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The Impact of genetic fingerprinting and gene profiling in Forensic Science

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Helen Douglas 12.4 BIOLOGY COURSEWORK: The Impact of genetic fingerprinting and gene profiling in Forensic Science Gene profiling and genetic fingerprinting was unheard of in Forensic Science 20 years ago. DNA testing was initially introduced in the 1980s and the first court case, which saw a man put behind bars due to the forensic evidence was in 1985. Following the success of the use of physical proof, numerous cases around the world from paternity tests to identification of American soldiers from the Vietnam War have been solved. A person's DNA (de-oxyribonucleic acid) can be found from a single strand of hair, skin under a murder victim's nails or bodily fluids such as sweat, saliva, semen and blood. The chances of a sample of DNA being the same as another person, other than monozygotic twins is 1 in 24 million. This is why recent cases such as that of Sarah Payne rely so much on DNA samples found at the crime scene. ...read more.


The two samples will be tested and compared several times. If the two samples have 5 bands or more that match the result is considered as decisive. In 1992, after many years of arguments for and against the gene profiling, the National Research Agency accepted the method as a reliable one to help identify criminal suspects and shortly after the procedure entered the mainstream court system. Genetic fingerprinting is now so common it's difficult to avoid in everyday society. The accuracy of gene profiling is very good. The chance of two people sharing one band of DNA is approximately 1 in 30. This may not seem like there is much chance of identifying a person, as there is a fairly high possibility of it being a number of people. However, the National Research Agency has a policy stating that at least 5 bands have to match for the test to be considered as positive. This means that the probability goes from 1 in 30 to 1 in 30 x 30 x 30 x 30 x 30, which is equal to 1 in 24 million providing the two samples aren't from blood relatives. ...read more.


In some cases, such as rape, the evidence can disappear within a matter of hours. When testing for semen in a rape case, the DNA should be found within 20 hours of the crime. Following the first 20 hours, the probability of obtaining an accurate identification decreases hour by hour. Conclusion With the slim chance of 2 people's DNA making a full match, gene profiling is a definite way of proving whether a person was at a crime scene or not. Whether they actually committed the crime is a different matter. Providing all tests are carried out well and the DNA is extracted properly and without contamination then the results should be extremely accurate. On the whole, gene profiling has taken forensic science that stage further and it has developed to being a crucial part in identifying criminals all over the world. There remain ethical difficulties which have yet to be resolved, for example, the establishment of a DNA database, human rights and civil liberties, the use of DNA information in unrelated legal cases, etc, but these issues will be addressed in due course. ...read more.

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