Noun. Genetics. Rapid deoxyribonucleic acid, also known as R-DNA: the use of portable kits to quickly and accurately analyze human DNA for swift identification (60-90 minutes versus the industry standard of several hours); enables identification without the need for time-consuming laboratory environments.
DNA Profiling: The Gold Standard
DNA analysis is the most powerful, precise method available for the identification of individuals. No method is more accurate. Its ability to link physical evidence at a crime scene to a single person has made it an essential addition to the crime-solving toolkit. Unlike fingerprints, which can only be found if a suspect touches something, DNA exists in every cell of the human body, from hair and blood to skin and tears. The information it provides ensures pinpoint accuracy, down to one in a billion.
An Unmet Potential
Despite its scientific precision, DNA profiling is not being used to its full potential. To date, DNA analysis takes place in specialized laboratories. Even with the best equipment and experienced analysts, generating DNA profiles can take anywhere from several hours to several days. Most often, public laboratories tasked with processing DNA samples are overworked and under-resourced, creating a seemingly insurmountable backlog of DNA samples that can prolong results for another 30 to 60 days.
The reality is law enforcement currently only use DNA profiling to link suspects to a crime scene or victim long after the time of the incident––not for the positive identification of an individual in custody. This particular application necessitates real-time results.
The Advent of Rapid DNA
The introduction of long-awaited Rapid DNA technology, real-time DNA results, stands to revolutionize the practice of forensics. The latest tools can yield results in as little as 60 minutes and require minimal operator training. Such technology makes the addition of a DNA profile to the information typically collected from a suspect at booking (fingerprints, mug shots and biographical information) both possible and compelling.
As Rapid DNA technology continues to excel in speed and accuracy, DNA profiling and DNA databases will be an excellent identification tool––made even more powerful when linked to criminal history and biographical databases. Following the automated methodology established for fingerprinting, DNA will become an immediate driving force for investigations, not a piece of evidence received well after the case is underway. Analyzed samples can be checked against databases, like CODIS or local genetic databases, for unsolved crime scene profiles, as well as databases of known offender/arrestee profiles, giving investigators the intelligence to establish definitive leads.
The evolution of Rapid DNA also has significant implications for criminal, immigration and counterterrorism applications.