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WIREs Forensic Sci

Recent trends and developments in forensic DNA extraction

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Abstract The extraction of DNA is a fairly standard procedure routinely undertaken in biological academic and research settings. In a forensic DNA context, DNA extraction is the crucial first step toward the generation of DNA profiles used to support convictions or exonerations in the criminal justice system. However, it is often complicated by the additional challenge of yielding sufficient quantities of clean DNA that is free from environmental inhibitors, from a wide spectrum of sample types which may contain limited quantities of biological material. While improvements in methods and technology over the decades have sped up and simplified the process of DNA extraction, several issues remain to be fully addressed—such as the incomplete separation of spermic DNA from sperm‐epithelial cell mixtures, increasing demands for ever‐faster DNA results, or even on‐scene DNA processing, and processing of difficult samples such as skeletal remains or samples contaminated by Chemical, Biological, or Radiological (CBR) agents. These challenges are often compounded by high work volumes and limited quantities of starting material. As such, this review focuses on recent trends and developments in four areas of forensic DNA extraction: (a) analysis of sexual assault evidence which often represents a significant portion of a forensic DNA laboratory's casework, (b) use of portable rapid DNA instruments which has gained much traction among law enforcement in recent times, (c) DNA extraction from difficult and CBR‐contaminated samples which, albeit rare, would be essential in a DNA laboratory's toolbox in the event of an incident, and (d) bypassing DNA extraction altogether. This article is categorized under: Forensic Biology > Forensic DNA Technologies
Cause‐and‐effect of incomplete separation in differential extraction
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