DNA profiling (also called DNA testing, DNA typing, or genetic fingerprinting) is a technique employed by forensic scientists to assist in the identification of individuals by their respective DNA profiles. DNA profiles are encrypted sets of numbers that reflect a person’s DNA makeup, which can also be used as the person’s identifier. DNA profiling should not be confused with full genome sequencing. It is used in, for example, parental testing and criminal investigation.  

Although 99.9% of human DNA sequences are the same in every person, enough of the DNA is different to distinguish one individual from another, unless they are monozygotic twins. DNA profiling uses repetitive (“repeat”) sequences that are highly variable, called variable number tandem repeats (VNTRs), particularly short tandem repeats (STRs). VNTR loci are very similar between closely related humans, but so variable that unrelated individuals are extremely unlikely to have the same VNTRs.  

The process begins with a sample of an individual’s DNA (typically called a “reference sample”). The most desirable method of collecting a reference sample is the use of a buccal swab, as this reduces the possibility of contamination. When this is not available (e.g. because a court order may be needed and not obtainable) other methods may need to be used to collect a sample of blood, saliva, semen, or other appropriate fluid or tissue from personal items (e.g. toothbrush, razor, etc.) or from stored samples (e.g. banked sperm or biopsy tissue). Samples obtained from blood relatives (biological relative) can provide an indication of an individual’s profile, as could human remains which had been previously profiled.  

A new study that will attempt to use DNA to detect and predict the risk of gum disease has been commissioned in the USA.  

The breakthrough research, to be conducted by the University of Michigan’s School of Dentistry, alongside a third-party health company, will take place over the course of one year and collect genetic information from around 4,000 people.  

Should positive results arise from the test, they could prove very important for the preventative care in fighting serious oral health complications.  

The issue of DNA testing has proved controversial in the UK in recent years. Tests now exist that can detect common disorders such as diabetes and heart disease, but may people fear discrimination by insurance companies. People in the USA are already protected by The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information with respect to health insurance and employment.  

The results of the initial genetic test will be then combined with the two leading factors of diabetes and smoking. Researchers will also examine rates of tooth survival against what kind of dental treatment plans with dental equipment people have. All these results will give the researchers enough precious data in order to see how they correlate.  

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