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Forensic Magzine June 14, 2021: INTERPOL’s Global DNA Database Can ID Missing Persons through Kinship Matching

This month, INTERPOL debuted I-Familia, the first global database designed to use DNA of relatives to identify missing persons or unidentified human remains around the world.

The move is significant at the international level, where it has been a trial to identify missing persons across country lines.

“Identifying missing persons globally has always been challenging due to the lack of data exchange procedures combined with the scientific complexity of statistical interpretation,” said Arnoud Kal, senior forensic scientist at the Netherlands Forensic Institute, one of the world’s foremost forensic laboratories.

Confirming a potential match at the international level is further complicated by the inherent genetic variation among populations across the world. However, I-Familia is unique in that it can automatically control for such differences, without requiring knowledge of the missing person’s genetic ancestry.

Families with missing relatives are invited to submit their DNA to INTERPOL to be stored in I-Familia’s dedicated database—which is held separately from any criminal database. To further protect individuals, INTERPOL said no nominal data will be attached to each profile, which is submitted in the form of an alphanumerical code.

“We believe the development by INTERPOL of I-Familia opens up new opportunities for member countries that will positively impact the effectiveness of international missing person investigations,” said Kal. more

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