Technology for Sexual Assault Samples

The NIJ recently made available a final technical report through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service: "Holographic Optical Trapping in Forensic Research and Development: Application to Rape Kit Analysis"

From the paper's abstract: A significant portion of all forensic casework samples handled by US crime laboratories pertains to sexual assault. In order to successfully carry out DNA analysis of sexual assault forensic cases the separation of sperm from epithelial cells is critical. Current practice in most crime laboratories involves a two-step differential extraction process, a chemical process which differentially disrupts sperm and epithelial cells and hence releases their DNA for downstream STR analysis. This process is time-consuming, labor-intensive and commonly results in female DNA carryover into the male fraction which interferes with DNA analysis and criminal identification. To address these drawbacks we investigated a powerful technology called holographic optical trapping (HOT) for separation of sperm from epithelial cells in sexual assault samples prior to DNA analysis. Optical trapping is a well established scientific technique which has been widely applied in cell biology to manipulate cells. It is a non-destructive method where trapped cells can live and reproduce while being held in the traps for extended periods of time. Our company, Arryx, Inc has developed a robust commercial research instrument that can simultaneously deploy and move multiple optical traps independently of each other in three dimensions, employing the unique and patented Holographic Optical Trapping (HOT) technique. This technology could provide an automated means for separating spermatozoa from epithelial cells in sexual assault samples offering single cell resolution.

You can download the entire report here.

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