Forensic DNA Typing charts the progress and development of DNA applied to criminal forensics, providing vivid demonstrations of the amazing potential of the method, not only to convict the guilty but also to exonerate the innocent. John Butler has created a text that caters to all audiences, covering the basics of DNA structure and function and describing in detail how the techniques are used. In addition, the extensive use of D.N.A. (Data, Notes, and Application) Boxes in the text enables the reader to dip in and out as he or she pleases.
Probably the most important development of recent years is the universal use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to replicate DNA molecules in vitro. This has led to the rapid development of new platforms and biochemistry that have revolutionized the methods used to carry out DNA analysis. These new technologies are clearly explained in great detail in this book, with lavish illustrations. The culmination of recent advances has led to the instigation of massive National DNA offender databases using short tandem repeat (STR) loci. For example, since its inception in 1995, the England and Wales National DNA database (NDNADB) now has more than 2.75 million reference DNA profiles from suspects and offenders alike, against which all crime stains are routinely compared. Many more countries throughout the world have since followed suit. The social benefits of such databases are considerable - individuals who commit major crimes such as murder usually already have a criminal record. UK policy enables the collection of DNA profiles from all offenders regardless of the seriousness of the crime. Consequently, those who re-offend can be quickly identified and apprehended. In the US thirteen different STRs are combined together into one or two-tube reactions known as multiplexes to provide data for the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). When a complete DNA profile is obtained the probability of a chance match with a randomly chosen individual is usually less than one in one trillion using these 13 CODIS loci.
Other areas are explored in detail including mitochondrial, Y chromosomal DNA and use of forensic science in wildlife crime such as poaching. Recently, as a result of terrorist attacks, new areas of forensic DNA profiling have arisen in response. Foremost amongst these is the field of microbial forensics, which is used to identify pathogens such as anthrax.
Although it is very difficult to anticipate all future developments, STRs are probably the system of choice for the foreseeable future although other systems, especially single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), have been suggested. SNPs may find a special niche to analyze very highly degraded material and may play a valuable role in future mass disasters. However, there is no doubt that the utility of both STRs and SNPs will benefit from new biochemistry and new platforms such as microchips. Automation, miniaturization and expert systems will all play an increasingly important role over the coming years. The main aims of the new technology can be summarized: to enable faster processing; to reduce costs; to improve sensitivity; to produce portable instruments; to de-skill and to automate the interpretation process; to improve success rates; to improve quality of the result and to standardize processes. The next few years will probably see a new revolution as this new technology comes of age and becomes widely available.
John Butler reviews these new innovations in great detail - he is to be congratulated for preparing such a readable book that will appeal to everyone from the layperson, the lawyer and the scientist alike.
Peter Gill, Ph.D.
Birmingham, UK December 2004
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This book discusses the futility of curing stammering by common means. It traces various attempts at curing stammering in the past and how wasteful these attempt were, until he discovered a simple program to cure it. The book presents the life of Benjamin Nathaniel Bogue and his struggles with the handicap. Bogue devotes a great deal of text to explain the handicap of stammering, its effects on the body and psychology of the sufferer, and its cure.