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Sam Houston State studies DNA preservation in mass disasters
Date:9/18/2013

HUNTSVILLE, TX (9/18/12) -- To help identify victims after mass disasters, such as hurricanes, tsunamis, terrorist attacks, wars or acts of genocide, researchers at Sam Houston State University will investigate new techniques to preserve tissue samples and speed up the DNA identification process.

During natural and manmade disasters, forensic personnel often face adverse conditions, such as remote locations, intense heat, and the lack of electricity and resources. As a result, bodies may be left to decompose rapidly in the heat, creating a health hazard and also making genotyping more difficult as the DNA in those remains also is degrading.

"In these circumstances, forensic personnel may be faced with the task of identifying hundreds or even thousands of bodily remains in a very short period of time," said Sheree Hughes-Stamm of the Department of Forensic Science. "Through improvement in the collection and processing of tissue samples for DNA analysis, we can identify more victims and help bring closure to those who would otherwise never know what happened to friends and family."

The research is being funded through a National Institute of Justice grant to develop more cost effective, streamlined and efficient methods for the identification of victims of natural and mass disasters.

Hughes-Stamm will test several different solutions, both commercial preservatives and in-house mixes of readily available chemicals, such as various salts, solvents and alcohols. These preservatives are designed for use in the field to collect and preserve tissue samples from the deceased, and then be stored in hot and humid conditions (without refrigeration) until they can be processed. The study will focus on maximizing the quantity and quality of DNA leaching from the tissue into the surrounding solution so that this "free DNA" can be extracted directly from the preservatives for DNA-typing. This will greatly speed up the identification proc
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Contact: Beth Kuhles
kuhles@shsu.edu
936-294-4425
Sam Houston State University
Source:Eurekalert

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