of a crime can be miniscule, such as a strand of hair or a little bit of skin, and DNA, unlike fingerprints, cannot be forged or obscured on purpose.

There are two main categories of forensic DNA testing, one being the RFLP and the other – PCR testing. The RFLP testing process is possible when there is a significant and well preserved sample of a person’s DNA. Crime scene DNA samples tend to be small and often old, making them unsuitable for this method.

PCR testing, however, allows the DNA lab to work with a smaller sample of genetic material, or if it’s partially degraded. This makes this method more widely usable, however the results it is capable of delivering are limited.

The main reason for this is that the PCR test is prone to make mistakes due to the contamination of crime scene DNA, when it gets mixed with another person’s genetic tissue. If that tissue cannot be isolated, mistakes may happen and accurate results are harder to achieve.

More Uses of DNA Testing

Genetic testing, of course, applies to a wider scope of disciplines than just police work. It can also apply to cases when there’s nothing to work on except for DNA. Here is a fuller list of examples where forensic DNA testing can be usefully applied.

  • Solving crimes, such as rapes, robberies and murders.
  • Determining the family history of a person, their ancestral / ethnic origins
  • The health and origins of people found in archaeological findings, such as ancient burial grounds
  • Disappearance or inheritance cases, where the belonging to a family line needs to be proven.

We hope you found this article interesting and informative. For more information about DNA testing procedures and uses, feel free to browse our blog or contact us directly. Beyond DNA group is here for you.