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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.

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.

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.

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

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