The HlrisPlex

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryScientists have developed a system that can reveal what a person physically looked like long after they have passed away and there are only a few body parts left. This special identification system, called the HlrisPlex, takes the DNA from body parts from hard tissue such as teeth and bones (instead of from soft tissue such as skin or hair), and sequences the information from the DNA to construct a physical body portrait of an individual whose body had long since decayed. From this DNA sequencing, we can learn what a person’s hair and eye color were as well as their skin color. Facial reconstructions can already be be done using a person’s skull.

What the HlrisPlex system does is provide us with what a person may have looked like long before photography was developed, and also if there are no painted portraits or drawings of such people from a long time ago. This process, of course, cannot reveal a person’s name or family history. It can only provide a physical approximation. The HlrisPlex system was already tested on a known and well photographed historical figure—Polish General Wladyslaw Sikorski. We have many photographs of what he looked like, and we have ample information on his life. The HlrisPlex system was tested to reveal his skin color, his eye color, and the color of his hair. The HlrisPlex system was 99 percent accurate that Sikorski had blue eyes and 85 percent accurate that he had blond hair.

Considering that no other test has revealed anything anywhere near this accurate about a person’s eye color, hair and skin, this method is a breakthrough. The HlrisPlex system can be used to identify what individuals from the Middles Ages or even ancient times looked like. This would be a boon for museums and those writing histories about the people of long ago. This method can also be used in identification of modern crimes where we may only have skeletal remains of victims of crimes. Another important feature that the HlrisPlex system is being used for is to test for cause of death. It may help us know if someone died of natural causes or was murdered or died of some fatal illness. There is no question that the HlrisPlex system will take us to new levels of discovering the past we could not have guessed at before.

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