N.O. Biotech Company Develops Tech to Help Solve Sexual Assault Crimes

NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Addressing a long-term shortcoming in DNA evidence for rape and sexual assault cases, New Orleans based InnoGenomics said it has developed a nanotech method, SpermX, that drastically increases usable results to solve more crimes.

The company said its novel nanotechnology-derived polymer outperforms conventional methods, capturing male DNA from as few as 25 sperm cells while minimizing DNA contribution from the victim. The method can also be automated for labs with larger caseloads.

“Nearly 60% of sexual assault kits tested with traditional methods do not recover enough male DNA to obtain a usable DNA profile from the offender,” said Dr. Sudhir Sinha, InnoGenomics CEO, “SpermX changes that.”

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“Our nanotech method is up to six times more efficient at extracting male DNA profiles, especially from low-level sperm samples. We can significantly improve the probability of solving sexual assault crimes by using this method.”

Conventional forensic laboratory methods for processing sexual assault samples typically only recover 5-30% of the sperm in the sample, resulting in many kits testing positive for male DNA but not providing enough genetic information for a criminal investigation. Traditional methods produce usable DNA profiles only 10% of the time from samples with lower sperm amounts, such as oral swabs.

A recent interlaboratory study performed by the University of Central Florida (UCF), the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education (CFSRE), and InnoGenomics (IGT), demonstrated the benefits of the SpermX™ method. Participating laboratories achieved informative DNA profiles from over 10% of low-level sperm samples and recovered sperm from samples containing as few as 25 sperm cells. In contrast, traditional methods yielded informative profiles from only 16% of these low-level samples. The study results were presented at the 2023 American Academy of Forensic Sciences Annual Conference.

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“This data demonstrates that SpermX outperforms older methods when dealing with very low sperm amounts,” said Dr. Jack Ballantyne, UCF professor of chemistry and associate director for research at the National Center for Forensic Science. “For SpermX, the male DNA was easily detectible. We’re really quite impressed with the difference between the methods based on this data.”

Over the last 20 years, DNA testing of rape kits along with the establishment of national DNA databases have become a powerful tool for solving sexual assault cases. The ability to separate sperm cells from other cells to obtain a DNA profile from the perpetrator has been a key factor in solving these cases SpermX’s ability to derive male DNA profiles from as few as 25 sperm cells has the potential to revolutionize the handling of sexual assault and rape cases, providing almost routine solutions with its advanced testing capabilities.

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