Hyderabad:  A city-based forensic lab will soon install a software developed by the US probe agency FBI that would substantially reduce the time taken for matching of DNA profiles of victims of large-scale disasters, with better analysis.

The software, which was used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to identify the 9/11 World Trade Center attack victims, is planned to be first put to use in India on the victims of last year’s Uttarakhand tragedy, whose identification process by DNA profiling by the Center for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) is set to get a boost vis-à-vis the required analysis.

The software named ‘CODIS’ (Combined DNA Index System) would be operationalised by the first week of August by the state-run CDFD, in line to become the country’s first forensic lab for speedy matching of DNA profiles of victims of mass disasters, a senior official said.

“We are in the process of acquiring and operationalising the software developed by FBI which will enable speedy matching of DNA profiles of victims of large-scale disasters.

India doesn’t have such kind of software and we are getting it next month and will be using it for the first time to identify victims of Uttarakhand natural calamity (in which thousands are presumed dead),” CDFD Director J Gowrishankar told PTI.

Compared to the laborious and time-consuming manual procedure of matching one by one, this software does multiple comparisons in quick time and even gives conclusion whether the victims are parents-child or siblings.

A two-member team of FBI’s DNA Lab wing will come to the city next month and install the software on CDFD computers.

They will train the centre’s DNA examiners on its usage during a three-day workshop. CDFD and FBI had signed an MoU early this year for the acquisition of ‘CODIS’.

“FBI had used the software to identify victims of 9/11 World Trade Center attack victims. The software would be used for the first time in India to match data of DNA profiles of  400 victims with blood samples of close relatives of over 5,000 missing individuals of last year’s Uttarakhand tragedy,” he said.

According to him, this software will match DNA profile data to determine if any individual’s DNA sample is related to that of any other fed in the database and it will do multiple  comparisons and also match a large numbers of samples, which is done presently through manual procedures.

“This software will definitely speed up the processs to compare the DNA profile of one person versus that of many people. So instead of doing it one by one manually the software compares it directly.

“The software also has the capacity to say whether the match corresponds to parent-child relationship or a sibling relationship and it is able to give that conclusion as well. Once it gives the output, we will be able to manually verify it,” Gowrishankar added.

The CDFD Director said CODIS is given by the FBI to all public forensic laboratories free of cost and the software has the capacity to undertake DNA profiling of up to one million samples.

Free Press Journal