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All in the Family : Jul 9, 2010

Based on a familial DNA search, the Los Angeles Police Department arrested Lonnie Franklin, Jr., in connection with the 'Grim Sleeper' serial killer case, reports the New York Times. Colorado and California are the only US states with a "codified policy permitting a so-called familial search," the Times adds. Franklin's son Christopher had been convicted of a weapons charge and the state lab noted a familial connection between Christopher's DNA and DNA evidence from the old crime scenes. The police used a slice of pizza discarded by Franklin to confirm that match. Franklin was then charged with 10 counts of murder and one of attempted murder. While Attorney General Jerry Brown calls this "a breakthrough" and an "important" technology, the ACLU's Michael Risher says "it is a very imprecise tool" that "has the potential to invade the privacy of a lot of people."

At Gene Expression, Razib Khan adds "that worries about this technology strike me as a bit rich, in light of the fact that methods which are proven to be highly subjective and often inaccurate, such as fingerprinting and eyewitness identification, are accepted in the criminal justice system." He does, though, have concerns "about what the state could do with DNA data if the state became malevolent."

The Scan

Missed Early Cases

A retrospective analysis of blood samples suggests early SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been missed in the US, the New York Times reports.

Limited Journal Editor Diversity

A survey finds low diversity among scientific and medical journal editors, according to The Scientist.

How Much of a Threat?

Science writes that need for a provision aimed at shoring up genomic data security within a new US bill is being questioned.

PNAS Papers on Historic Helicobacter Spread, Brain Development, C. difficile RNAs

In PNAS this week: Helicobacter genetic diversity gives insight into human migrations, gene expression patterns of brain development, and more.