To DNA Or Not To DNA

In a notorious high profile case in a European country, with mass DNA testing, they not only found the murderer but also discovered he was born out of wedlock to the employer and the housemaid. So on one hand the criminal was apprehended and on the flip side privacy was compromised.

DNA stands for DeoxyriboNucleic Acid and is the genetic material in a cell. It’s the gene that determines how we are going to be made and is unique to each one of us.

Our DNA is actually 99.9 percent identical to each other, no matter where we originate from, it’s the difference of 0.1 percent that makes us unique.

Forensic DNA testing began in 1983 and picked up pace in 1987 when an individual named Tommy Lee Andrews was convicted of rape, after scientists confirmed that his blood and semen found at the scene of rape and murder was a perfect match. Since then DNA testing for criminal purposes has become routine.

On the other hand, many who were accused of crimes they had not committed have been set free due to DNA tests that confirmed their innocence. Some of these individuals had to spend decades in prison before they were let out.

Given the ease of availability of DNA testing, it has become both a boon and a curse. First the bad news. According to studies 1 in 25 is not the offspring of their father. When confirmed, it’s known to have destroyed families. It’s no joke that many are born from a quick liaison with the postman, milkman, the plumber, neighbour etc. That’s how the neighbour died when a child wished his father dead.

As for DNA testing being a good fortune, many siblings have been able to find each other. Also importantly, there are many reasons for genetic testing for the good of one’s health. Countless people have learnt about genetic conditions that run in their families and tests have also helped prevent cancer and a host of other conditions that might have been fatal. Experts are also able to tell if a future pregnancy will have a genetic condition.

In many countries, it’s now become common practice for the healthcare providers to requisition genetic tests to adequately respond to specific risks relating to family medical history. These tests are more comprehensive compared with the at-home tests that are being done plentifully. This has become the best way to address inherited risks. Moreover, such genetic tests also help avoid unneeded medication.

As for detecting crimes, experts now consider DNA evidence as the most important breakthrough after fingerprinting was created by a police officer in Argentina in 1892. 

In terms of reliability, DNA evidence is now known to be more meaningful than even eyewitness accounts. Another thing about DNA is that it can be preserved indefinitely under the right conditions.

All things considered, there are more pros than cons to DNA. Healthcare professionals will go on using it for your own safety and investigators will go on using it for your security.

As for the future, forensic scientists may go many steps further and use DNA to create the profile of potential criminals through a method called DNA phenotyping. And medical professionals will employ methods to address health issues in the foetuses and replant them into the wombs.

Picture ID: 749520136/ Shutterstock


Learn more about tips in medicine.

How to Easily Improve Your Knowledge of Anatomy If You Are a Medical Student


 

 

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