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Scientists Find Way To Combat Forged DNA 45

An anonymous reader writes to tell us that while scientists may have learned how to forge DNA, it appears that a group of Israeli scientists has created a DNA authentication method that is able to distinguish between real and faked DNA samples. "The new process was tested on natural and artificial samples of blood, saliva and touched surfaces, with complete success, Nucleix said. It also identifies 'contaminated' DNA that has been mixed with two or more samples."
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Scientists Find Way To Combat Forged DNA

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  • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Friday August 21, 2009 @05:16PM (#29150949)

    So if I make fake DNA of myself and throw around a crime scene then I can use this method to prove I wasn't there?

    • They would need some other way of proving you were at the scene to say you were. You can't argue that just because the one bit of fake DNA they found was trying to be yours, you couldn't have been at the crime scene. At least that sounds like the logical solution. Best I can do is hope that's how the legal system actually sees it.

    • no but ppo and hmo can use this to get our paying your bill and just let hold the bag for it.

    • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Friday August 21, 2009 @05:38PM (#29151157) Journal

      No (And spanking the monkey is not "fake DNA")

      All it does is provide doubt to the evidence. One cannot prove a negative ("I wasn't there"), which is why we assume innocence, and guilt must be proved beyond REASONABLE doubt.

      To prove you "weren't there" you would have to have an alibi; evidence you were somewhere else.

      • Luckily "REASONABLE" is a unknown variable, so you still can use it however you like. Isn't ambiguity great...

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        It still does nothing to prevent a frame up. So one hair with the root intact(genuine sample) under the finger nail of the victim (time specific) and, I bet you anything you like, that the people who genuinely provided you the alibi will join you in prison for sic. perjuring themselves. DNA can be a very powerful and dangerous piece of evidence, it can automatically get people off the hook and we as automatically sentence them.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        The very fact that you can fake DNA evidence and can detect faked DNA evidence throws up enough uncertainty to make proof beyond reasonable doubt based primarily on DNA extremely difficult.

        I'd say that's a pretty epic win, as it will hopefully mean and end to cases where one bit of forensic evidence and a lot of circumstantial evidence and character assassination results in a conviction. That is how many of these cases where someone is initially convicted and later shown to be innocent occur; the jury is mi

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 21, 2009 @06:24PM (#29151537)

      So if I make fake DNA of myself and throw around a crime scene then I can use this method to prove I wasn't there?


      The technology for amplifying DNA has been around for a while. That is how they take tiny samples and make larger ones for testing. Using household chemicals, you can amplify your DNA easily. And yes, like you said, you could spread that everywhere.

      This amplified DNA is missing key methylated chemicals which give it away as amplified DNA.

      Current standard DNA tests do not look for DNA missing the methylated compounds.

      I think the article is describing a simple, easily standardized, easily implemented test for labs to use with every DNA test that will distinguish between real, amplified and a mix of real and amplified DNA.

      The difference between real and amplified is and always has been clear, a mechanism (created by the company in the article) now exists for looking for that difference every time. This keeps the legitimacy of DNA testing intact...your method for deniability is not.

      • This solves nothing.

        The companies that produce DNA (like GenScript) can make a strand of arbitrary length using any bases. This includes the normal A T C and G, but could also include methylated version as needed.

        Testing for methyl groups has been around for a while by using methyl-sensitive DNA cutting enzymes. This procedure would just help you determine which sites to add methyl groups when you are manufacturing your fake DNA. Anyone who has access to a lab (or company) that can make DNA can probab
  • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <[ ] ['' in gap]> on Friday August 21, 2009 @05:16PM (#29150953)

    First there was radar...

    Then came a radar detector...

    Then came a radar detector detector...

    And now you have a radar detector, detector, detector... or a radar detector evader...

    What is common? Only the idiots will be caught and those that don't want to be caught wont be caught and we will use technology to show how good it is to catch the idiots that would probably self-destruct anyways...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by goombah99 ( 560566 )

      Well in this case the group that developed the test was also the group that showed it was possible to spoof existing tests. and it's a commercial technology: they sell the test kits. So it was totally in their interest to show why you need to buy their test.

      But also in this case it benefits the Cat and not the mouse. If someone tries to spoof the existing test and they don't guess right in how to spoof it -- e.g. they try to evade the spoof detector, and don't anticipate there is a new spoof detector eva

      • Wrong - not useful to prove premeditation

        "If someone tries to spoof the existing test and they don't guess right in how to spoof it ... then it sort of nails them for premeditation of the crime."

