Moving MPS to Mainstream
An Implementation Roadmap for Massively Parallel Sequencing (MPS) in Forensic Labs
MPS uses massively parallel processing technology to vastly increase the speed and processing power of DNA sequencing devices. Instead of processing amplicons that generate a consensus sequence, MPS technologies can process up to millions of reads, or sequence of nucleotides, thus increasing the resolution of every sample.
DNA typing improves on the ability to make comparisons between samples, for example, to determine whether or not a sample taken from a crime scene and a reference sample are potentially from the same source. Studies performed since 2012 demonstrate the back-compatibility of STR genotyping developed through MPS compared with corresponding CE derived STR truth data.
The first step is deciding which platform to use. There are a variety of commercially available MPS platforms that vary in their laboratory-processing workflow, detection chemistries, data output, read length and error rates.
The workflows for MPS aren’t radically different from those for CE, and none of the processes should be unfamiliar to experienced forensic laboratory staff. However, there are some modifications of which you should be aware.
Implementing MPS will take some time, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Battelle is working with forensic labs across the country to integrate MPS technologies, optimize workflows and develop new quality control and validation methods. As more labs implement MPS and the technology matures, the industry can expect to see implementation timelines condense and validation methods standardize. We are only just beginning to see how MPS will change the forensic landscape.