Researchers found hair proteins could correctly identify a person from a population of one million people.
A new study has found proteins in the strands of our hair can be used for identification just like DNA profiling that could open up a larger possibility for forensic use in crimes and archaeology.
The research, led by Glendon Parker from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California along with his team, involved examining hair samples from six bodies aged at 250 years old together with hair samples from living individuals from particular descent. They found there was around 185 hair protein markers that allowed the team to be able to correctly identify a person from a population of one million people. This unique pattern is similar to the DNA profiling technique currently used to pinpoint a particular person.
Hair is something found at crime scenes all over the world and the hope is law enforcements will be able to use hair samples to track down criminals more quickly. DNA samples are not always reliable nor clear if found at crime scenes so hair protein identification can be an alternative back-up for forensic teams.
“We are in a very similar place with protein-based identification to where DNA profiling was during the early days of its development,” Brad Hart, director of the national laboratory’s Forensic Science Center and co-author of the study, told The Washington Post. “This method will be a game-changer for forensics.”
It won’t only be helpful to speed up crime solution but could be helpful in an archaeological capacity when remains are often discovered with hair strands still on the body. With hair protein analysis, scientists can more easily trace lineage and solve long-undiscovered mysterious.
More research needs to be done before hair protein can rival DNA profiling as a reliable method for identification since current methods need much more hair than is typically left at crime scenes together with larger sample sizes needed to be used in further studies.
Details of the study were published in the journal PLoS One.