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GCC Forensic

Forensics Hub

Below are a selection of papers from some of the GCC Forensic Science Conference and GCC DNA Symposium speakers 

Dr. Nadia M. Al-Kandary

Are We Confidant Enough with our Forensic Results Reports

It is easier to exclude a suspect than to convict someone based on forensic analysis results. Forensic analysis from different categories DNA screening, toxicological screening, ballistics and others can effectively address questions raised by legal authorities and concerns for the jurisdiction. Based on forensic analysis reports the judge convict those guilty of crimes and can equally help exonerate the innocent. Forensic investigators take many precautions to prevent mistakes, but human error can never be eliminated. While these  errors in forensic analysis are a leading contributing factor in wrongful convictions, efforts are subjected to establish quality standards protocols during all phases of forensic analysis.

I rather today talk about an important aspect of Forensic testing which is implementing quality control standards through the whole process of forensic examinations starting from crime scene inspection through the analysis phase of the examination until posting the final forensic reports. The session will give us a brief insight into the areas.

Publics are becoming increasingly aware of the regulatory system when crimes present in  which their questions and concerns raised are spreading every were, therefore, the importance of procuring services of investigations through a systematic accredited protocols in each step of forensic analysis.

 

This article gives an insight into the crucial requirement in fulfilling the minimum laboratory accreditation standards protocols in forensic and crime laboratories. The aim of accreditation of a Forensic  laboratories is to control and optimize, in a permanent manner, good professional practice by internationally established standards for testimony in court.  The objectives for this project are to maintain the accuracy, reliability, and describe the credibility of results obtained through forensic analysis of samples submitted for identification, and the accurate determination of cause and manner of death to assure that forensic analysis was performed in the correct timeline.

 

The path to achieve accurate results achieved by implementation of quality standard protocols through the whole investigations cycles in all aspects of forensic analysis starting from crime scene inspection, collection of biological evidence and various forensic analysis including systematic standards protocols used in methodologies, reagents, controls, equipments, specimen handling, procedure manuals test reporting and internal and external proficiency testing. In addition implementing personnel, safety and overall management policies.

 

Accreditation is part of a laboratory’s quality assurance program which should also include proficiency testing, continuing education, customer liaison, and other programs to help the laboratory provide more effective overall service. Without accreditation, these quality indicators may not be followed.

Non accredited  forensic laboratory not only jeopardizes the health and safety of workers, but risks the compromise of the finding results which is the main objectives for the investigative authorities. The accuracy of forensic analysis depends on the quality control and quality assurance procedures in the forensic laboratories to help ensure that each evidence analysis result meets a required standard of quality. This recommendation is equally important as a means of protecting the integrity of forensic analysis and results to achieve justice.

This session will provides interpretative criteria and recommendations for every personal who work in the field of Forensic Science in order to serve justice and fundamental accredited polices to provide the people rights which is the main objective of forensic examination.

By: Dr. Nadia Al-Kandary, Kuwait

 

 

Dr. Ahmed Al Imam

Evidence-Based Analysis of the Published Literature

The research output within the discipline of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) has been evolving since the end of the last decade. The introduction of concepts of evidence-based Medicine led to a revolutionary growth of all fields of medical research. The enhancement of quality of research was also paralleled by the development of tools for critical analysis of the published literature.

The aim of our evidence-based analytic study was to assess the NPS research output by means of evaluation of the level-of-evidence and the implemented statistical analyses. An extensive database of near 600 published manuscript was created; the manuscripts were selected from the PubMed/Medline database by using pre-specified keywords in combination with Boolean operators. Each manuscript was systematically scanned for; 1st author, research institution, country, year of publication, type of study, statistical analysis, level-of-evidence, and journal of publication. Research efforts from the Middle East were observed, quantified, and geo-mapped.

It was confirmed that teams of NPS researchers included members in the range of one to 29, with and an average of 4.75 per publication. Research output was densely mapped in the developed countries including, UK (53%), US (19%), Italy (14%), Germany (14%), and Sweden (10%), while the Middle East contribution was minimal (<1%). The top two research institutes were; King’s College Lonon (UK) and Sapienza University of Rome (Italy). Studies included; Observational cross-sectional (15%), Review (18%), and Analytic chemistry (36%).

 A considerable number of publications (34%) had no statistics at all, while only 14% had inferential statistics. Top journals of publication were; Journal of Psychopharmacology, Current Neuropharmacology, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Human Psychopharmacology. To be concluded, the research output should always be assessed for quality control purposes. This study deployed an innovative and systematic method of critical analysis of literature; future studies should be respondent to this study to achieve a better quality of research.

