Going Global: M-Vac Systems
Originally posted in WTCU Newsletter August 10, 2017
After sitting as a cold case for nearly four decades, the 1977 murder of a Salt Lake City teenager was solved earlier this year thanks to the help of a wet vacuum DNA collection system designed by Sandy-based M-Vac Systems, a Utah company founded in 2002.
The DNA collection method pulled the murder’s full DNA profile from carefully preserved evidence, where the DNA could be used in the re-opened investigation and the murderer’s eventual conviction. Since 2012, M-Vac’s vacuum system has become an important tool in crime scene investigations domestically and internationally. M-Vac Chief Operating Officer Wayne Carlsen says China is one of the company’s largest export markets. Other growing foreign markets include the United Kingdom, Singapore, Vietnam, Korea, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Australia.
“Agencies using the M-Vac system, especially for difficult cases or when the evidence is large, rough or porous, are getting impressive results,” says President Jared Bradley, who notes that an increasing number of domestic and international police agencies and crime labs utilize the M-Vac System in their investigations.
“As investigators are assigned difficult cases, having a tool like the M-Vac immediately available helps immensely,” he continues. “It can collect critical DNA evidence from a variety of surfaces at the crime scene, in the evidence processing facility or in the crime lab. As the world’s most advanced wet-vacuum forensic DNA collection system, the M-Vac opens up cases and evidence to potential DNA profiles that were not available in the past.”
On June 8, the company received one of 13 Export Acceleration Grants from World Trade Center Utah to help grow its exports. Carlsen says the money will be used to help facilitate M-Vac’s growth in Singapore and Vietnam. Though it is a small company, M-Vac Systems is a world leader in wet-vacuum forensic DNA collection. Made in the USA and engineered for maximum collection capabilities, the company’s technology is the most innovative and capable forensic DNA material collection tool available for crime scene investigators, forensic scientists, sexual assault nurse examiners and other law enforcement specialists.
For a more detailed description of the product and validation data visit why mvac? Additional information is available at m-vac.com or by calling 801-523-3962.
ABSTRACT: Due to advancements in DNA technology, scientists are now able to obtain profiles from samples with lower amounts of DNA than ever before. This increase in sensitivity has led to a higher volume of samples that are being submitted to forensic laboratories with requests to process the samples for “touch” DNA. “Touch” DNA refers to samples where biological fluids are not detected, but there are skin cells that may be left behind due to contact with an item. Often, it is difficult for a sufficient amount of DNA to be collected in order to generate a profile. One of the most common and accepted collection methods in the forensic community has been to vigorously swab an item with a cotton swab and to forward the swab for DNA analysis. In 2014, the M-Vac® system was validated at DNA Labs International (DLI) in an attempt to improve recovery from “touch” DNA samples.
The M-Vac® utilizes similar principles to a wet vacuum. First, using the M-Vac® ’s sampling head, a sterile buffer is sprayed onto the surface of the item. The buffer is then re-collected by applying a vacuum pressure over the sprayed area of the item. The re-collected buffer now contains suspended particles including the DNA that was previously present on the item. The buffer is then poured through a sterile filter under vacuum pressure where the biological material binds to the filter and becomes concentrated. After allowing the filter to dry, the filter can then be sampled and extracted.
Since the M-Vac® was brought online at DLI, it has been used to process a wide variety of sample types including clothing, ropes, cars, bed sheets, and comforters. One of the most common problems that forensic scientists encounter are intimate or indigenous items that belong to an individual in which there is often a great amount of DNA from the owner, but very little from other individuals that came into contact with the item. Furthermore, items with large surface areas or where it is unknown where the perpetrator touched the item are case circumstances where the M-Vac® thrives. Overall, the M-Vac® collection system is a very useful tool for screening evidence. Several notable cases where the M-Vac® was used to improve DNA recovery will be discussed.
Originally submitted and presented at the ISHI Conference, 2015 by Cristina L. Rentas, MFS, Alicia M. Cadenas, MSFS, Rachel H. Oefelein, MSc, and William Hausman, MS, DNA Labs International