Using kin's DNA to find criminals focus of study

May 12, 2006

The use of DNA kinship analysis methods could be an effective tool in helping to identify potential criminal suspects, but there are also legal and policy implications of doing so.

We may not be our brother's keeper, but our brother's DNA could help land us in jail, according to a new report by researchers at University of California, Berkeley; Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston; and Harvard University.

"Finding Criminals Through DNA of their Relatives," published yesterday (Thursday, May 11) in ScienceExpress, the advance online version of the journal Science, shows that investigators could reap a significant boost in leads if they were to use DNA kinship analysis methods to search offender DNA databases to aid in locating potential criminal suspects. While kinship analysis is routinely used for such purposes as identifying decomposed corpses based on the DNA of relatives, up to now it has only been used informally and yielded sporadic results in criminal investigations.

"Kinship searching of the offender database can help catch a novice criminal, who is not himself in the database, through his brother or father who is a cataloged offender," says Charles Brenner, a visiting scholar in the Forensic Science Group at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health and one of the authors of the report. "If this method were implemented systematically, it could have many successes, but potentially debatable implications."

The reliability of using these methods, along with a discussion of the legal and policy issues involved, are in the ScienceExpress report.

The article is co-authored by Charles Brenner, Frederick R. Bieber, a medical geneticist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and associate professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School and David Lazer, director of the Program on Networked Governance and associate professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

Source: of California, Berkeley, by Liese Greensfelder

Explore further: Health insurance signups coming to shopping malls

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Questioning GMOs

Nov 07, 2014

Are genetically engineered foods safe? Truth is, we probably don't know. "The scientific debate is not resolved, even though many people are claiming it is," says Sheldon Krimsky, the Lenore Stern Professor ...

Research leads to portable DNA testing device

Jul 09, 2013

(Phys.org) —More than 10 years of research and development have led to the introduction of a portable DNA analysis device that relies on technology developed by University of Virginia professor James P. ...

Recommended for you

Study unlocks basis of key immune protein's two-faced role

2 hours ago

A Brigham and Women's Hospital-led team has identified a long sought-after partner for a key immune protein, called TIM-3, that helps explain its two-faced role in the immune system—sometimes dampening it, other times stimulating ...

Inpatient psychotherapy is effective in Germany

2 hours ago

Sarah Liebherz (Department of Medical Psychology, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf) and Sven Rabung (Institute of Psychology, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt) have examined 59 studies conducted between 1977 ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.