 

Q&A

  • You will be speaking at GCC Forensic Science 2017. Can you give us a brief insight into the areas you will be covering?

Thank you for welcoming me, my presentations will be in relation to the discipline of psychoactive substances including novel ones. Three main studies will be presented; the analysis of bases of power of key players in the NPS industry (1), an evidence-based analyses of the existing body of literature on NPS (2), and finally to discuss on one of the most potent hallucinogens as NBOMe(s) (3); this study was based on data crunching of the surface web with potential exploitation in connection with data mining. Within each study, there will be a presentation of data on the pertinent geo-mapping within the of the Middle East.

  • What can delegates expect to take away from your session?

Participants and delegates will receive up-to-date knowledge of in relation to NPS and specifically on; evidence-based Medicine, inferential statistical analyses, trends analyses of mega-trends databases, Data Mining, the deep web and the darknet, and the concepts of social science. The presentations will interdisciplinary and novel at the intersect of Psychiatry and Behavioural Medicine, data science, sociology, and computer science (information and communication technologies).

 

REFERENCES

  • CEBM. Oxford Centre for Evidence-based Medicine – Levels of Evidence (March 2009). http://www.cebm.net/oxford-centre-evidence-based-medicine-levels-evidence-march-2009/ (accessed 03 March 2017).
  • Dargan P, Wood D, editors. Novel psychoactive substances: classification, pharmacology and toxicology. Academic Press; 2013 Aug 6.
  • Gibbons S. ‘Legal Highs’–novel and emerging psychoactive drugs: a chemical overview for the toxicologist. Clinical Toxicology. 2012 Jan 1;50(1):15-24.
  • Norman GR, Shannon SI. Effectiveness of instruction in critical appraisal (evidence-based medicine) skills: a critical appraisal. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 1998 Jan 27;158(2):177-81.
  • Rosenberg W, Donald A. Evidence based medicine: an approach to clinical problem-solving. BMJ: British Medical Journal. 1995 Apr 29;310(6987):1122.
  • Wong ML, Lam W, Leung KS, Ngan PS, Cheng JC. Discovering knowledge from medical databases using evolutionory algorithms. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine. 2000 Jul;19(4):45-55.

 

Lt. Col. Hussain Alsaleh

علم التخلق الجنائي (Forensic Epigenetics)

 

أحدث اكتشاف السير أليك جيفريز للبصمة الوراثية طفرة نوعية في مجال الأدلة الجنائية و البحث الجنائي. حيث ساهم هذا الاكتشاف في إيقاظ الفضول المعرفي لدى العلماء والبحث عن مواقع جديدة تحتوي على سمات وراثية أكثر دقة و قطعية في التمييز بين الأفراد. لم يقف استخدام الحمض النووي فقط كبصمة وراثية عند هذا الحد ، بل قام العلماء باستخدامه لاستخراج النمط الظاهري للأفراد كلون العين، البشرة، والخلفية العرقية والتي يمكن الاستفادة منهم في تضييق دائرة البحث الجنائي لاسيما في حال عدم وجود متهمين. 

 

مع هذا الكم الهائل من المعلومات التي تحملها الشفرة الوراثية، إلا أن هناك الكثير من الأنماط الظاهرية و الفسيولوجية لا يمكن الاستدلال بها عن طريق دراسة الشفرة الوراثية التقليدية والتي تشكل عائقاً في مجال البحث الجنائي. على سبيل المثال، تحديد العمر الزمني للأشخاص و تحديد نوع النسيج التي تنتمي إليه العينة المرفوعة من مسرح الجريمة حيث يعتبر شبه مستحيلاً إثبات ذلك لأن الحمض النووي لا تطرأ عليه أي تغيرات من ناحية ترتيب النكليوتيدات خلال مختلف المراحل العمرية أو حتى بين الخلايا من مختلف الأنسجة. لذلك محدودية البصمة الوراثية للإجابة عن مثل هذا النوع من الأسئلة ، دفعت العلماء إلى اكتشاف أنواع جديدة من الشفرات الوراثية والتي لا تتضمن تغييراً في سلسة النكليوتيدات والتي تحتوي على معلومات قيمة يمكن استغلالها في مجال البحث الجنائي. وهذه المعلومات  عبارة عن تعليمات ترشد الحمض النووي بإحداث تغيرات في مستوى و نوع الإنتاج البروتيني بين الخلايا في الأنسجة المختلفة و أيضا بين مختلف المراحل العمرية عند الإنسان. 

