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Determining the optimal forensic DNA analysis procedure following investigation of sample quality

Journal article
Authors Ronny Hedell
Johannes Hedman
Petter Mostad
Published in International Journal of Legal Medicine
Volume 132
Issue 4
Pages 955-966
ISSN 0937-9827
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Mathematical Sciences
Pages 955-966
Language en
Links doi.org/10.1007/s00414-017-1635-1
Keywords Allele dropout, Bayesian decision theory, DNA degradation, DNA quantification, PCR
Subject categories Probability Theory and Statistics, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Abstract

© 2017 Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany Crime scene traces of various types are routinely sent to forensic laboratories for analysis, generally with the aim of addressing questions about the source of the trace. The laboratory may choose to analyse the samples in different ways depending on the type and quality of the sample, the importance of the case and the cost and performance of the available analysis methods. Theoretically well-founded guidelines for the choice of analysis method are, however, lacking in most situations. In this paper, it is shown how such guidelines can be created using Bayesian decision theory. The theory is applied to forensic DNA analysis, showing how the information from the initial qPCR analysis can be utilized. It is assumed the alternatives for analysis are using a standard short tandem repeat (STR) DNA analysis assay, using the standard assay and a complementary assay, or the analysis may be cancelled following quantification. The decision is based on information about the DNA amount and level of DNA degradation of the forensic sample, as well as case circumstances and the cost for analysis. Semi-continuous electropherogram models are used for simulation of DNA profiles and for computation of likelihood ratios. It is shown how tables and graphs, prepared beforehand, can be used to quickly find the optimal decision in forensic casework.

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