Automating your casework extraction process


In the past several years there has clearly been a rise in demand for DNA analysis. With more samples being submitted to forensic laboratories for testing, and advances in technology, automation has become a necessity for crime laboratories, since there is not enough manpower to keep up with the ever-growing caseload.

Automation offers a more consistent approach, with better reproducibility of the data, by allowing robotics to carry-out much of the time-consuming and repetitive tasks, which in turn minimizes human error. This hands-free process also increases the productivity of the technician, therefore helping to systemize and streamline the forensic casework workflow.

There are three types of throughput commonly seen in a forensic casework laboratory:  low-, medium- and high-throughput. High-throughput workflows are typically better suited for batching of large numbers of samples, as seen in database laboratories. Casework laboratories that process hundreds to thousands of samples a month also may consider medium- to high-throughput automation options. However, it is important to note that there are smaller-scale platforms available for small casework laboratories or for those that do not process such a great number of samples.

These low- to medium-throughput extraction platforms can run up to 16 samples per run, thus allowing for a more rapid and efficient extraction process than manual manipulation. In addition, the footprint on these instruments is significantly smaller, making them more ideal for laboratories where space is a limiting factor.

The EZ1 Advanced XL is a low to medium-throughput robotic extraction system that enables nucleic acid purification from a wide range of forensic samples. This small workstation is fast, reliable and utilizes pre-programmed protocol cards along with one-time use reagent cartridges.

This publication evaluated three automated extraction platforms, all of which utilize a variation of the bind-wash-elute extraction method. Check out the article, and see how the EZ1 Advanced XL stacks up to its competitors, the AutoMate Express™ and Maxwell® 16!


Angela Cacioppo, MPS

Global Market Manager, Demand Generation

Angela joined QIAGEN in 2017. She received her Master's Degree in Forensic Science (biology track) from Pennsylvania State University. Before joining QIAGEN, Angela worked at The Bode Technology Group (a.k.a Bode Cellmark Forensics) as a DNA analyst, where she processed thousands of DNA samples and traveled the United States to testify as an expert witness. Afterwards, she joined LGC, where she was involved in the rollout and deployment of new and innovated technology, ParaDNA Systems, that facilitates the screening and triage of DNA samples.

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