 

يسمى العلم الذي يعني بدراسة هذه الأنواع من الشفرات الوراثية بعلم التخلق (Epigenetics) ، و من أشهر أنواع هذه الشفرات هو ما يسمى بميثيل الحمض النووي(DNA methylation)  ، وهي عبارة عن إضافة مركب ميثيل (Methyl) على السيتوسين (Cytosine) في الحمض النووي. ومن المثير للاهتمام، هو اكتشاف العلماء بأن هناك بعض المواقع لمركب ميثيل سيتوسين (Methylcytosine) على شريط الحمض النووي تعتبر غير عشوائية و تشكل بصمة خاصة للأنسجة ويمكن استخدامها للتمييز بين الخلايا من الأنسجة المختلفة، لذلك قام العلماء المختصين في علم التخلق الجنائي في تحديد مواقع ميثيل سيتوسين الخاصة للتعرف على خلايا الدم ، العرق ، اللعاب ، السائل المنوي، وأيضا الإفرازات المهبلية ليتم استخدامهم في القضايا الجنائية. والجدير بالذكر بأن تحديد مصدر العينات المرفوعة من مسرح الجريمة يلعب دورًا هامًا جداً في تثبيت أو تغيير المجريات لدى الكثير من قضايا لاسيما قضايا هتك العرض و الاغتصاب.

 

الإمكانية الثانية التي أضافها علم التخلق والتي من الممكن أن تتوافر في مختبرات الأدلة الجنائية في المستقبل القريب، هي تقدير العمر الزمني لأصحاب العينات المجهولة التي يتم العثور عليها في مسرح الجريمة. هذه الخاصية أتت نتيجة ملاحظة العلماء للتغير في نسبة ميثيل سيتوسين في الخلايا مع التقدم في العمر. حيث استخدم العلماء هذه العلاقة الكبيرة بين نسبة ميثيل سيتوسين و عمر الإنسان لتخمين عمره الحقيقي،  فقد أظهرت أحدث النتائج إمكانية تخمين العمر الزمني للأشخاص باستخدام عينة الدم بنسبة خطأ لا تزيد عن ثلاث سنوات، أما عينة اللعاب تصل إلى سنتين ، و أربع سنوات لعينة السائل المنوي. حيث تعتبر هذه الدقة في تحديد الأعمار يمكن استغلالها للعينات المجهولة كمعلومة استخباراتية لتضيق دائرة البحث والتحري. ومن الخصائص الأخرى لميثيل الحمض النووي التي تتفوق على البصمة الوراثية التقليدية هي القدرة على التمييز و الفصل ليس فقط بين الأشخاص بل بين التوائم المتطابقة الذين يحملون نفس الصبغة الوراثية. ويأتي هذا الاختلاف في صبغة ميثيل حمض النووي بين الأفراد ومنهم التوائم، نتيجة تأثرها باختلاف البيئة و النمط الحياتي للأفراد مما يجعلها أداة فعالة في حل أنواع معينة من القضايا الجنائية. وفي النهاية، مع هذه الحلول المميزة التي يقدمها علم التخلق في مجال الأدلة الجنائية للتغلب على محدودية البصمة الوراثية التقليدية في الإجابة عن بعض الأسئلة المهمة في بعض الجرائم، أصبح من الواضح أنه سيقتحم مختبرات البصمة الوراثية في المستقبل القريب.

 

 

                 مقدم

           حسين الصالح

رئيس قسم قواعد بيانات البصمة الوراثية

    مختبر الاستعراف الكويتي

Dr. Vincenzo Agostini

IDENTIFY A CORPSE USING “UNUSUAL” ORGANIC

SAMPLES: EYESWABS AND CARTILAGE

Whenever a police officer finds an unidentified corpse or when it’s necessary exhumate an alleged father for a paternity testing, the pathology and forensic genetics activity calls for the search and sampling of "standard" corpse organic matrices for which the extensive bibliography and practical experience document a good success for DNA analysis and interpretation of the genetic profile.

In fact, during these investigations, organic samples such as nails, fragments of the ileopsoas muscle, teeth and bones, particularly femur and humerus, are usually taken. Depending on the state of degradation of the samples, it is very common to encounter difficulties and technical-analytic limitations for the extrapolation of the deceased's genetic profile due to the inevitable degradative processes to which an organic tissue is subjected after death. Such processes macroscopically decompose the dead body not only macroscopically but also microscopically, at cellular level, its DNA, which undergoes chemical and structural changes that may sometimes make the analysis extremely difficult for forensic / identifying purposes as well.

