[Politics_CurrentEvents_Group] Osama DNA Story

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Monday, May 2, 2011


Osama DNA Story
May 2nd, 2011

Somebody wrote an interesting thing today about DNA testing, doesn't it take days to get results? All the sources I have read about on line say it takes 3 days expedited service to get DNA results. But that is for commercially available results and knowing how most businesses operate, there is some fudge time included for processing paperwork and generally screwing around.

These results were available in hours. So we have to assume the government has access to better technology, or they are lying, either about when this happened, or who they killed. According to this article there is technology available that will give you test results in a couple of hours. I don't know what kind of a machine that requires, I assume they would have to have one on base in Afghanistan or on the ship when the Navy Seals returned from their mission with what they presumed to be Osama's body.

Perhaps that is what the President was waiting for last night when his speech was delayed for a couple of hours after the news was announced on CNN. I don't have twitter, so I was not among the earliest of the early birds with the info. But conspiracy buffs do have a point, when they say hey, what about the DNA. I don't know if this takes care of their questions, but it is interesting to note that there still are technologies that the government has access to that we mere mortals still hold to be in the realm of fantasy.


From Fast Company

CSI Islamabad: The DNA Identity Test Of Osama Bin Laden
BY Kit EatonToday

Osama Bin Laden has been proclaimed dead from a gunshot wound to the head. But in today's photoshopping era, the world demands more proof–a DNA test to identify the body is actually him.

Back in late 2001, when the allied offensive against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan was still in its early days and attention was concentrated on the Tora Bora region where Bin Laden and his associates were reported to be hiding, the U.S. and other forces dropped tons of high explosives into the area–including the BLU-82 Daisy Cutter bomb (a high-explosives giant that's also known as "the poor man's nuclear bomb"). When ground forces penetrated into the zones after the air assaults, they found plenty of bodies…but faced a difficult task: How to tell if one of them was Osama? Soldiers collected and tagged body fragments, then sent them off to be analyzed back in the U.S. The FBI's labs compared the evidence to DNA samples acquired as "swabs" from Bin Laden's family members. Today, something very similar is going on to prove the body dumped at sea really was Bin Laden.

DNA matching (also known as genetic fingerprinting) is different to full DNA sequencing–a long drawn out process that takes time, technology, and money to work out the absolute list of hundreds of millions of nucleotides, the famous G, T, C, A pattern that make up your genetic identity. Over 99.9% of everyone's DNA sequence is the same, but that still leaves millions of bits of code that are unique to you. You share some of this unique code with your parents and siblings (and actually all of it if you're an identical twin), but most of it is yours and yours alone–and this is where DNA matching works. It involves breaking your DNA down in a number of different ways and looking for a short list of what's called loci–tell-tale markers that reveal where specific genes are located. The list from a test sample (from, say, a crime scene) is compared against the list from a reference sample obtained from your person–if the lists match, there's an incredibly high statistical probability that the two DNA samples come from the same person.

In Osama's case, the DNA tests don't necessarily involve a reference sample from the man himself (presumably because it's hard to find), but reportedly from his sister who died in Boston recently. Tissue from her body was used to create an extensive reference DNA fingerprint. Because your parents give you some of their DNA, they also give your siblings some of the same genetic code–which is why sibling DNA tests work. They sometimes concentrate on ares of the genome called "junk DNA" which serves no biological function but still gets passed along to offspring. By testing for repeat strands of DNA code in these areas, it's possible to work out if two individuals are related as siblings.

Typical lab-based DNA matching tests like this can take up to 14 days; they're painstaking and need to be repeated several times to ensure the sample's not contaminated from any other DNA sources. But that's not necessarily the only way to do these tests: Late in 2010, a University of Arizona team presented research on a machine that can do the analysis in just two hours in a largely automated way. It's possible that knowing they were engaged on a mission to capture Bin Laden, U.S. Forces arranged for access to a machine like this to be on quick alert–probably for flying blood, cheek cells, and other samples taken from the body to the lab for expedited analysis.

But here's the thing: DNA matching isn't an exact science, and sibling matching is slightly more inexact. It all comes down to a probability, with a statement like "there's a one in one quadrillion chance this isn't the same person in both DNA samples." In other words: conspiracy theorists still have something to talk about.



