December 1, 2017 -
A new method of identifying people based on their DNA has been developed by researchers at Columbia University and the New York Genome Center, which could lead to inexpensive real-time DNA authentication.
The findings were announced by Columbia, and are detailed in the journal eLife.
The new software is designed for use with a MinION, a credit card-sized device which captures DNA strands with microscopic pores and reads nucleotide sequences, and is typically used to study bacteria and viruses. Its use with human cells has been limited due to higher error rates caused by cell complexity.
Through the use of a Bayesian algorithm to compare samples, however, the researchers have developed an accurate system which verifies an individual’s identity in minutes, according to the announcement.
“Our method opens up new ways to use off-the-shelf technology to benefit society,” said the study’s senior author Yaniv Erlich, a computer science professor at Columbia Engineering, an adjunct core member at NYGC, and a member of Columbia’s Data Science Institute.
While the most immediate use of the technology may be in improving research, future applications could include crime scene analysis and identifying disaster victims.
As previously reported, the emergence of rapid DNA technology led the International Biometrics + Identity Association (IBIA) to issue a policy paper on the subject in September.