Business & Tech

90-Minute DNA testing kit receives FBI approval

NetBio, a Waltham company that created a system promising to provide a full DNA fingerprint profile in only 90 minutes, has received FBI approval, giving the system the go-ahead to be used in accredited DNA labs.

This is the FBI’s first approval of such a system. It is unclear to what extent FBI labs will use the NetBio technology. But by allowing crime laboratories to obtain a full DNA profile in less than two hours, the approval could mean a breakthrough in the field of forensic analysis, said Richard Selden, chief executive of NetBio.

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The test kit, dubbed DNAscan, is about the size of a large microwave oven and can read a DNA sample taken via cheek swab. Once a profile is generated, it can be compared with profiles listed in national and state crime databases, helping to determine whether a person is connected to other crimes.

Selden said the technology could also help ease testing backlogs for rape kits, which can go untested for long periods of time.

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Currently the technology is only allowed in labs, but a congressional bill has been introduced that would allow the system to be used in police stations, so law enforcement officials to get a full DNA profile of a person soon after they are arrested.

Each unit has a list price of $350,000, Selden said, and was tested in labs in Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Dubai.

The company has partnered with GE Healthcare Life Sciences to market the product.

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NetBio was founded at MIT’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in 2000.

Katheleen Conti can be reached at kconti@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKConti.
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