The Case of a Man With Two Units of DNA Raises Extra Questions

A latest article a few extremely unconventional experiment involving a person who had acquired a bone marrow transplant has raised some questions for readers of The New York Instances.

4 years after the lifesaving process, all of the DNA within the affected person’s semen had been changed by that of his donor. This got here as a shock to forensic scientists on the Washoe County Sheriff’s Division in Reno, Nev., finding out the case.

They introduced their findings at a world forensics convention to focus on how a bone marrow transplant may, theoretically, confuse an investigation. Members of legislation enforcement are likely to assume that when a suspect or sufferer leaves behind DNA, it’s the DNA they had been born with, not the DNA of a bone marrow donor who lives 1000’s of miles away.

The experiment’s topic, Chris Lengthy, who works within the company’s I.T. division and isn’t a suspect in any crime, had had a vasectomy. This process, which occurred a few years earlier than Mr. Lengthy realized he had leukemia and required a bone marrow transplant, has been the main focus of many reader questions.

Semen and sperm are totally different. A person who has a vasectomy nonetheless produces semen. That spermless semen, which can even be known as seminal fluid, continues to be of curiosity to forensic scientists. That’s as a result of it could possibly be used to determine a suspect in against the law or contribute different info to an investigation.

To say definitively what occurred in Mr. Lengthy’s case would require extra analysis. However a number of consultants in bone marrow transplants stated that the forensic scientists’ findings made sense from a medical standpoint and that the reply concerned white blood cells.

The 2 most typical kinds of cells in semen are sperm cells and white blood cells stated Dr. Mehrdad Abedi, a bone marrow transplant specialist on the Complete Most cancers Heart on the College of California, Davis, who handled Mr. Lengthy however was not concerned within the experiment.

“As a result of he had a vasectomy,” he stated, “all that’s left is the white cells.”

Dr. Elias Zambidis, a stem cell investigator on the Institute for Cell Engineering at Johns Hopkins College College of Medication, agreed that the analysts had been detecting the donor’s DNA in white blood cells.

Semen comprises a lot of several types of white blood cells, together with macrophages, neutrophils and lymphocytes — all of which assist the immune system. “These can come from the urinary tract or the prostate, and can be current even in a vasectomized man,” Dr. Zambidis stated. “Since all white blood cells come from the bone marrow donor after a bone marrow transplant, it won’t be a shock that ejaculate containing white blood cells may even be of the donor.”


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