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Who’s Your “Twin?” Scientists Look at Doppelganger DNA with Standards

9/06/2022

Have you ever done a double-take at a person that looks just like you or someone you know? Chances are, doppelgangers may have more than just similar appearances in common: they may share common genetic sequences, according to a new scientific study from Spain, published in the journal Cell Reports.

With the help of 32 doppelganger duos who star as the photo subjects of the “I’m not a look-alike!” project launched by photographer François Brunelle, scientists were able peer into human likeness through those images and DNA examination. Researchers looked into the “objective measure of likeness” for the duos using three different facial recognition algorithms. Additionally, they had participants answer a biometric and lifestyle questionnaire and asked them to provide saliva DNA for additional analysis.

Standards Support Snapshots for Research

Beyond the camera, standards support photography sessions in addition to the technology that powers smartphone cameras and traditional cameras. The U.S. holds the secretariat of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)'s Technical Committee (TC) on photography—ISO TC 42, Photography, and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has delegated these duties to the Society for Imaging Science and Technology (IS&T). IS&T also administers the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO TC 42, carrying U.S. positions forward to the committee. ISO 15781:2013, Photography - Digital Still Cameras - Measuring Shooting Time Lag, Shutter Release Time Lag, Shooting Rate, And Start-Up Time, specifies how to measure and report the shooting time lag, shutter release time lag, shooting rate and start-up time for digital still cameras, including camera modules in phones and tablet computers.

The research findings revealed that the duos who look most alike based on facial recognition software share common genetic sequences such as face trait variants. But even more, in addition to physical traits such as height and weight, behavioral traits, such as smoking and education, were also correlated in lookalike pairs. “The results suggest that shared genetic variation not only relates to similar physical appearance, but may also influence common habits and behavior,” according to the report.

"We provided a unique insight into the molecular characteristics that potentially influence the construction of the human face,” said senior author Dr. Manel Esteller of the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain. “We suggest that these same determinants correlate with both physical and behavioral attributes that constitute human beings."

Standards also support facial recognition technology. One such standard, ASTM E3115-17, Standard Guide For Capturing Facial Images For Use With Facial Recognition Systems, is intended for use by practitioners who are choosing, setting up, and operating photographic equipment designed to capture facial images for use with an automated Facial Recognition System or used for manual comparisons by a trained facial examiner. The standard was developed by ASTM International, an ANSI member and audited designator.

Aside from these breakthrough findings, the research may have an impact on forensics of the future, such as reconstructing the criminal's face from DNA, or diagnosing a patient: “A face will already give you clues as to which genome he or she has," Dr. Esteller said.

There’s a Standard for That: A Snapshot of DNA Research with Standards

In addition to lab safety, standards help support various phases of DNA analysis. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, works on numerous standards related to DNA. The American National Standard (ANS), ANSI/ASB Std 038-2020, Standards for Internal Validation of Forensic DNA Testing Methods, details the general requirements for performing an internal validation of all forensic DNA analysis methods within a forensic DNA laboratory. The ANS was revised, prepared, and finalized as a standard by the DNA Consensus Body of the AAFS Standards Board.

Another ANS, ANSI/ATCC ASN-0002-2021, Authentication of Human Cell Lines: Standardization of Short Tandem Repeat (STR) Profiling, elaborates a standardized procedure for unambiguous authentication and identification of human cell lines using Short Tandem Repeat (STR) profiling. American Type Culture Collection (ATCC), an ANSI organizational member and accredited standards developer, published the standard.

In the forensics realm, the ANS ANSI/ASB BPR 089-2020, Best Practice Recommendation for Facial Approximation in Forensic Anthropology, provides guidance to practitioners for producing facial approximations from skeletal remains. The standard was revised, prepared, and finalized as a standard by the Anthropology Consensus Body of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) Standards Board. AAFS is an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.

These standards are just a snapshot of a multitude of standards that help elevate the newest fascinating research on humanity. Read about the research findings in the journal report.

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