Scientists from Hamilton Robotics and Institut National de la Police Scientifique in Lyon, France have published an article in Forensic Science International describing the protocols and three-year track record of a large-scale system they developed. The automated system has processed in duplicate and deposited more than 300,000 genotypes into the French Reference Sample Database. The system produces genetic profiles from buccal swab cells on FTA cards. Initially designed to process 20,000 samples per month, the system's capacity was recently doubled to 40,000 per month without adding hardware.
The samples on FTA cards are punched directly into PCR plates and transferred onto the Hamilton MICROLAB® STAR liquid handling workstation. The Hamilton air displacement pipetting and CO-RE (Compressed O-Ring Expansion) technology ensure contamination-free FTA wash and PCR reaction setup. Microplates are then sealed and transferred to a post-PCR system for pooling into a 384-well format and denaturing. Samples are tracked throughout the process and data is transferred to a LIMS.
"This is one of the first large-scale automated systems for forensic DNA analysis with a demonstrable track record," explained Laurent Baron Product Manager Forensics, of Hamilton. "The creation of genetic databases requires highly reliable and robust automation, which our air displacement technology makes possible."