New DNA Tool for Law Enforcement: Parabon Snapshot Puts A Face On Crime

Jul 01, 2015, 08:17 ET from Parabon NanoLabs

RESTON, Va., July 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Law enforcement now has a new DNA tool that helps nab suspects and close cases.   The service, developed by Parabon NanoLabs of Reston, Virginia, is called Snapshot™ DNA Phenotyping Service. 'Snapshot' predicts the physical appearance of individuals from the smallest of DNA evidence samples, creating a composite image from any DNA source.

Traditional DNA analysis treats DNA as a fingerprint for identity matching.  The information goes into a database and if there is no hit, law enforcement is without a lead or a suspect.  Instead, Snapshot treats DNA as a blueprint of an individual, deciphering the genetic content of the DNA to produce a composite image.  According to Ellen McRae Greytak, PhD, Director of Parabon's Director of Bioinformatics, "All human DNA encodes the genetic information that largely determines a person's physical appearance.  A copy of this genetic code or a 'DNA blueprint' exists in every cell of the body, which makes DNA a potentially invaluable source of investigative information."

Just as a sketch artist uses information from an eyewitness to draw a composite image, Snapshot uses information from a 'genetic witness' – DNA – to compute a composite image.  Snapshot predicts: bio-geographic ancestry, eye color, hair color, skin color, freckling, and face shape.  The technology is actively being used in criminal investigations for lead generation, narrowing suspect lists, and identifying unknown remains.  One current case involves a double murder of a mother and daughter in Columbia, South Carolina that has gone unsolved for four years.

Snapshot provides investigators with an entirely new way to use DNA, yielding invaluable investigative information – an accurate prediction of the forensically relevant traits of a DNA source.  Snapshot DNA Phenotyping is poised to completely revolutionize the field of DNA forensics by literally putting a face on crime.

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SOURCE Parabon NanoLabs