DNA fingerprinting has come a long way, says Lalji Singh

Moment to cherish:Banaras Hindu University Vice-Chancellor Lalji Singh (second from right) receiving Dr. Y. Nayudamma Memorial Award from Dr. Y. Nayudamma Memorial Trust Chairman Rathiesh Nayudamma at Tenali on Saturday.— Photo: T. Vijaya Kumar  

BHU Vice-Chancellor presented Dr. Y. Nayudamma Memorial Award

DNA fingerprinting, which was initially utilised as a tool for tracking down criminals, is nowadays found to be extremely useful in such diverse areas as medical diagnosis, pedigree analysis, wildlife conservation and even ascertaining human origins. It has also gained acceptability as viable evidence in courts of law in India.

Tremendous progress has since been made in the field so much that a technique for wildlife forensics was recently developed for the first time in the world. It was patented and figures in an internationally reputed journal.

Using this universal probe, nearly 300 cases of wildlife forensics have been solved some of which include establishing source of ivory goods, the case of tigress Saki, identity of the fake tiger skin and counting tigers one by one.

In yet another path-breaking discovery, the Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, which is doing pioneering research in life sciences, has developed the latest DNA sequencer which is capable of sequencing one entire human genome within weeks which earlier used to take many years.

Newer technologies being developed in this exciting arena help in cutting down costs and saving time, said Lalji Singh, Banaras Hindu University Vice-Chancellor and former director of CCMB, while delivering Dr. Y. Nayudamma Memorial Lecture after receiving the prestigious Dr. Y. Nayudamma Memorial Award from trust chairman Rathiesh Nayudamma here on Saturday.

On the occasion, Mr. Lalji Singh said biology was at a very exciting stage and there were many breakthroughs in developing technologies which facilitate research in life sciences on a scale unthinkable before. It is therefore difficult to predict what will happen in the coming five years.

The discovery of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) is a major breakthrough not only for biological sciences but also for forensic investigation.

Some of the sensational and high-profile cases unravelled by DNA fingerprinting technology included the first paternity dispute case in India, Rajiv Gandhi assassination, tandoor murder case and assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh. A study done with the help of Y-chromosomal markers and mitochondrial DNA sequencing revealed that two vanishing tribes in Andaman & Nicobar Islands are the descendants of the people who migrated 70,000 years ago from Africa, he said.

Dr. Y. Nayudamma Memorial Trust Managing Trustee P. Vishnu Murthy, award selection committee chairman R. Sampath and others were present.

A technique for wildlife forensics recently developed for the first time in the world

Some of the sensational and high-profile cases unravelled by DNA fingerprinting technology

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