Pressure BioSciences Inc. is targeting a new market for its pressure cycling technology: Forensics labs.
Richard Schumacher, president and CEO of Easton, Mass.-based PBI, told MassDevice that the company always considered forensics as a potential target but never actively pursued it until research results presented at a forensics conference highlighted the device’s potential to improve DNA extraction, that’s when they decided that hiring forensic engineering services was probably a good idea.
“Forensics is an area that was always important to us, but it wasn’t an area that was going to drive our business until last week,” Schumacher told us. “The data generated by the University of North Texas were extremely exciting. They are considered by many to be one of the top, if not the top, forensics labs in the U.S.”
The data Schumacher was referring to came from research performed at UNT’s Fort Worth-based forensics lab. It showed that adding a pressure cycling step to the DNA extraction process increased DNA yield and sped up the process, especially with challenging forensic samples that might not ordinarily produce enough DNA to be useful.
“The data were extremely strong, extremely compelling, on adding pressure cycling technology to the workflow for their DNA testing. ” Schumacher said.
His company’s device can generate extremely high pressures — in some cases equivalent to pressures found at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, more than five miles deep in the Pacific Ocean — to help break down proteins and other lab samples.
“This is something that crime labs and others should consider adding to their procedures. They used our standard instrument and that what makes this so exciting,” Schumacher said. “DNA is what crime labs are testing for, to put people away and to get people out who are in jail and shouldn’t be. But sometimes the quantity of DNA just isn’t there.”
There are 800 to 1,500 crime labs around the world that could use the device, he estimated.