BLUFFDALE – A Utah-based company’s forensic DNA collection system will be soon featured on internationally watched television.
“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” the No. 1 TV show worldwide, is about a team of forensic investigators in Las Vegas who use both cutting-edge scientific methods and old-fashioned police work to solve crimes. In the upcoming season 13 episode 21, set to air May 8 at 9 p.m. local time on CBS, the investigators will be using the revolutionary technology of wet-vacuum DNA collection to help crack a particularly tough case.
During the episode, entitled “Ghosts of the Past,” investigators work diligently to solve a copycat crime at a long-abandoned slaughterhouse where a serial killer was shot and killed over 20 years ago after taking seven young lives. DNA Lab Tech Henry Andrews (played by Jon Wellner) uses the most sensitive and scalable DNA collection method available to help solve the mystery: A new wet-vacuum sampling device called the M-Vac System. Situated in the show’s DNA lab, the M-Vac will be used to collect the suspect’s DNA from several toys found at a shrine inside the slaughterhouse where three new murders are committed in the same style as the original serial killer. M-Vac will prove to be a crucial element in solving the case of who is committing these new murders.
The show is fictional, but the technology is real — and straight out of Utah. Headquartered in Bluffdale, M-Vac Systems, Inc. creates, develops and manufactures the consumables needed for the wet-vacuum DNA collection method. The system featured on “CSI” is being used by a number of police departments, CSIs and crime labs across the country and is being actively investigated by many more. Research universities including the University of California, David and Boston University are also conducting validations of the M-Vac collection method versus traditional methods, with impressive results. In several studies, the M-Vac has collected between five and 100 times more DNA material than the swab method.
“The M-Vac System is cutting-edge and the new standard for DNA collection from porous substrates, large surfaces and where DNA material is scarce,” said Wayne Carlsen, vice president of engineering and operations for M-Vac Systems. “It is an excellent tool for collecting forensic DNA material in casework where the traditional methods have either failed or have a minimal chance of collecting enough material to generate a viable profile. It has already been used on a number of active and cold cases and has produced positive results. It isn’t the end-all cure-all, but it is a powerful police work tool that will change the way forensic DNA collection is done.”
“There are hundreds of thousands of cold cases in the FBI database, many of them heinous crimes like homicides, rapes and armed assaults” said Jared Bradley, president of M-Vac Systems. “Standard collection techniques just do not have the physical agitation and force needed to collect DNA material from the fibers, cracks and crevices of a porous material, especially if there is a minimal amount of the DNA material. If there is DNA on the evidence, the best chance to collect it is with an M-Vac.”
In M-Vac collection, a sterile, DNA and RNase-free solution is sprayed onto the surface and simultaneously vacuumed, creating a synergy between the two mechanical forces that results in a significantly higher recovery of the DNA material. The solution and the targeted DNA are captured in the collection bottle on the M-Vac, then re concentrated down using one of several available methods that are common in every crime lab. Key members of the “CSI” production team immediately saw its value when they were first introduced to it.
“We at CSI are very excited to be able to use the M-Vac for collecting DNA evidence,” Lead Technical Writer and former CSI Rich Catalani said. “I believe this new technology will greatly benefit us on the show as well as in the real world. It will allow CSIs to collect and process DNA evidence that may be too diffuse for normal collection techniques. We are always looking for new technology to feature on our show. Thanks to the folks at M-Vac and Sheila Thomas, our CSI Product Integration.”
“The M-Vac System turned out to be a crucial crime solving piece of machinery in our story,” Director Brad Tanenbaum said. “We were lucky to have it and look forward to solving many more crimes with it in the future.”
Submitted by: M-Vac Systems, Inc.