A new discovery about human hair could completely change forensic science in criminal investigations.
A major new discovery by scientists could result in a major change in how forensic investigations are conducted in criminal cases. Today, many investigations rely on DNA evidence, as it is the only evidence specific enough to identify a specific individual, but scientists have been trying to find a better way to do things.
Now, a new study suggests that studying a human hair could provide an alternative to DNA, a huge finding that could change how criminal investigations are conducted in the future. DNA is great when you have it, but it is not always available at a crime scene, and scientists have been searching for a better way to do things. Scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have published a paper in PLOS One that suggests human hair may be a perfectly acceptable substitute.
“The researchers were able to examine bioarcheological hair samples from six individuals that were up to 250 years old, demonstrating the robustness of these proteins,” the statement reads. “They analyzed these samples along with hair samples from 76 living humans of European American and African descent. They have found a total of 185 hair protein markers to date, which they estimate would be sufficient to provide a unique pattern for an individual that could distinguish that person among a population of one million.”
Why does it work? Because scientists may be able to find markers that are just as identifiable as DNA in the genetic mutations of human hair. This is based on samples from six individuals, including one case that is 250 years old, indicating that this method stands the test of time.
“We are in a very similar place with protein-based identification to where DNA profiling was during the early days of its development,” said LLNL chemist Brad Hart, the director of the Lab’s Forensic Science Center and co-author of a paper detailing the work. “This method will be a game-changer for forensics, and while we’ve made a lot of progress toward proving it, there are steps to go before this new technique will be able to reach its full potential.”