Eppendorf Products for Forensic Sample Preparation

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Forensic science plays a crucial role in our legal system with life-changing decisions often based on forensic data. It is a unique scientific discipline that faces unique challenges. Forensic samples are often the most difficult specimens to process. They are typically limited in quality and quantity, can be environmentally exposed, and may require purification from difficult substrates that contain PCR inhibitors. Extensive sample preparation is also required with DNA analysis. Obtaining accurate results from difficult samples is one of many everyday challenges in forensics. Forensic scientists also face intense regulatory requirements, increasing throughput demands and limited resources.

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Chemical and biological test results determine, for example who the father of a child is, or whether someone will be convicted of a crime because a DNA sample has revealed him or her to be the perpetrator. In cases like these, the standard of infallibility is a great responsibility for all those involved. They must be able to produce conclusive, robust results, since important decisions depend on their data.

Your tools must be infallible, too

In these applications, the samples themselves are frequently material that is very difficult to process. For example, if there is only a minimal amount of evidence material available, the results must be absolutely reliable. With DNA analysis in particular, the quality of the results stands and falls on the purity and freedom from contamination of the materials used in testing. Vessels used to store and process samples must meet the highest demands of quality and purity and may not contain any foreign DNA; otherwise, the test results – the »genetic fingerprint« – could easily point in the wrong direction. Sample storage and the monitoring of storage conditions are also important aspects of quality assurance in laboratory work. A defective freezer, for example, could mean the irreplaceable loss of sample material. When laboratories purchase devices and consumables from Eppendorf, they also buy security: the certainty that they are using the best possible tools and can rely on the results these products attain.

How to avoid contamination

The prevention of contamination is one of the major challenges in forensic DNA analysis. In order to minimize the risk of contamination, forensic laboratories have established strict internal processes. Even more safety is expected from the implementation of the ISO 18385 standard. This standard specifies the demands on manufacturers of products which will be used in forensic DNA laboratories. Eppendorf Forensic DNA Grade products are in compliance with the sophisticated requirements of this standard.

Downscaling and pipetting of sub-microliter volumes

Reducing sample and reagent volumes will reduce costs and enable more throughput. However, downscaling of applications will require sufficient precision and accuracy of sub-microliter pipetting, in order to reach the same experimental reproducibility than with larger volumes. Eppendorf extended its range of accessories and consumables for the epMotion® 5070, 5053 and 5075 automated Liquid Handling systems to facilitate pipetting of small volumes from 10 µL down to 200 nano liter. This included two new dispensing tools, single and eight channel, together with dedicated tips and software. Equipped with the new 10 µL system, the epMotion is now one of the most accurate and precise automated Liquid Handling systems on the market. Using it for downscaling routine applications can yield significant cost savings.

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