Chinese researchers have established a DNA database of Chinese volunteer soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War and their relatives, providing reliable technical and data support to help more families find their missing kin.
The military medical research institute under the Academy of Military Sciences of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army started building the database in 2015 and completed DNA analysis of 494 remains this year.
The research team has invented a fast and efficient method to obtain useful DNA data from skeletal remains, which were degraded severely after decades of contamination by soil microorganisms.
According to lead researcher Wang Shengqi, since some of the soldiers died at a young age and had no children, and few of their parents or siblings are still alive, confirming remains proved difficult and required DNA data from distant relatives.
With the support of many domestic institutes and experts, the research team updated the sequencing technologies that can detect more genes simultaneously in order to overcome the challenges in identification, Wang said.
The research team has long been engaged in studying gene detection technologies and applications. It has contributed to the laboratory confirmation of China’s first case of influenza A and developed China’s first nucleic acid detection kit to help prevent and control the Ebola epidemic in African countries.