Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Future of Search


Granted, this online search involved some paid services, but it provides some interesting glimpses into the future of search and privacy.
Using nothing more than a swab of saliva and the internet, a 15-year-old boy has tracked down his anonymous sperm donor father, according to details released today.

* * *

The boy took the saliva sample late last year and sent it off to an online genealogy DNA-testing service called FamilyTreeDNA.com. For a fee of $289 (£163) the boy had his genetic code available for other members of the site to search. Although the boy's genetic father had never supplied his DNA to the site, after nine months the boy was contacted by two men who were on the database and whose Y-chromosome matched his own. The two men did not know each other, but shared a surname, albeit with a different spelling, and the genetic similarity of their Y-chromosomes suggested there was a 50% chance that the two men and the boy shared the same father, grandfather or great-grandfather.
The article observes,
he boy's ability to use publicly available genetic tests and internet searches suggests that police forces could do the same and obtain the surnames of potential suspects with DNA samples gathered from crime scenes.
Absolutely. Rather than comparing DNA to samples from individuals in a state database, the Y-chromosome from any given male suspect could be compared against the growing genealogical database to potentially identify possible suspects (or their families) even when they aren't in the state system.

1 comment:

  1. It would seem that similar results could be obtained through records of mitochondrial DNA, assuming such records are developed, which comes exclusively from the mother.

    ReplyDelete