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The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Throughout our history, science was always on the front lines for discovery and exploration. Science is used as an investigative tool by the human race to figure out all the mysteries of the universe. The discovery of DNA was tremendous, providing each human being with their own unique genetic identity - no longer would an individual be genetically confused with another. DNA fingerprinting, in particular, has changed the world. In the 1980's the legal system began using DNA fingerprinting to help establish the guilt of an indicted criminal. DNA (besides for fingerprints) is the only way to confirm scientifically if the individual was at the scene of the crime. Over the years, many methods for forensic DNA testing have emerged. Polymerase chain reaction is a method used to amplify the smallest amounts of DNA, creating thousands of copies which can be analyzed. Restriction fragment length polymorphism looks for variations in homologous DNA. Short tandem repeat technology looks for repeated sequences inthe bases of the DNA sample. Mitochondrial DNA analysis tests the mitochondrial genome which is highly polymorphic between individuals. Finally, Y-Chromosome analysis is used for males, and usually accompanies PCR or RFLP. DNA is now commonly used in criminal investigations and is often the most substantial piece of evidence. In recent years, DNA fingerprinting is also being used for exonerations. People who have been languishing in prison for years for crimes they did not commit are being released due to the breakthrough of forensic DNA and DNA fingerprinting establishing their innocence.

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