Forensic Use of Acid Phosphatase Tests

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People who watched crime-based television shows understand that DNA evidence is not always noticeable at first glance. In fact, in some cases, it can be impossible to detect visually. Take semen, for example. In large amounts, seminal fluid is easy to detect. It leaves a noticeable crusty stain on most fabric. However, if that fabric is washed then the stain is gone. Presumably, the evidence is washed away. This is not the case necessarily. There are several methods forensic scientists use to find traces of semen to identify a male’s identity. The Acid Phosphatase Color Test is widely regarded as the most effective way to both locate and characterize a seminal stain.
Acid Phosphatase is an enzyme found in seminal fluid. It comes from the prostate gland (Johnson 2009). Typically, the more Prostatic Acid Phosphatase found in a sample of semen is a sign of prostate cancer. This is important because the Acid Phosphatase Color Test was once used to determine of a male had prostate cancer. It was later replaced by Prostate Specific Antigen, aka PSA. Forensic scientists still use this test to identify semen, however. In 1938, Gutman and Gutman reported increased levels of acid phosphatase in patients with metastatic prostate cancer (Taira, Merrick, Wallner, and Dattoli, “Reviving the Acid Phosphatase Test for Prostate Cancer”). It was later replaced by the Prostate Specific Antigen in 1971 (Taira, Merrick, Wallner, and Dattoli, “Reviving the Acid Phosphatase Test

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