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When Did DNA Testing Start? The History of DNA Testing


Genetics and forensics have undergone a revolution thanks to the development of DNA testing. Numerous tasks, ranging from tracing lineage to solving crimes, can be accomplished by studying a person's distinctive genetic code.

The origins of DNA testing may be traced to the middle of the 20th century, when researchers first learned about the structure of DNA and created techniques for studying it.

Since then, DNA analysis has quickly developed and spread, turning into a crucial instrument in both modern biology and law enforcement. We'll examine the development of DNA testing in this blog, from its early stages to the most cutting-edge uses today.

when did dna testing start

Introduction to DNA Testing History

With uses ranging from genetic studies of the individual to criminal investigations, DNA testing has grown in significance in modern days. But the question is how was this revolutionary technology created? What is its history?

Early to mid-1900s – blood typing

The early to mid-1900s marked a crucial period in the history of DNA testing. This era was characterized by several key discoveries and advancements that laid the foundation for modern DNA analysis.

Blood types were first observed in the late 19th century. The three major blood groups A, B, and O were initially recognized and described by Austrian physician Karl Landsteiner in 1900. He discovered that different people's blood could react differently with one another, causing clumps to develop (agglutination), which suggested that various blood types had various antigens.

Blood transfusions had previously been associated with considerable hazards, but Landsteiner's discovery revolutionized the world of medicine and opened the door for safe blood transfusions.

He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1902 for his groundbreaking research on blood type. The classification of the four major blood groups was completed a little time later, in 1907, with the discovery of the AB blood type.

In 1928, British biochemist Frederick Griffith conducted experiments that provided evidence for the existence of genetic material. This was a groundbreaking discovery. It could be said as the starting point of DNA testing.

1930s: Serological Testing

By finding DNA's fundamental building blocks and determining its chemical makeup in the 1930s, biochemists Phoebus Levene and Erwin Chargaff made significant advances to our understanding of DNA. These early investigations helped pave the way for James Watson and Francis Crick's 1953 discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, which opened the door to the creation of DNA testing.

Alas, it would be decades before DNA analysis technology developed to the point where it could be used for real-world uses like forensics and individual genetic analysis.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the introduction of particular serological tests, such as the indirect hemagglutination test and the flocculation test, constituted a watershed moment in the history of serological testing. These tests were used to diagnose illnesses like syphilis and laid the path for the development of more complex serological assays that are now commonly used.

Antibodies can be located and measured in a person's blood using serological assays. The immune system responds to foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses by producing antibodies. Serological testing can be used to detect infections, monitor the development of illnesses, and assess the efficacy of immunizations.

Serological assays are available in several formats, including ELISA (Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay), Western blot, and radioimmunoassay. These tests work by recognizing and measuring the levels of certain antibodies in a blood sample.

Serological test results can disclose important information about a person's immune response to specific pathogens, which can be used to identify infections, treat them, and follow illness progression. Serological testing is also used in epidemiology to monitor the spread of infectious diseases and evaluate the success of public health measures.

dna testing

1960s-1970s of DNA testing

The 1960s and 1970s were a pivotal time in the history of DNA testing since many important things were accomplished during that time. It enabled the use of DNA as a tool for studying genes. Researchers created the first technique for slicing DNA into tiny bits in the late 1960s. Nowadays, this method is referred to as restriction enzyme cleavage.

By doing this, scientists were able to separate certain DNA segments for later research. In the years that followed, a lot of important things happened, including the discovery of DNA ligases, which allowed DNA fragments to be joined together, and the creation of brand-new techniques for making DNA in the lab.

Genetic markers, which are sections of DNA that are inherited together with particular traits, were discovered during this period, which was another significant advance. In DNA testing nowadays, genetic markers are often employed, especially in forensic analysis and genetic counseling.

The identification of specific genes linked to certain qualities, such as disease susceptibility, was made feasible by the discovery of genetic markers, which was a significant advancement in the development of DNA testing.

The 1970s saw the development of a technique known as DNA fingerprinting, which uses restriction enzymes to split DNA into smaller fragments that are then sorted and visible on a gel. This technique was first developed by British geneticist Alec Jeffreys. These days, forensic investigation, identity testing, and paternity testing frequently employ it.

1980s – DNA profiling in the 1980s

DNA profiling, also known as DNA fingerprinting, was discovered in the middle of the 1980s and became an invaluable tool for forensic science and legal investigations almost immediately.

It involves examining certain portions of an individual's DNA, called as short tandem repeats (STRs), to generate a unique DNA profile that may be used with a high degree of accuracy to identify individuals.

Since 1987, when it was first utilized in a criminal investigation, DNA profiling has played a significant part in solving a broad variety of crimes and exonerating the wrongfully accused.

