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SCI-TECH | Australian team finds new DNA analysis tool to help fight crime

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA — Forensic examiners could soon have a new weapon to catch criminals after Australian researchers developed a method to measure how much DNA a person sheds.

The team from South Australia’s Flinders University developed a new dye that can be applied to a crime scene and help forensic teams establish who was there, and when.

Lead researcher Adrian Linacre said that it fills a gap in current DNA analysis tools.

“It is very difficult to see who is a shedder, what we have been developing is a very simple way within a minute or so we can work out if someone is a shedder and that’s very useful,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Friday.

“The dye binds within a number of seconds … certainly within 10 seconds we can see all the DNA that’s there, and we can count it.

“By counting the amount of cellular material, which appears as green dots, we know if someone’s a heavy shedder or a poor shedder.”

The advancement means that investigators can make use of smudged fingerprints for the first time.

“If they touch something and they (the fingerprints) smudge, you can’t do anything with the fingerprint but you know that there is some’s DNA there and the crucial thing for us is being able to take a sample from that and find out who touched an item,” Linacre said.

Linacre’s team found that men typically shed more DNA than women and that thumbs leave the most accurate DNA traces.

“Our data supported previous reports that males shed more DNA than females,” he said.

“We also found people consistently shed the same amount so it doesn’t matter when you test a suspect or which hand you use, they are always a high shedder of DNA.”

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