Medical examiner taps DNA science to find missing persons

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NEW YORK (AP) - For families who have searched years for missing loved ones, donating a sample of their DNA is often a last, desperate act to confirm their worst fears.

New York City's medical examiner is leading a nationwide effort to collect genetic material and match it with unidentified human remains.

Over the last decade, thousands of DNA samples have been donated to the city's medical examiner's office. Most include swabs of saliva from relatives, but also DNA taken from items used by the missing persons themselves, including toothbrushes, combs and razors.

They've led to the identification of about 50 missing people each year, all of whom had been found dead. But for many who have submitted samples, the wait continues.

Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson said people cannot rest without having answers.

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