Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mob Wives Chicago: DNA Results “Inconclusive”

The DNA Results!
You are/You are not, the father!

As we saw in the finale of Mob Wives Chicago, Nora’s father was exhumed and samples were taken from the body for DNA testing. The results were said to be "inconclusive." I was surprised at that because I felt DNA was highly reliable. Many readers and viewers had questions as to what the term “inconclusive” means and why such results were reported. I decided to look into the DNA matter and see what the scientific literature has to say about this topic.

Most times, DNA testing produces “conclusive” results, regarding the issue of paternity or an issue requiring identification of an individual, when there is a match. DNA results can also be “exclusive” and be used to eliminate a person, when there is clearly no match. However, there are cases where the results are “inconclusive” and the reasons for this vary. An inconclusive result means the person cannot be included or excluded, based on the sample tested...no definitive answer.

According to one source, the DNA recovered from an exhumed body is not always successful. “Recovery of DNA from exhumed remains is reasonably successful, however, not guaranteed.  Generally a number  of  different  sample  types  are  collected,  in  the  event  that  one  does  not  yield  suitable DNA. Arrangements for sample collection can often be made through a funeral home or whoever exhumes the body. Recommended sample types include the following: Fingernails, Tissue Section (1 cm), Tooth, or Femur.” Often it is recommended that DNA be taken from the tooth pulp or bone marrow, where it tends to be better preserved. 

The reasons for an inconclusive result are either there was an insufficient amount of sample collected, or the quality of the sample used was too old or degraded. I don’t know which types of samples were collected from the body of Nora’s father for analysis. I can’t be sure if the inconclusive results were due to too small a quantity or poor quality or other reason. Maybe they used degraded tissue instead of tooth pulp or marrow from the bone.

However, what I do know is that DNA testing has become more and more sensitive over recent years. They have a DNA test called PCR (polymerase chain reaction) which allows a small sample to be made larger by multiplying DNA pairs several times over. There are other far more sensitive tools also being used. I was reading a 2007 study, for example, where the World War II remains of 27 people, found in a two mass graves in Slovenia. DNA was removed from teeth and the femur bone and was analyzed for identification purposes. The DNA was compared to that taken from 69 potential relatives. Out of the 27 samples processed, 15 revealed full, conclusive results, the other 12 only partial results. So, for more than half of the bodies, which were buried over 60 years, results were able to be obtained. (Link STUDY)

This is just a very brief explanation, there is much more to DNA testing than I could ever understand or explain. But for those of you with inquisitive minds like mine, this a basic answer with a little “extra” information.


Anonymous said...

The subject of DNA is very broad and yet there's so much to it.

A lot of cases are coming to light now and being solved thanks to advanced DNA testing. But I was also pretty baffled at the inconclusive results because of the many cases they have solved where decayed remains have been positively ID'd (one of the most interesting cases IMO being when they discovered the bones of the remaining Romanov children after the whole Anna Anderson fiasco).

My main question is how the heck does Nora deal knowing that she saw her father's remains?? Would that one thing just add on to her already visible grief?

Chiara Soprano said...

I asked Nora if she gave a sample of her DNA for her father's to be matched with. She said no. Which leads me to believe they had to have a sample of his own DNA, maybe through the court,because it has to be compared to something to establish Identity. Either that,or they never really did a DNA test because they knew they could rely and ultimately did rely on dental records.

As for Nora viewing her dad's remains, I'm not so sure that really happened. How could she have identified a decaying body, esp after the weight loss he suffered from cancer, before he died? If she did view it I would have expected a bigger emotional reaction, which could have happened and then was edited out. I imagine, in an emotional state you can also convince yourself you are seeing something of a similarity that's not there. The brain is very complicated. But the scene added drama to the show and the body was definitely exhumed.