Forensic lab to upgrade DNA test services

Kathmandu, June 25:

Two years after its establishment, the only DNA testing facility in Nepal is all set get an upgrade to genetic profiling from its present DNA parentage testing facility.

While DNA parentage testing is done from fresh blood samples to identify the parentage of any individual, genetic profiling provides analysis of DNA from samples of body tissues or fluids to identify individuals.

The latest facility, which is going to be launched in the next fiscal year, will be helpful in the identification of missing individuals.

The National Planning Commission last month approved the proposal by the National Forensic Science Laboratory (NAFOL) to extend the facility for which it has already earmarked a budget of Rs 6 million.

"The lab was not able to carry out genetic profiling because of lack of expensive equipment, but now that the government has approved Rs 6 million budget for this, we will begin the service from the coming fiscal year," said Bhinu Shova Tuladhar, executive director of the laboratory.

"Equipment for extraction of human DNA from bones, Nitrogen Freezer Mill, Rota Incubator, devices to quantify the DNA, Real Time PCR and other equipment are required for the tests and we are all set to invite tender bids to purchase the equipment," Tuladhar added.

Lack of genetic profiling facility in the country had prevented authorities concerned from identifying exhumed bodies through scientific tests. In such cases, the samples used to be sent to foreign countries till now. Now the cost for such a test is expected to be much cheaper. The laboratory said it would further extend its service of DNA profiling by introducing newer technologies.