For years crime tv shows have shown DNA being drawn from hair follicles and used to find criminals, however DNA can only be pulled from the hair follicle if the root is still attached. Recently though, paleogeneticist Ed Green has found a way to get the DNA sequence from a rootless hair follicle.
The reason forensic scientists needed a hair follicle with the root is because in order to identify a victim or suspect nuclear DNA is needed. However, they believed nuclear DNA could only be extracted from hair in a growth stage. In his past work, Green was able to extract DNA from fossilized bones, so he knew there was another way to get the nuclear DNA from hair.
Green has already started testing his theory and used it to identify criminals or victims from old cases. This technology is still in the early stages and Green said he doesn’t expect it to be widely used yet due to its high cost.
Green has also been working with Dr. Barbara Rae-Venter, a genetic genealogist because recently investigators have been using genetic genealogy to find suspects or name victims. Due to the excitement over finding your ancestors in the past years, peoples DNA are in databases that investigators have access to. This has allowed for many cold cases to be reopened and examined once again, whether it is finding an exact match or finding a relative. The first time this was really used on a case was when investigators reopened the Golden State Killer case, and with genetic information provided by cousins of the killer, they were able to identify one of the most famous serial killers. With these new developments in forensic science, it will be harder for killers to get away with the crimes they commit.