Feeds

Forensics wield new DNA weapon

DNAboost to cold cases

New hybrid storage solutions

The Forensic Science Service (FSS) is piloting a DNA technique it says could lead to countless unsolved criminal investigations being reopened.

The technique has already been useful in current investigations numbering in double figures, The Register has learned.

DNAboost is a piece of software which it's hoped will help forensics interpret genetic sequences from mixed samples. Incidents where minimal cell fragments are collected or have been degraded present difficulties distinguishing between individuals.

The FSS says its tests on DNAboost have shown it could improve DNA profile yield by as much as 40 per cent, and detection rates by 15 per cent. The possibility is for thousands of "cold" cases being supplied with new leads, the FSS reckons. DNAboost-resolved samples could identify multiple users of a weapon in more cases, for example.

DNA manager Paul Hackett said: "We've been able to demonstrate an increased rate of interpretation even in those areas that have proved traditionally most difficult – fragments of cellular submissions."

The technology behind DNAboost is based on a simple idea. Rather than compare a mixed sample to every profile in a database, the DNAboost algorithm turns the problem on its head, turning it into a process of elimination. There are 20 data points in a DNA profile, for a sample from more than one individual trials showed the program would quickly return the right number of matching profiles.

FSS consultant forensic scientist Dr Tim Clayton, who works with DNAboost, described the lateral thinking at its foundation as "beautifully simple, like all the best ideas".

Despite this apparent simplicity, the FSS is claiming a world first on the application.

DNA boost is being trialled by the FSS for four police forces on their local DNA repositories: West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Northumbria and Humberside.

A government-owned limited company, the FSS hopes to roll out DNAboost to all of its police force customers. The service is in negotiations with the Home Office for access to the National DNA Database, the world's largest database of human DNA profiles.

The new technique does nothing to broaden the reach of the National DNA Database, which civil liberties groups criticise for retaining DNA from individuals who have never been charged or prosecuted. If anything it may help quieten calls within government and law enforcement for the database to be expanded, as current data should be better utilised. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Boffins: Behold the SILICON CHEAPNESS of our tiny, radio-signal-munching IoT sensor
Single ant-sized Stanford chip combines radio, 'puter, antenna
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
TROUT and EELS in SINISTER PACT to RULE the oceans
Slimy chums form deadly alliance to sweep seas
Drones swarm over bearded Brit billionaire's island getaway
Just to take lovely pictures though, after Richard Branson invests in 3D Robotics
Chelyabinsk-sized SURPRISE asteroid to skim Earth, satnav birds
Space rock appears out of nowhere, buzzes planet on Sunday
California blue whale numbers soar to historical levels, say boffins
Still far too many of them being struck by US ships, mind
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.