Sunday, March 8, 2015

Is it possible to recreate your face only with your DNA?

Maybe for the forensic scientists could soon be possible. Scientists can already decode hair and eye color with reasonable accuracy using as little as 0.05 nanograms of extracted DNA. Will be possible to predict the color of skin, freckles, baldness, curly hair, tooth shape and age. 

This is possible thanks to The Snapshot DNA Phenotyping Service snapshots which reads tens of thousands of genetic variants from a DNA sample and uses this information to predict what an unknown person looks like, this technology was development by Parabon NanoLabs and was based partly on the work of Mark D. Shriver, a professor of anthropology and genetics at Penn State University, he development a mathematical method based on the 3D coordinates of more than 7,000 points on the face so he adjust that face based on 24 genetic variants in 20 genes involved in facial variation.

Fig. 1. Snapshot DNA Phenotyping. Parabon Nanolabs.

But, is this really complex?

The eye and hair color is relatively easy for its determination, because a single gene has a large influence on these traits. Neither predict the age, ‘cause it can analyze markers that shut off certain genes as people grow older, said Manfred Kayser, a professor of forensic molecular biology at Erasmus.

The problem here is that they want to implement for obtain traits of crimes suspects. How safe it is to use this technology in forensic science? It sounds like a science fiction novel. 

Fig. 2. Individuals' faces compared with Snapshot DNA Phenotyping.
The New York Times.

Some scientists question their accuracy because not all features are uniquely determined by DNA, also influenced by environmental factors. For this, the program presents a measure of confidence, which reflects the degree to be affected by epigenetics. For example traits such as eye color, which are highly hereditable are predicted with higher accuracy and confidence. But, it would not be a problem with the shared traits among relatives? Some scientists question the accuracy of the technology and they say use of these techniques could exacerbate racial profiling among law enforcement agencies and infringe on privacy. 

What do you think about this? Do you believe that is possible? 

If you want to know more you can read: Building a face, and a Case, on DNA.

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