Researchers seek to use hair protein analysis as a more reliable alternative to hair microscopy

Ah, the evolution of a forensic news release about a “breakthrough” into the world of validation. It shouldn’t be done afterwards. But as this says, backwards is how bitemarks and hair shaft comparisons got their start. And that turned out to be a criminal justice disaster.

Forensics Forum

Researchers are developing methods to analyze proteins in strands of hair as a new method of identification in forensic sciences. The process aims to be more objective than hair microscopy, a technique that has been found to be highly unreliable and has resulted in many wrongful convictions. The news article does not address whether such types of hair analysis will also address other issues that plagued hair microscopy. For instance, one issue with hair microscopy is that hairs from the same person can appear different if they come from different parts of the scalp. It is unclear if hair proteins are consistent throughout an individual’s hair even if the appearance analyzed in hair microscopy is not. Additionally, it is not clear if hair proteins can provide unique markers for individuals, much like DNA can, or if multiple individuals can share the same protein in their hairs, much like people can…

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About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
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