Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Forensic experts will soon be able to reconstruct facial features and skin just by reading DNA, scientists say
Forensic molecular photofitting maps the genes that are linked to skin pigmentation and facial structure which means a person's face could emerge from the analysis, Dr Mark Shriver from Pennsylvania State University said. The process has already been used to help identify and convict serial killer Derek Todd Lee who murdered seven women in Louisiana. Witness statements said the offender was white but genetic testing of DNA at the crime scenes showed he was African American - which helped lead to his arrest. He was convicted in 2004. Dr Shriver said he has now linked DNA that mark a person's ethnic origin with the gene mix of fixed points on the face, e.g. corners of the mouth and tip of the nose. This allows the computer to build up an image of a face based on the gene mix found in the DNA. Speaking to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago at the weekend, Dr Shriver said 'maybe 500 facial markers and 500 ancestry markers' would be enough to build an accurate and complete face.