Rossella Lorenzi at the Discovery Channel:
Some of the greatest murder mysteries of all time, including the identity of Jack the Ripper, could be solved soon thanks to a major breakthrough in DNA technology, Australian researchers say.
Developed by Ian Findlay at Queensland’s Griffith University, the method is able to extract and compile a DNA fingerprint from as little as one human cell up to 160 years old.
The technology, called Cell Track-ID, consists of modifications to the traditional DNA extraction technique — known as short tandem repeats (STR) profiling — which works by amplifying the DNA billions of times to look for very specific markers.
But while the STR method needs samples of 200 or more cells, Cell Track-ID provides single-cell forensic DNA fingerprinting.
Cell Track is very similar to the STR profiling, but the technique has been refined to have a much better extraction protocol. This keeps the DNA intact, therefore providing much more information and making it possible to examine the smallest genetic material that is up to 160 years old, Findlay told Discovery News.