George Heinrichs, CEO
A typical morning at an immigration office is composed of the hustle and bustle of officers verifying the identity of entrants into the country. When an eleven-year-old girl accompanied by an adult who claims to be her father presents questionable identification for the child, there is an immediate need to verify the relationship.
With a potential human trafficking victim and offender right in front of them, the immigration officers understand the critical importance of determining kinship. Traditionally, evaluating the claim’s veracity would require a DNA identification conducted by scientists at an off-site lab, a process that could take months or longer. During this wait, the child may be separated from her legitimate parent or she may be permitted to enter the country with a sex trafficker. In either case, delayed DNA testing carries grave consequences.
DNA IDs (also known as “DNA Fingerprints”) are broadly accepted as the gold standard for human identification in that they are orders of magnitude more accurate than other biometrics. However, the value of DNA IDs is dramatically diminished by the excessive time required for processing in labs already overwhelmed by the sheer volume of samples.
In this case, if the immigration office has an ANDE Rapid DNA Identification System, the immigration agents would be able to carry out their work more effectively than ever before. ANDE is able to generate DNA IDs from the claimed parent and child on-site in less than two hours. The resulting DNA IDs are evaluated using ANDE’s kinship software, allowing an immediate determination of the claimed relationship. ANDE Rapid DNA is breaking new ground by delivering answers when and where they matter most.
Easy Integration and Flexible Deployment Model
Like many market-disrupting innovations over the past century, the ability to truly create a paradigm shift is not so much in the technology itself, but rather how it is implemented by the people who use it. The power of ANDE is that it is state-of-the-art human identification technology that easily integrates into legacy infrastructure systems.
ANDE is designed for simple integration with an existing system without forcing operators to have a new UX. In the rare occasion when a single unit requires maintenance, all the other units operate independently, maintaining high levels of production for the system at all times.
Additionally, ANDE can address scalability without any disruption to the network. ANDE can be deployed at a single workstation or can be integrated into a multiple-instrument configuration for testing any volume of DNA samples. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 29,926 families were determined inadmissible at the Southwest Border in the six-month period from October 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018. Now or perhaps in the future, U.S. Customs and Border Protection field offices in El Paso, Laredo, San Diego and Tucson may benefit from an ANDE Rapid DNA network solution.
“ANDE is designed for simple integration into existing systems. For our customers, it is almost as easy as adding a new printer. It’s a short technology implementation cycle and will have a limited impact on existing applications,” says ANDE Corporation CEO, George Heinrichs. “We can meet our customers where they are at and work with them to create a solution that works for their respective needs.”
Rapid DNA is Ready: Current Applications
While Rapid DNA technology has obvious implications for combating human trafficking, the applications for this technology are wide-ranging and ANDE is already in use in the U.S. and around the world. Rapid DNA has changed the paradigm for DNA identification, and this new paradigm can impact a wide range of applications:
• Border Security.
ANDE is designed for simple integration into existing systems. For our customers, it is almost as easy as adding a new printer. It’s a short technology implementation cycle and will have a limited impact on existing applications.
DNA IDs are generated at legal points of entry as well as for individuals apprehended while attempting to enter the country illegally. The resulting DNA IDs are searched against criminal and terrorist DNA databases.
• Human Trafficking.
As mentioned earlier, in cases where appropriate documentation demonstrating paternity is either absent or not convincing, DNA IDs are generated from parents and their claimed children. The resulting DNA IDs are evaluated using ANDE’s kinship software, and an immediate determination of the claimed relationship is produced on-site.
• Disaster Victim Identification.
Immediately following a disaster, DNA IDs are generated from unidentified victims (alive or deceased) and human remains (including skeletal remains). Using familial searching, these are matched to a database containing DNA IDs of relatives of the missing, reducing identification times by months to years.
• Protection of Individuals at High Risk.
DNA IDs are generated from refugees and prisoners. Applications include the processing of Sexual Assault Kits, critical to identifying serial rapists preying on vulnerable populations, and family reunification for those separated during displacement.
