Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

New Scientist looks at how we would test for Saddam's DNA.

US forces claim to have DNA samples from Saddam and his sons, but will not reveal what form they take, or how they were obtained. Experts contacted by New Scientist say the identity of a person suspected of being Saddam could be conclusively proven if DNA from that person exactly matched stored samples obtained from the dictator's personal possessions, such as a hairbrush or a toothbrush.

Such a test would compare nuclear DNA, from the cells' cores, and the odds of matching two unrelated people is one in a billion. But the provenance of the stored sample used is critical. "How do you know if it's really his?" cautions Lawrence Kobilinsky, a forensic scientist and DNA expert at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

There is a second way, Kobilinsky says - to use living relatives to provide DNA samples for comparison. This has the advantage that scientists are certain of where the samples have come from, but the DNA match, with mitochondrial DNA for example, is less sure.

< email | 4/15/2003 09:51:00 AM | link

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