18 December 2008

Fingerprinting of love

Tatiana Izmailova, AIF Health from 18.12.2008

The fact that we were not found in cabbage, we know almost from kindergarten age. The great mystery of nature ceased to be such a long time ago. However, there are situations when his mom and dad find out about the secret of the child's origin in the ... genetic laboratory

The Discord GeneWe are talking about an examination to establish paternity, which is resorted to in exceptional cases by some married couples.

Or divorced women who are trying to recover alimony from ex-husbands in court, as well as men who seek to challenge this very paternity.

In memory of the Doctor of Biological Sciences, Head of the Department of Forensic Molecular Genetic Scientific and Expert Research, Deputy Director for Scientific Work  The Russian Center for Forensic Medical Examination of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation and one of the creators of the domestic method of genomic examination, Professor Pavel Ivanov, there are many family tragedies and dramas. After all, there has always been a demand for this kind of research.

However, at first, Ivanov and his colleagues had very limited opportunities to help in this difficult matter. Up until 1985, disputed paternity in our country was established almost "by eye": traditional methods of forensic medical research (by blood groups, for example) allowed to give a confident answer only in 30% of cases. The rest of the subjects had to be content with a vague formulation: "no exclusive data on paternity has been received." In court, such a conclusion could be interpreted as you like.

Opening of the centuryThe situation changed when the method of genetic fingerprinting was discovered, based on the analysis of special features of the genetic constitution of a particular person.

The basis of the unique technology was the discovery made in the mid-80s by Englishman Alec Jeffries, who introduced the concept of special, "individualizing" genes that make it possible to distinguish the genetic code received by a person from biological parents in any fragment of the body. The new method opened up dizzying possibilities for scientists. But not everyone could use it. Only the British had a monopoly on the use of genomic fingerprinting techniques.

Until a similar discovery was made by a group of scientists from the Institute of Molecular Biology of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Among the discoverers was Pavel Ivanov, a leading employee of the Institute. Since then (or rather, since 1988, when the first such examination was carried out in Russia), our scientists have made great progress in their capabilities, but the examination to determine biological kinship is still considered one of the most difficult. Have you ever thought about how much  are we different from, say, great apes? You'll never believe it! No more than... 1%. It's even more difficult with people. It turns out that genetically we are very similar to each other. The level of differences between one person and another varies within one tenth of a percent (!). According to Ivanov, it's like watching two identical books in which 1-2 letters per page will be different.

The Voice of BloodAnd yet the markers of individuality – special genes – exist.

You just need to know where to look for them. When establishing biological kinship, there are options for identifying genetic traits that are transmitted only from the mother. If the mother does not cause doubts from the expert, then all the signs that coincide with her and the child are deducted from the study. Only Dad's remains under the gun. Then the prevalence of these genes in the human population is estimated. If a child and his alleged father have rare signs, the evidence of paternity is high. If not, other, clarifying tests are needed. To date, the degree of reliability of the results of such studies is very high – more than 99.9%.

Theoretically, any biological tissue containing human cells is suitable for gene fingerprinting. It can be a smear from the oral mucosa or a drop of blood. According to Ivanov, the sensitivity of the unique technique is so high that even a dried bloodstain the size of a penny coin is enough for examination. Recently, citizens from other cities have been sending genetic material for research in this form to the Moscow laboratory of the Center for Forensic Medical Examination. On a piece of paper, by registered mail. The analysis is not cheap, but there is no end of those who want to. Taking into account the queue, each analysis takes from 2 to 4 weeks.

For all occasionsGenomic fingerprinting also has another aspect – criminal.

The technology, which is used to determine the disputed paternity, today helps detectives around the world to unravel the most complex and mysterious crimes. There were a lot of such examinations in Professor Ivanov's practice. Among the most high–profile is the identification of the remains of the family of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II, who was shot in Yekaterinburg, the Ukrainian journalist Georgy Gongadze, who went missing in 2000, victims of the Moscow terrorist attacks. Thanks to genomic fingerprinting, hundreds of soldiers who died during the first Chechen war, victims of plane crashes, as well as the terrible tsunami on Phuket Island, among whom there were several Russian citizens, found their graves.

Recently, genetic fingerprinting has also had a medical field of application. In Ivanov's practice, there was a case when he was approached from the Research Institute of Transplantology. The professor had to check the biological relationship of the sister of a patient in need of a bone marrow transplant. Outwardly dissimilar women claimed that they were twins. It was important for doctors to make sure that this was really the case: bone marrow can only be transplanted from close relatives. Fortunately, the women really turned out to be twins, and identical. The transplant was successful.

The Vicissitudes of loveGreat hopes in the Center of forensic Medical examination are pinned on joint and already quite fruitful work with the Moscow Center of Obstetrics and Gynecology on prenatal (intrauterine) establishment of paternity, when, without injuring the mother and fetus, it is possible to say with full confidence whether a woman is carrying a desired child.

If she was sexually assaulted before becoming pregnant, the answer to this question acquires a special meaning for her and her loved ones. From the same series – examinations related to the biological origin of a child conceived using in vitro fertilization, where there are still quite a lot of cases of abuse and medical errors.

And yet, the largest flow of examinations for biological kinship still concerns purely domestic problems related to inheritance, alimony and other material benefits. Professor Ivanov treats such examinations with understanding, but does not have much sympathy for them: whatever the result, one of the parties will certainly be dissatisfied. And certainly none of the subjects will be happier after that.

ImportantRussian experts have been talking for many years about the need for a genetic data bank in Russia.

Recently, the case has moved forward. The Federation Council adopted in the third reading the law "On State Genomic Registration", which establishes the legal basis for obtaining, storing and using biomaterials and the individual information contained therein about the structure of its DNA to identify a person.

Personal opinionAlexey Nemov:

– Of course, the father is the person who gave you life. But a lot depends on the life situation. I think that a person who loves a child, pays attention to his upbringing, regardless of whether he is his biological father or not, also has the right to be called his dad.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://www.vechnayamolodost.ru/18.12.2008

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