A recent study is showing that individuals could be accurately identified based on their unique hair protein. The study focuses on the advantages the procedure will be able to bring in the field of criminal forensics.
The world of television and cinema has a knack for portraying actions in a very dramatic tone. In the case of forensics, medics are able to use the faintest traces of DNA or any other clue left by a suspect. Reality has a lot more complications however. DNA breaks down and a lot of evidence is not even circumstantial. Nevertheless, as technology advances, the medical world can take inspiration from television.
A team of researchers has been hard at work, trying to find a way to accurately identify individuals based on their unique hair protein. The procedure is yielding positive results so far. However, the team is far from finished. They say that proper accuracy requires a lock of hair, rather than a single strand. The researchers will continue to perfect the accuracy of the procedure until television fiction can become criminal forensic reality.
DNA vs. Unique Hair Protein
DNA identification is currently used because it is one of the most accurate means of identifying an individual. DNA is unique, with similarities present between blood relatives. However, each individual does have a unique strand of DNA, making comparing a perfect strand of found DNA with that of an individual an easy match.
However, DNA is brittle in its architecture. When discarded from a living organism, it quickly begins to decay. DNA decomposition is why criminal forensic always use partial DNA markers. They very rarely have the entire strand of DNA and need to rely on as many markers as they can quickly find within the decaying strand. They then compare their markers with DNA from suspects. Nevertheless, cases of mistaken identity, especially in the case of blood relations have been known to happen from time to time.
Defense attorneys can also use the insufficient amount of DNA markers found in evidence as a means to exonerate their client since the match will never be perfect.
On the other hand, hairs are very strong. They decay at a very slow pace. Unique hair protein are not as unique to humans as DNA is. However, when comparing a hair found at the scene with that of a suspect, the accuracy rating is far more precise than with decaying DNA markers. The team of researchers believes that unique hair protein identification will be a legally viable means of identification in the next decade.