Pressure BioSciences, Inc. (OTCQB:PBIO), a life sciences company developing its pressure cycling technology (PCT), plans to expand collaboration with key forensic groups to speed up the launch of a PCT-based rape kit processing system as scientists unveiled further progress in developing an improved method for the kit.
Scientists from Florida International University (FIU) reported further advancements in their goal to develop an improved method for rape kit testing based on the PCT platform at the recent annual scientific meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), the South Easton, Massachusetts-based company said in a statement on Thursday.
"The backlog of untested rape kits is a national travesty," the statement quoted Dr. Nate Lawrence, VP of marketing and sales, as saying. "It is imperative that improved methods be developed as soon as possible to help ensure that testing of rape kit samples be completed promptly."
There is an estimated backlog of up to 400,000 untested rape kits throughout the United States. Thousands of untested rape kits have been found on dusty shelves in police storage warehouses and forensic labs nationwide, according to several media reports.
The added tragedy to these findings is that, in some cases, more rapid and otherwise improved test methods might have led to arrests of perpetrators sooner and, subsequently, might have prevented additional rapes and other violent crimes from occurring.
Ms. Deepthi Nori presented encouraging results from studies of the application of PCT to improve rape kit testing. Nori is a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Bruce McCord, Associate Director of FIU's International Forensic Research Institute and principal investigator of the study.
Their method is based on the unique ability of PCT to break open and release DNA from one type of cell contained in the rape kit swab, such as a sperm cell from the perpetrator, while leaving a second type of cell in the swab intact, such as an epithelial cell from the victim.
The resulting unique DNA profile of the sperm can then be compared to the millions of DNA profiles contained in various DNA databases around the world, in an attempt to determine the identity of the perpetrator.
"We are very pleased with the continued progress being made by Dr. Bruce McCord and his team in the development of an improved method for rape kit testing based on our patented PCT platform," said Lawrence. "We remain committed to our support of Dr. McCord and his team," he added.
"We have begun discussions with additional forensic scientists with rape kit testing expertise, in order to expand the number of collaborations we have in this area," Lawrence said.
"We expect these new collaborations to augment and extend the work of Dr. McCord and his team, which can potentially result in accelerating the development and launch of our PCT-based Rape Kit Processing System," he said.
Separately, Dr. Pero Dimsoski, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at FIU, reported on a novel cell capture method that, when used in combination with PCT, could potentially allow a greater number of the sperm cells in the rape kit sample to be available for testing, and fewer epithelial cells from the victim, resulting in an even better DNA profile of the perpetrator.
It is believed that a better profile of the perpetrator's DNA should lead to more rapid identifications, which could lead to an increase in arrests and successful prosecutions of perpetrators.
When the city of Detroit tested the first 600 of their backlog of 11,000 untested rape kits, they reported that the analysis of a rape kit sample collected in 2002 and not tested until 2009 revealed DNA that belonged to a criminal who was in prison for the murder of three women. However, the murders were committed during the seven years that the kit remained untested, sitting in a warehouse.
Shares of Pressure BioSciences rose 2 percent to 26 cents at 1:10 p.m. on Thursday. The stock has gained 25 percent so far this year.
Founded in 1978, Pressure BioSciences is focused on the development, marketing, and sale of proprietary laboratory instrumentation and associated consumables based on PCT.
It currently focuses its efforts on the development and sale of PCT-enhanced sample preparation systems for mass spectrometry, biomarker discovery, bio-therapeutics characterization, vaccine development, soil and plant biology, forensics, histology, and counter-bioterror applications.
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