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Thursday, August 25, 2011

RARE MUTATION--A CRIMINAL'S DREAM

Scientists have identified a mutation that might underlie an extremely rare condition, called "adermatoglyphia," which causes people to be born without any fingerprints. The research, published by Cell Press online in The American Journal of Human Genetics, not only provides valuable insight into the genetic basis of adermatoglyphia and of typical fingerprint formation but also underscores the usefulness of rare genetic mutations as a tool for investigating unknown aspects of our biology.

Human skin has ridges called dermatoglyphs that are present on the fingers, palms, toes and soles. The dermatoglyphs on the finger tips, better known as fingerprints, are often used as a means for establishing identity. In fact, adermatoglyphia was recently named "immigration delay disease" because affected individuals report significant difficulties entering countries that require fingerprint recording. "We know that fingerprints are fully formed by 24 weeks after fertilization and do not undergo any modification throughout life," explains the senior study author, Dr. Eli Sprecher from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Israel. "However, the factors underlying the formation and pattern of fingerprints during embryonic development are largely unknown."

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