BioWorld International Correspondent

SYDNEY, Australia - An academic at Queensland University is looking for commercial backing for a new service that he said can take single cells from any surface and then "fingerprint" its DNA.

The range of techniques developed by Ian Findlay of the Australian Genome Research Facility at the University of Queensland in Brisbane are the result of earlier work on cells for in vitro fertilization techniques. As part of the IVF process, Findlay initially only wanted to be able to take DNA from a single cell, then conclusively identify it.

The extraction of DNA from a single cell was achieved several years ago, with Findlay publishing the results in Nature in 1997.

In the latest breakthrough, Findlay has demonstrated that the DNA extracted from a single cell can be characterized to an individual with an accuracy of one in 10 billion. That is, the DNA pattern established for a single cell is characteristic of just one living person.

He also said he has developed a range of very simple techniques for lifting cells of the surface materials with the whole package, greatly expanding the possibilities of DNA analysis, notably in forensic work.