        Only if the crime you are talking about is framing someone, rather than the person being framed. Detection of fabricated evidence and contamination of evidence is useful as a defense against DNA evidence, it's not useful to law enforcement, unless the evidence was fabricated by an unrelated criminal. Even then, it

        • Can I use yours as answer... Quite nice... Really logical...

        • So in reality, the framing technique brings into question DNA evidence, and the anti-framing technique brings into question DNA evidence.

          Ah, but you only think I guessed wrong! That's what's so funny! I switched glasses when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line! Ha ha ha ha ha h

    • It's a bit like this [], then? ;-)

  • by VeNoM0619 ( 1058216 ) on Friday August 21, 2009 @05:19PM (#29150979)
    This helps prevent the issue of "artificially" generated DNA that was talked about earlier. But only 1 of 2 methods have been solved. What about replicated/duplicated DNA which isn't using other combined DNA?

    Either way, like I said before, technology is an arms race. They have authentication for simple forgery, but wait for the next big thing that will fool these tests. Good for them though at least :)
  • then, a quick patch.
    DNA is software, after all.

  • Forced to the brink of extinction, scientists somehow found a way to fight back against the scourge ... ... but they underestimated their foe, and will now pay the PRICE for their DEFIANCE...


  • Full disclosure? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hansraj ( 458504 ) on Friday August 21, 2009 @05:27PM (#29151053)

    Dan Frumkin, the lead researcher of the group that created a way to "fake DNA" is the founder of Nucleix, the company selling the test for such forgery.

    Not that this has any bearing whatsoever on the quality of the research behind all this, but still one would think that such information was relevant to this news.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      That, and pretty much everything else in the AFP article was already covered in the NY Times article [] mentioned in the earlier Slashdot story on forging DNA.
    • by LionKimbro ( 200000 ) on Friday August 21, 2009 @05:54PM (#29151267) Homepage

      I don't see any foul play -- the article specifically says just this:

      Israeli scientists find way to combat forged DNA [] -- very first line reads: "Israeli scientists have developed new technology to fight biological identity theft after realising that DNA evidence found at crime scenes can be easily falsified."

      Then further on: "Elon Ganor is CEO and co-founder of Nucleix, an Israeli company specialised in DNA analysis that conducted the research."

      Further on: "To combat the practice, Nucleix has developed a DNA authentication method that distinguishes between real and fake samples."

      The article is very clear that the discoverers were also the inventors of the counter-technology.

    • by tqk ( 413719 )
      Ah, so this is astroturfing? I $(heart) /., so I'm not surprised this happens, nor do I much mind. I do wish it was labeled as such from the start.
  • So is the cat ahead or the mouse?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 21, 2009 @05:49PM (#29151227)

      So is the cat ahead or the mouse?

      Presuming the cat was only hungry for about 80% of it's meal, I would guess that the mouse is a head at this point.

      • You're thinking in a far too limited context. It's not that the mouse is ahead. It's that the cat is(?n't) alive/dead and, thus, can(?'t) chase the mouse any longer. This, of course, assumes that the mouse is immune to poison. Perhaps he spent the last 20 years building up an immunity.....
  • methylation? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    pff That test probably checks for methylation or something like that. Usually PCR'd DNA is not methylated, also material from PCR might have mistakes in the DNA, especially when a non-proofreading enzyme was used to amplify the fake DNA

  • In any other industry, you'd wonder if the earlier news release was part of a marketing build up for this bit of news.

    Then again, is there any reason why we should believe anyone would be beyond such a stunt?
  • From the article:

    "Although most of the DNA sequence is identical in all humans, forensic scientists scan 18 regions on the sequence that vary from person to person, allowing the identification of a single person with extremely high accuracy."

    "DNA is in many cases what breaks trial suspects and allows their conviction 'beyond reasonable doubt,'" said DNA analysis expert Adam Friedmann, dean of the Marine Science School at Israel's Ruppin Academic Centre."

    "DNA profiling is an excellent technique that is

  • I think ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Friday August 21, 2009 @05:53PM (#29151259)

    It also identifies "contaminated" DNA that has been mixed with two or more samples.

    ... I know the lady responsible for collecting those mixed samples.

  • by Grindar ( 1470147 ) on Friday August 21, 2009 @05:56PM (#29151285)
    Now begins the genetic arms race?
  • You just get the DNA of the DNA, and then it's DNA all the way down.

  • So we DO indeed have a working Cylon detector after all?

  • This would never have been a problem if everyone had just used DNASEC to begin with.

You can measure a programmer's perspective by noting his attitude on the continuing viability of FORTRAN. -- Alan Perlis