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: Infrared light puts malaria to the test

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

Computer program could help solve arson cases

5 hours ago

Sifting through the chemical clues left behind by arson is delicate, time-consuming work, but University of Alberta researchers teaming with RCMP scientists in Canada, have found a way to speed the process.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Computer program could help solve arson cases

Sifting through the chemical clues left behind by arson is delicate, time-consuming work, but University of Alberta researchers teaming with RCMP scientists in Canada, have found a way to speed the process.

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals.

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live i ...