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New concept for fingerprint analysis: bioaffinity-based systems utilizing amino acids

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $49,862)

As submitted by the proposer: Forensic science has become a rapidly growing field in the recent years and has garnered the attention of many researchers. Since the establishment of this field, many studies have been performed for the improvement and expansion of forensics. There is, however, an area that has remained mostly unmodified – fingerprint analysis. Currently, the only viable method for fingerprint analysis is the use of pictorial comparison; this has not changed in the past century. While useful for identification, this method is highly dependent upon the possession of a matching print and, therefore, provides limited information. Contrary to popular belief, fingerprints are not only comprised of groves and ridges, but also possess a unique chemical composition which is created by the accumulation of sebum, sweat, and fat at the fingertips. This proposal presents an outline for the development of novel bioaffinity-based assays used for the analysis of the fingerprint contents mentioned above. Bioaffinity-based assays are systems that contain biological recognition components utilized for the binding of a particular analyte or set of analytes. This type of application has become popular due to the simplicity of analysis and the ease of use. The major goal of this proposal will be to transition this type of application into the field of forensic science. This is possible by turning the concept of point-of-care applications into point-of-detection applications, where biological samples left at different crime scenes can be used to determine basic physical information about the sample originator quickly and directly on-site. This methodology bypasses the need to collect, transport, and wait for the completion of complex lab-based analyses. The immediate focus of this proposal is the study of the chemical content present in fingerprint samples, which has been greatly overlooked as important evidence over the years. The research presented here aims to create a reliable system for distinguishing between different demographic groups from fingerprint samples by identifying various physical traits of the sample originators. The first trait that is targeted is gender; preliminary results have shown that there is a potential of distinguishing gender from fingerprint samples depending on the particular analyte(s) and bioaffinity-based assays used. Additional cascades will later be proposed and developed for distinguishing other physical traits. The bioaffinity-based assays and field-deployable devices produced from this research can improve the field of forensic science by producing reliable methods of fingerprint analysis that can be utilized with individuals with little to no scientific background. Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law. ca/ncf

Date Created: August 1, 2016