A breakthrough in DNA research has implications for medicine and forensic science.
The new DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) system allows scientists to,
Positively identify samples of blood, semen, and human tissue.
Up to now scientists could only indicate the probability of samples coming from a specific person. Under the new system certain unique marks can be detected in the genetic structure of the cells.
According to Peter Humphries Professor of Genetics at Trinity College Dublin,
Now using DNG technology, using DNA probes, we can actually distinguish the genetic material of each individual.
This technique can be used to trace hereditary diseases such as cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy. The clinical significance of this means that scientists can now follow the way in which diseases move through families and make predictions at an early age about children who are likely to develop them. DNA will also be able to resolve any doubts over paternity as,
We are genetically unique and now we can use molecular genetic techniques to affirm that uniqueness.
According to the experts, samples can be analysed for up to three years which has serious implications for criminal investigations. Deputy Commissioner with An Garda Síochána John Paul McMahon describes the scientific development as,
One of the most important developments for forensic science.
While the technique can be used to assist Gardaí in finding criminals, it can also be used to eliminate suspects.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 12 January 1987. The reporter is Tom McCaughren.