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DNA testing is currently the most advanced and accurate technology to determine paternity. It has come a long way from application in immigration case to identification of foetus of rape victims and missing persons/ deceased. DNA paternity testing in forensic casework is greatly based on comparison with reference biological samples of close blood relatives. The choice of reference samples depends largely on the authenticity of biological relationship with the individual in question. However, in certain conditions the relationship may not be biological. Today with the advent of new reproductive technologies like IVF, surrogacy etc, it becomes imperative to review the problems in forensic paternity testing for legal remedies in future.
DNA, Forensic Paternity Testing, Authentic Reference Samples, Privacy Concerns.
DNA paternity testing determines the biological father-mother- child relationship between a man, woman and a child. Every individual’s DNA or genetic fingerprint is unique except for identical (monozygotic) twins. The DNA of an individual does not change once it is formed at conception. The DNA paternity test compares the DNA fingerprints between the tested man/woman and child to determine if the child inherits his/ her DNA.
DNA profiling or fingerprinting is a technique by which an individual can be identified at the molecular level. Portions of DNA structure are as unique to each individual as finger prints. Alec Jeffrey’s and his colleagues who made these revelations named the process for isolating and reading these DNA markers as” DNA fingerprinting.” The chance that two unrelated people have an identical total DNA gene sequence is at least 1 in 6 million. Monozygotic twins have almost exactly the same DNA sequence. The tests do not look at the information in the genes but instead examine non-coding DNA that separated the genes along the chromosomes. Specifically the DNA is examined where there are large numbers of repeated sequences of letters along its length The pattern of different numbers of STRs at certain sites on the chromosomes are used to create a DNA pattern or DNA fingerprint. Short tandem repeat (STR) technology is used to evaluate specific regions (loci) within nuclear DNA. Variability in STR regions can be used to distinguish one DNA profile from another. DNA profile for a multiplex of 15 autosomal STR markers is generated and obligatory alleles are compared with parents/ siblings/ close relatives. The Y chromosome is passed directly from father to son, so analysis of genetic markers on the Y chromosome is especially useful for tracing relationships among males.
DNA paternity testing is no doubt the most effective tool in solving civil and criminal cases. However with the changing scenario of the society where offspring’s may not have biological relationship with either or both their parents the forensic DNA paternity testing may become problematic if biological records are not properly maintained. Storage of biological samples of all persons contributing to the biological formation of the child would be meaningful. Legal monitoring and legislation are essential so that in near future there may not be chaos and DNA paternity testing may continue contributing in society be it a case of paternity or identification of foetus or missing person/disaster victim.
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