Every year, investigators collect tens of thousands of biological samples from crime scenes that may hold valuable clues to solving criminal cases.
Unlocking those clues now is easier thanks to a revolutionary new software solution unveiled today by Battelle experts who have applied advanced bioinformatics to next-generation sequencing data.
ExactID, the first commercially available system of its kind, analyzes biomarkers that can predict physical appearance, ancestry, clinical traits and familial relationships among people. This information can be invaluable to forensic analyses and case work.
An explosion of genetic research since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2006 has uncovered thousands of biomarkers that can be applied to DNA-based forensics. Next generation sequencing takes this work to a new level, yielding significantly more information than current DNA testing.
What exactly does this mean? Suppose detectives are seeking a suspect but don’t have any conclusive identifying information. If they can obtain a DNA sample, perhaps from something like a discarded cigarette, they can uncover useful facts that can aid in his or her capture, or inform the larger investigation. By using ExactID, forensic scientists can determine features and traits from the biomarkers present in the DNA–such specifics as the man has blond hair and green eyes, is Caucasian and may be related to people who live in Hoboken, NJ. Such information could be vitally important for solving an investigative puzzle.
The ExactID software is low cost, fast and easy to use, making it accessible to law enforcement at all levels.
“Next-generation sequencing is the most significant breakthrough in forensic DNA science in 20 years,” said Rich Guerrieri, Research Leader for Battelle’s Applied Genomics business unit and former Chief of the FBI Laboratory’s nuclear DNA casework and database units. “ExactID is the result of years of research by Battelle and marks a new era of investigative genetics.”
Battelle will demonstrate ExactID at the International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI) conference Sept. 29–Oct. 2 in Phoenix, AZ.
Battelle is an official sponsor of Global Biodefense. ExactID is a trademarked, protected term of Battelle.