New Way to Find DNA from Hair Samples

In this recent article (Why This Scientist Keeps Receiving Packages of Serial Killers Hair), I learned that you don’t need the root of a hair to recover DNA from a hair sample anymore.

Ed Green, a paleogeneticist at the University of California, Santa Cruz known in the scientific community for his work on the Neanderthal genome, has developed a technique that makes it possible to recover and sequence DNA from hair without the root.

“And over the past 18 months, he has been quietly cooperating with several law enforcement agencies, using this method to extract genetic profiles from the hairs of killers and victims in long unsolved crimes.”

The hope is that investigators can close these cold cases or perhaps find new evidence that ties an unsolved crime to someone already in prison.

I was thinking that this scientist could make an interesting story; A scientist use to working alone in his lab with the Neanderthal genome now has to work with DNA of someone who is alive and could be standing right outside his office door!


This new technique produces the evidence needed to put a serial killer away for a long time.


DNA stories always make me curious about how they would play out with twins. If the twins are perfect genetic matches, how do you prove which one committed the crime?


Are there any ways that can fool this technique or create a false-positive result? Could the killer go free or could an innocent person be unjustly convicted?

Who wants to talk more about how you can use this idea in your current or next story?

[Credit: flickr/MauM (Mauro Miceli Consigli)]
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