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Forensic DNA

The ultimate goal for iMed Laboratories is to make a significant contribution to establishing South Africa as the biotechnology hub for Africa in the field of Molecular DNA profiling. With our multifunctional fully equipped molecular biotechnology laboratory, iMed renders comprehensive services in the areas of forensic DNA profiling and parental testing, thereby making a profound contribution towards solving South Africa’s most urgent pressing needs in the areas of Forensic DNA profiling and Gender Based Violence, thereby advancing justice through DNA technology.

Forensic DNA evidence has tremendous potential to solve some of our Nation’s most serious crimes. However, DNA currently is not used to its full potential in the criminal justice system. One of the biggest problems facing the criminal justice system today is the substantial backlog of unanalysed DNA samples and biological evidence from crime scenes, especially in sexual assault and murder cases.  Too often, crime scene samples wait unanalysed in police or crime lab storage facilities.  Timely analysis of these samples and placement into DNA databases can avert tragic results. 

Forensic science & DNA testing are highly technical processes requiring extreme accuracy, thoroughness, and documentation. When the two disciplines are combined, only a forensic DNA laboratory with expert molecular biology scientists, and critically refined processing techniques, supported by a quality management system, can provide the level of performance needed to assure quality forensic DNA testing results that can withstand rigorous review. DNA testing must be conducted in a laboratory with dedicated facilities and equipment that meet stringent requirements.

molecular biotechnology laboratory

iMed has its own multifunctional, fully equipped molecular biotechnology laboratory and therefore do not need to send samples to a second party laboratory or to subcontract any testing activities. For test results to be accepted by South African courts of law, certain procedures must be followed to preserve the chain of custody when collecting samples for analysis. The chain of custody requires documentation of every person who has handled the sample and everywhere it has been. If the chain of custody procedure is handled correctly, forensic laboratory evidence can be admitted in court with the assurance that the item was collected from the stated location and/or person in question without compromising the evidence. Once your sample reaches our laboratory, the samples remain within our direct control throughout the entire process of sample receipt, sample storage, DNA extraction, purification, quantification, profiling, result analysis, reporting and sample retention. Together with our rigid sample handling procedures that are fully ISO 17025 compliant within the forensic field, we ensure 100% confidentiality and greatly limit the risk of samples getting lost, displaced, or mislabelled. A result is only as good and as valid as the sample the result is derived from.

Fast test turnaround times

Without any subcontracting, with all testing activities being performed on site, we keep the test turnaround times as short as scientifically possible and the cost as low as possible without compromising on quality.

Testimony in a criminal case

iMed Laboratories is independent of the prosecution to ensure that our analysts can provide objective tests and testimony in a criminal case.

privately owned South African company

iMed is a privately owned South African company specialising in forensic medicine, criminal investigations, and paternity testing. Short tandem repeat (STR) profiling that were introduced in the early 1990’s as a new polymorphic DNA marker type and have since become the golden standard in DNA databases, criminal casework, paternity and kinship analysis, and identification of missing persons. We make use of STR kits that meets the guidelines for ISO 18385 certification with maximum commonality in markers to make more cross-border identifications. Once the DNA profile is obtained from the sample provided, it can be used for our standard paternity testing as well as for our range of other DNA tests.

DNA Relationship Testing can be requested for several reasons:

DNA Relationship testing includes:

We offer paternity testing both for legal/maintenance purposes as well as self-collection tests for ‘peace of mind’.
Peace of mind’ paternity tests can be done for individuals requiring the outcome of the test for their own knowledge using a self-collection paternity test kit. These results will not be able to be used in court or for any legal purposes.
Should the results be required for court, sampling must be performed by a registered medical practitioner or registered nurse and chain of custody maintained throughout the entire chain from the point of origin through the analysis stages to the ultimate storage of the sample.

Forensic Relationship DNA testing

Forensic DNA Relationship testing is often used in criminal situations such as rape or incest where there are products of conception. In addition, forensic paternity/maternity tests, as well as other family relationship tests, could be used to identify missing victims or suspects through their family members who are available for testing.

Using DNA to solve crimes

DNA is generally used to solve crimes in one of two ways. In cases where a suspect is identified, a sample of that person’s DNA can be compared to evidence from the crime scene. The results of this comparison may help establish whether the suspect committed the crime. In cases where a suspect has not yet been identified, biological evidence from the crime scene can be analysed and compared to offender profiles in DNA databases to help identify the perpetrator. Crime scene evidence can also be linked to other crime scenes through the use of DNA databases.