Quickies

Quickies: Brogrammers, bad victims, and MRAs mad at Dawkins

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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8 Comments

  1. I worked at a company that developed reagents to analyze the backlog of incorrectly stored, incorrectly collected and old rape kits. We were told that if such products were available, states and the Feds would buy thousands of units. Turns out it was more like a few hundred.

    Based on what I know about the reagent cost and process, the most expensive part (the rape exam) is already done. I would like to see a cost breakdown for the claim that processing the old kits is going to cost >$1000 each.

    1. Ah, USA, where they charge you $50 for a urine dipstick test!
      I bet most of that $1000 is for buggerising around and paperwork.

      What do they measure in these kits anyway? (It’s kind of related to what I do but I know nothing about forensic stuff.)

      1. The kits PCR amplify the same microsatellite markers used in the old restriction fragment length polymorphism Southern blots. I think they also added some single nucleotide polymorphisms since then (the paternity tests are all based on SNPs). However, they wanted the old microsatellites to compare to the old Southern blot data. Current kits do multiplex amplifications with different fluorescent labels for each marker. This allows a full genotyping to be done on a single gel lane. They use capillary gradient gels similar to sequencing gels to get good resolution.

        Really, they are simple, PCR-based genotyping assays.

        At my old company, even if you did one sample at a time with all the control redone for every sample, the genotyping reagents would cost <$70/sample and the DNA purification <$9/sample. A commercial gel to separate 2 samples with all controls for each sample (which is redundant for, say, your no DNA control) would run you $1000/sample cost is coming from if the rape kit is already done…

        1. Wow, the post really edited my last paragraph badly. Delete that last sentence. It should read:

          A commercial gel to separate 2 samples with all controls for each sample (which is redundant for, say, your no DNA control) would run you about $11. If a technician is only doing 1 sample at a time, he should be able to handle 4/day. Labor costs might run $60/sample for all employee costs (salary, insurance, social security, etc.) if you have a highly paid technician. I want to know where the $1000/sample cost is coming from if the rape kit is already done…

  2. Thanks for that answer!
    My glib response to your final question might be something like “corporate overhead”!

    What about interpretation? I guess somebody has to put the results on a database and compare to a host of past offenders/new suspects?

    1. Interpretation should be quite easy. You put in the sizes of your microsatellite amplicons and look at all the close matches that pop out. SNPs are even easier since they are positive or negative. It is like finding a homologous sequence in the GenBank database.

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