Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Report: Israeli scientists discover way to counterfeit DNA

New York Times reports Israeli firm created blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a third party.

By Haaretz
Published 18.08.09

Israeli scientists have shown it is possible to fabricate DNA evidence, according to an article published in the New York Times on Tuesday. The findings could possibly call into question the credibility of DNA as evidence in criminal cases.

In their tests, the scientists fabricated blood and saliva samples that contained DNA taking from a different person, the New York Times reported. The article states that the scientists also could take a DNA profile in a database and use it to make a DNA sample to match the profile without needing any tissue from the person.

The article quotes the lead author of the scientific paper, Dr. Dan Frumkin as saying that the study shows "you can just engineer a crime scene" adding "any biology undergraduate could perform this."

Frumkin is one of the founders of Nucleix, a Tel Aviv-based company that developed a test to distinguish real DNA samples from fake ones. According to the New York Times, the firm is looking to sell the test to forensics laboratories.

Legal and civil rights experts quoted in the article say the test is troubling, in that it could mean more cases of fabricated DNA being used as evidence at crime scenes.

The article quotes Tania Simoncelli, a science adviser to the American Civil Liberties Union, who finds the test "worrisome."

"DNA is a lot easier to plant at a crime scene than fingerprints," Simoncelli said. ?We?re creating a criminal justice system that is increasingly relying on this technology.".

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