OREANDA-NEWS.  NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701) and NEC New Zealand carried out a field trial with the Institute of Environmental Science & Research Limited (ESR) to evaluate NEC's Portable DNA Analyzer that is currently under development. This Analyzer extracts and analyzes human DNA for personal identification purposes.

This evaluation of the Portable DNA Analyzer, facilitated by NEC and NEC New Zealand, is the first completed outside of Japan and follows a trial held last year with the Japanese National Research Institute of Police Science. The trial was carried out at the ESR DNA laboratory in Auckland from May 20 to the 31st. ESR is a New Zealand government-owned Crown Research Institute, and sole provider of forensic science services to New Zealand Police.  ESR's scientists examine crime scenes and analyze forensic samples, which includes DNA analysis.

"We are very pleased to bring this technology to New Zealand, and to work together with ESR," said Leonard Dench, General Manager, NEC New Zealand.

During the trial, mucous (buccal) and blood, including liquid, dry and stain samples, were evaluated by the P-DNA Analyzer. Results were compared to existing ESR reference profiles. In total, 34 samples were analyzed, with each sample analysis taking less than 60 minutes. The testing also included a saliva sample from the edge of a plastic bottle and mixed buccal sample from two individuals. To simulate real situations, the P-DNA Analyzer was also used outside the laboratory. Results obtained during the trial were very encouraging and represented an important milestone in bringing the P-DNA Analyzer closer to commercial release. The P-DNA Analyzer's ease of use, portability and speed of analysis make it an ideal tool for deployment at crime scenes.

"We're testing the device to understand how it can be used in New Zealand to get the fastest identification of people involved in crimes, while maintaining the same level of quality and accuracy of the existing tests," said ESR Forensic Development Manager, Bjorn Sutherland.

Prof. Minoru Asogawa, DNA Project Director, NEC, said this technology can not only be applied to criminal investigation, but can also have applications in medical treatment, patient identification and immigration. Other applications could include food, agriculture and animal pedigree determination.

The P-DNA Analyzer consists of an analyzer chip (a plastic board for analysis), a reagent package and the portable analyzer unit. NEC is working with partner companies in the development of a variety of the analyzer's components. By doing this, development can be accelerated, costs reduced, and NEC can continue to oversee project quality and direct development. The P-DNA Analyzer is designed to be user-friendly, enabling DNA analysis to be carried out by non-scientific specialists without pipette analysis.

The process of DNA analysis consists of (1) cell extraction, (2) DNA extraction, (3) PCR amplification (*1), (4) electrophoresis to size DNA fragments, and (5) STR analysis to specify individual profiles (*2). Conventional DNA analysis uses separate and often bulky devices to carry out each phase of the process, typically requiring around three days. The P-DNA Analyzer can successfully complete analysis in under 60 minutes, in a portable, miniaturized suitcase sized package.