Forensic DNA Identification testing, euphemistically referred to as DNA Fingerprinting, is now more than 20 years old. The current state-of-the-art in forensic laboratory technology, STRs, is over 15 years old.
Rather than look for new ways to improve STRs, Casework Genetics is looking to revolutionize forensic identification standards. Our current research focus is on the use of SNP technology to analyze complex mixtures. Mixtures made in the worst of circumstances with the worst of intensions, leaving the justice field with samples often degraded and disastrous.
It is reasonable to expect that by year's end, more than 5 million SNPs will be an off the shelf product. The possibilities of statistical analysis in the presence of so much data are nearly overwhelming to consider.
As the number of SNPs being analyzed increases into the many millions, the ability to resolve the presence of a single genome in more complex mixtures becomes more routine; estimates for the level of complexity of mixtures for which a single genotype can be associated approaches the ability to pick out an individual from a mixture of thousands. With arrays containing two and three times more SNP loci, it will be possible to use much more complex mixtures and determine whether an individual has been present at public places such as restaurants, vendors and transportation hubs. Applications for tracking fugitives, associating individuals with a crime scene locale and understanding the dynamics of criminal groups such as gangs are all amenable to this technology. We are engaged in efforts to bring these innovations to the forensic scientist's tool kit.
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