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Forensic science past present and future.

Byline: Syyada Samra Jafri and Hasnain Nangyal

Forensics a science against crime has derived its name from forensic meaning forum. Forensic sciences started its origin from finger printing by Chinese in 700s and attracted attention of the whole world because of its methods to catch crime in criminal matters civil laws and judicial systems by police agencies. Because of its unbelievable working in criminology no one was able to deny its importance. Scientific world started taking interest in opening new ways to catch crime and started using modern ways in detection against crime with the passage of time. Microscope which showed hope to other fields also proved very useful for Forensics as well. It was used in the beginning to detect sperms from objects obtained from crime scenes in rape cases. Police started documentation and evidence identification according to the requirements for forensics analysis. Solving a case on forensics basis was a tough task in the beginning for the scientists but it didn't remain as it is for much longer times.

In 1916 with the emergence of field of Genetics" new ways for detection opened and scientists started observing inheritance patterns in paternity cases. No doubt genetics supported forensics since beginning and provided more solid proofs against crimes. Max Frei-Sulzer founded the first Swiss Criminalistic laboratory in 1950 and provided uplift to forensics. United Kingdom published the first criminalistics text material in 1953 and attracted the world towards this field. Later on FBI played its major role in 1977 by introducing first Automated Fingerprinting Identification System (AFIS). Introduction of this system started a race in the field of Forensics which got more attention with the introduction of Mendilian laws of inheritance.

A complete new era opened in the field of Forensics and scientists from all over the world started their endless efforts to enhance and upgrade this field of research to continue their fight against crime. Butler a renowned Forensics scientist played a major role in the establishment of new advance methods in the field of Forensics.

Detection of blood group system and rhesus factors made their lives a bit easier but still there was a long way to go. Forensics started advancing with advancements in the field of genetics where HLA system and Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphisms (RFLPs) opened new ways for investigation. A new approach was opened in the field of Forensics when FBI started using DNA in Forensics case work. This race moved on with the introduction variable number tandem repeats (VNTRs) short tandem repeats (STRs) single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and copy number variations (CNVs). Development of STR system helped to solve cases where getting full profiles was not feasible. Mini and micro satellite systems were also introduced to solve sensitive cases of person identification.

Out of millions of SNPs few SNPs were detected which can be used to solve person identification cases. Computerized systems and software were developed for the accurate analysis and comparison of obtained data. Chips were prepared for analyzing samples in least time. Population structure analysis became easier with the development of CNVs detection procedure.

Many identification kits were developed for different types of cases. Databases were developed all over the world to keep record of all the criminals and suspects for future correspondence. Not only new cases but old cases were reopened due to advancements in detection of profiles even from ancient DNA. In previous times generating a DNA profile from ancient sample was a serious issue but with advancements in the field of Forensics new methods and kits are developed to get better profiles in lesser times. Now Forensics sciences is helping in solving most of the criminal cases because of its originality but still more advancements are required in this field to save time and to reduce chances of errors. Human restless nature is advancing this field speedily and now whole genome sequencing is making life of police and criminologists much easier and closing the ways for crime escape. Scientists are now moving towards cellular level to check the cause of violent crimes.

Not only in Forensics but these efforts opened new ways of research in human diseases as well.

Forensic science is still on its way to find new and easier methods and will be more helpful in future.

The writers are a) from National Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biology University of the Punjab and b) from the Department of Botany Hazara University Mansehra.
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Author:Jafri, Syyada Samra; Nangyal, Hasnain
Publication:Technology Times
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Aug 17, 2014
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