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: Space-tested fluid flow concept advances infectious disease diagnoses

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

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

User comments : 0

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...