DNA Testers Battle Time, Humidity
By Randy Dotinga, 02:00 AM Sep. 09, 2005 PT
As they prepare to tackle the daunting task of matching hundreds of hurricane victims with their identities, the nation's DNA laboratories are facing major challenges, ranging from decomposition to the difficulties of tracking down relatives to be tested for familial links. It will take months, if not years, to analyze samples from both the living and the dead.
But there is some good news: Four years after the massive post-9/11 DNA identification efforts began, scientists say they have learned how to effectively test thousands of DNA samples. New technology allows investigators to do a better job of linking men to their family lines (female DNA is easier to match). And, perhaps more importantly, DNA has shown itself to be a remarkably hardy substance, often impervious -- at least temporarily -- to the worst the world can throw at it.
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