A new forensics technique, DNA phenotyping, is being employed to assist in creating suspects’ picture profiles, using SNPs associated with differences in appearance. The technique is still in development, and additional research is needed to resolve traits such as facial shape and, with epigenetic information, a suspect’s age. Eye color and hair color can be determined with 95% and 85%–90% accuracy, respectively, and skin color and ethnic or racial background can also be determined. The companies specializing in DNA phenotyping are working with police to commercialize the technique. Based on data the academic consortium Visigen, Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, has developed web tools for predicting eye and hair color based on SNPs, and the firm Identitas has produced a chip with SNPs associated with a number of physical traits, although many of them do not yet have high predictive value. The company Parabon uses computer analysis and data mining for its predictions, and received about $2 million in funding from the US Department of Defense.

Source: Financial Times

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