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DNA Fingerprinting

Advances In DNA Fingerprinting

Since DNA fingerprinting was discovered in 1984, there have been many advances in the process, as well as the DNA evidence that is used.  It wasn’t until the following year that DNA evidence was used in a courtroom, and in 1988, the first suspect was convicted and sent to jail due to this process. 

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This graph shows how PCR can multiply the number of DNA copies after a certain amount of cycles.

One of the major advances in DNA fingerprinting involves the amount of DNA needed to perform the test.  In order to accurately analyze DNA, a large sample was needed in the past.  Due to the advances in technology, a small sample of DNA can easily be amplified and copied using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR).  This process requires only a very small sample of DNA evidence, and it can be copied millions of times and used for multiple fingerprinting tests.   Also, where the DNA comes from is not as limited as it used to be.  Researchers are now able to extract DNA from sources that were considered too hard or contaminated. 

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The materials used in many schools for performing gel electrophoresis.

The training of scientists and researchers is also more advanced than it was in the past.  When DNA is being worked with in the labs, scientists now have cleaner and more effective ways of processing the evidence with a lower risk of contamination.  This means that smaller, and slightly contaminated DNA samples can now be used for evidence, whereas in the past scientists did not have the proper technology to enlarge and purify the DNA. 
DNA fingerprinting has also advanced in schools.  Not only are students learning about fingerprinting and how the process works, but in many highschools, students are able to use small DNA samples and perform PCR or RFLP analysis. 

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