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Highly Efficient Sperm Cell Separation From Sexual Assault Samples for DNA Analysis Using Novel Polymer Filter Technology

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2018
8 pages
Findings and methodology are presented for a research project that addressed the problem of differential DNA extraction from sexual assault samples, which is a lengthy, laborious process for many forensic DNA laboratories.

The project used nanotechnology-derived polymer filters ("nanofiber filters") that function as a filtration medium to trap sperm cells while allowing efficient flow-through of digested epithelial cell DNA. This enables development of a method that could significantly increase a forensic DNA laboratory's ability to obtain "clean" sperm fraction DNA profiles while minimizing sample manipulations. This provides a rapid, reproducible procedure that is easily implemented in a single-tube format, as well as high throughput 48-sample automated workflows. The developed SpermTrap system potentially provides a highly efficient and cost-effective alternative to standard differential extraction procedures. This enables forensic laboratories to process sexual assault kits (SAKs) on an automated platform in an efficient, low-cost process that obtains high-quality sperm fraction DNA profiles from a greater percentage of sexual assault cases. This facilitates a reduction in the backlog of untested evidence in SAKs. By the end of 2018, the SpermTrap device and reagents will be commercially available from InnoGenomics to any crime laboratory that processes sexual assault samples either manually or on an automated platform.

Date Published: September 1, 2018