QIAGEN announced a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to develop a novel test for its QIAcuity digital PCR devices that will boost forensics by improving the quantification of DNA in human samples. The collaboration aims to develop a first-of-its-kind digital PCR (dPCR) assay that can simultaneously quantify in absolute terms nuclear and mitochondrial DNA concentrations, male DNA, and include quality markers for degradation and inhibition. forensic samples often contain very small amounts of DNA, which can be further compromised by age or environmental factors such as soil.

Compared to traditional quantitative PCR, dPCR offers a higher tolerance to inhibitors and enables forensic specialists to detect and quantify even minimal amounts of DNA with high accuracy. This capability significantly improves the success rate of forensic analysis while saving time and money. Accurate DNA quantification in casework samples is also crucial for informed workflow decisions in successful next-generation sequencing (NGS) analysis.

By using the appropriate amount of DNA in library preparation, sequencing errors or biases are minimized. NGS is particularly important for analyzing mitochondrial DNA in traces without nuclear DNA, such as shed hairs, aged bones and teeth, or environmentally exposed samples. This analysis plays a critical role in identifying human remains.

QIAGEN?s QIAcuity platform uses nanoplates to disperse a sample over thousands of tiny partitions and then read the reaction in each one simultaneously to quantify even the faintest genetic traces. The dPCR technology used in QIAcuity provides precise, binary results by counting the presence or absence of DNA molecules, resulting in a low error rate and high precision necessary for courtroom testimony.  The QIAcuity systems ? available in one, four and eight-plate versions ?

integrate partitioning, thermocycling, and imaging into one workflow, cutting processing times to only two hours from six. With multiplexing capabilities of up to 5-plex, the one-plate version can process up to 384 samples in an eight-hour shift and the eight-plate version up to 1,248. At the end of 2023, more than 2,000 cumulative instrument placements had been made.