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Illumina Announces First Targeted NGS Solution for Forensic Genomics

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Illumina, Inc. has announced the launch of the MiSeq FGx Forensic Genomics System, the first fully validated forensic next-generation sequencing (NGS) system, which simultaneously interrogates short tandem repeats (STR) and other valuable genetic markers, including single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), to provide informative DNA profiles.

The system enables more robust analysis of a broader range of genetic markers in a single workflow than previous technology allowed, supporting the reliable analysis of both routine and challenging forensic DNA samples. With the MiSeq FGx System, crime labs can now identify investigative leads from "no suspect" cases that may otherwise reach a dead end.

Designed in collaboration with leading forensic genomics and human identification experts, the MiSeq FGx System leverages Illumina's sequencing by synthesis (SBS) chemistry, the most widely adopted NGS technology. Compatible with existing DNA databases, including the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), the system can be used for criminal casework and in a range of situations, including mass disasters, missing persons, and unidentified human remains.

Dense data sets, with powerful population statistics, can be generated for highly compromised samples, such as DNA degraded to less than 100 base pairs, aiding in the identification of the person whose DNA was obtained from the scene of a crime. The technology can also provide SNP-based physical information about bio-geographical ancestry and visible, physical traits, including hair and eye color. This information is often more reliable than eyewitness accounts and can be crucial in cases where traditional investigation does not identify a suspect.

In addition to the MiSeq FGx DNA sequencer, the system includes the ForenSeq™ DNA Signature Prep Kit and ForenSeq Universal Analysis Software. This sample-to-answer solution will enable labs to maximize the information derived from a sample, generating more data from a single test than previously possible, and eliminating the need for multiple rounds of partial, iterative testing.

Using low quantities of DNA (< 1 ng), the ForenSeq kit amplifies forensic targets via a streamlined workflow that maximizes the genetic information recovered from challenging samples and minimizes the potential for errors. Intuitive ForenSeq software facilitates the complete run setup, sample management, and analysis, and delivers reports on a stand-alone, dedicated server.

"Illumina has enormous potential to improve public safety and human health in the forensic genomics market with this NGS-based, sample-to-answer system," said Matt Posard, Senior Vice President and General Manager, New and Emerging Opportunities. "Several years ago, Illumina assembled an experienced forensic team and challenged them to develop a solution leveraging our technology to revolutionize the way forensic laboratories process and resolve their cases. Together with input from the global forensic DNA community, we are proud to launch the MiSeq FGx Forensic Genomics System. We expect it will be used to alleviate the mounting backlog of investigative samples, helping to solve cold cases, and exonerate the innocent."