DNA profiling is the process of obtaining a specific DNA pattern, known as a profile, from a person or a body tissue sample. Despite every individual being unique, the majority of human DNA is identical. However, specific regions, known as polymorphic, in DNA structures differ between individuals. Polymorphisms are differences between persons in these variable regions. Each person inherits a unique set of polymorphisms from their parents. A DNA profile is created by analyzing DNA polymorphisms.
Beginning in the 1980s, technological developments enabled using DNA to identify individuals. Jeffrey Glassberg submitted the first patent covering the direct use of DNA variation for forensics in 1983. In 1984, Sir Alec Jeffreys, a geneticist, developed a DNA profiling procedure while independently working at the University of Leicester’s Department of Genetics.
One of the current DNA profiling techniques uses STRs (short tandem repeats). These are areas of non-coding DNA containing repeated nucleotide sequences found in different places, called genetic loci. Scientists can create a DNA profile by examining STRs at 20 or more genetic loci. These genetic regions are often located on separate chromosomes. A DNA profile can inform a scientist if the DNA is male or female and whether the sample under examination belongs to a specific person.
One of the uses of DNA profiling is identifying criminals. DNA profiling can uniquely identify the individual who is the source of body fluids at a crime scene, confirming their presence at the scene. This is especially crucial in rape cases, which were previously impossible to solve before DNA profiling. Even if a criminal doesn’t leave any biological fluids behind, shedding skin or hair follicles can determine DNA profiles.
It also helps identify human remains in tragedies. It is sometimes difficult to locate the remains of victims of floods, fires, plane crashes, and other disasters. Identifying and burying the remains of individuals lost in these calamities can aid in acceptance and healing for the families who lost loved ones. Often, DNA profiling is the best or only approach to identify remains precisely.
DNA profiling can help establish the biological ties between siblings, parents, children, or other extended family members. Such ties aid in family-based immigration, particularly in the United States. Because records in other countries may be partial, missing, or untrustworthy, DNA profiling is sometimes the only method to establish these links. Given the high amount of scrutiny that US immigration officials utilize in immigration proceedings, good DNA testing can mean the difference between a family being reunited and being separated.
Similar to identifying family ties, DNA profiling helps in paternity issues. Without DNA testing, determining a child’s biological father’s identity is not usually easy. Indeed, identity verification has tremendous human ramifications, both emotional and financial. It also directly impacts children’s prospects. As employed in forensic science, DNA profiling can unambiguously identify parental ties when no other approach can. Additionally, it has become a vital instrument in legal processes determining custody, parental rights, and parental financial obligations.
Many people are curious about their ancestors, and DNA profiling can provide information about one’s relationship to specific nations and their people. Ancestry can have legal ramifications in some circumstances. For instance, a relationship with some Native American tribes can determine whether one obtains financial advantages, unique educational possibilities, or other opportunities particular to that tribe or Native Americans as a whole.