Fast forensic test can match suspects' DNA with crime samples in 4 hours

Aug 04, 2010
Crime-solving may get a boost using a new test that can match suspects' DNA with that of samples from crime scenes in just four hours. Credit: iStock

A newly developed test could make checking DNA from people arrested for crimes with DNA samples from crime scenes stored in forensic databases almost as easy as matching fingerprints. With the test, police could check on whether a person's DNA matches that found at past crime scenes while suspects are still being processed and before a decision on whether to release them on bail. A report on the fast forensic test appears in the ACS' Analytical Chemistry.

Andrew Hopwood, Frederic Zenhausern, and colleagues explain that some are arrested, spend less than a day in jail, and then commit crimes while they are out on bail. If police could quickly test the suspects' DNA, to see if their matches entries in crime databases, they may be able to keep the most dangerous people locked up. But currently, most genetic tests take 24-72 hours, and by the time that the results are back, the suspects often have been released.

To increase the speed of forensic DNA testing, the scientists built a chip that can copy and analyze taken from a cotton swab. Forensic technicians can collect DNA from suspects by swabbing their mouth, mixing the sample with a few chemicals, and warming it up. The DNA-testing-lab-on-a-chip does the rest. The entire process takes only four hours at present. Hopwood and Zenhausern teams are already optimizing it and reducing the cycle time down to two hours. Once that is done, police could even double-check their DNA evidence before releasing a suspect.

Explore further: Biosensor may improve clinical diagnosis of influenza A

More information: "Integrated Microfluidic System for Rapid Forensic DNA Analysis: Sample Collection to DNA Profile", Analytical Chemistry.

Related Stories

Addressing the DNA Backlog

Jul 13, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Valerie Neumann was drugged and raped in 2006, but the DNA her attacker left behind is still untested. Her case is not unusual.

DNA pioneer appeals for cuts to criminal database

Sep 10, 2009

(AP) -- Like so many great discoveries, it was an accident. British scientist Alec Jeffreys realized 25 years ago Thursday that individuals have "DNA fingerprints," unique patterns of genetic material that ...

Recommended for you

Biosensor may improve clinical diagnosis of influenza A

13 minutes ago

Sensors based on special sound waves known as surface acoustic waves (SAWs) are capable of detecting tiny amounts of antigens of Influenza A viruses. Developed by A*STAR researchers, the biosensors have the ...

New chip makes testing for antibiotic-resistant bacteria faster, easier

17 hours ago

We live in fear of 'superbugs': infectious bacteria that don't respond to treatment by antibiotics, and can turn a routine hospital stay into a nightmare. A 2015 Health Canada report estimates that superbugs have already cost Canadians $1 billion, and are a "serious and growing issue." Each year two million people in the U.S. contract antibiotic-re ...

Use your smartphone for biosensing

May 26, 2015

An Australian research team has shown that smartphones can be reconfigured as cost-effective, portable bioanalytical devices, with details reported in the latest edition of the Open Access Journal 'Sensors'.

Faster, portable microbial analysis in the field

May 25, 2015

Until recently, it took hours – sometimes days – to analyze biological samples after they were frozen in the field and brought back to the laboratory. But now there is a faster, cheaper and smaller way ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.