Genetic tests may help track unknown criminals by hair colour

DNA from blood, sperm or saliva is 80% to 90% accurate, study shows 

DNA can be used to determine the hair colour of an unknown criminal who is being sought by police, Dutch researchers report.

They found that DNA is about 90% accurate in determining whether a person has red hair or black hair, and about 80% accurate for blond or brown hair. The necessary DNA can be taken from blood, sperm, saliva or other biological evidence collected by forensics experts.

The study appears in the current issue of Human Genetics.

the study

"That we are now making it possible to predict different hair colours from DNA represents a major breakthrough because, so far, only red hair colour, which is rare, could be estimated from DNA," study leader Professor Manfred Kayser, chairman of the forensic molecular biology department at Erasmus Medical College in Rotterdam, said in a journal news release.

"For our research, we made use of the DNA and hair colour information of hundreds of Europeans and investigated genes previously known to influence the differences in hair colour. We identified 13 DNA markers from 11 genes that are informative to predict a person's hair colour," he said.

This breakthrough could soon lead to a validated DNA test for hair colour, said Ate Kloosterman, of the Netherlands Forensic Institute.

"This new development results in an important expansion of the future DNA toolkit used by forensic investigators to track down unknown offenders," he said in the same news release.(HealthDay News/ January 2011)

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