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Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Combined DNA Index System Program (CODIS)

The FBI is in charge of the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a national DNA database program. It was founded in 1990 and provides a central database where DNA profiles may be saved and analyzed to assist the FBI and other law enforcement organizations in their criminological investigations.

CODIS collects DNA profiles from various sources in addition to arrestees, convicted criminals, and evidence from crime scenes. CODIS's goal is to provide criminal justice agencies with a tool for resolving crimes by linking violent incidents and identifying suspects. CODIS, the world's biggest DNA database, has assisted authorities in the resolution of hundreds of cases and continues to do so.

1990s – DNA analysis using PCR

The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology for DNA analysis became widely used in the 1990s. PCR is a scientific technique for amplification, or copying, particular sections of DNA in a sample. This is an important stage in DNA analysis since it allows scientists to extract enough DNA material for proper DNA testing and profiling.

DNA analysis was previously only possible on tiny, frequently damaged samples. However, PCR made it feasible for researchers to examine even little or damaged DNA samples, opening up hitherto unreachable doors for the investigation of crimes and the identification of suspects.

The broad use of PCR for DNA analysis transformed the area of forensic research and resulted in important improvements. Today, PCR continues to be a cornerstone of DNA analysis and plays an essential part in resolving crimes and delivering justice.

Variable Number of Tandem Repeat Sequences

Variable Number of Tandem Repeat Sequences (VNTR) Typing

Variable Number of Tandem Repeat Sequences (VNTR) typing was first discovered by Richard A. Roberts and Philip A. Sharp, who were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1993 for their discovery of split genes.

In the late 1970s, Roberts and Sharp were studying the structure of genes when they noticed that certain regions of DNA contained repeating sequences of base pairs that were variable in number from one individual to another. They referred to these regions as Variable Number of Tandem Repeat Sequences (VNTRs).

VNTR typing soon gained popularity as a method of genetic analysis, notably in forensic research, where it was used to construct DNA profiles for person identification.

VNTR typing works by amplifying certain VNTR-containing sections of DNA and then quantifying the length of the amplified products. The length of the amplified products is then compared among individuals to determine an individual's DNA profile.

2010s: Next Generation Sequencing

The 2010s witnessed the introduction of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), a significant development in DNA sequencing technology. Millions of DNA fragments may be simultaneously analyzed using the high-throughput, quick DNA sequencing technique known as NGS.

This significantly accelerated and improved DNA sequencing's speed and accuracy, enabling the rapid sequencing of whole genomes.

Numerous professions, including forensic science, have been significantly impacted by NGS. The resolution and sensitivity of DNA profiles have improved due to the increased speed and accuracy with which vast volumes of DNA data can now be analyzed.

This has facilitated the development of novel DNA analysis techniques like DNA methylation analysis, which may reveal important details about a person's lineage and health. It has also contributed to the quicker and more precise identification of suspects in criminal investigations.

NGS has fundamentally changed DNA analysis and substantially improved our capacity to comprehend the human genome and solve crimes.

dna testing today

DNA testing today

DNA testing may be used for a number of things, including diagnosing genetic abnormalities, establishing paternity, learning about ancestry, and individualized medical care. Modern DNA testing procedures are non-invasive, quick, and accurate, and the findings are frequently available in a few days or weeks.

Paternity testing through the decades

Since it was initially used in the middle of the 20th century, paternity testing has experienced substantial improvements. Blood type analysis was used in early paternity tests, although this method could only reveal a person's paternity to a certain extent.

DNA testing techniques have evolved throughout the years, including DNA fingerprinting, RFLP analysis, and PCR-based testing.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, DNA testing became more accessible and affordable, making it a popular tool for resolving legal disputes and personal questions about paternity. The introduction of rapid DNA testing and DNA sequencing technology has further improved the accuracy and speed of paternity testing.

Paternity tests may now almost certainly produce extremely accurate findings due to the widespread availability of DNA testing. Results of the test, which may be conducted using a non-invasive sample like a cheek swab, are frequently available in a few days or weeks.

The development of DNA testing has made it a trustworthy and efficient method for establishing paternity.

When did DNA evidence become common?

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the use of DNA evidence in criminal investigations increased significantly. Alec Jeffreys, a British biologist, invented the DNA profiling method, often called DNA fingerprinting, in 1987.

This technique opens up new possibilities for utilizing DNA evidence in criminal trials by enabling scientists to identify people based on their distinctive DNA patterns.

Who first used DNA to solve a crime?

The first criminal trial utilizing DNA evidence occurred in England in 1986, and the use of DNA evidence swiftly expanded to other nations. Which includes the United States. In the following years, the use of DNA technology in criminal investigations grew quickly. DNA evidence was extensively used to solve crimes and identify suspects.


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