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Crime Scene Presumptive Sperm Identification Test for Sexual Assault Evidence and DNA Collection

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Sex-Assault-ID (Crime Scene Presumptive Sperm Identification Test for Sexual Assault Evidence and DNA Collection)

Berichtszeitraum: 2018-08-01 bis 2019-01-31

Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) requires technology for a rapid, non-destructive, and accurate detection of a wide variety of evidence including invisible stains of bodily fluids. Particularly crucial is the discrimination of semen in stained evidences from sexual assault cases as those evidences have high odds of containing aggressor DNA.
However, if rape is a global scourge and reported cases increased dramatically over the past years, there is no real solution offered to the Crime Science Technicians (CST) to screen efficiently the scene looking for semen.
If prevention programs are a major strategy to pursue for countries, every innovation that helps fighting and accelerating investigation to find assaulter is absolutely essential and a top priority in budget allocation, especially when we know that 2/3 of offenders are repeat offenders and 99% of rapes are committed by a male. These facts clearly highlights the need for rapid identification of offenders.
Besides, the global cost of rape over society is really high, research indicates that the cost of violence against women in the world could amount to 1.5 trillion.
Here we aim at evaluating the feasibility of a new product STK Spray. The product will be part of the Crime Scene Technician (CST) tool box. It will permit to reveal semen stains over suspected materials (fabrics, carpets, sofas, beddings, car seats, flooring, etc, comprising items that cannot be send to the laboratory) within 3 minutes. The CST will then be able to sample the stains and send them for DNA profiling. Such technical product has no equivalent and, while helping scientific police to fight crime, potential market is worldwide.
The overall objective is to demonstrate technical and commercial feasibility of STK Spray product.
STK Spray is a new product formulation which has been developed for Crime Scene Technician, in order to find invisible to the eye semen stains. The proof of concept formulation developed allows specific detection of human semen, enabling a clear distinction with other body fluids in presence.
Furthermore, forensics collection tests achieved show that the product does not affect DNA, and allow for a direct sampling of the DNA contained in sperm cells. The swab collected is compatible with the analytical tools for DNA profile generation and identification of the suspect. Besides, the formulation was engineered to be compatible with scale-up production.
The performances of STK Spray prototype formulation were evaluated: specificity regarding human semen was verified in laboratory environment on different types of materials (hard and soft): lacquered table, raw wood, stainless steel, hard plastic flooring, glass, concrete and thick carpet.
The sensitivity of the detection of semen was also verified through laboratory experiments. The STK Spray permits to detect semen down to a 1/20 dilution of dry micro droplets, on any kind of tested material.
In parallel, a market study was performed. It expressed clearly that rapes and sexual aggressions is a worldwide scourge. The trend of reporting and fighting it is on the rise: the trend in rape reporting increased by 10% from 1996 to 2001 and then by 17% from 2001 to 2010 globally. Additionally, the global cost to society of these assaults is really high. Thus, there is an obvious market for any product or process that will improve the resolution rate of these sexual assaults.
The work achieved demonstrates technical and commercial feasibility of STK Spray product. A positive decision to pursue and finalize the product development toward its commercialization has been made.
The product foreseen, STK Spray, has now reached a TRL 4 (development level : technology validated in laboratory).
The expected performances of the product prototype are beyond expected results, in terms of specificity and sensitivity. Furthermore the market size and the estimated final production cost of the STK Spray are encouraging AXO Science to pursue the development in order to push this innovative product on the market.
To go further, we will validate and demonstrate the use of STK spray in relevant environment. The production will be scaled–up, validated and secured in the frame of ISO18385 and ISO13485 norms.
Once used in routine by crime scene technician, a significant reduction of sexual assaults will be observed, by allowing the faster and more accurate identification and arrest of perpetrators. As 2/3 of them are repeat offenders, the number of aggression will diminish considerably. The social and economic benefit of the STK spray will be obvious.
STK Spray principle for semen detection leading toon DNA identification