Often, when crime scene samples are brought to the lab for DNA analysis, it is discovered that more than one person has contributed to the sample, creating a mixture.
Interpreting mixture samples from a bulk pipeline is arduous, and the resulting electropherogram profiles are sometimes so complex as to require significant computational power to complete the interpretation.
Nidhi Sheth, a PhD student at Rutgers University proposed an alternative to the bulk-processing pipeline during her poster presentation at ISHI; a single-cell pipeline, where the sample is collected and each cell is sequestered. The DNA from each cell is then extracted, amplified and electrophoresed.
Her preliminary results show that it is possible to not only isolate and analyze single-cells, but do so with high success rates, even for the most temperamental of cell-types.
Developing a single-cell forensically relevant pipeline will help solve the DNA mixture conundrum in that it can provide full mixture deconvolution within a Bayesian paradigm, but without the unwanted effects associated with delineating what range of propositions to apply. Thus, not only can it, theoretically, provide full-profile information without interference effects from the other contributors, it negates propositional or contextual effects since in no case is a co-contributor assumed.
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