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14-Jan-2021

Solve crime and free the innocent with Cybergenetics is the topic of a new DNA Weekly interview


DNA Weekly reporter Ditsa Keren interviewed Dr. Mark Perlin about forensic DNA technology. Today the on-line magazine posted its article, "Solve Crime and Free the Innocent with Cybergenetics."

Keren writes, "Cybergenetics is a Pittsburgh-based bioinformation company that uses advanced mathematics to translate DNA data into useful information. Their flagship TrueAllele® technology provides accurate and objective DNA match statistics, allowing forensic teams to resolve complex forensic evidence. In his interview, Cybergenetics Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) Dr. Mark W. Perlin discusses that problem with mixed DNA data, and explains how it can be resolved with TrueAllele."

What differentiates Cybergenetics in solving forensic DNA problems? "Instead of throwing out the artifacts because of PCR variation, TrueAllele can measure that variation and exploit it to get accurate genotype probabilities," said Dr. Perlin. The result is "justice based on truth, instead of arguments between lawyers."

Reporter Keren asked Dr. Perlin about the origin and evolution of Cybergenetics. The CSO told her how twenty years ago Cybergenetics eliminated Britain's DNA database backlog by automating data interpretation.

At that time, Cybergenetics also solved the DNA mixture problem. The company invented "a method that could separate these unsolvable mixtures into the genotypes of each contributor," said Dr. Perlin. "And then compare the genotypes to get accurate match statistics."

Keren and Perlin discussed how TrueAllele helps overcome DNA interpretation challenges that forensic teams struggle with. "The main challenge with interpreting DNA is the limitations of the human mind," said Dr. Perlin. "As a result, millions of items of evidence have gone uninterpreted or under-interpreted."

Using powerful computers, Cybergenetics "lets interested clients, usually lawyers or sometimes police, send their DNA data to us from the crime lab." The company can then "screen their data for free, and send back a preliminary report that indicates whose DNA is in the evidence, who's not there, and to what degree."

Dr. Perlin said that Cybergenetics has "now helped exonerate ten innocent men, and free them from prison. As a result, more and more defense attorneys are seeing that TrueAllele is a tool of truth – it can show to what extent someone's there, or is not there."

Keren asked how TrueAllele works. "PCR is not a faithful amplifier – it has some distortion," said Dr. Perlin. "When people look at that data variation, particularly with mixtures of two or more people, they can't figure out what's going on." But "instead of throwing out" DNA evidence "because of PCR variation, TrueAllele can measure and exploit that variation."

DNA Weekly discussed with Cybergenetics how the TrueAllele approach is validated, reliable and transparent. "If you visit our website," said Dr. Perlin, "you will see over a hundred lectures and talks we've given, including a series called How TrueAllele Works."

Keren asked Dr. Perlin about future trends and technologies in forensic DNA analysis. Cybergenetics CSO replied, "The most important problem that we're working on with some groups is opening the past. What's happened over the last twenty years with failed DNA analysis? How can we solve crimes and free innocent people by using automation on all those old unreported DNA samples?"

The full 3,000 word-length DNA Weekly interview is available on-line.

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