Category Archives: Forensic DNA

Crime scene evidence, victims of crime, suspects allegedly involved in crimes and other persons of interest, analysis of blood, semen and saliva for DNA traces, major crime, volume crime (eg property crimes), evidence given at courts and in trials (expert evidence), CrimTrac, Disaster victim identification, missing persons, decomposed remains, new developments in methodology or equipment.
Focus on Queensland issues unless broader implications within the science (i.e. evidence challenged, legislation challenged, improvements in procedures etc)

Expanding the DNA alphabet: ‘Extra’ DNA base found to be stable in mammals

EurekAlert 22 June 2015

Researchers from the University of Cambridge and the Babraham Institute have found that a naturally occurring modified DNA base appears to be stably incorporated in the DNA of many mammalian tissues, possibly representing an expansion of the functional DNA alphabet.

The new study, published today (22 June) in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, has found that this rare ‘extra’ base, known as 5-formylcytosine (5fC) is stable in living mouse tissues. While its exact function is yet to be determined, 5fC’s physical position in the genome makes it likely that it plays a key role in gene activity.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-06/uoc-etd061915.php

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Crime-scene DNA errors spark complex legal questions [US]

The Republic 22 June 2015

Recent admissions by the FBI involving data errors in calculating DNA probabilities are challenging the infallibility of DNA evidence, a science with a longstanding reputation of as the forensic gold standard.

Prosecutors and bureau officials say the mistakes will have a minimal effect on criminal cases, but the real impact of the revelations in courtrooms across the country remains to be seen.

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2015/06/22/crime-scene-dna-errors-spark-complex-legal-questions/29095963/

FBI’s plans for the use of rapid DNA technology in CODIS

FBI 18 June 2015

Over the last three decades, the FBI has been developing its CODIS program to assist federal, state, local, and international forensic laboratories in databasing their DNA records for law enforcement investigative purposes. While initial efforts focused on Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) technology, the CODIS program has expanded to incorporate Polymerase Chain Reaction Short Tandem Repeat (PCR STR) and mitochondrial DNA technologies as each new technology matured and provided the DNA quality demanded of a nationwide law enforcement database. Each of these technologies was implemented pursuant to the national quality assurance standards (QAS) issued by the FBI Director in accordance with the Federal DNA Identification Act of 1994 (‘Federal DNA Act,’ 42 U.S.C. § 14131 et seq.).

Our interest in incorporating new developments and enhancing the effectiveness of CODIS is balanced against the importance of preserving this important investigative tool and the quality and integrity of the National DNA Index System. A brief update on our CODIS program and the National DNA Index System will provide a background for the FBI’s efforts related to Rapid DNA technology.

https://www.fbi.gov/news/testimony/fbis-plans-for-the-use-of-rapid-dna-technology-in-codis

Building the face of a criminal from DNA

BBC news 18 June 2015

The face of a killer constructed from DNA left at the scene of a crime: it sounds like science fiction. But revealing the face of a criminal based on their genes may be closer than we think.

Today scientists are using genetic markers from DNA to build up a picture of an offender’s face, a process known as molecular photo fitting.

A DNA profile is only useful to detectives if a match can be found on a database.

As surgeon Gabriel Weston explains in the BBC series Catching History’s Criminals: The Forensics Story, this technology offers the tantalising prospect of generating a face from nothing more than a few cells.

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-33054762

QIAGEN Launches New Genetic Fingerprinting Kits for U.S. Forensic Labs

MarketWatch/PRNewswire June 17, 2015

QIAGEN N.V. QGEN, -0.12% (frankfurt prime standard:QIA) today launched new Investigator® STR assay kits for analysis of DNA evidence in forensic laboratories in the United States. The new genetic fingerprint kits provide an integrated solution to simultaneously analyze multiple key genomic markers (short tandem repeats or STRs) for DNA matching. They incorporate the Investigator® Quality Sensor to evaluate the quality of DNA in each sample, a novel QIAGEN technology that enables labs to decide quickly which evidence may provide valuable results – solving cases while saving time and money.

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Inquest blank over lost teen

Townsville Bulletin CHRISTIE ANDERSON June 18, 2015

IT MAY never be known how missing teen Rachel Antonio died after the inquest into the Bowen teen’s death failed to turn up answers.
The inquest heard yesterday that Rachel died shortly after her disappearance on April 25, 1998 but the injuries that caused her death remain a mystery.
It comes after barristers for the Antonio and Hytch families and Counsel Assisting the Coroner John Aberdeen said they wouldn’t object to an “open verdict” being handed down as to how Rachel died.
Mr Aberdeen said during the inquest yesterday that drops of Rachel’s blood found on Robert Hytch’s shoe showed that he had a hand in her death.

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Why it’s so hard to keep bad forensics out of Canada’s courtrooms

MetroNews Canada Torstar News Service 12 June 2015

Since DNA analysis was first used to identify the genetic fingerprints of perpetrators nearly 30 years ago, this highly specific — and thoroughly tested — technique has all but supplanted many methods that have been found to be less valid, such as hair comparison.

But even DNA analysis, which can pose challenges if the sample is not big enough or there is more than one genetic profile involved, is not infallible.  52 Percentage of Canadian exonerations assisted by the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted that involved flawed forensic or misleading expert testimony.

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