Presented by Zineb Abou-Zite, Project Manager

 

We’re talking here about a next-generation laboratory.

It is unique in the world because it is mobile but also because it is a condensed forensic technique capable of carrying out human identification assignments using genetic fingerprinting.

Mobil DNA is essentially a tool to facilitate investigations, already in use in judicial and extra-judicial disaster victim identification procedures.

Before the coronavirus crisis, it had already proved its worth in identifying the victims of the German Wings air crash (2015) and the Nice bombing (2016) where it enabled several hundred analyses to be carried out every day.

 

Tracip, from DVI* to virology

At the origin of this mobile laboratory project was the desire of the IRCGN (Institut de Recherche Criminelle de la Gendarmerie Nationale) to develop a complete process DVI (*Disaster Victim Identification) for the analysis of samples within a limited timeframe, without loss of data and in compliance with hygiene rules for law enforcement agencies.

This project was thus born in order to provide an instant response in the identification of victims.

Tracip’s skill was to improve the Mobil’DNA in terms of technology and ergonomics in order to make it more mobile on the one hand and to simplify its use and speed in the execution of tasks on the other.

And my role as Project Manager for this project is to gather all the technical and financial information and to liaise with the IRCGN and the company’s various partners (bodywork manufacturers, laboratory equipment suppliers) to make improvements.

This mission is a real boost for the sales department, as Tracip designs, produces and markets the mobile laboratories designed to carry out so-called “nucleic acid” analyses.

“We have the exclusive rights to manufacture and market the mobile laboratory solution.”

We deliver them “ready-to-use” according to the IRCGN model and accredited analytical methods.

This transfer of technology from the State to a private company is also a first for the Gendarmerie Nationale.

The Mobil DNA is also accredited by the French Accreditation Committee (COFRAC) according to the requirements of the ISO17025 standard and approved by the Ministry of Justice.

 

Mobil’DNA, an emergency system

Deployed on accident sites and during crisis response operations to identify victims, Mobil DNA makes it possible to analyse data and obtain precise and mass information while adhering to strict time constraints.

Because each mobile laboratory responds to a specific requirement, it needs to be custom-built according to the service required.

Therefore, a production time of between 6 and 12 months is necessary.

This can be explained by several criteria:

  • The version of the mobile to be produced (< 3.5T, 5.5T, 10′ or 20′)
  • The number of mobiles ordered
  • Transport: depending on the destination country, the mobiles can be sent by road, sea or air.

This production time cannot be modified as this would reduce the quality, and especially with regard to a device that requires such technicality.

On the other hand, the timeframe that requires optimisation is that of the responsiveness between all the key players.

Although Tracip holds the exclusive right to produce the product, France does not have exclusive rights to use it. This offer is open to any government department worldwide, as there are currently no DNA identification solutions available in some countries.

 

An ISO tested and certified laboratory

The ISO standards guarantee the conformity of our products to the requirements in terms of quality and response to a need expressed by the legal experts and investigators who have trusted us since 1994.

ISO 17025 is an international standard that specifies “General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories”.

“This project is not simply the production and delivery of a mobile laboratory…”

The entire Tracip proposal was worked on in collaboration with the IRCGN in order to provide exclusive support to state services:

  • quality documentation of the technical process (ISO 17025 accredited)
  • inter-laboratory testing to assess the laboratory’s ability to produce quality analyses (required for ISO 17025)
  • participation in an annual conference in Pontoise, France.
  • operator training provided by the IRCGN, the Ecole de l’ADN and the IGNA.

The entire process put in place by the forensics team has also been tested. The mobile laboratory has all the features that allow DNA analysis to be carried out as close as possible to the scene of the incident while respecting both the “forward motion” and the working environment:

  • on-board refrigerated chambers for the preservation of reactants
  • Modification SAS
  • tracking software
  • controlled processes and environment, supported by 25 years of experience (IRCGN).

 

Upcoming innovations

The Mobil’DNA has been studied by our research department in collaboration with our design department, in order to provide an ergonomic improvement first and foremost.

A modification SAS will be incorporated inside the laboratory with all the precautions and respect for the rules that can be found in a so-called conventional laboratory.

This SAS will also make it possible to reduce the risk of pollution in the analysis areas as much as possible.

In addition, on Wednesday 1st April 2020, the National Police Judicial Unit (IRCGN) was dispatched to make its mobile analysis capabilities available to the Assistance publique – Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) and to contribute to the COVID-19 screening in Garches.

Our collaboration is currently continuing with a new production of mobile labs to meet the current testing needs of the virus, which will lead to a new delivery shortly.

 

Zineb ABOU-ZITE

Project Manager/R&D Engineer at Tracip since 2016, she divides her time between digital expertise on court cases and is in charge of managing all technical and financial information for the production of mobile DNA labs.

She also provides support to the sales department in relation to the IRCGN and the company’s various partners (bodywork manufacturers, laboratory equipment suppliers).

A graduate of ENSEM-INP Lorraine, she was a research engineer at the Nancy-Metz Rectorate, and worked in France and abroad before joining Tracip.