DNA Net Closing Faster Than Criminals Can Wiggle

Technology is moving faster than a speeding bullet. It isn’t Superman, but it’s getting close.

A team of scientists in Great Britain and a team at University of Arizona in Phoenix joined forces and have developed a nifty gadget using microfluidity technology to process DNA results at the lightening speed of four hours. (Remember back in the 1990s this process took a month or more.) An article at www.separationsnow.com explains in greater detail.

The police in the UK usually have to release suspects within a six-hour window and almost all are released with 24 hours. In the U.S., police release suspects within eight to 24 hours unless a suspect “lawyers up” then the time is shortened considerably. Therefore the four-hour time frame would seem to be acceptable for the device, but it cuts the line too close for comfort. The scientists are striving to reduce the results time to within a two-hour window.

Technically, the device analyzes a cheek tissue sample (taken from inside the mouth) which amounts to a cotton swab’s worth of cells. The gadget holds two chips, one is polymerase chain reaction (PCR) which amplifies about 10 STR and the other is capillary electrophoresis (CE) chip for separating the resultant repeating strands. It will pop out the results in micro-hours  right in the police station compared to the weeks or months a lab would take to distill the results and compare to the national database.

This endeavor was led by Frederic Zenhausern from the University of Arizona, and Andrew Hopwood from the UK Forensic Science Service, and their respective teams. (One of the team members is a very good friend of mine which is how I found out about this breakthrough.)

Criminals beware… crime doesn’t pay but soon you may never leave the criminal justice system until you pay the piper.

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