Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Are toenail clippings (compared to bones) a source of good quality DNA?

image 1Arani Azim, who is doing her Honours in Bachelor of Biomedical Science is looking at toenail clippings as an alternative to using bones for cases involving compromised human remains that require DNA testing for human identification purposes.

Arani has been extracting DNA from at toenail samples donated by staff members. Many parameters are being investigated, such as the amount of nail material required to get a profile, the minimum thorough cleaning required, how much time is required for efficient digestion of the nail. After the method is developed, it will be validated by applying to compromised samples. The DNA profile obtained via toenails will be compared to the profiles obtained with bones to see if the profiles from the former are of good quality. If validation is successful, the method can be used for casework involving compromised human remains. It will result in improved method of DNA analysis, reduction in the time required to obtain a profile to identify the deceased, reduced costs of profiling and occupational health and safety risks.

Arani is based at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and is under the supervision of Dr Dadna Hartman.

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