Forensic Biology
A Technology to Advance DNA Analysis, Developed by Wisconsin

A Technology to Advance DNA Analysis, Developed by Wisconsin

Since its introduction in the field of identification, there have been continuous efforts made by the scientists to enhance and increase the efficiency of DNA analysis techniques.

The hard work of scientists at Wisconsin company headquartered in Dane County have resulted in a new developed technology, which can change the concept of DNA analysis across the world.

The new developed technology is related to the capillary electrophoresis (CE), one of the important techniques in DNA analysis. The technique is named as the Promega’s Spectrum CE technology that advances the field of CE.

CE is an analytical technique which segregates the sample components on the basis of their electrophoretic or ionic mobility in an applied electric field. In DNA analysis CE is used to separate DNA fragments.

The existing CE technology used in DNA analysis, allows scientists to analyze only 6 components at the same time, whereas the Spectrum CE has increased that to 8. 

Promega’s Genetic Identity Training Development & Technical Support Manager, Lisa Misner believes that though the change is small, it can make a big difference, particularly while analysing degraded DNA samples. 

She said, “We are pushing the innovation of CE. We are pushing the capabilities of it. This is the first CE instrument that’s been designed with a forensic scientist in mind”.

She explained that whether it is a cold case or missing persons case, any sample that has been left exposed to the elements where the DNA could degrade over time, there it becomes the most challenging sample that a forensic laboratory can encounter.

Sara Huston Katsanis, a research assistant professor at Northwestern University continues by saying that when scientists go to process such degraded samples, it’s rare for them to identify all the markers they would like to make a DNA match.

Katsanis says that the degraded or broken DNA cannot be fixed but it can be amplified, hence a broken DNA is a valuable evidence. Therefore the development of any such technique relies on its ability to analyze all fragments is valuable for forensic applications.

According to Katsanis there’s evidence showing that the Spectrum CE provides a slight improvement in analyzing degraded DNA samples. Quoting this she said, “That’s hugely valuable, even if it just helps one case. I mean, one case is one more case solved.”

She concluded that while the advancements made by Spectrum CE appear to be a small step forward rather than a groundbreaking change, there is a large range of potential applications.

The technique is assumed to be helpful not only for the law enforcement to solve cold cases, but it could give scientists more opportunities to identify people who die in mass disasters like wildfires. 

Briefing about the technique, Misner says that at present the forensic analysts put their samples directly in the field where the analysis happens, and most CE instruments only hold two sample plates.

This indicates that once the run is started, nothing can be done with it. The scientists have to allow that run to stop before more plates can be added and this makes the process more time consuming. Also they have to worry about scheduling or waiting for a run to finish, before they can start their own analysis. 

Therefore, the developers at Promega added a simple feature to Spectrum CE– a drawer. In the new tool four plates of samples can be loaded at a time. When analysis on one plate is completed, the run will automatically move on to the second, and scientists can replace the finished plate with a new one. 

Misner concluded that the new technology has been developed to make the analysis process smoother and faster for the scientists.

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