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Croat Med J. 2005 Aug;46(4):563-77.

Improving efficiency of a small forensic DNA laboratory: validation of robotic assays and evaluation of microcapillary array device.

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  • 1Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Crime Laboratory, 3228 Gun Club Road, West Palm Beach, FL 33406, USA.



To present validation studies performed for the implementation of existing and new technologies to increase the efficiency in the forensic DNA Section of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office (PBSO) Crime Laboratory.


Using federally funded grants, internal support, and an external Process Mapping Team, the PBSO collaborated with forensic vendors, universities, and other forensic laboratories to enhance DNA testing procedures, including validation of the DNA IQ magnetic bead extraction system, robotic DNA extraction using the BioMek2000, the ABI7000 Sequence Detection System, and is currently evaluating a micro Capillary Array Electrophoresis device.


The PBSO successfully validated and implemented both manual and automated Promega DNA IQ magnetic bead extractions system, which have increased DNA profile results from samples with low DNA template concentrations. The Beckman BioMek2000 DNA robotic workstation has been validated for blood, tissue, bone, hair, epithelial cells (touch evidence), and mixed stains such as semen. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of samples tested per case since implementation of the robotic extraction protocols. The validation of the ABI7000 real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) technology and the single multiplex short tandem repeat (STR) PowerPlex16 BIO amplification system has provided both a time and a financial benefit. In addition, the qPCR system allows more accurate DNA concentration data and the PowerPlex 16 BIO multiplex generates DNA profiles data in half the time when compared to PowerPlex1.1 and PowerPlex2.1 STR systems. The PBSO's future efficiency requirements are being addressed through collaboration with the University of California at Berkeley and the Virginia Division of Forensic Science to validate microcapillary array electrophoresis instrumentation. Initial data demonstrated the electrophoresis of 96 samples in less than twenty minutes.


The PBSO demonstrated, through the validation of more efficient extraction and quantification technology, an increase in the number of evidence samples tested using robotic/DNA IQ magnetic bead DNA extraction, a decrease in the number of negative samples amplified due to qPCR and implementation of a single multiplex amplification system. In addition, initial studies show the microcapillary array electrophoresis device (microCAE) evaluation results provide greater sensitivity and faster STR analysis output than current platforms.

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