Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Akonni Lands $500K DOJ Grant

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Akonni Biosystems will use a $500,000 grant from the US Department of Justice to continue development of a microarray test that may identify suspects and victims by helping to decipher their physical appearance based on DNA samples.

The company said that the Phase III grant from the National Institute of Justice — the R&D and evaluation arm of the DOJ — will fund its efforts to develop the human characteristic identification (HCID) technology, which can enable deductions about an individual's physical appearance based on trace or degraded DNA samples, such as blood, saliva, bone, body oils, or body parts.

The physical traits that the HCID test could identify, based on tests for single nucleotide polymorphisms, include eye, hair, and skin color, as well as height, hair type, and facial features.

"The implications of our system in the field of forensics is far reaching — it has the potential to provide law enforcement, crime scene investigators, and homeland security officers with a new tool to more accurately and rapidly apprehend perpetrators, identify victims and reduce the backlog of cold cases," Phil Belgrader, VP of R&D at Akonni Biosystems, said in a statement.

For example, HCID-generated DNA profiles can be generated when a victim or suspect cannot be identified using DOJ's DNA indexing resources.

The Scan

Panel Votes for COVID-19 Pill

A US Food and Drug Administration panel has voted to support the emergency use authorization of an antiviral pill for COVID-19 from Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, CNN says.

But Not Harm

New Scientist reports that UK bioethicists say that though gene editing may improve food production, it should not harm livestock welfare.

Effectiveness Drop Anticipated

Moderna's Stéphane Bancel predicts that that current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines may be less effective against the Omicron variant, the Financial Times reports.

Cell Studies of Human Chromatin Accessibility, SARS-CoV-2 Variants, Cell Signaling Networks

In Cell this week: chromatin accessibility maps of adult human tissues, modeling to track SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, and more.