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When Less Delivers More in Forensics

Linda Seaton
| May 29, 2013

dna mag 300Imagine having the ability to perform 10 analyses on several different systems. Then, consider that you only have 1 ng of sample and you need to choose which of those 10 tests to run. Factor in the realization that the tradeoffs you make will potentially impact whether or not a murderer is identified. These are the choices that forensic scientists face every day.

Next-generation sequencing (NGS) has the power to eliminate the need to make these choices. By delivering data that span the genome, such as the genetic markers used in forensic genomics to identify suspects and missing persons, and in kinship testing and ancestry investigation, NGS systems are capable of answering a wider range of questions in a single, targeted assay. Replacing several workflows with a single one will improve the speed of forensic genomics testing, and the high-throughput capabilities of NGS will enable multiple samples to be assayed at once. 

In addition to overcoming the limitations of current systems, NGS instruments such as the Illumina MiSeq system have the potential to improve forensic biology, enabling the recovery of the maximum amount of useful genomic information from degraded DNA samples, and offering higher resolution analysis. This is particularly true for the MiSeq system, where sample preparation with the Nextera XT DNA kit enables forensic scientists to isolate specific genomic regions in low-level samples with maximum ease of use.

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