Thermo Fisher scientific introduces precision ID NGS system for forensic analysis

Leading experts to discuss adoption and impact of next-generation sequencing on forensic casework at Human Identification Solutions (HIDS) conference in Barcelona.

Forensic scientists who need to draw genetic profiles from challenging samples such as those commonly associated with crime scenes, major disasters or missing persons’ casework now have access to a new next-generation sequencing (NGS) analysis system from Thermo Fisher Scientific.

The Applied Biosystems Precision ID NGS System for human identification is designed to effectively retrieve more information from degraded or limited DNA samples. The company announced the targeted sequencing solution, along with a set of five complementary panels, at the 2nd annual Human Identification Solutions (HIDS) conference.

NGS will revolutionize forensic biology by enabling the recovery of important identifying information from single, mixed-source and degraded samples,” said Jack Ballantyne, Ph.D., associate director at the National Center for Forensic Science and featured speaker at the HIDS conference. “It’s encouraging to see that significant advancements in the automation of library and template preparation and forensic sequencing kits are enabling labs to use NGS for certain casework applications.

The FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) contains more than 15 million profiles that have been produced with standard capillary electrophoresis (CE) technology. However, forensic scientists say that 30-40 percent of samples cannot be successfully processed and searched against the national database because they are either highly degraded, contain a mixture of DNA or lack sufficient genetic material. This is a particular challenge with samples from ancient bones or burnt remains.

The Precision ID NGS System is comprised of five distinct Precision ID panels to suit the varying needs of forensic casework. Each is designed to work seamlessly with the Ion Chef System for automated library and template preparation and the Ion S5 and Ion S5 XL systems, which offer fast run times with minimal hands-on time to set up the sequencer. Two chip formats also enable multiple panels to be sequenced in a single run, which can help reduce time and the cost of sequencing experiments.

The five targeted panels announced with the Precision ID NGS System include:

The Precision ID GlobalFiler NGS STR Panel, which analyzes a total of 33 targets, including the expanded CODIS loci, to aid in mixture resolution for identifying multiple contributors in complex casework samples

The Precision ID mtDNA Whole Genome Panel for the analysis of missing persons or disaster victim remains. It uses an innovative small-target approach to obtain optimal results from highly compromised, degraded samples such as hair shafts, teeth and bones.

The Precision ID mtDNA Control Region Panel, which is similar to the Whole Genome Panel but targets the 1.2 kb control region and covers HV- I, II and III.The Precision ID Identity Panel for analysis of degraded or trace DNA. It is comprised of 124 SNP markers, providing discrimination of individuals similar to STR genotype match probabilities used by forensic analysts.

The Precision ID Ancestry Panel, which is comprised of 165 SNP markers that provide biogeographic ancestry information to guide the investigation process.

Sequencing the whole mitochondrial DNA genome for forensic purposes is an important analysis tool for identification of aged or severely degraded human remains, but the ability to do so has been near impossible,” said Walther Parson Ph.D., associate professor at the Institute of Legal Medicine, Innsbruck Medical University and featured speaker at the HIDS conference. “Next-generation sequencing now makes this possible, and enables forensic scientists to better define haplotype classifications.

The Precision ID NGS System is for research, forensic or paternity use only; Not for use in diagnostic procedures.