... before they run their mouths.
Ignoring the fact that fingerprints and photos are just as subject
to abuse, and just as salable, as DNA information, there's
the little fact that all these state DNA databases store
only RFLP maps, which are not the least bit useful for
things like predicting your future health. Yes, they could reanalyze the original
samples and get other information, but that's not what
they're putting in the databases.
Details: RFLP stands for Restriction Fragment Length
Polymorphism, and is often referred to in the popular
press as "DNA fingerprinting". Basically, to do RFLP,
you mix the DNA sample with a bunch of enzymes,
called "restriction enzymes", which chop it up into
pieces. Where the enzymes will cut depends on the
DNA sequence. Once you've cut it up, you separate
the fragments and determine the size of each.
The overall list of fragment sizes is more or less
individual, and that's what you store in the database.
Obviously, the fragment size list only gives you information
about those DNA sites that the enzymes care about.
The enzymes are chosen for technical and ease-of-reading
reasons. They are not chosen for the purpose of
extracting any useful information other than as individual
as possible a map. I doubt that many, if any, of the sites they
attack are of
significant clinical interest. I am not an expert, but I
speculate that most of the sites are probably in
the middle of "junk DNA" that doesn't even code for
proteins; that would seem to be the place to look for large polymorphisms,
since such DNA is free to mutate with minimal impact
on the organism.
Even if one of the restriction sites
were somehow "interesting", it
would presumably take a certain amount of processing to
retrieve the information for one site from somebody's
RFLP map. Not only that, but I understand that the
companies that make the kits consider the restrictions
sites to be trade secrets, so you wouldn't know about
it even if one of them were "interesting".
None of which means I like DNA data banks, by the way.
I think they suck.
[ Parent ]