Fast Sample-to-Answer DNA Analysis Platform at FBI Conference
22 Sep 2010

Lockheed Martin and ZyGEM Corp. Ltd. unveiled a new DNA analysis system that has potential to transform how law enforcement, homeland security and defense communities use DNA-based identification in support of their missions.

The prototype, called RapI.D.™, will be previewed at a 2010 Biometric Consortium Conference special session on Rapid DNA. The day-long session is sponsored by the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) division.

“Our law enforcement, homeland security and defense communities face a significant challenge in how quickly they can confirm an individual’s identity,” said John Mears, director, Lockheed Martin Biometric Solutions. “Our goal with the RapI.D. sample-to-answer DNA analysis device is to transform today’s DNA identification process from one that takes a great deal of training, sophisticated equipment and days or weeks to complete, into an affordable, on-site process that takes less than an hour.”

Developed in collaboration with ZyGEM as a Lockheed Martin Technology Innovation Initiative, RapI.D. leverages the latest in microfluidic research and development to accelerate the DNA identification process—essentially building a laboratory on a small, single chip that reduces the processing steps and time needed for analysis. The RapI.D. platform is currently in prototype at ZyGEM’s Charlottesville, Va., MicroLab laboratories, with a Beta version expected to be released for testing in select laboratories early next year.

“ZyGEM’s MicroLab technology has been developed with the goal of dramatically reducing today’s complex analytic approaches. The result is a compact platform that can analyze DNA simply, accurately and rapidly, enabling DNA identification to be used more widely and in many more settings,” explained ZyGEM CEO Paul Kinnon. “Forensic and other federal, state and local government applications represent critical near-term markets for our technology, and we are delighted to have Lockheed Martin as a key teammate in the development of our first systems.”

The cost and complexity of current forensic DNA analysis methods has contributed to significant processing backlogs throughout the criminal justice system. Data from the Justice Department’s FY 2009 Forensic DNA Backlog Reduction Program suggest that the backlog has increased in recent years, indicating that the 2008 backlogged cases reported by state and local government applicants for funding under the program had nearly tripled compared to comparable data from 2005.

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ZyGEM Corporation Limited