Researchers can now measure DNA we ‘shed’ to solve crimes

This won’t be good news for criminals who forget their gloves.

Researchers at Flinders University in South Australia have developed a new test that can measure the amount of DNA we “shed”, the university revealed Friday. This could mean that a single tap of a finger on a door handle can be used to link potential suspects to a crime, and also potentially reveal who an item last came into contact with.

In a test involving 11 donors, the researchers took 264 fingerprints, getting participants to wash their hands, then give prints of their thumbs at intervals of 180 minutes.

“We know that some people pass on more of their DNA because when they touch something more of their cells are left behind,” lead researcher Adrian Linacre said. “They are called shedders but it’s very difficult at the moment to see who is a shedder.”

The researchers developed a dye which can identify deposits of DNA at a crime scene, accurately pointing investigators to where DNA samples lie, instead of leaving them to guess.

“The dye binds within a number of seconds… certainly within 10 seconds we can see all the DNA that’s there, and we can count it,” Linacre told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Friday. This lets the researchers determine whether someone is a “shedder”.

“By counting the amount of cellular material, which appears as green dots, we know if someone’s a heavy shedder or a poor shedder,” Linacre told the ABC.

The researchers discovered that men shed more DNA than women, and the finger which leaves the most accurate traces of DNA is the thumb.The ABC reports that scientists have contacted criminal investigators internationally about using the new research.

You can read the full paper in ScienceDirect.

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