Fingerprints yield gender of suspects

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  • Published: Aug 27, 2012
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: NMR Knowledge Base / Infrared Spectroscopy / Proteomics / Atomic / X-ray Spectrometry / MRI Spectroscopy / Chemometrics & Informatics / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / Base Peak / Raman

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The peptides and proteins left behind in latent fingerprints can be analysed by a mass spectrometric imaging technique to predict the gender of the suspect, according to scientists at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK. Simona Francese and Rosalind Wolstenholme from the University's Biomedical Research Centre jointly developed the MALDI mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) process to examine fingerprints, with funding from the Home Office who recognised the potential for gaining more information from fingerprints to aid police investigations.

MALDI MSI has been shown to detect the lipids present in latent fingerprints so that the the fingermark patterns could be reconstructed in a non-destructive manner. In addition, the researchers have shown that traces of drug residues can be detected in the prints, linking the suspect to drug handling and providing more forensic information.

In a further extension of the technique, fingerprints from a person who has handled a condom were examined, revealing both the presence of the condom lubricant and the underlying fingerprint ridge pattern.

Now, MALDI MSI has been used to study the peptide and proteins that are deposited in a fingerprint and relate them to the gender of the suspect. So, when fingerprints are smudged or the suspect is not present in the National Fingerprint Database, the gender can still be determined, which is good intelligence in itself.

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