Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Uncertain DNA

Quite often we read stories about individuals who have been convicted of a crime because of DNA.  And of course there are the flip side stories of  "proof" of innocence and release from prison.

DNA is supposed to be the perfect evidence.

DNA Double Take
But scientists are discovering that — to a surprising degree — we contain genetic multitudes.

...scientists are finding that it’s quite common for an individual to have multiple genomes. Some people, for example, have groups of cells with mutations that are not found in the rest of the body. Some have genomes that came from other people.
Medical researchers aren’t the only scientists interested in our multitudes of personal genomes. So are forensic scientists. When they attempt to identify criminals or murder victims by matching DNA, they want to avoid being misled by the variety of genomes inside a single person.

Last year, for example, forensic scientists at the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory Division described how a saliva sample and a sperm sample from the same suspect in a sexual assault case didn’t match.
It should make prosecutors and District Attorneys take a second look before the put someone in prison...or let them out.

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