May 14, 2018
Forensics: New tool predicts eye, hair and skin color from a DNA sample of an unidentified individual
The tool is designed to be used when standard forensic DNA profiling is not helpful because no reference DNA exists against which to compare the evidence sample.
The HIrisPlex-S DNA test system is capable of simultaneously predicting eye, hair and skin color phenotypes from DNA. Users, such as law enforcement officials or anthropologists, can enter relevant data using a laboratory DNA analysis tool, and the webtool will predict the pigment profile of the DNA donor.
"We have previously provided law enforcement and anthropologists with DNA tools for eye color and for combined eye and hair color, but skin color has been more difficult," said forensic geneticist Susan Walsh from IUPUI, who co-directed the study. "Importantly, we are directly predicting actual skin color divided into five subtypes -- very pale, pale, intermediate, dark and dark to black -- using DNA markers from the genes that determine an individual's skin coloration. This is not the same as identifying genetic ancestry. You might say it's more similar to specifying a paint color in a hardware store rather than denoting race or ethnicity.
"If anyone asks an eyewitness what they saw, the majority of time they mention hair color and skin color. What we are doing is using genetics to take an objective look at what they saw," Walsh said.
The innovative high-probability and high-accuracy complete pigmentation profile webtool is available online without charge.
The study, "HIrisPlex-S System for Eye, Hair and Skin Colour Prediction from DNA: Introduction and Forensic Developmental Validation," is published in the peer-reviewed journal Forensic Science International: Genetics.
Read more at Science Daily