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Applied Biosystems Introduces DNA Technologies to Address Major Challenges Facing Forensic Scientists

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Applied Biosystems, an Applera Corporation business, has announced the first commercial reagent kit for analyzing degraded or limited DNA; a system with new software for automating DNA testing processes to streamline forensic laboratory workflow; and a software application for expediting the process of laboratory validation.

The company said that it expects the AmpFlSTR® MiniFiler™ PCR Amplification Kit for degraded DNA, the HID EVOlution™ System and VALID™ Software will help the more than 10,000 forensic laboratories around the world maximize the use of DNA in human identification.

DNA contained within biological evidence found at a crime scene is a powerful tool for identifying and excluding potential contributors. Similar to fingerprinting, DNA testing can identify and differentiate between individuals. Because DNA can be the ultimate proof of identity, DNA analysis systems have become a significant part of the investigative process.

Forensic laboratories use an integrated suite of DNA analysis technologies, instrumentation and human identification analysis software to effectively process DNA collected at crime scenes. Each of these products and technologies are designed to work in unison to strengthen a crime laboratory’s capacity to process reproducible and defensible DNA samples and eliminate sample backlogs.

These technologies were developed to enable forensic technicians to use DNA in solving crimes, exonerating the wrongly accused and identifying missing persons.

"Because DNA can be found virtually everywhere, it has become a great resource in providing information that aids the investigative process, and there are great demands on forensic labs to process samples in a quality, timely manner that meets regulatory requirements,” said Kevin Lothridge, executive director of the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC).

He further said, “With tools that expedite and expand the forensic laboratory’s capacity to make positive identification, we can better support law enforcement and public safety professionals in their efforts to prosecute the guilty and exonerate the innocent.”

The forensic tools announced by Applied Biosystems include:

• AmpFlSTR® MiniFiler™ PCR Amplification Kit – The MiniFiler kit is the first commercially available DNA testing kit that can enable forensic DNA analysts to generate useful information from degraded DNA as well as from samples that are limited by an impurity – also known as inhibited DNA samples. The MiniFiler kit is expected to be available in March 2007.

• HID EVOlution™ System – Applied Biosystems has formed a collaboration with Tecan to co-develop and co-market the HID EVOlution System, an automated DNA workstation with software designed to streamline routine casework sample workflow for human identification applications.

The HID EVOlution System integrates the Tecan Freedom EVO® liquid handling workstation with the Applied Biosystems 7500 Real-Time PCR System, 3130xl Genetic Analyzer and AmpFlSTR DNA testing kits. The system is expected to be available in March 2007.

• VALID™ Software – Applied Biosystems is also delivering a software application for forensic DNA laboratories that is expected to reduce the amount of labor associated with conducting validation studies required to implement new forensic DNA technology, such as the MiniFiler kit.

VALID Software is designed to help support, simplify and standardize validation studies, while meeting government guidelines, which oversee the standards for forensic DNA lab operation. VALID Software is expected to be available in early summer 2007.

“Applied Biosystems is advancing the field of forensic DNA testing by continuing to invest in new technologies and engage in collaborations that address the major challenges inherent in forensic DNA analysis,” said Leonard Klevan, Ph.D., president for Applied Biosystems’ applied markets division.

“We expect that with the availability of the MiniFiler kits, the HID EVOlution System and VALID Software, forensics laboratories worldwide will be better equipped to analyze complex and challenging DNA samples more quickly and may possibly solve more cases as a result,” Klevan said.