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Multiplying DNA

Researchers at Lincoln University and the Environmental Health and Forensic Sciences Institute have developed a new technique for DNA analysis.

Certain parts of human DNA, called hypervariable regions, are highly distinctive, enabling individuals to be easily identified. Reasonably sized samples, however, are required for the analysis. Fortunately, a process known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can be used to replicate a single piece of DNA into a quantity large enough to be analysed.

The researchers are using PCR techniques to improve identification of hypervariable regions. As yet, the new system is not as sensitive as the original technique used to analyse hypervariable regions, but it has a number of advantages.

The new technique costs about one-tenth as much as the current system, and can work on extremely tiny samples of blood, semen, saliva or hair. It is also several times faster, producing results in two days rather than two weeks.