5 different cases in which genetic profiling has been used
What is DNA profiling? You might be asking yourself.
DNA profiling is a technique where a sample of DNA is examined in a laboratory to generate information about the source of the sample, or it can be compared to other samples. This technique is a quite recent technology; the first time used was in 1985. DNA tests can be applied to any human sample that contains cells with nuclei, like hair, saliva, semen and urine. It resists degeneration even after contamination with chemicals or bacteria.
The ability of DNA profiling to exclude a suspect means the police are able to confidently drop that line of enquiry and continue their investigation down other avenues.
We are going to explain five different situations in which genetic profiling is used.
It can be used in paternity tests to find out if the alleged father is actually the biological father of the child. In this tests blood samples are taken from the possible father, the mother and the child. Once they have the blood samples they extract the DNA from the cells and it is cut into small fragments. These fragments are then separated into bands using laboratory techniques. After all this process is completed the genetic profiles are compared; the child must show bands from the father and from the mother.
2. Genetic profiling is used to identify if twins are identical or fraternal. Imagine a situation in which twins were separated after birth. Some years later they meet and they want to know if they are identical or fraternal twins. Blood samples are taken from both of them; if the genetic material is the same it means they are identical twins while if it is different it means two eggs were fertilised so they are fraternal twins.
3. Catastrophe: Another situation in which genetic profiling is used is when a catastrophe occurs, and there is a huge human loss. When the corpses are impossible to identify because of the face or body’s extreme disfiguration, some samples of DNA are taken. Then, these are analyzed and compared to the DNA profiles of the missing people. Once the corpses are identified, they’re given to their respective families.
4. Immigration. To understand this case better we are going to use a real example. This case is about a boy who lived in Great Britain who decided to leave to go to Ghana. Once there he wanted to come back to his country, Great Britain, but the problem was that his mother had sisters back in Ghana so he could have been a nephew. His father was dead so a paternity test was not possible. All they had were three fully accepted children so they used them to reconstruct the DNA fingerprint of the father. When they compared results from their mum, dad and the boy they were clear, the boy was definitely her son.
5. Criminal justice. When a crime happens, and the criminal is unknown, detectives take samples of the crime zone, such as hairs, semen or other biological evidences that might belong to the criminal. These samples are examined to obtain the DNA of the criminal. Then, they also investigate personal issues about the killed person, and try to figure out some suspects. Then they compare the DNA of the crime zone to the suspects, and if it matches, they investigate him deeper, and ask him for any alibis. If all the evidences match, the criminal is judged and condemned. This is a really useful and efficient way of catching criminals, because DNA is unique.
Conclusion: To sum up, genetic profiling is a very useful and efficient way of obtaining data for different cases and occasions. But overall it’s a very precise mean of obtaining information, since DNA is unique in every single person. In all the cases mentioned previously, it would be quite hard to obtain the data needed to solve the different problems. But thanks to the information of the samples obtained in laboratories, we are able to figure out the profile of people.
By Sergio Cuenca, Gema Fernández, Paula Lorenzo, Anastasiya, Alba Rodríguez and Alba Ruiz