Monday, July 30, 2007

Mobile DNA - maybe, maybe, maybe

submit by troym; comments by blogger jgl

I think this lab-on-a-chip idea has been around for a while. If I'm not mistaken, there are some ideas based on SNP analysis, but this seems like true STR work. No new databases needed.

The goal of the new technology is to shorten the time it takes to process DNA samples, so they can be used to identify suspects while a crime scene is still fresh. Currently, samples are processed in a lab, which can take days or weeks. Richard Mathies, a chemistry professor and creator of the device, hopes his technology will cut that down to hours...

...But there's still work to be done, Mathies said, such as integrating the whole process into one machine. The Gattaca Project only performs two of the four steps in DNA analysis...

...The machine is a miniaturized version of what you'd find in a lab, and looks like a black box the size of a briefcase. It uses a microchip and a laser beam the size of hair to measure the length of DNA fragments...

I'm guessing the 2 of 4 steps mentioned are separation and measurement? so it's like a 310 in a box? ... with the other 2 steps being extraction and amplification.

If my assumptions are right, then this is fairly good news. I assume that only "good quality" samples would be analyzed at the scene, so a quick and dirty extraction should be pretty easy. The amping will be tough, especially a "quick" one, but a mobile thermal cycler isn't completely unreasonable. I'm guessing starting out, a full multiplex reaction wouldn't be necessary either... wouldn't just 4 STRs be enough to cut down a list of suspects to a useful number?

Is there more info anywhere? i googled gattaca and didn't come up with much non-ethanhawke material.


Anonymous said...

This sounds like a promising way to narrow down the suspect list and be able to find and arrest those wanted for the crime earlier. Which could save manpower, time, and money. Is this something every town and city would be able to afford? If so, is this more of a concept at this point or is it a reality? JJ

Forensic Bloggers said...

right now, i think it is all concept. The article mentions that all of the steps aren't worked out yet.

at first, only the large cities will use it, then the cost will likely come down with time. just like any other technology.


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