Progress Report 1999

Summary

The consortium has continued the planned schedule according to the project programme. Three meetings were held in this period: Tenerife (Spain) in January, 1999, Mechelen (Belgium) in May, 1999 and San Francisco (USA), August 1999 in connection with the meeting of the International Society for Forensic Genetics.

The working groups have developed their respective programmes with specific roles assigned to each partner. In addition all the laboratories actively participated in the inter-comparison exercises agreed on by the consortium.

After an expert hearing on new methodologies held in Mechelen the conclusion was that the DNA microsatellites in current use will continue being used in the short to medium time-scale, but new markers such as SNPs, through the implementation of new methodologies like DNA microarrays are promising markers for the analysis of variation in mitochondrial DNA and the Y chromosome. A close contact with the companies is necessary to explore the applicability of the new methodologies and to promote common European standards.

A number of intercomparison exercises were carried out. The subject of two of these exercises was mitochondrial DNA. The interlaboratory reproducibility of heteroplasmy was demonstrated and the incidence of heteroplasmy in hair is being analyzed. Reproducibility of Y STR analysis with PCR multiplex formats was demonstrated for mix stains (male-female). The variation of 5 Y STR across Europe was also analyzed.

A new method for exploring mutations using Electrophoretic Mutation Detection (EMD) was explored. However preliminary results demonstrated some problems of reproducibility and interpretation, which are being analysed by the company. New exercises on degraded DNA, pentameric STRs and analysis of mixes are currently being carried out.

The first phase of the Technology Transfer Programme has been completed. All applications for secondments of STADNAP members, a total of seven, (from London, Copenhagen, Athens, Rome, Brussels, Oslo and Linköping) have been approved and several have already been completed. The second phase of the Transfer Programme has now been initiated for applications under the STADNAP Fellowship Programme open to the scientific community in Europe.

A compilation of gene frequencies of commonly used short tandem repeat systems (STRs) for European populations is being undertaken.

A STADNAP World Wide Web Homepage has been created where detailed information can be obtained.