By Meghan Morris
DNA has been the groundbreaking evidence that has solves millions of murders and felonies. It has brought justice and peace to families for years. But has it given us everything it has to offer?
According to Paul Couenhoven with history and science of forensic DNA, the genesis of DNA testing started in 1984 by Sir Alec Jeffery, a British geneticist. He discovered the technique of DNA testing to determine a genetic “fingerprint” in a laboratory in the department of genetics at the University of Leicester, England. In England, police have pushed for DNA profiling to the forefront of crime fighting. Yet here in the U.S., efforts to expand DNA testing is lagging and it’s due to the lack of effort and funding being put into the department. DNA profiling is used for cases where the suspects have not been identified yet, biological evidence from the crime scene can be analyzed and compared to offender profiles in DNA databases to help identify the perpetrator. Crime scene evidence can also be linked to other crime scenes using the DNA databases. With new advances in the DNA technology the United States to date has solved only around 1,000 crimes with new techniques. This is not to say we cannot solve way more with the continuation of this technique.
Cece Moore is no cop, but her DNA detective work has helped crack more than 200 cold cases in the past four years. What she does is called DNA genealogy, first developed to help people track down long lost relatives. In traditional forensic profiles, they are looking at around 13 to 20 different spots in the DNA. We are looking at around million now. The work that she does is sort of a new way to think about how you can treat forensic DNA. Traditional Forensic DNA looks at a DNA like a fingerprint. Usual DNA database only works when the person you are looking for is in the system already, but if they aren’t it really can’t tell you anything more. So, this is where the new technology and techniques come in. Using the DNA in a different way to actually generate new leads, new in those cases, to help figure out who that person could have been. “The new procedure can be used to identify different cell types in a sample as well as potentially indicate some attributes of the individuals who deposited the cell, like age, sex and so forth,” Christopher Ehrhardt said, “and the best part is that the procedure is nondestructive. After imagining, the cells can be used to generate a DNA profile. This is important since many samples have very little biological material, so the more information you can get without consuming the sample, the better.” “Labs will be able to analyze aged or degraded forensic samples in a quick and nondestructive manner- and with much better results.” Christopher Ehrhardt Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Forensic Science College of Humanities and Science. All of the new evidence and advancements have lead to countless cases being solved millions hope to further this technology to help even more cases and bring justice, peace and security to society.