Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2019, $499,545)
Rapid and efficient processing of sexual assault evidence will accelerate forensic investigation and decrease casework backlogs. Therefore, the standardized protocols currently used in forensic laboratories will need continued innovation to handle the increasing number and complexity of samples being submitted to forensic labs. To our knowledge, currently no rapid differential extraction technology, which includes both sperm isolation and efficient lysis is available. Here, we propose to develop a novel sperm capture and differential extraction strategy that utilizes bio-inspired material integrated bead platform. The bio-inspired material-integrated beads will (i) selectively capture sperm from sexual assault samples, (ii) be sensitive within the forensic cut-off (with ±10% error range), provide cost effective solution and (iii) handle small volume of sample (<100 ìL). This strategy can rapidly isolate sperm within 20 minutes of incubation that will prepare the extracted sample for downstream forensic analysis and ultimately help accelerate forensic investigation and reduce casework backlogs. To fulfill our goal, we will complete the following specific aims. We will first develop a specific surface chemistry to modify magnetic beads with a unique sperm capture reagent. We will further develop an integrated system with bio-inspired material beads to capture and quantitate the number of sperm in a forensic sample and to develop specific protocols for forensic applications with the system (Aim 1). We will then evaluate the bio-inspired material-integrated bead platform with a statistically relevant number of adjudicated sexual assault samples through our collaboration with the Broward Sheriffs Office Forensic Laboratory (Aim 2). We will conduct a Developmental Validation of the system including sensitivity, precision and accuracy, reproducibility, stability studies and correlation with currently used methods, resulting in commercialization of a next generation system to accelerate the differential extraction process for forensic investigations (Aim 3).
Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14).