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Innovative detection sources emerging as effective alternatives for individuals with adermatoglyphia

Written by The Optimist

 Adermatoglyphia is the rarest condition characterized by the absence of ridges on the skin fingers pads and toes, as well as on palms and soles of the feet. And dermatoglyphics is the patterns of ridges which form the unique feature of every individual and a way to distinguish two different individuals. Adermatoglyphia, caused due to genetic mutation of SMARCAD1 gene, plays a critical role in dermatoglyphics formation and develops before birth and remains the same throughout life. The activity of this protein is likely one of several factors that determine each person’s unique fingerprint pattern.

pictorial representation showing no fingerprint
The scan impression of fingerprint at Biometric.

Speaking about this unique genetic condition, the Officer-in-Charge of Finger Print Bureau, Kolkata Saibal Dutta says, “Fingerprint means reproduction of friction ridges of palm, finger, toes, by any means whatsoever. When such unique conditions take place, we rely on other alternative sources for detection of the criminal, from the crime scene.” Citing the incident from Bonga in West Bengal, Mrityunjoy Roy, fingerprint expert advises, “In this unique condition, along with relying on other alternative proofs, we look for signs of ridges and furrows if at all found, and clarify, probably not with conviction but to strengthen alternative proofs”.

Dr. Abhishek De, MD, MRCP (Dermatology), Associate Professor, Calcutta National Medical College says, “It is not only congenital; this can be acquired also. Nowadays, we come across people who are prone to hyperdermatoglyphia, where one with naked eyes cannot see the ridges and furrows but can be found when seen through glasses, hence, they are not biometrically readable.”

Dr. Abhishek De, MD, MRCP (Dermatology), Associate Professor, Calcutta National Medical College

Sharing about the new trend of Biometric authentication, that has developed in last two-three decades, Dr. De adds, “In last 5-10 years, I have witnessed some cases where patients have come to me for issuance of adermatoglyphia certificate, because they are not biometrically readable in the office, both in Govt offices as well as in corporate sectors.  But as a medical practitioner, we have to abide by certain Govt. regulations where hyper-dermatoglyphic people cannot easily be certified as Adermatoglyphic.”

Adermatoglyphia stands as one of the rarest genetic conditions where individuals often face challenges and embarrassment in a society. An  empathetic approach to those afflicted with the condition is important. 

A real image of a person with no fingerprints

Fingerprints possess unique individual characteristics facilitating identification. As such this is used as an aid to identification of individual and finds routine use in important documents, contracts and financial matters. When fingerprints are missing due to adermatoglyphia, it may create a problem when fingerprint is mandatory to authentic document.

When asked about the crisis and the alternative way, Dr. Sengupta, Former Director of Forensic Science of Laboratory, West Bengal says fingerprint is a matter of great concern when it is available and connected to crime incident for their examination. On many occasions, the prints are not distinct but diffused or latent requiring further processing for development. Thus a chance exists in this regard. He further adds that the other alternatives had to be developed thereafter that maybe applicable for living or dead under special circumstances viz. skeleton, burnt and charred: mutilated bodies in accidents and fire incidents etc. The methods include voice prints, leap prints, ear prints, iris prints, DNA profiling and also characteristics of hair and use of individual hair characteristics. The choice of method in forensic domain depends on the nature of crime, samples available and scope for examination.

Dr Sengupta, Former Director of Forensic Science of Laboratory, West Bengal

Adermatoglyphia stands as one of the rarest genetic conditions where individuals often face challenges and embarrassment in a society. An empathetic approach to those afflicted with the condition is important.

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