University showcases new approach to fight wildlife crime through portable DNA analysis tool

Leicester researchers will be presenting to government officials on Thursday 2 June on a prize-winning innovation to tackle wildlife crime using a novel DNA sequencer at an event in Washington D.C.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will host the showcase for the 16 prize winners of the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge during which winners will demonstrate brief overviews of their contributions to combat wildlife crime.

The event will see Dr Jon Wetton and Dr Celia May from the Alec Jeffreys Forensic Genomics Unit presenting on a DNA sequencing device, the MinION - developed by Oxford Nanopore Technologies - which can read the ‘barcode genes’ of animals affected by illegal trafficking in real time, allowing rapid species identification in the field.  

The event will highlight how individual ingenuity has provided the global community the tools it needs to combat and prevent wildlife crimes in the 21st century.

The Challenge is a USAID-led initiative, in partnership with National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution, and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, to crowdsource global science and technological innovations to combat illegal trade in terrestrial and marine wildlife.

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