July 1, 2022

Instant DNA fingerprinting at the push of a button

DNA analysis to be cheaper, faster and easier

DNA
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to begin testing a device that would make DNA analysis cheaper, faster and easier. The machines, costing around US$275,000 each, would slash the cost of an individual DNA test from $500 to less than $100, and would cut processing time from days or weeks to about one hour. The new DNA analyser is about the size of a laser printer and can be operated with very little training.

DHS’s short-term goals for rapid DNA testing technology are to quickly ascertain kinship among foreign refugees, their children, relatives and/or other asylum seekers, as well as to reduce the incidence of human trafficking linked with unlawful foreign adoptions. Once the technology is commercialised, applications are likely to expand greatly. NetBio, the company developing the machine for DHS, says its user-friendly machines are not only designed for homeland security, but also for police, military and intelligence agencies.

The idea of widespread, common DNA testing raises questions around privacy and civil liberties. Christopher Miles, of the DHS’s Department of Science and Technology, said tests meant to identify people will avoid analysing genetic information that could reveal medical problems. However, these tests would indisputably reveal information about kinship and paternity, carrying serious implications, possibly affecting the safety and social well-being of mothers and their children. Lowering the bar at which one’s DNA can be collected raises further issues regarding if and how samples are stored, who will have access to them, and how they can be used in future. ~ Center for Genetics and Society, Mar 3
 

Instant DNA fingerprinting at the push of a button
Jared Yee
DNA
DNA testing
DNA tests