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It'll Affect Soap Opera Plots, Too

Researchers are making headway in developing a forensic DNA test that can tell identical twins apart, the New York Times reports. Some criminal cases, it notes, though not a lot, have stalled because a suspect has had an identical twin that current testing couldn't distinguish between.

According to the Times, Michael Krawczak, now at Kiel University and his colleagues postulated in the mid-2000s that identical twins could have accumulated differences in their STRs that could be captured if more of those regions were analyzed, though that turned out to not work. But as the cost of genome sequencing came down, they then wondered if a combination of the two techniques could. The Times reports that this caught the attention of Eurofins, which has since published a proof of concept for the approach.

However, the Times notes that as the test is new, the courts aren't quite ready to embrace it until it is further vetted. "If five or six labs did it, and four or five them reproduced the results and there were no negative results, I think you could get it in pretty easily almost anywhere," David Deakin, a Boston assistant district attorney who tried to submit that evidence to a court, tells the paper.