Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Human ID test is a quicker way to catch a thief - USATODAY.com

Fascinating information on a "handy new weapon in the arsenal for detectives, forensic experts and the military..."

Human ID test is a quicker way to catch a thief - USATODAY.com

The new method analyzes antibodies. Each person has a unique antibody bar code that can be gleaned from blood, saliva or other bodily fluids. Antibodies are proteins used by the body to fend off viruses or perform routine physiological housekeeping.

"DNA is a physical code that describes you ... and in many ways so are your antibodies," said Dr. Vicki Thompson, a chemical engineer at the Idaho National Laboratory who's been working with other researchers to perfect the test for the past 10 years.

The scientists say an antibody profile can yield results faster and more cheaply and be performed in the field with minimal training. National lab administrators have licensed the technology exclusively to Identity Sciences LLC in Alpharetta, Ga.

The Georgia start-up plans to begin rolling out test kits and training to law enforcement, the military and forensic and medical labs around the globe by fall of 2009. Ken Haas, vice president of marketing, says the test is not intended to supplant DNA testing, the recognized gold standard in human identification.

But Haas says the value of antibody profiling is as a screening tool to help make sense of a crime scene, sort out the blood trails or spatter from multiple victims or more quickly identify body parts on a battlefield or at the scene of a disaster like the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

It may also reduce the number of DNA tests required in an investigation, potentially saving time and money and easing the growing backlog, he said. Results from tests on blood serum or dried blood can be ready in two hours, a fraction of the time it takes to run similar tests for DNA matches.

However, a major drawback for now is the lack of a national antibody database. That's one of the reasons antibody testing is not likely to be used at the outset of an investigation to link suspects to crimes or establish probable cause to justify issuing an arrest warrant.

There's more.



Chris | Martial Development said...

Why beat around the bush? Let's just start tattooing barcodes on babies' foreheads, as this is the surest way to consolidate power...oops, I meant "catch criminals and ensure security for all".

Nathan at TDA Training said...

Hmmm. On a serious note, there's little difference between fingerprint databases and DNA, other than accuracy, and if antibody IDs can help clear as many false convictions as DNA testing has, then it'll be a boon for real justice, if used properly. If, as some privacy advocates fear, this type of testing is only used for identification and tracking, then it'd be a shame. I think that skepticism is healthy and can keep the misuse of all technologies in check. What say you?

Chris | Martial Development said...

This is no joke. Babies haven't been targeted, yet, but there have been serious proposals to track all "anti-social" schoolchildren in a national database--just in case they decide to commit a crime 10 years later?

(Would anyone ever mistake you, or your children for "anti-social"? Hmm.)

Once upon a time, Americans were presumed innocent until proven guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt. Increasingly, we are asked to prove we are innocent instead. Once upon a time, we had the right to habeas corpus...and you know how that turned out.

Government databases, unlike human witnesses, cannot tell the truth; they have no concept of truth. No, computers repeat whatever they have been told, which is why they are such a convenient force multiplier.

Some of these machines can't even manage to tally up votes correctly!

The national "security" databases we already have are abused on a daily basis. It is too late to stop this abuse, and the best we can reasonably hope for is to slow its growth.