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DNA From Fingerprints?

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 32 Issue: 7 Dated: July 2005 Pages: 66,68-72,74
Rebecca Kanable
Date Published
July 2005
7 pages
This article examines the status of U.S. research and procedures for obtaining DNA from fingerprints.
DNA from fingerprints is useful when there is no body fluid left at a crime scene and when fingerprints are not sufficiently clear to provide reliable identification. Although DNA typing from fingerprints is common in the United Kingdom, it is rare in the United States, since standards for this analytical method have not been set by the Scientific Working Group for DNA Analysis Methods. Two relevant research projects conducted in 2000 and 2002 were funded by the Technical Support Working Group, a national forum that identifies, prioritizes, and coordinates interagency and international research and development requirements for combatting terrorism. The objective of the research was to extract and analyze DNA from chemically processed fingerprints. The research determined that DNA can be obtained from chemically processed prints, except when they have been processed with Physical Developer, which failed to yield any nuclear DNA profiles. Obtaining a reliable DNA profile from a fingerprint is dependent on the number of cells collected from a fingerprint. The amount of DNA associated with a fingerprint, which is typically small, will vary from person to person and can even vary with the same person from day to day. The careful collection of the fingerprint from the physical evidence is critical. Identification from fingerprints is preferable to identification from DNA because of the larger database of fingerprints available for comparison; however, when fingerprint ridges have insufficient detail, DNA from fingerprints may be the last identification source. This means of identification will become more common as techniques improve in the collection of cells from a fingerprint improve and as the DNA extraction process becomes more efficient.