Friday, September 25, 2020 | ePaper

Bangladesh opens a new unit to run DNA tests

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The government has set up a new department to test and preserve DNA samples, six years after passing the law on the matter.
The DNA Laboratory Management Department will operate under the auspices of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs with an advisory panel of specialists to supervise its activities.
The MOWCA had been running the programme with a cell under it.
The formation of the new department was announced in a gazette notification issued on Aug 9.
Through the DNA Laboratory Management Department, it will be possible to identify criminals or dead bodies as well as determine maternity and paternity more quickly and accurately, according to ministry officials.
The department will soon be in operation with a workforce of 64 people, an official told
Currently, the National Forensic DNA Profiling Laboratory or NFDPL is running DNA tests on the 11th floor of the Nuclear Medicine Building of Dhaka Medical College.
Divisional DNA screening laboratories have been established in Rajshahi, Sylhet, Barishal, Khulna, Rangpur and Faridpur.
The divisional laboratories collect the samples from remote areas and send them over to the NFDPL for testing.
Deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA is a molecule composed of two polynucleotide chains that coil around each other to form a double helix carrying genetic instructions for the development, functioning, growth and reproduction of all known organisms and many viruses. DNA and ribonucleic acid (RNA) are nucleic acids. It is known to be the carrier of heredity; physical aspects and activities of a living being depend on the genetic formation of the DNA.
The NFDPL in Dhaka Medical College uses 16 ST markers to conduct the DNA profiling.
A chemical analysis of the DNA of a person yields two separate numbers against each marker, which carry the characteristics of the person. The DNA profile of a person is a collection of 32 numbers of the 16 markers.
The DNA profile differs from person to person. Therefore, a DNA profiling from the samples like blood, skin or hair collected from a crime scene can detect the criminal.
Scientists can determine the paternity or maternity or even family relations by comparing the 32 numbers of DNA profiling.
Bangladesh has been using the DNA tests to identify the perpetrators in rape cases or to determine paternity. The RAB had used DNA tests while investigating the murders of journalist couple Sagar Sarwar and Meherun Runi, but to little avail.
DNA testing and preservation was also used to identify the people who died in the collapse of Rana Plaza and the fire in Tazrin Fashions.
The government introduced the ‘Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) Bill’ on Sep 10, 2014, which prescribed the formation of the DNA Laboratory Management Department.


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