Move Over DNA. Scientists Can Identify You Based on the Unique Pattern of Proteins in Your Hair
A strand of hair at a crime scene, or clinging to human remains unearthed by archaeologists, could hold new promise as a means to identify its unique owner and unravel mysteries sealed by the passage of time.
In research published this week, scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories reported they are devising a test of human hair that could fingerprint its owner in cases in which DNA evidence is fragmented, damaged or nowhere to be found. Like DNA sequencing, the test they have devised not only could identify an individual but trace his or her ancestry.
The researchers’ discovery, reported Wednesday in the journal PLoS One, addresses one of forensic scientists’ most pressing needs: a reliable alternative to DNA identification. DNA is actually quite fragile and notoriously vulnerable to degradation with time and exposure to the environment. It’s tricky to coax a full sequence from an old biological sample or one that’s been buried, frozen or baked in the sun.