Idaho lab develops a quicker way to catch a thief


IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Federal researchers say they've developed a human identification test that's faster and possibly cheaper than DNA testing.

It would be a handy new weapon in the arsenal for detectives, forensic experts and the military, though no one expects it to replace DNA analysis — and its promoters say it is not intended to.
The new method analyzes antibodies. Each person has a unique antibody bar code that can be gleaned from blood, saliva or other bodily fluids. Antibodies are proteins used by the body to fend off viruses or perform routine physiological housekeeping.
"DNA is a physical code that describes you ... and in many ways so are your antibodies," said Dr. Vicki Thompson, a chemical engineer at the Idaho National Laboratory who's been working with other researchers to perfect the test for the past 10 years.
The scientists say an antibody profile can yield results faster and more cheaply and be performed in the field with minimal training. National lab administrators have licensed the technology exclusively to Identity Sciences LLC in Alpharetta, Ga.
The Georgia startup plans to begin rolling out test kits and training to law enforcement, the military and forensic and medical labs around the globe by fall of 2009. Ken Haas, vice president of marketing, says the test is not intended to supplant DNA testing, the recognized gold standard in human identification.
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