Biology Faculty Articles
FlipTube™ technology promotes clean manipulation of forensic samples on automated robotic workstations
Forensic Science International: Genetics Supplement Series
DNA typing, Automation, Contamination, Discovery
One method to reduce forensic DNA crime laboratory casework backlogs is to rethink DNA sample preparation and analysis processing; often using automated liquid handling platforms that are both robust and performance-verified. This enables forensic scientists to develop improved DNA processing solutions and shorten the time leading up to data analysis and reporting. However, some may argue that automated processing of forensic samples increases risk of sample contamination as the samples are de-capped and racked onto the robotic platform in a batched manner, and remain uncapped during the entire process. Sample-to-sample and analyst-to-sample manipulations differ between manual and automated processes, as forensic examiners open and serially manipulate sample tubes one at a time in microtubes, while typical automated processes lack the capability to open and close these tubes.
In response to both real and perceived court concerns regarding evidence sample integrity, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office Crime Laboratory is adopting an automated workflow that mimics manual actions as closely as possible, using an automated liquid handler and FlipTube microtubes to promote the clean manipulation of forensic samples. FlipTubes are automated microcentrifuge tubes specifically developed to facilitate opening and closing of the microtube lid on an automated liquid handling platform in order to increase walk-away time while decreasing the risk of sample contamination. FlipTubes were incorporated into the quantification through amplification steps of the pre-PCR DNA typing workflow. This workflow, with the incorporation of FlipTubes, is currently being validated for use in forensic casework.
Comar, Chris; George Duncan; and Kevin W. P. Miller. 2017. "FlipTube™ technology promotes clean manipulation of forensic samples on automated robotic workstations." Forensic Science International: Genetics Supplement Series 6, (): e15-e17. doi:10.1016/j.fsigss.2017.09.019.