Expert Forensic Software Rapidly Analyzes DNA Profiles and Assigns Number of Contributors
As of 10 January 2022, the Oakland (CA) Police Department Crime Laboratory has begun using FaSTR™ DNA, expert forensic software that rapidly analyzes DNA profiles, in its criminal investigations.
Developed by the same team that created STRmix™ – sophisticated forensic software capable of resolving mixed DNA profiles that previously were regarded as too complex or degraded to interpret – FaSTR™ DNA seamlessly integrates with STRmix™ (when in use) for even greater speed and efficiency in analysis and interpretation of complex mixed DNA profiles.
FaSTR™ DNA combines an intuitive graphical interface with easily understandable and laboratory-customizable rules to expedite the analysis of raw data generated by genetic analyzers and standard profiling kits. It also is able to assign a Number of Contributors (NoC) estimate.
The Oakland Police Department (OPD) services the community of Oakland, CA. The Criminalistics Division (Crime Lab) has twelve staff assigned to the Forensic Biology Unit. DNA Technical leadership worked with ESR to validate FaSTR™ DNA methods for use in casework. Analysis of hundreds of samples and resultant data provided staff confidence that the method was fit for its intended use and able to provide gains to efficiency. The OPD Crime Lab is proud to be on the cutting edge of onboarding new validated methods such as FaSTR™ DNA.
Recognizing the need for speed, accuracy, and simplicity in investigations, FaSTR™ DNA makes the analysis procedure easier, enabling reliable results to be achieved with minimum effort. “We believe that FaSTR™ DNA’s sophisticated user interface and comprehensive feature set will be very attractive to users looking to increase the efficiency and speed of STR profiling analysis,” explains Dr Meng-Han Lin, Senior Scientist, STRmix Team.
FaSTR™ DNA works by applying a set of fully configurable rules to analyze most DNA profiles automatically. For more complex DNA analyses in which the intervention of a DNA analyst is required, FaSTR™ DNA provides all details related to possible ambiguity of a peak (i.e. stutter type, stutter ratio, composite stutter, pull-up proportion, N/shoulder peak, peak morphology, low homozygote, heterozygote imbalance) and signals a requirement for the analyst to make a decision. It then records and highlights changes made by the analyst.
In combination with STRmix™ and DBLR™ – an application which can calculate millions of likelihood ratios in seconds when used with STRmix™, allowing forensic labs to undertake superfast database searches, visualize the value of DNA mixture evidence, and carry out mixture-to-mixture matches – FaSTR™ DNA completes the full workflow(external link) from analysis to interpretation and database matching. Likelihood ratios are used to assess the strength of DNA evidence and how likely it is that DNA found at a crime scene belongs to specific individuals.
The effectiveness of these solutions, coupled with the highly successful track record STRmix™ has established in producing usable, interpretable, and legally admissible DNA evidence in more than 300,000 criminal cases, has led to their widespread adoption in forensic labs worldwide.
Currently, 69 federal, state, and local agencies in the U.S. regularly use STRmix™ for DNA analyses. Internationally, nine state and territory forensic laboratories in Australia and New Zealand, and 14 labs in other countries including the U.K., Ireland, Canada, Finland, Switzerland, and Denmark now use STRmix™.