Study says the protein in human hair works as a DNA marker
Study says the protein in human hair works as a DNA marker. Image credit: The Muse Publishing.

Investigators could use human hair as fingerprints or DNA tests to identify someone

California – A group of scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory developed a new DNA identification method. The researchers analyze the protein contained in human hair, and they claim it is more accurate and faster than the traditional method.

This investigation originated in 2009 when the National Research Council of the U.S. asked universities and institutions from all the country for their help to improve deficiencies in forensic investigations.

Glendon Parker, a member of the Lawrence Laboratory, answered the call leading a team of scientist which recently published this discovery in the PLOS One Scientific Journal.

The new protein based identification method works on 200-year-old samples

The researchers said protein was more abundant and lived longer than DNA amino acids. Image credit: Pri Org.

For the testing phase of the study. 76 samples were taken from subjects with different backgrounds such as country of origin, race, age and even pathologies.

Then, the scientific team proceeded to analyze the samples anonymously. The results were very precise when identifying different characteristics of each subject narrowing it down to almost 0.02% of failure ratio.

To prove the accuracy of this protein-based method, they used 200-year-old samples. The results were satisfactory showing proteins used for this process survive longer than the amino acids that compose the DNA.

The researching team is going to look for more protein-based DNA markers

Parker and his team believe they can potentially change the future of DNA identification regarding forensic examination because their new method has proven to be useful even with deteriorated samples.

“Because protein is more abundant and more robust than DNA, this potentially opens up enormous avenues of research in bioarchaeology and forensic science that couldn’t have been tackled before,” Commented Andrew Wilson, who provided part of the old samples using the archives of the University of Bradford in England.

The researching team hopes this process will offer different alternatives to the forensic field instead of just completely replacing the traditional DNA analysis.

So far, they have managed to reduce the time needed for the study to just two days, a lot less when compared to traditional DNA Identification time which can go up to 1 month.

Parker stated they would expand their studies to proteins residing in other parts of the body like bones and cartilage.

Sources: PLOS Journal