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By Chen J., Zhang D.

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Non-genetic contamination may result in sample breakdown or inhibition of the amplification of DNA, which may in turn lead to an inconclusive DNA result. Genetic contamination occurs when DNA evidence comes into contact with DNA from other sources, for example: • Persons who have had access to the samples collected (operator contamination); • Other samples (cross-contamination); • Equipment and materials used to collect and analyse the samples (laboratory contamination); • The environment generally (background contamination).

The profiles themselves may or may not be reported in the laboratory report but the outcomes and conclusions from the testing will always be reported. • If the quality is sufficient, the profiles will be forwarded to the DNA Database. This will often not be possible when mixed stains or very low amounts of stains are detected. These samples can often be used for a direct comparison at a later stage when a suspect is found. • Interpretation of results inconclusive • An inconclusive - DNA report in which the suspect is neither excluded nor included can occur due to insufficient DNA being present in the exhibits or the poor quality of the evidence.

This implies that the samples are no longer handled in individual tubes but rather as batches on 96-well plates. Each sample and plate has a unique identification number through which its progress can be tracked via the sample management system. Expert systems are now being used PAGE 42 QUALITY ASSURANCE to interpret the more complex results generated from crime scene samples, such as mixtures. However scientists are still required to review and validate the interpretation before it can be officially accepted.

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