DNA profiling (also called DNA testing, DNA typing, or genetic fingerprinting) is a technique employed by forensic scientists to assist in the identification of individuals on the basis of their respective DNA profiles. DNA profiles are encrypted sets of numbers that reflect a person's DNA makeup, which can also be used as the person's identifier. DNA profiling should not be confused with full genome sequencing. It is used in, for example, parental testing and rape investigation.
Although 99.9% of human DNA sequences are the same in every person, enough of the DNA is different to distinguish one individual from another. DNA profiling uses repetitive ("repeat") sequences that are highly variable called variable number tandem repeats (VNTR). VNTRs loci are very similar between closely related humans, but so variable that unrelated individuals are extremely unlikely to have the same VNTRs.
The DNA profiling technique was first reported in 1984by Sir Alec Jeffreys at the University of Leicester in England, and is now the basis of several national DNA databases. Dr. Jeffreys's genetic fingerprinting was made commercially available in 1987, when a chemical company, ICI, started a blood-testing center in England.
DNA profiling process
The process begins with a sample of an individual's DNA (typically called a "reference sample"). The most desirable method of collecting a reference sample is the use of a buccal swab, as this reduces the possibility of contamination. When this is not available (e.g. because a court order may be needed and not obtainable) other methods may need to be used to collect a sample of blood, saliva, semen, or other appropriate fluid or tissue from personal items (e.g. toothbrush, razor, etc.) or from stored samples (e.g. banked sperm or biopsy tissue). Samples obtained from blood relatives (biological relative) can provide an indication of an individual's profile, as could human remains which had...