• Law Enforcement.
Samples are collected at the crime scene and DNA IDs are immediately generated at the scene or local police station. The resulting DNA IDs are searched against local and national DNA databases, allowing rapid generation of investigative leads and identification of criminals. Similarly, DNA testing of arrestees and searching of DNA databases enables an arrestee to be tied to the other crimes he/she has committed. Arrestee testing at the police station is being broadly implemented across the U.S. by the FBI.
• Military Security.
DNA IDs are collected from all military personnel and stored in a central database. The database is searched to allow the identification of casualties. Furthermore, individual DNA IDs are searched against criminal and terrorist databases to prevent infiltration of military agencies.
How Rapid DNA Works
The ANDE System consists of a ruggedized instrument, a single-use, all-in-one consumable chip, and expert system software that work together to generate actionable results. The consumable chip accepts an oral swab or any number of forensic samples, including bloodstains, cigarette butts, or tissue samples.
Rapid DNA identification is the realtime generation of a DNA ID. DNA IDs are generated using the same basic steps, whether in a lab or with a Rapid DNA instrument. The first step is to break open the cells in a forensic sample. Then, copies must be made of 20 specific regions of the chromosomes, and then the sizes of those regions must be determined. It is the variation in size of these 20 regions that is characteristic of a given individual. The chance of two people having the identical DNA ID by chance is less than one in a trillion trillion.
Although the steps to generate a DNA ID are the same both in a Rapid DNA instrument and in a lab, the Rapid DNA approach is much more straightforward.
A person’s cheek or an evidence sample is collected with a swab, up to five swabs are placed into a chip, and the chip is placed into the ANDE instrument (Figure 1, How ANDE Works). All the required biochemistry comes pre-loaded in the chip and, following processing, the DNA result is analyzed automatically without manual manipulation.
Less than two hours after loading the chip, the DNA IDs are completed. Using software provided by ANDE, the FBI, or other third parties, the DNA ID is used to produce an actionable result.
ANDE Rapid DNA in Action
Many government agencies and organizations are utilizing ANDE Rapid DNA, both in the U.S. and internationally. Law enforcement agencies are using ANDE in their day-to-day investigative work. In serious crimes, understanding the evidence in hand and having the ability to identify the most likely criminal suspects is leading to more efficient investigations. Confirming solid DNA information prior to releasing crime scenes back to property owners prevents needless loss of evidence.
One example is a recent hit-and-run case, where a car was controlled by a group of valets. The law enforcement agency took sample swabs from the steering wheel and gear shift and compared them with samples taken from the valet attendants. With the ANDE System, the agency was able to quickly identify the criminal. “This was just one instance of ANDE helping to narrow down a group of potential suspects into the criminal,” explains Heinrichs. “Through this simple yet powerful concept, we aim to reduce human suffering and loss by identifying criminals quicker and allowing our justice system to work reliably with reasonable speed.” Only Rapid DNA could deliver answers in this timeframe.
The Potential Impact of Rapid DNA
Dr. Richard Selden MD, PhD, the Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of ANDE, had always been determined to do work that could change the world, although when he started his work on Rapid DNA, he didn’t realize where the journey would lead. A trained pediatrician and geneticist, his initial work was motivated by a desire to help sick children arriving in emergency rooms. Selden believed Rapid DNA analysis could be applied to determining the proper antibiotics to treat infections. Selden soon realized the enormous potential of Rapid DNA to dramatically improve public safety, and, after over a decade of pioneering research, his work resulted in the creation of the ANDE Rapid DNA Identification System. Recently awarded the 2018 Not Impossible Commitment Award and a 2017 R&D 100 Award, ANDE is early in its commercialization and is already demonstrating its potential to make a significant impact.
Although DNA evidence has assisted many criminal cases over the past two decades, the impact of DNA on law enforcement is still in its infancy. But big changes are on the horizon with the promise of widespread Rapid DNA