Genetic fingerprinting, also referred to as “DNA profiling" or “DNA typing”, is a technique used to identify an individual using a small sample of DNA, but also familial searching (paternity tests). This method was developed by Sir Alec Jeffreys of the University of Leicester in 1985 and draws its name from an analogy with fingerprints used in criminal investigations, which are unique for each individual.
By comparing the genetic fingerprints of a known individual with those found at a crime scene, or on a rape victim, suspects can be identified or cleared.
They can also be used for paternity tests. This is achieved by comparing the genetic fingerprint of the child with those of his alleged parents.
Genetic fingerprints can also be used to identify human remains. Used on bones found during archaeological digs, hypotheses can be formulated concerning the migration of human populations in prehistoric times.
We would like to point out here that the DNA images created by HELYS are not genetic fingerprints. Our philosophy is not to create images based on “indentifying” profiles that could, for example, provide information on real or assumed family ties. Our ambition has a completely different dimension. Our goal is to use your genetic material to create a work of art exclusively designed to inspire you.
For more information, please consult our "Frequently Asked Questions".
Genetically Modified Organisms
A GMO is an “organism whose genetic material has been altered using engineering techniques in a way that is not possible through natural multiplication and/or recombination”. In fact, genetic engineering techniques are used to transfer one or more genes to an organism's genome, thus adding a new characteristic (resistance to freezing and insects, but also production of pharmaceutical molecules).
Genetic engineering can be applied to animals or plants as well as microorganisms. Thanks to the universal nature of genetic code, the genes introduced can come from any organism: viruses, bacteria, yeast, fungus, plants or animals.
In medical research, scientists often need to study the expression of a given gene, i.e. the capacity of the gene to produce a protein.
Until recently, it was only possible to study these expressions for one gene at a time. Experiments would take more than two days. Thanks to DNA chips, it is possible to study tens of thousands of genes at a time. This technology is used to fix strands of DNA from the different genes studied on a tiny plate of glass, silicon or plastic.
Comparing two DNA chip experiments involving two cells of the same type –one healthy and another malignant -can be used to discover genes expressed exclusively in the healthy cell (or the malignant one).
Similarly, by treating cells with a medical molecule, it is possible to determine, from a single experiment, all the genes whose activity is altered by the medicine.