DNA Photofit

Step aside Sherlock! Scientists have come up with a way to track the murderer even faster than you. With the advancement in science and technology, scientists are employing DNA left by the criminal at the crime scene to re-construct the face. Well, it does sound like a plot of some sci-fi movie, but it is surprisingly true.

By putting the genetic markers from DNA to use, scientists can build the culprit’s face. This process of re-creating the criminal’s face is known as ‘Molecular Photo Fitting’. Previously, the DNA left at the scene used to help the detectives only if it’s matching profile was found in the database.

A surgeon, Gabriel Watson, told in BBC’s series — Catching History’s Criminals: The Forensics Story — that the Molecular Photo Fitting technology provides the ability to re-create the culprit’s face by the help of small number of cells. To test that how the process actually works, DNA was taken from Gabriel’s saliva and was then sent to scientists residing in Belgium. The scientists started building her face purely from the information provided through her genes in the DNA. Now, the moment of truth was to see how accurately it builds Gabriel’s face.

Dr Peter Claes, a medical imaging specialist from the University of Leuven, did the re-creation of Gabriel’s face on the basis of her DNA. Dr. Claes has created a database of face types and DNA with the help of his workmates. On the basis of that database, he is capable to model a face on the grounds of merely 20 genes.

Dr Claes is of view that the information stored in our DNA can be very useful to the police. Predicting the facial features of Gabriel, he says,“I can tell you that your eyebrows are sticking forward more, and your chin as well. You have a very prominent specific chin compared to an average European, which in my eyes is not a bad result. You do tend to have flat cheeks, but of course that’s a tricky area to actually predict accurately because it’s heavily based on diet, which is an environmental factor.” If this predicted face is superimposed over a photo of Gabriel, the accuracy of the technique is revealed,” he says. If all these features are translated in the form of a photograph then we can judge the accuracy of the Molecular Photo Fitting technology.

As of now, the technique is still under its developing phase and can’t be employed by the detectives or police in their investigation. It means that the police just can’t publish the molecular image in a hope to catch hold of the criminal. Dr Claes has a different theory about it, he says that rather than handing over the molecular image extracted from the information given out by a DNA, he would instead just reveal the most prominent face features of the criminal to the police and if the police has suspects then they just have to look for those features in their face.

The technology is being improved by Dr. Claes and his workmates, the score of genes in the database increased to 200 from 20. We hope that this technology comes into use soon, so that criminals can be arrested before they plan to escape.

Filed in Medical. Read more about and .