Volume 49, Issue 1 (January 2004)
Application of the BioMek® 2000 Laboratory Automation Workstation and the DNA IQ™ System to the Extraction of Forensic Casework Samples
Robotic systems are commonly utilized for the extraction of database samples. However, the application of robotic extraction to forensic casework samples is a more daunting task. Such a system must be versatile enough to accommodate a wide range of samples that may contain greatly varying amounts of DNA, but it must also pose no more risk of contamination than the manual DNA extraction methods. This study demonstrates that the BioMek® 2000 Laboratory Automation Workstation, used in combination with the DNA IQ™ System, is versatile enough to accommodate the wide range of samples typically encountered by a crime laboratory. The use of a silica coated paramagnetic resin, as with the DNA IQ™ System, facilitates the adaptation of an open well, hands off, robotic system to the extraction of casework samples since no filtration or centrifugation steps are needed. Moreover, the DNA remains tightly coupled to the silica coated paramagnetic resin for the entire process until the elution step. A short pre-extraction incubation step is necessary prior to loading samples onto the robot and it is at this step that most modifications are made to accommodate the different sample types and substrates commonly encountered with forensic evidentiary samples. Sexual assault (mixed stain) samples, cigarette butts, blood stains, buccal swabs, and various tissue samples were successfully extracted with the BioMek® 2000 Laboratory Automation Workstation and the DNA IQ™ System, with no evidence of contamination throughout the extensive validation studies reported here.