From The Star.com

DNA fingerprinting helped identify Osama bin Laden

2011/05/02 18:44:00

Debra BlackStaff Reporter

DNA fingerprinting helped confirm Osama bin Laden was killed by American forces in Pakistan.

Officials in Washington are saying that the DNA evidence provides a match with 99.9 per cent confidence.

According to reports on FastCompany.com soldiers collected and tagged body fragments then shipped them off to be tested in the U.S to FBI labs. There the DNA samples were tested against "swabs" from bin Laden's family members. A similar test is also being conducted to prove the body dumped at sea is bin Laden.

Officials did not immediately say where or how the testing was done but the test explains why U.S. President Barack Obama was confident in announcing the death to the world Sunday night, according to Canadian Press. Obama provided no details on the identification process.

The U.S. is believed to have collected DNA samples from bin Laden family members in the years since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that triggered the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.

However, it was unclear whether the U.S. also had fingerprints or some other means to identify the body on site, the wire service reports.

CNN reports that a national security official said there were multiple confirmations of bin Laden's identity. The official said they also used "facial recognition work, amongst other things, to confirm the identity."

According to ABC News the DNA samples came from bin Laden's sister's body after she died in Boston from brain cancer several years ago. The FBI subpoenaed her body so it could be used to identify him.

The brain of bin Laden's sister, who has not been identified, was then preserved and the tissue and blood samples taken from it were used to compile a DNA profile. That was matched to the DNA of the man shot dead by U.S. troops.

Typical lab testing can take up to 14 days, but a new machine being developed by a team at the University of Arizona can do it in just two hours. It's unclear whether U.S. intelligence forces had access to such technology.

But Frederic Zenhausern, head of the project at the University of Arizona's College of Medicine, told the Star it is possible to do the genetic work required in a couple of hours given the high priority of identifying bin Laden even without such technology.

When genetic fingerprinting first started it could take as long as four to six weeks of lab work to complete and compare the samples.

DNA matching or fingerprinting is very different from doing a complete DNA sequencing — which is a lot longer process and takes time, technology and money to puzzle out the hundreds of millions of nucleotides that make up an individual's genetic identity.

How does genetic fingerprinting work? Most human beings share 99.9 per cent of DNA sequencing. But there are millions of bits of code that are unique to each individual. You share some with your parents and siblings, but most is yours.

With DNA matching your DNA is broken down into a short list called loci — tell-tale markers that show where specific genes are located. American standards call for the use of 13 fragments of DNA to be used to compare, explained Zenhausern. In Europe scientists use 16 fragments of DNA to compare.

A test sample is done and it's compared to a reference sample from the individual. If the lists match that means there is a high statistical probability that the two samples come from the same person.

But with bin Laden the DNA test didn't involve a reference sample from him, but rather from his sister. The sample from his sister works because parents give siblings some of their DNA and they share the same genetic code.

When testing against a relative's DNA, scientists often look to parts of the genome described as junk DNA which are passed on to all offspring. By testing these strands of DNA, it's possible to work out if two individuals are related as siblings.

But Zenhausern, who is professor and director of the Centre of Applied Nanobioscience and Medicine at the College of Medicine in Phoenix at the University of Arizona, said comparing DNA samples to a sibling means that the likelihood of error would be relatively low.

"In the case of direct siblings, the error rate would be relatively low…maybe you loose a half or one per cent," Zenhausern said. "You would be in the 99.9 per cent accuracy range. If you go to a half-sibling you can have an error rate that goes up to 10 per cent. The further away you go in the family tree, the higher the error rate."

So in this case matching samples from the body that U.S. officials believe is bin Laden against his sister's DNA samples would provide "a good match for an identification," said Zenhausern.

Zenhausern is hoping that once the Rapid DNA Testing machine he and his team have come up with is approved for use, it will become the standard in the international forensic community.

It is currently being tested by police forces in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and the Netherlands and soon will be tested by the FBI, he said. "Typically DNA matching is becoming the standard in biometrics," he said. Biometrics uses biology and biological technology to identify people.

He added that it is likely scientists are now conducting further tests on the samples obtained from the body before it was buried at sea, doing a full profile analysis and doing DNA sequencing looking at everything possible to get a comple DNA picture.

But DNA matching or genetic fingerprinting isn't perfect. It's far from an exact science and comes down to probabilities.



Link to BBC story with pictures of compound and layout.

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