For example, the extractive phase of the forensic-genetic analysis of these matrices is usually quite long and complicated, since the samples must undergo several steps of mechanical treatments and decalcification. These processes, according to any single case, might even last many days, which extends considerably the analysis timing and delay the delivery to the court of the final results.

Moreover, to worsen the delicate steps in preparing the organic sample, the high risk of exogenous contamination to which the samples are exposed, especially the bone remains for which the risk of exogenous contamination is always very high, must always be taken into account.

At the end of all these long and hard-working lab tests, there is no certainty of the analysis success for obtaining a good and interpretable genetic profile useful for identification / parenting purposes.

Due to this limiting situation, it’s necessary research and sample other types of corpse samples that at the very least can provide a clearer and more reliable result that can be used in Court.

So, during genetic testing requested by the Court, in addition to sampling classical cadaveric tissues, it was decided to try and pick up other types of tissues from different anatomical sites, in particular the basal membrane of the eyeballs and cartilages (of the epiglottis and pubic symphysis).

In the case of eyeswabs, performing a normal sterile swab by scratching on the basal membrane still present in the ocular bulb, a portion of tissue was sampled and immediately put into lysis and extraction phases according to canonical DNA extraction procedures from tissues, without applying mechanical / liquid nitrogen fragmentation or additional-modified protocols (as it is necessary to do in muscle or bone samples). Well, within a day and a half, you can extract an excellent genetic profile, with a very slight degrading performance, but absolutely clean, clear, interpretable and useful for subsequent phases of comparison and identification.

In the same way, by using cartilages (in the cases treated by us, the epiglottis and the cartilage of pubic symphysis), the DNA extraction process is always carried out through canonical protocols, thus allowing, in a short time, an excellent genetic profile, clear and interpretable, useful for identification.

So these kinds of “unusual” samples allow to extract single clear genetic profiles which can be decoded bypassing both the phase of mechanic treatment and the arduous phase of decalcification. This way, by using the standard procedure of DNA extraction from tissue, it is possible to obtain, in a shorter time and with maximum efficiency, an excellent genetic profile, which proves to be useful and can be easily decoded for later paternity tests and/or identification tests.

Rockne Harmon

Familial DNA searching in the United States

Lonnie Franklin’s days were numbered the day his son was arrested. It was just a matter of time. Familial DNA searching would soon track him down and put him on death row in California for the brutal murders of too many women to count. (See http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-grim-sleeper-sentencing-20160810-snap-story.html)

Familial DNA searching (FS) is an emerging tool for law enforcement that might help solve the case when a search of DNA databases fails to produce a match. It relies on special software that seeks out close relatives of the person whose DNA is found at crime scenes. The outcome of the search provides investigators with  the lead that the true criminal may be a father-son, or full sibling of the offender in the database. Experience has shown that these leads have been relatively easy to pursue once provided to investigators. Anecdotal successes demonstrate that FS effectively contributes to solving cases at the same efficiency that national and state database searches does.

There are two steps to the process as used in the US. The first step uses the software to produce a list of possible candidates, ranked from the highest likelihood to the lowest. The next step uses separate DNA testing, in the form of Y-STR testing, to confirm or refute the question of close-relatedness. Experience has shown that the majority of FS searches produce no investigative lead at this point. However, when a familial search lead is generated, the first step in the investigation is to examine the family structure and determine which family member is likely to be the suspect. Experience has shown that this has been relatively easy to do.

How was Lonnie Franklin identified? An unknown DNA profile had been detected in numerous unsolved murders of women. It was the first FS search in California but produced no investigative lead. The search was repeated the next year and one investigative lead was produced, revealing that the database offender was either a father or a son of the unidentified DNA contributor. As the man in the database was a young man, and as many of the cases were very old, it was concluded that the criminal must be the father of the database offender. That lead focused on Lonnie Franklin who lived in the center of an area where many of the victims’ bodies were dumped. He was placed under surveillance, followed to a restaurant where officers posed as waiters, items were collected and sent to the lab. As soon as the items were DNA typed, they produced a DNA match to the many unsolved cases. Franklin was arrested, tried, and convicted of these crimes and sentenced to be executed.

In the US each individual state may utilize FS to search its own state's database. Until each state does that it is premature to discuss using FS to search the national DNA database.

(For a fuller understanding of familial DNA searching see " Familial DNA Searching: Current Approaches " https://rti.connectsolutions.com/p49iz1rzbpi/)

 

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