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Spotlight: How Cybergenetics’ DNA software brings closure, justice to ‘unsolvable’ cases

The company’s TrueAllele technology routinely solves “impossible” DNA mixtures, transforming uninterpretable forensic DNA data into useful information

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Company name: Cybergenetics
Headquarters: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Signature Product: TrueAllele technology

1. Where did your company name originate from?

Combining “cyber” and “genetics” to describe how computers solve genetic problems.

2. What was the inspiration behind starting your company?

Cybergenetics was founded in 1994. The initial focus was genetics, using computers to automate the interpretation of DNA data for medical diagnosis and gene discovery. Five years later, the company transitioned into forensic analysis, helping to eliminate backlogs and solving the DNA mixture problem. The company’s TrueAllele technology then helped identify victim remains after the attacks on the World Trade Center.

3. What is your signature product and how does it work?

TrueAllele technology routinely solves “impossible” DNA mixtures, transforming uninterpretable forensic DNA data into useful information. When DNA data is deemed “inconclusive” or “too complex,” Cybergenetics provides informative results when no one else can.

4. Why do you believe your products are essential to the police community?

Cybergenetics helps investigators solve crimes through complex DNA evidence. A free TrueAllele screening can turn a lab’s “inconclusive” DNA into highly informative evidence. We’ll tell you if your suspect is in the DNA and how the evidence can help close your case. Cast-off samples or CODIS hits then connect criminals to crime scenes, leading to arrest and conviction.

5. What has been the biggest challenge your company has faced?

The World Trade Center attacks. In 2006, Cybergenetics reanalyzed DNA data from 18,000 victim remains in the World Trade Center disaster using its TrueAllele technology. The automated analysis and databasing compared the genotypes of these remains with 2,700 missing people to find DNA associations and help identify victim remains.

6. What makes your company unique?

Most DNA evidence can’t be easily analyzed or uploaded to a database. Mixtures of two or more people, small DNA amounts, kinship questions – this complex data defies simple allele analysis or databasing. As a result, the DNA information is lost to criminal justice.

However, TrueAllele technology changed all that when Cybergenetics invented the genotype database. Bayesian computer analysis of complex DNA preserves all identification information. Mixed DNA is unmixed into component genotypes. Each inferred genotype can be stored, displayed and compared. Genotype match statistics measure association strength between DNA items. Cybergenetics gets the right answer using all the data.

7. What do your customers like best about you and your products?

The free screening on all DNA evidence data. Some states and cities send all their “inconclusive” data to Cybergenetics because “why not?”

8. What is the most rewarding part of serving the first responder community?

Bringing closure to previously “unsolvable” cases. Reaching better justice through better science.

9. Do you support any charitable organizations within public safety or the community? Tell us more.

Justice Through Science is a nonprofit public charity whose mission is to bring better science into criminal justice through forensic education and public service.

10. Is there any fun fact or trivia that you’d like to share about you or your company?

Cybergenetics has not only helped U.S. police investigators, but also the FBI, Marine Corp, Air Force and Department of Homeland Security.

11. What’s next for your company? Any upcoming new projects or initiatives?

Gun databases with the ability to map related crimes using DNA from guns and shell casings.