POINTOISE, France, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- A shredded suitcase found lying near a piece of airline debris off the African coast earlier this week will be tested for any traces of DNA -- in an effort to establish a possible link between the items and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, officials said.
The suitcase and part of an aircraft wing, called a flaperon, were found on the shores of Reunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar. Experts have said the part appears to be unique to Boeing 777s -- in which case, they say, it likely came from the wreckage of Flight 370.
Investigators have packaged the items and sent them to laboratories in France for further analysis. There, officials hope to find a definitive link to the missing jetliner that hasn't been seen since it departed Malaysia on March 8, 2014.
If DNA is present on the luggage, investigators will run it against the genetic codes of the families of the 239 people aboard the aircraft, NBC News reported Saturday.
The suitcase has been sent to a lab in Pointoise, while the flaperon arrived Saturday at one in Toulouse. Officials said French and Malaysian experts will begin examining the items on Wednesday.
Australian officials are somewhat skeptical that the suitcase came from the flight -- as there were no marine deposits on it, which was not the case with the wing piece. The indication, they surmise, is that the suitcase may not have been in the water long enough to have come from the Malaysian jet.
Experts at American aviation manufacturer Boeing and investigators have concluded that the flaperon probably came from Flight 370 -- as it is the only 777 unaccounted for anywhere in the world.
Search crews have continued to search for more clues on Reunion, hoping to find more that might help unlock the mystery of what happened to the flight.
Also, a new development in the case came Friday from a local patrolman on the island -- who told authorities that he found what might have been an airline seat on Reunion's shores in May. He did not connect it with Flight 370 until the flaperon was found this week, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
"It wasn't until Wednesday that it hit me what it could have been," he said. "It was probably part of that plane."
Since the plane's disappearance, most authorities have hypothesized that the aircraft veered off course and crashed somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Experts have previously said the debris' arrival -- more than 2,000 miles away on Reunion -- is consistent with that theory.
"I believe that we are moving closer to solving the mystery of MH370," Malaysian Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said. "This could be the convincing evidence that MH370 went down in the Indian Ocean."