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New forensic tools aid fight against sexual assault and other crimes

Technological developments in evidence gathering hold out promise of fewer offenses going unpunished.

The global success of television dramas like "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" has lulled many into thinking that forensic analysis is an all-seeing, speedy science.

The reality is that it's much slower than TV lets on, with more limited scope for success.

TV detectives investigating a rape, for example, are portrayed as finding incriminating DNA evidence easily enough. In the real world, however, the search is often constrained by current forensic methods that can detect only 10% of sperm traces because surfaces absorb evidence and criminals often attempt to wipe it away.

Now two European projects have developed technologies to improve ways of finding the microscopic material needed to ensure a conviction. One—from French biotechnology company AXO Science—is a newly formulated spray for detecting evidence at rape scenes.


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