Forensic professor explores new techniques to improve DNA detection

Forensic graduate student Amber Vandepoele (front) and Research Assistant Professor Mike Marciano reviewing data from the DEPArray system.Credit: Syracuse University

Marciano, director of research at the University of Arts and Sciences’ Institute for Forensic and National Security Sciences (FNSSI), recently contributed to the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence Report in May 2022. Extraction and sperm isolation for sexual assault investigations. Marciano, a subject matter expert who received a Ph.D. created.

Simply put, current methods of collecting forensic evidence from victims of sexual assault involve collecting samples and testing for DNA. If DNA is found, it is entered into the FBI’s DNA indexing system. This allows law enforcement agencies to search for matches that can identify possible criminals, link cases, or provide other important information that may help solve a crime. This has long been the standard process for DNA testing, but it is time consuming and usually does not have the ability to detect DNA from very small samples or samples that have been older than 72 hours after a sexual assault.

In 2013, Marciano was asked by a former colleague if he would be interested in testing a new instrument with the ability to better detect DNA. Marciano began his career at the crime laboratory of Onondaga His County (New York) Forensic Center and has devoted himself to this type of research. After that, he was a senior researcher at the research and development company SRC before entering university, where he is currently conducting overseas research at FNSSI. The opportunity to try out this new technology was one he couldn’t turn down.

The DEPArray NxT system was created by Italian company Manarini Silicon Biosystems for use in cancer research, but has since found other uses. According to Marciano, the epithelial (or skin) cells and sperm cells are separated prior to extraction through a process that allows the total number of epithelial and sperm cells and the amount of DNA in the sample to be calculated more quickly and efficiently. It also removes possible impurities.

In addition, DEPArray can detect DNA from samples taken 72 hours later, or even when very small samples of sperm that are often undetectable by current methods are found, such as when there are mixed samples with multiple contributors. makes it possible to identify

“At FNSSI, we have completed up to 200 runs with these instruments. “It’s our mission to support and advance innovation in forensic genetics. It’s an exciting job!”

The technology provided by DEPArray is promising, but the problem is that the results are not currently accepted in court.

“The methods that are already in place are proven and there is always resistance to change,” he says of legal standards. “Academic researchers like myself hope to gather enough evidence behind this new technology to become part of the standard legal process and work well enough to move into the world of forensics. I have to prove it.”

In the meantime, he continues to test and document the functionality of the DEPArray system with the help of students working at FNSSI.

“Our students are the first in the world to use this technology in forensics,” explains Marciano. “They can also get the experience that is being done in all the crime labs around the world through FNSSI and compare that to the way they see it in DEPArray. I’m going to get a job with first-hand experience with thru, and I think they’ll use that experience to further advance this kind of forensics.”

Marciano plans to continue working on DEPArray. He has already published two articles and is working on a third. He has also applied for a National Institute of Justice grant to access additional funding to support his research in this area.

“We expect DEPArray to be a game-changer in investigating critical biological evidence in sexual assault cases, making a real difference for victims and those in the forensic community,” he said. “It’s fascinating and important and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

First Machine Learning Approach to Forensic DNA Analysis

Courtesy of Syracuse University

Quote: Forensics Professor Explores New Techniques to Improve DNA Detection (29 Aug 2022) from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-forensics-professor-explores-technology-dna.html to 8 Aug 2022 Retrieved on May 29th

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