Following advances in the identification of genes associated with how someone looks, it is soon hoped police will be able to reconstruct the shape and identify key facial features of a suspects' face from their DNA alone.
The utilisation of such a system, however far along down the road it will be, would allow police and crime scene investigators to construct computerised ‘Identi-Kit’ pictures of the suspect – tests for predicting eye, hair and skin colour are currently available or under development – simply through gathering DNA from the scene of the crime as they normally would. According to New Scientist, the possibility is getting ever closer to becoming reality (though it is still some way off, as the team is keen to clear up), following the “identification of five genes that contribute to facial shape and features.”
Such genes influence the likes of the length of the nose, the facial width between cheekbones, or the distance from the eyes to the bridge of the nose. With a more complete set of genes identified and later analysed, the potential is there to construct a much more through picture of a suspect using the method.
“It’s a start,” says Manfred Kayser from the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Holland who conducted the study. In total, the team analysed DNA from over 10,000 Europeans by examining nine distinct facial ‘landmarks’ in three-dimensional MRI scan of their heads and a further eight landmarks in portrait photographs of their faces. Though the research is fascinating, as Kayser himself insists; “We are [still] far away from predicting what someone’s face looks like.” But yes, it is a start…
Source: New Scientist