The increasing interest in using massively parallel sequencing (MPS) for forensic genomics applications was palpable at the recent American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) 70th Annual Scientific Meeting held in Seattle, WA, February 19-24th.
This was evident not only in the numerous presentations and posters highlighting the utility of MPS and the MiSeq FGx™ Forensic Genomics System— including use of isoalleles for increased resolution and discrimination in casework, unambiguous stutter attribution, phenotypic and ancestry estimation, and recovery of discriminating results from degraded DNA— but also in the high level of interest from attending forensic scientists.
The Verogen team was struck by the number of scientists from all over the world that came to the exhibit booth and MPS User Meeting, many of whom expressed enthusiasm for the creation of Verogen as a company solely focused on forensic genomics. Several asked practical questions about how to implement this powerful MPS technology in their own labs, on topics such as workflow automation, data analysis and management, and NDIS approval status.
The presentations at the 5th Annual MPS for Forensic Genomics User Meeting & Reception on Friday evening addressed many of these topics. The introductory presentation by Dr. Cydne Holt, general manager and chief scientific officer at Verogen, included several significant announcements:
- The INPS laboratory in Lyon, France has recently uploaded data generated with the MiSeq FGx Forensic Genomics system to the French National DNA database (FNAEG). This is perhaps the first instance globally where MPS-generated data has been uploaded to a national forensic DNA database. The FGx system obtained additional uploadable profile data from two minor contributors in a 2011 homicide cold-case that could not be obtained with previous CE-based analysis. The INPS plans to upload additional FGx-generated data from other cases in the near future.
- An update was provided on last year’s submission for NDIS approval. This submission was an exhaustive analysis from 51 sequencing runs, 760 samples, and 1676 replicates compiled across three participating laboratories: the Washington, DC Department of Forensic Sciences, the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, and the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification. Results from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s evaluation and validation of the MiSeq FGx Forensic Genomics System are planned for an additional submission soon.
- Hamilton Robotics and Verogen have partnered to offer automated MPS library preparation solutions on the ID NIMBUS® workstation.
- Verogen is preparing to release an update to the Universal Analysis Software (UAS) later this year. This new v1.3 UAS features a number of requested usability features, including CODIS-compatible export files.
- Verogen is now commercially active and officially taking orders for forensic sequencing and genotyping products in the Americas.
The presentations by Rich Guerrieri from Battelle and Adam Garver from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation focused on their highly productive collaboration to validate and implement the MiSeq FGx System for missing persons casework at Ohio BCI. Highlights from various validation studies were shared by Mr. Garver, including non-probative casework examples demonstrating the utility of isoalleles for mixture deconvolution, and several instances where the FGx system was able to recover additional informative data from challenging samples.
The entire Verogen team would like to thank all of the speakers, collaborators, attendees, friends and colleagues who helped make AAFS 2018 such an enjoyable and successful meeting! We look forward to seeing you at another scientific meeting in the near future.