Thursday, December 3, 2020

Blood and teeth samples predict a criminal’s age

Must read

New steam technology beats luminol at detecting blood at crime scenes

In films or television police procedurals, the detectives go in, spray up a crime scene with luminol, and sometimes bring over a black light....

Sex offending is written in DNA of some men, Oxford University finds

Sex offending is written in the genes, an unprecedented study has shown, with the brothers of men convicted of sex crimes five times more...

New Book “Unfair: The justice system is broken, can science fix it?”

THE criminal justice system is flawed. Many of its key assumptions about human nature lack evidence. Deep-set prejudices make it hard for some defendants...

Nutshell Studies: the extraordinary miniature crime scenes US police use to train detectives

With its facade of new brick and tinted glass, the five-storey building in the west of downtown Baltimore could be the headquarters of an...
Michael Whyte
Crime Scene Officer and Fingerprint Expert with over 12 years experience in Crime Scene Investigation and Latent Print Analysis. The opinions or assertions contained on this site are the private views of the author and are not to be construed as those of any professional organisation or policing body.
- Forensic Podcast -

Forensic biomedical scientists from KU Leuven have developed a test to predict individuals’ age on the basis of blood or teeth samples. This test may be particularly useful for the police, as it can help track down criminals or identify human remains.

When forensic examiners find traces of blood at a crime scene, they can try to identify the perpetrator on the basis of DNA. From now on, the blood samples can also be used to predict the criminal’s age. This is also the case for deceased individuals: when traditional methods do not lead to identification, the forensic examiners can use blood or teeth samples for age estimation.

Human tissues and organs change as we grow older. This aging process is regulated by our DNA. The KU Leuven researchers are the first to have successfully used this aging process, embedded in our DNA, to predict individuals’ age.

Professor Bram Bekaert from the KU Leuven Forensic Biomedical Sciences Unit explains: “The behaviour of our organs and tissues depends on which of our genes are activated. As we grow older, some genes are switched on, while others are switched off. This process is partly regulated by methylation, whereby methyl groups are added to our DNA. In specific locations, genes with high methylation levels are deactivated.”

Bekaert and his colleagues were able to predict individuals’ age on the basis of a set of four age-associated DNA methylation markers. The methylation levels of these markers can be used for highly accurate age predictions. The researchers were able to determine individuals’ age with a margin of error of 3.75 years for blood samples and 4.86 years for teeth.

The new technique is potentially useful in the context of police investigations because it can help determine the age of criminals or unidentified bodies, which in turn can lead to identification.

Full text

The full text of the study “Improved age determination of blood and teeth samples using a selected set of DNA methylation markers” was published in Epigenetics. Copies can also be obtained from the authors.

- Advertisement -

More articles

- Advertisement -

Latest article

Trees and shrubs might reveal the location of decomposing bodies

Plants could help investigators find dead bodies. Botanists believe the sudden flush of nutrients into the soil from decomposition may affect nearby foliage. If...

Are Detectives discounting the associative value of fingerprints that fall short of an identification in their investigations?

Every day, Fingerprint Experts in every latent office across the globe examine fingermarks that they determine to fall short of an identification....

Using the NCIC Bayesian Network to improve your AFIS searches

This National Crime Information Centre (NCIC) Bayesian network is based on the statistical data of general patterns of fingerprints on the hands...

DNA decontamination of fingerprint brushes

Using fingerprint brushes across multiple crime scenes yields a high risk of DNA cross-contamination. Thankfully an Australian study has discovered a quick and easy way to safely decontaminate fingerprint brushes to prevent this contamination risk and allows the brushes to be safely reused even after multiple cleaning cycles.

Detection of latent fingerprint hidden beneath adhesive tape by optical coherence tomography

Adhesive tape is a common item which can be encountered in criminal cases involving rape, murder, kidnapping and explosives. It is often the case...