The condition, adermatoglyphia, is a genetic disorder that leaves people without fingerprints, researchers say. Only four documented families are known to suffer from the disease worldwide.
Adermatoglyphia not only robs a person of his fingerprints, but also of the distinctive ridges on the palms, toes and soles of the feet. It also leads to a reduction in the number of sweat glands.
Immigration hitches faced
The condition, also called 'Immigration Delay Disease', impairs a person’s unique identification, often making it difficult for them to pass through security check points.
As fingerprints are unique to every individual, they are commonly used as an identification technique at almost every security barriers and checkpoints.
The rare condition attracted medical attention when a woman from a Swiss family was unable to comply with the U.S. law that required fingerprinting of non-citizens upon entry.
To determine the cause of the unusual condition, Prof. Eli Sprecher from Tel Aviv University and colleagues from the University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland, assessed a 16-member-Swiss-family – one out of the four documented families impacted by the disorder.
While seven members of the family had fingerprints, nine were born without them.
Findings of the study
An analysis of the family's genetic code revealed that a shorter length of the SMARCAD1 gene was responsible for the absence of fingerprints in such individuals. Conversely, a fuller length SMARCAD1 gene helped control activities of other genes as well, researchers found.
“Our findings implicate a skin-specific version of SMARCAD1 in the regulation of fingerprint development,” Sprecher, study’s lead researcher was quoted as saying.
”Little is known about the function of full-length SMARCAD1 and virtually nothing regarding the physiological role of the skin-specific version of the gene,” Sprecher added.
The findings of the study are published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.