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May 19, 1989

Medical Genetics

JAMA. 1989;261(19):2855-2856. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420190131041

Knowledge in the field of human and medical genetics is growing very rapidly. The principal major advance relates to gene mapping. More and more DNA markers are being discovered, which span every one of the 24 human chromosomes. These DNA variants are transmitted by mendelian principles and are not expressed at the phenotypic level.1 Every person (except for identical twins) is unique in his or her DNA makeup and this individuality can be used for a variety of practical purposes. Paternity determination—already much improved by use of HLA typing— can now be made virtually certain by using DNA markers. Forensic identification of criminals has been revolutionized by DNA technology.2 A person's unique DNA makeup can be determined from any tissue that contains nucleated cells. DNA "fingerprinting" carried out on sperm or blood specimens left at the scene of a crime is leading to convictions because of the certainty