NEC portable DNA lab -- NEC Corporation has teamed up with Aida Engineering to develop a briefcase-sized DNA analysis system that allows police to perform comprehensive DNA testing at crime scenes in as little as 25 minutes. NEC is calling the device the world's first portable all-in-one DNA analysis system able to handle all DNA testing processes from extraction to analysis. Designed specifically for law enforcement officials and planned for release in 2008, the system measures 50 x 40 x 20 cm (20 x 16 x 8 in.), making it small enough to be carried to crime scenes or other locations where quick DNA analysis is required.

Nowadays it typically takes about one day to complete a DNA analysis (one week if re-testing or confirmation is required), and a variety of different equipment is used to perform the separate processes. NEC's new portable system, on the other hand, can perform all the processes within the same unit -- and it can do it all more quickly. In particular, the compact unit can be used to: (1) take cell samples, (2) extract the DNA, (3) perform polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification to generate copies of the DNA, (4) perform electrophoresis to measure the spacing between DNA bands (to create the genetic fingerprint), and (5) perform short tandem repeat (STR) analysis to create a unique genetic profile for the individual. In addition, the compact unit dramatically speeds up the processes -- particularly the repeated heating and cooling processes performed in PCR amplification -- making it possible to complete the entire DNA analysis in 25 minutes.

The system will be exhibited at the 18th International Symposium on Human Identification scheduled for October 1 to 4 in Los Angeles, and at a meeting of the Japanese Association of Sociology of Law scheduled for November 8 in Tokyo.

[Source: NEC press release]