No mistakes

Published: Friday 30 April 1999

Matching blood from the scene of a crime to a suspect may soon be easier, thanks to an antibody test. Researchers say the test is quicker than conventional DNA tests, and also much cheaper. The test exploits "individual-specific autoantibodies" that are specific to each person. Scientists at Miragen, a biotech firm in Irvine, California, coated paper with strips of proteins to which the antibodies bind. When they stained the paper with a blood sample, a series of purple stripes appeared, like a bar code, unique to the individual from whom the sample was taken. Miragen's test has already been used for tracking medical samples to avoid mix-ups. According to Vicki Thompson at the Idaho-based National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, Miragen's technique can prove extremely useful in forensic laboratories too.

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