Current and emerging tools for the recovery of genetic information from post mortem samples: New directions for disaster victim identification

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Journal Article
Forensic Science International: Genetics, 2018, 37 pp. 270 - 282
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© 2018 Elsevier B.V. DNA profiling has emerged as the gold standard for the identification of victims in mass disaster events providing an ability to identify victims, reassociate remains and provide investigative leads at a relatively low cost, and with a high degree of discrimination. For the majority of samples, DNA-based identification can be achieved in a fast, streamlined and high-throughput manner. However, a large number of remains will be extremely compromised, characteristic of mass disasters. Advances in technology and in the field of forensic biology have increased the options for the collection, sampling, preservation and processing of samples for DNA profiling. Furthermore, recent developments now allow a vast array of new genetic markers and genotyping techniques to extract as much genetic information from a sample as possible, ensuring that identification is not only accurate but also possible where material is degraded, or limited. Where historically DNA profiling has involved comparison with ante mortem samples or relatives, now DNA profiling can direct investigators towards putative victims or relatives, for comparison through the determination of externally visible characteristics, or biogeographical ancestry. This paper reviews the current and emerging tools available for maximising the recovery of genetic information from post mortem samples in a disaster victim identification context.
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