Published on 08/05/2019
Cellmark and Verogen collaborate to make the next generation of Forensic DNA analysis available to UK Police
Cellmark Forensic Services and Verogen have signed a collaboration agreement to establish Cellmark as a UK centre of excellence for forensic Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), also known as Massively Parallel DNA Sequencing (MPS).
Verogen, the leading provider of forensic MPS technology, completed its installation of an Illumina MiSeq FGx platform at Cellmark’s Abingdon laboratory in February and the forensic validation exercise is now well underway. Supported by the collaboration, Cellmark will be seeking to accredit MPS technology so that it can be introduced into forensic casework.
‘We are very excited about the potential benefits that this technology will bring to forensic investigations,’ said David Hartshorne, Managing Director at Cellmark. ‘The MPS technology will provide our scientists with far more detailed DNA information than is currently possible, which could be used to help resolve some of our most challenging forensic cases’.
Within a single DNA test the technology will not only analyse Short Tandem Repeat (STR) markers that are currently used to populate the National DNA Database, but at the same time will provide Y-STR results (for male subjects), X-chromosome STR results, as well as a large number of Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) markers. The SNP markers can assist with the certainty of identification and provide information about the appearance of the subject (phenotypic information) as well as data about their biogeographical ancestry. MPS also has the potential to recover additional DNA information from the low level, degraded and mixed samples typical of forensic investigations but for which traditional methods can sometimes struggle to produce conclusive results.
‘MPS technology is already well established in other scientific fields,’ said Brett Williams, President and CEO of Verogen, ‘and is now starting to prove its capability in forensic investigations with the first cases having gone through court. We are delighted to be working in the UK with Cellmark who have a history of pioneering the introduction of forensic DNA technology and delivering high quality forensic analysis.‘
In the next few months Cellmark will be completing an extensive technology validation using the types of samples recovered in forensic investigations before seeking accreditation by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). Cellmark will be meeting with interested police forces in the months ahead to help explain the capabilities of MPS and to identify cases where the technology may be of assistance.
Orchid Cellmark Ltd (trading as Cellmark Forensic Services) is one of the UK’s largest providers of multi-disciplinary forensic casework services to the police and is an accredited supplier of DNA profiles to the UK National DNA Database. Established in 1987 as the world’s first commercial DNA fingerprinting laboratory, Cellmark now employs over 450 staff and delivers a comprehensive range of ISO 17025 accredited specialist DNA services from its laboratories in Abingdon, Oxfordshire and Chorley, Lancashire. For more information, visit www.cellmarkforensics.co.uk
About Verogen, Inc.
Verogen serves those who pursue the truth using genetic tools. Powered by gold standard Illumina sequencing technology and working in partnership with forensic laboratories, Verogen is advancing science to unlock the true potential of forensic genomics. For more information, visit www.verogen.com
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