back to article Portable, rapid DNA analysis tech developed

Mobile fingerprint-checking equipment is already controversial before it has even rolled out widely. An announcement today may presage the next such row, as developers say they will soon roll out a "compact" machine based on "a small, single chip" which will massively reduce the amount of time taken to check a DNA sample. The …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    If you've nothing to hide ...

    you've nothing to fear.

    Oh, that's irony btw ...

    1. Mike Brown


      i believe what you attempted is sarcasm.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Mike Brown

        Mike, the Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines sarcasm as " the use of irony to mock or convey contempt".

        So if you believe he intended to mock or convey contempt, then yes - it was sarcasm.

        But it was certainly irony, regardless.

  2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    Human Genome Project

    This could be very helpful to the Human Genome project, which still hasn't managed to map the whole DNA of a single person.

    I mean obviously this unit checks _ALL_ of the DNA, doesn't it? Otherwise it's a bit like arresting someone for murder because their first name was "John", which is the known first name of the murderer, and not bothering to check any further...

    1. david wilson


      >>"I mean obviously this unit checks _ALL_ of the DNA, doesn't it?"

      Either you know the answer to that and yet you're trying to suggest that a DNA fingerprinting method needs to check every single base to be usable, or you don't know the answer, in which case you might be best advised to learn how DNA fingerprinting works.

      Of course, the ironic thing is that the best way to show how accurate or inaccurate expert estimates of probabilities really are would be to have the largest possible DNA database.

  3. Christoph

    How do we know the machine is working?

    If a policeman approaches me with one of these, how can I be sure it's working properly so I can use it to confirm his identity before I answer any of his questions?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Portable, rapid DNA analysis tech developed

    Oh God, WHY?

  5. The old man from scene 24

    Yes, but... does it work? I really don't care about the marketing bumph saying how clever it is - I want to see for myself!

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    A similar tech has been pioneered with farm animals

    It reduced test time from several days to c1.5 Hrs.

    One of the key issues was the reduction of a large heating block to a small fast heat/fast cool cycle in a chip.

    Weather they can reduce it to less (given the more complex process) is doubtful. DNA analysis fast enough to act as a door lock is likely to be a fantasy for a while.

    However that would put DNA analysis at police station level in 1 shift, rather than *days* (if your *lucky*) to a specialist DNA lab.

    Weather this is a good thing is another matter.

  7. Eddy Ito


    "Our goal... is to transform today's DNA identification process... into a misunderstood, moron run process that likely gets it wrong in less than an hour"

  8. mmiied


    I seam to rember a film with this in it but the name escapes me now...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    The day

    they get me to submit to an "on-site" DNA/Fingerprint analysis, is the day the coroner signs my death certificate.

  10. Dr Patrick J R Harkin


    The driving force behind the development of the technology isn't identification of people, but of pathogens. Remember Bones' medical tricorder (and Spock's science tricorder)? Wave them in the air and they can detect dangerous viruses and bacteria? That's what's being developed. Last I heard (3 or so years ago) they were back-pack sized, but three years is a long time in technology!

    Microbiology has changed enormously since I was a medical student - I walked past a micro lab a few months back and I wouldn't have recognised it - not a bunsen burner or agar plate in sight, just rows of PCR machines. It's much faster than waiting for things to grow on plates.

    However, once you've invented the kit, there's always the temptation to find another market.

  11. McToo
    Black Helicopters

    Who needs ID cards?

    "DNA, citizen"...

  12. Robert Forsyth

    It is just a sieve

    DNA finger printing just chops the DNA at a certain combination of molecules using an enzyme, this give strands of various lengths. The chip just measures the proportion of each size. It does not decode the DNA. The resultant display gives a signature that is not unique: like error checking.

    Lots of people must have the same PIN as it is only four digit and there are 50+ million people in the UK.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Police and DNA

    10 years ago i worked for a company in Cambridge doing DNA on a chip (for personal medicine)

    We talked to a lot of Police officers about DNA and they definitely had the impression that DNA from the scene would allow them to identify the suspect even if they didn't have a match.

    They had been sold on the idea that from the DNA they would be able to know the suspect's height/weight/eye colour/race etc.

    A few thought they had been scammed by the DNA labs - but more than half thought it was just a question of the technology getting better and eventually they would be able to do this.

  14. Ross 7

    A couple of issues

    1) Days to do PCR?!? lolz. It takes a few hours tops, and that's doing it all manually. Still, putting it all on a chip is pretty clever. However, how do they clean it between uses? And what happens when some numpty drops the ethidium bromide refill in the street and some kiddy thinks it looks tasty?

    2) "At present this can normally only be done at a station, meaning that plods must arrest anyone unwilling to give their prints in order to conduct a check" (re: fingerprinting on the street)

    Erm, they'd still need to arrest the person to take their prints if they refused to allow it voluntarily. I suggest you check out s.61 PACE 1984. However, s.61(2) makes for very interesting reading in light of a portable finger print checking thingummy. I foresee many claims of "oh yes m'Lud, he consented to giving his fingerprints... No, we didn;t get it in writing 'cause we were in the back of the van"

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