study the effectiveness of using protein profile of hair strands for
from biological samples could be damaged due to heat and light.
of protein biomarkers to be created for identification and creation of protein
strand of hair can be used to trace out an individual from millions.
The protein in the hair can hold a lot of
information and can be uniquely used to identify humans, according to a study
by Dr Glendon Parker from The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA.
Nuclear DNA is unique for every individual
and was considered an ideal marker for human identification, however, the
stability of the DNA can be affected by
‘A strand of hair can be used to trace an individual.’
This renders the nuclear DNA useless in identifying
individuals in certain instances. When biological samples are available for
analysis but DNA data cannot be relied on, protein analysis can be used to
Proteins are made from amino acids
which are the building blocks of
life. The type of protein that is secreted depends on the sequence coded by the
DNA. Dr Glendon Parker elaborates on the role of DNA in protein synthesis "For
a DNA mutation to be reflected in a protein's amino acid sequence, two things
must happen. Firstly, the DNA sequence must actually be expressed in a protein.
Surprisingly, only one percent of the genetic code actually codes for proteins.
Secondly, the mutation cannot be silent, which occurs when two different DNA
sequences generate the same amino acid. A tremendous amount of variation exists
in humans, so even accounting for these requirements, we still have many
candidates to consider."
Robustness of Protein in Analysis
Identification of humans based on biological
samples is a very useful technique in the field of forensics as well as in
archaeology. They aid in uniquely spotting humans who have been at a particular
place. Though DNA can be used for identification purposes, the biological
samples may have had to undergo the vagaries of nature, which erodes its
ability to keep the DNA intact.
This raises the need for a better analysis
technique that utilizes the biological sample available to single
out an individual. To test the efficiency in identification, the researchers
took bioarcheological hair samples that were from six different people. The
samples were expected to be 250 years old and were from London graves, protein
markers were successfully isolated from these samples.
The list of markers was further increased by
obtaining a total of 185 markers from 76 living individuals from European and
Process of Analysis
present in the hair samples are extracted and then broken down into
peptides which are smaller chains of amino acids.The sequence of the peptides
are detected, separated and quantified using liquid chromatograph and mass
spectroscopy. Using this process, single amino acid polymorphisms were detected
and a database created with the data available which can be used to create a
The researchers plan on creating over a 100
markers that can be used to uniquely identify a an individual based o the
protein present in a single hair.
The quest towards advancement in science have
propelled forensic studies which rely on very few biological samples at the
scene of crime. Fingerprints that were very popular earlier are now cleverly
wiped out by suspects, deeming this method of investigation difficult to depend
Later DNA studies that relied on biological
samples to extract the DNA and to specifically single out an individual was
employed. However, the extremes in climatic conditions could affect the quality
This seems to be the era on using proteins in
analysis as stated by co-author of the study Dr. Brad Hart who is the director
of the Lab's Forensic Science Center "We are in a very similar place with protein-based
to where DNA profiling was during the early
days of its development. This method will be a game-changer for forensics, and
while we've made a lot of progress toward proving it, there are steps to go
before this new technique will be able to reach its full potential."
This technique can be used inidentifying
in murder or crime scenes
human movement across the globe
victims in natural disasters
bodies in mass graves
if an individual entered a room or capacity
missing babies/children to their parents
There are a number of ways this technique can
be used to uniquely spot an individual from millions, based on proteins present
on a single strand of hair. This study can change the way people look at hair
and the secrets they hold.
- New Role for Hair
in Human Idetification - (https://str.llnl.gov/july-2015/hart)