Tool Kit: DNA Analysis

Nine products to help with forensic DNA analysis.

The Pressure Cycling Technology Sample Preparation Systems (PCT SPS) offers improved extraction of DNA from bone and other samples. Samples are subjected to alternating cycles of ambient and high pressure in a hydrostatic reaction chamber. Control of the PCT process is accomplished by specialized components, a programmable controller, and software.
The M-Vac System is a new forensic DNA collection device that is helping investigators solve crime. Its unique combination of sterile spray and vacuum merge at the surface to cause more DNA material to be collected than traditional methods. Police agencies and crime labs use the system in a number of cases, especially on porous evidence surfaces like clothing.
The RapidHIT System brings reliable and high-quality DNA results to crime scene investigation and rapid lead identification. With less than five minutes of hands-on time, and about 90 minutes of run time, you can produce up to five complete DNA profiles. It integrates all steps necessary to generate DNA profiles that are compatible with standard databases.
The 24-locus PowerPlex Fusion System offers the most STR loci and highest discrimination from a single reaction and delivers more information in demanding forensic, paternity, and relationship testing cases. Cycling times of <90 minutes and reduced sample preparation times shorten the total time needed to process samples, allowing labs to focus on value-added activities.
UVP’s GelDoc-It2 Imager aids DNA analysis research by enabling easy image capture and fast, accurate analysis of gels. The system’s software controls image capture with the streamlined workflow interface. The software permits 1D analysis with the capability to automatically find lanes and bands. The lane profile graph tool generates a graphical representation of the data.
Identitas has developed a rapid and easy-to-use desktop app that generates a clear, succinct profile of what the owner of the DNA sample would look like. The app predicts continental ancestral origin, mitochondrial haplogroup, Y-chromosome haplogroup, coefficient of inbreeding, hair color, and eye color. With multiple DNA samples, it can also detect familial relatedness.
The ParaDNA Screening System from LGC Forensics enables law enforcement and forensics professionals to screen a small portion of an evidentiary sample in order to obtain DNA-level information with minimal effort. After a 75-minute run, the system produces a score that indicates the quality and quantity of DNA in the sample, as well as the gender of the sample’s contributor.
BodeHITS enables law enforcement agencies to use DNA to help solve high-volume crimes that are generally committed by repeat criminal offenders. The adoption of BodeHITS provides law enforcement agencies easy access to affordable and efficient DNA analysis. The database is searched daily for hits that are then automatically reported to each participating police department.
The Hamilton Microlab AutoLys STAR workstation completely automates DNA extraction. The AutoLys saves valuable labor time by eliminating spin column handling and manual pipetting steps. It can run unattended, freeing technicians to perform other tasks. Automation minimizes risk of contamination, and a 2D barcode ensures chain-of-custody tracking.
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Interview with an Expert

One of the more specialized areas of crime-scene investigation has to do with searching for evidence of arson. To get some background in this area, we spoke with an individual who has had more than 46 years in fire service, 24 of which have focused specifically on fire/arson investigation.