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A Bar Code, Indicted

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that when the true name of a suspect — identified by a DNA profile and the name "John Doe" on an indictment — is determined, that suspect can be prosecuted, even after the statue of limitations has passed, reports The Boston Globe. In the ruling, the justices said that a DNA profile is an "indelible 'bar code' that labels an individual's identity with nearly irrefutable precision." In that way, the court says that indictment differs from a John Doe indictment that lacks a DNA identifier. "Unlike the general John Doe indictment . . . an indictment of a person identified by a DNA profile accuses a singular and ascertained, but simply unnamed individual," wrote Justice Robert Cordy.

In this case, the suspect's identity was determined when he was incarcerated for an unrelated crime and gave a DNA sample, as the Globe notes is required of all state prisoners. However, it raises the question of anonymity and privacy in other, non-governmental DNA databases, such as ones of patients, that police could also draw from to find matches.

The Scan

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.

Study Reveals Potential Sex-Specific Role for Noncoding RNA in Depression

A long, noncoding RNA called FEDORA appears to be a sex-specific regulator of major depressive disorder, affecting more women, researchers report in Science Advances.

New mRNA Vaccines Offer Hope for Fighting Malaria

A George Washington University-led team has developed mRNA vaccines for malaria that appear to provide protection in mice, as they report in NPJ Vaccines.

Unique Germline Variants Found Among Black Prostate Cancer Patients

Through an exome sequencing study appearing in JCO Precision Oncology, researchers have found unique pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants within a cohort of Black prostate cancer patients.