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Faster DNA analysis with GeneMapper ID-X

Applied Biosystems : 06 December, 2007  (New Product)
Software from Applied Biosystems enables forensic laboratories to fulfil faster processing of DNA samples through automated data analysis.
Applied Biosystems has announced the availability of a new software application intended to help forensic laboratories deliver faster DNA results by automating routine DNA analysis and facilitating more efficient manual review of complex samples. The new GeneMapper ID-X software application provides computerized forensic expertise that streamlines the routine review of data required for DNA analysis, eliminating redundant tasks. By using this software application, forensic analysts are expected to be able to more rapidly interpret and report DNA results to assist in more criminal investigations.

This new software application from Applied Biosystems is intended to support the increasing use of DNA in forensic cases. To date, the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) - the national DNA database managed by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) - has delivered DNA matches that have identified criminals or aided in the investigation of more than 50,000 cases, according to FBI records. Mounting DNA evidence has created the need for faster DNA analysis. To process the increased flow of DNA samples, forensic analysts have started using expert systems, which are knowledge-based computer programs that contain subject-specific knowledge to analyze data with similar skill as a human expert and identify samples that require further analysis.

The GeneMapper ID-X software application is a first-of-its-kind expert system developed with feedback obtained from many of the more than a thousand forensic laboratories that Applied Biosystems supports worldwide. Manual review of every DNA sample, conducted in most forensic laboratories today, often creates inefficiencies for forensic analysts, who could spend more than half of their time interpreting DNA data. The new GeneMapper ID-X application's automated separation of those DNA samples that require manual review from those that do not is expected to reduce laboratory personnel's routine analytical tasks and increase the productivity and efficiency within forensic laboratories.

Applied Biosystems incorporated feedback from numerous law enforcement agencies, including the Washington State Patrol and the San Diego Police Department, to define and verify the requirements that the new expert system software was developed to meet in forensic laboratories. These requirements have been evolving to address the growing demands on forensic DNA testing. Currently, forensic laboratories can upload offender samples to DNA databases as a result of expanded legislation. Offender sample testing has been driving the need for expert systems.

The Washington State Patrol is experiencing a rapid increase of DNA samples to be processed partly because of the success of its initiative to take DNA from weapons, including handguns, rifles and knives, used in felony crimes. This increase, which affects forensic workflows and can delay the availability of DNA results for forensic investigations, is creating awareness of the need to incorporate expert system capabilities into existing forensic workflows in order to speed up processing and streamline the analysis.

"Expert systems in forensic DNA analysis will eventually become essential for every crime lab," said Gary Shutler, DNA technical leader at the Washington State Patrol. "It is the next step in the evolution of our field. Years from now, we will wonder how we ever worked without one."
In addition, the San Diego Police Department has experienced a 25% increase in DNA samples to process each year for the past several years. The SDPD has also seen a rapid increase in DNA taken from firearms, adding to the number of complex samples. Previously, the department relied on internal process maps to make their workflows more efficient. It plans, however, to further enhance efficiency by improving forensic DNA data analysis through expert system software capabilities.

Applied Biosystems is a global leader in the development and commercialisation of instrument-based systems, consumables, software and services for the life science market. The company is the leader in forensic DNA technologies, providing complete workflow solutions for human identification, including instruments, reagents and software. The company is releasing GeneMapper ID-X to accelerate forensic DNA analysis. GeneMapper ID-X is a suite of integrated software tools that automate routine processes and make analysis more efficient by pinpointing the precise samples that need manual review. For data-sharing among analysts, the application provides multi-user database functionality, centralizing data storage, access and management. The software application also incorporates electronic chain-of-custody functionality, which ensures the integrity of forensic data throughout the analysis process.

"Applied Biosystems continues to respond to feedback from forensic scientists who are looking to have faster DNA data analysis," said Leonard Klevan, PhD, president for Applied Biosystems' applied markets division. "Faster DNA results help increase the amount of useful and reliable information available to forensic investigators to solve more crimes."
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