How DNA Profiling and DNA Fingerprinting Benefited People

            Have you ever watched television news, movies, or dramas related to crime where investigators or detectives have to identify a certain body or identify a criminal or the assailant? The process done is actually called DNA profiling. According to Science Learning Hub, DNA profiling is the process where a specific DNA pattern, called a profile, is obtained from a person or sample of bodily tissue which can be used to identify individuals. However, that is not the only purpose of DNA profiling because there are other wonderful things about this. There are many commercial organizations that used dna  profiling technologies to help people identify their traits. One such organization is Mapmygenes can more information can be found on their dna profiling page at http://www.mapmygene.com/services/disease-susceptibility-test/

In an article by Bio Ninja, we would be able to know more about DNA profiling. Let us read below.

DNA Profiling

DNA profiling is a technique by which individuals can be identified and compared via their respective DNA profiles

  • Within the non-coding regions of an individual’s genome there exists satellite DNA – long stretches of DNA made up of repeating elements called short tandem repeats(STRs) 
  • As individuals will likely have different numbers of repeats at a given satellite DNA locus, they will generate unique DNA profiles 

DNA profiling is commonly used in criminal investigations (forensics) and to settle paternity disputes

The procedure involved is common for both:

  • A DNA sample is collected (e.g. from blood, semen, saliva, etc.) and then amplified using PCR
  • Satellite DNA (with STR sequences) are cut with specific restriction enzymes to generate fragments
  • Fragment length will differ between individuals due to the variable length of their short tandem repeats
  • The fragments are separated using gel electrophoresis and the resulting profiles are compared. Read more here.

So Bioninja provided us with information about the procedure in conducting DNA profiling which is quite similar for both purposes which is for forensic investigation and paternity testing. Now, let us take a look at the importance of DNA Profiling which will be discussed to us by Maita Independent through their article below.

The Importance of DNA profiling

 “I think it is important that without killing a human life, you avoid that it is conceived – especially if you know the child will be born with a disability. In saying this, I don’t think it reduces the life or dignity of the person with a disability,” a parent, whose child was born with a disability, told the Social Affairs Committee last week.

The session was held behind closed doors to protect the identity of the speaker. She was referred to as Paula.

She explained that her sister became pregnant several years ago. During a routine check-up in her seventh month of pregnancy, the doctors realised that the baby’s head was larger than it should be.

She was immediately referred to St Luke’s Hospital and after further investigations, it was found that the baby had a condition called hydrocephalus – a condition where an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the cerebral ventricles causes enlargement of the skull and compression of the brain, destroying much of the neural tissue. Read more here.

So that is a true story showing us how important DNA profiling is especially if you are planning or about to conceive a child. Below, we are going to read more about real life cases where DNA profiling changed everything. The Forensic Outreach Team will provide us with those.

5 Real-Life Cases Where DNA Profiling Changed Everything

DNA testing on crime scene evidence is considered conclusive, but it was not always so. 30 years ago, this tool was considered too controversial to make a difference in identifying or clearing a suspect.

DNA profiling is the process whereby a string of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is extracted from a cell of an organism, mixed with a ‘restriction enzyme’ which, when processed reveals the blueprint of an individual; ‘instructions’ in each of 23 pairs of chromosomes that dictate physical characteristics, function and individuality, each is completely unique to an individual.  DNA signature is duplicated in every cell of a person’s body, including urine, tears or semen, therefore scientifically accurate identification can be made.

  1. A twist of fate: the first use in England.

A fifteen year old school girl, Lynda Mann was abducted in Narbourough, England. The next day, her body was discovered raped and murdered.  Three years later, another young woman met the same fate near Lynda’s resting place. Richard Buckland was arrested and confessed to the second murder only.  An untested technique was applied; ‘genetic fingerprinting’ through DNA analysis. Surprisingly, there was no match in either murder, so the test was repeated. Ultimately, Buckland was proven innocent. As to why he confessed, he claimed he had been pressured by police. Read more here.

DNA profiling and DNA fingerprinting has really helped a lot in crime and investigation. Imagine how those criminals would be caught without this, they might still be roaming around and innocent people might have been arrested. So basically, DNA profiling is one of the most important discoveries right now. Without it, police investigation could’ve been more difficult right now, justice is not served well, and illnesses wouldn’t have been detected early.