Field-based detection of biological samples for forensic analysis: Established techniques, novel tools, and future innovations.

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Field-based detection of biological samples for forensic analysis: Established techniques, novel tools, and future innovations.

Forensic Sci Int. 2018 Apr;285:147-160

Authors: Morrison J, Watts G, Hobbs G, Dawnay N

Abstract
Field based forensic tests commonly provide information on the presence and identity of biological stains and can also support the identification of species. Such information can support downstream processing of forensic samples and generate rapid intelligence. These approaches have traditionally used chemical and immunological techniques to elicit the result but some are known to suffer from a lack of specificity and sensitivity. The last 10 years has seen the development of field-based genetic profiling systems, with specific focus on moving the mainstay of forensic genetic analysis, namely STR profiling, out of the laboratory and into the hands of the non-laboratory user. In doing so it is now possible for enforcement officers to generate a crime scene DNA profile which can then be matched to a reference or database profile. The introduction of these novel genetic platforms also allows for further development of new molecular assays aimed at answering the more traditional questions relating to body fluid identity and species detection. The current drive for field-based molecular tools is in response to the needs of the criminal justice system and enforcement agencies, and promises a step-change in how forensic evidence is processed. However, the adoption of such systems by the law enforcement community does not represent a new strategy in the way forensic science has integrated previous novel approaches. Nor do they automatically represent a threat to the quality control and assurance practices that are central to the field. This review examines the historical need and subsequent research and developmental breakthroughs in field-based forensic analysis over the past two decades with particular focus on genetic methods Emerging technologies from a range of scientific fields that have potential applications in forensic analysis at the crime scene are identified and associated issues that arise from the shift from laboratory into operational field use are discussed.

PMID: 29518713 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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