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ArmedXpert™: DNA deconvolution software

A nearly unsolvable rape case was one of the earliest applications of software technology developed by a scientist at the Defense Forensic Science Center (DFSC), home of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory (USACIL).

DNA fingerprinting has been used since the 1980s to identify individuals in criminal investigations. In humans, the DNA structure of every individual is unique and cannot be forged, faked, or altered. However, DNA testing has one limitation: it is difficult, if not impossible, to separate individual DNA in biological samples that contain DNA from multiple sources. This presents a problem for samples in assault cases, which often contain DNA from both the victims and the assailants. To address this problem, DFSC scientist Tom Overson created an Excel® spreadsheet and a series of macros to deconvolute mixed DNA data. His algorithm and methods proved so useful in the USACIL that other labs began asking for their own copies of this tool.

The USACIL did not have an Office of Research and Technology Applications (ORTA) to implement a transfer of the technology, so it reached out to the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) ORTA for help. Through that assistance, a patent was filed on the DNA deconvolution algorithm and methods of use, and a licensing agreement was established with NicheVision Forensics, LLC, which was selected as the licensee.

NicheVision translated the spreadsheet and macros into an executable application and rebranded the software ArmedXpert?, a nod at the Army as the source of the software and an indicator of what it does (arms the experts).

The Navy rape case was solved when ArmedXpert software was used to definitively link the DNA in the crime scene samples with the perpetrator and the victim (and rule out other residual DNA). The perpetrator was unerringly identified and brought to justice.

Today, more labs use ArmedXpert than any other non-hardware-tied DNA mixture software on the market. It has been implemented at forensics labs from coast-to-coast at city, county and federal levels. This transfer has been a success story for the Army crime lab as well. Not only did the lab prevent the loss of a very important piece of software that scientists were using in the crime lab daily, but commercialization has led to an even better product for them to use.

Contact: Barry Datlof, (301) 619-0033, barry.m.datlof.civ@mail.mil

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Mid-Atlantic