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Automation of Sexual Assault DNA Processing Increases Efficiency

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2023

This article reports on a research study that confirms that the procedure of automating a key step in the process of extracting DNA from sexual assault kits, separating sperm cells from other cells by using the Biomek® NXP robotic platform, was reliable and accurate.


The ability to prosecute a sexual assault case often relies on the availability of DNA evidence. In fact, it has been reported that 72% of jurors anticipate seeing DNA in a sexual assault trial and that juries are 33 times more likely to convict when presented with DNA evidence. This presents a problem in the quest for justice because the process of manually extracting DNA from sexual assault kits can be time consuming and labor intensive. The consequence is a nation-wide backlog of unprocessed kits. With funding from the National Institute of Justice, researchers sought to increase the efficiency of processing sexual assault kit samples to help reduce the backlog. Specifically, they automated a key step in the process that separates sperm cells from other cells — known as the DNAse I procedure — by using the Biomek® NXP robotic platform. A robotic platform that automates the processing of mixed samples from sexual assault kits could be a critical tool in the fight against sexual crimes by increasing efficiency and speed, improving accuracy and reliability, minimizing the risk of contamination or degradation of samples, and standardizing the procedure, both within and between labs.

Date Published: September 1, 2023