Creating facial image of people based on the sample DNA is possible. We have seen it in sci-fi movies and now it’s coming for real. With the identification of five genes that contribute to facial shape and features, police may soon be able to reconstruct a suspect’s face from their DNA.DNA testing for predicting eye, hair and skin color are already available or under development.  The identification of genes linked with determining facial features would therefore enable scientists to create images of a face based solely on an individual’s DNA.

Manfred Kayser of the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, however, said that although this discovery is a start, “we are far away from predicting what someone’s face looks like”.

Kayser and his colleagues’ study was based on their analysis of DNA from 10,000 Europeans by examining facial “landmarks” from MRI scans, and further analyzing eight other “landmarks” from portrait photographs.  The genes identified, however, had miniscule effects.  For example, the gene called TP63 which is linked to the gap between the centers of a person’s eyes, showed only a variant of 9 millimeters.

human face dna

Genes linked with influencing the distance from the eyes to the bridge to the nose, the length of the nose, and the facial width between the cheekbones, were also identified.

Mark Shriver of Pennsylvania State University in Hershey commented, “The data in this paper is useful but incremental”.  He pointed out that his own yet unpublished study of 7000 facial “landmarks” will surely result to more clues particularly because the study includes faces of Africans and Caucasians.

Although these experts say that this technology is far from being applicable, with the exponential rate that technology has developed in the recent past, it is not farfetched to seeing this become a reality.  Definitely it won’t be overnight, but surely within the foreseeable future.

However, for the application identified – recreating images of a suspect by police for identification – such technology may be negated by already applied and perfected technologies – specifically plastic surgery.  Surely a person’s DNA will not be altered once the superficial features are altered.  So, a criminal may just merely have to get a face lift to no longer be identified by this technology.

Also, just as difficult as determining the looks of a suspect will be the acquisition of the suspects DNA.  A smart criminal can merely make sure that he or she doesn’t leave any DNA at the crime scene.  Thus, such technology will be useful when the criminal is either not very smart or wasn’t able to steal enough to afford plastic surgery – a menial criminal, if you will.

With this technology surely being costly to perform, it may not be feasible to apply to solve menial crimes which are solvable without the need of such technologies.

Although technologies such as these prove to be useful, the true question would be, is it really feasible?  Without a doubt a nose lift would be cheaper than using this brand new technology.

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