Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

From STRs to Next-Gen Sequencing

DNA forensics relies on analysis of short tandem repeats, but the Atlantic writes that newer tools and technologies are also being adapted to aid law enforcement investigations.

For instance, it notes that a break in a 25-year-old murder investigation came recently when investigators turned to DNA phenotyping by the Virginia-based Parabon NanoLabs that used a DNA sample left at the crime scene to put together a picture of what the suspect might look like.

Next-generation sequencing is also beginning to enter the field, the Atlantic says. It notes that the Illumina spin-out Verogen is now offering a forensics kit that works on Illumina sequencers to provide not only STR data, but also analyzes ancestry and traits like hair and eye color. But as Verogen's Cydne Holt tells the Atlantic, forensics scientists are a conservative lot. DNA sequencers are still undergoing validation for use in crime labs, it notes.

Despite that, the Atlantic notes that there's little oversight of how law enforcement uses DNA forensics. The New York Times and ProPublica recently critiqued of some of the algorithms used in STR analysis by the New York medical examiner.

"There will be new ways of using DNA to solve crimes, but there may be new ways of misusing DNA, too," the Atlantic cautions.

The Scan

Close Panel Vote on Califf Nomination

The New York Times reports there was a close committee vote to advance the nomination of Robert Califf to lead the US Food and Drug Administration to the full Senate.

Task Force Reports on Scientific Integrity

Nature News writes that that a new task force report recommends that the US establish a cross-agency scientific integrity council.

Across the Hall

Genetic testing, closed-circuit cameras, and more show how a traveler, without any contact, infected others at a New Zealand quarantine facility, CNN reports.

Science Paper Examines Influence of Chromatin Modifications on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

In Science this week: genes regulating chromatin modification may contribute to OCD risk.