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Please, see below our main research lines


Age-at-death estimation based on biochemical basics of aging

Age estimation is one of the key parameters to create the biological profile from skeletal remains, helping on the identification of the victim. However, the estimation of this parameter in adult individuals is really difficult, as it can be affected by endogenous and exogenous factors, pathological conditions, and fragmentary remains. Our lab applies biochemical techniques, based on the process of aging to improve this estimates. Our studies have been focused on aspartic acid racemization, analysis of mitochondrial DNA mutations, and more recently epigenetics, and particularly DNA methylation.

Post-mortem interval estimation based on cell signaling pathways

The accurate determination of the postmortem interval (PMI) is crucial for elucidating possible criminal acts and determining appropriate civil repercussions. At the same time, it is the most challenging parameter to estimate. Despite several efforts to improve this determination, an accurate methodology has not been found yet. Our lab studies cell signaling pathways to improve this estimate based on RNA expression. We have demonstrated a switch in signaling in the first hours of death from autophagy to apoptosis, finding a high correlation between expression of these genes and PMI. We are currently working on the application of Next Generation Sequencing Technologies to improve this determinations. 

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DNA isolation and characterization from challenging samples

At crime scene, any object could contain DNA which could lead to the perpetrator. Our lab focuses on isolation and characterization of DNA from less common items, like bitten foods or contact lens. Additionally, we try to improve DNA isolation and characterization techniques from challenging samples like burnt remains.

Body Fluid Identification

The correct identification of body fluids at crime scenes is crucial to identify the perpetrator and also to help on the reconstruction of the events. Body fluid identification is done by different techniques, among them, immunochromatography tests, based on antigen-antibody reactions, are the simplest and quickest. Currently, there are immunochromatography tests for the identification of blood, menstrual blood, saliva, and semen. However, crime scenes are dynamic not static, which means that these body fluids are subjected to environmental/handmade insults, as well as, their recovery could be affected by the substrate where they are deposited. In collaboration with Seratec®, our lab is analyzing different parameters that could affect this identification, also testing the possibility of recovery of full DNA profiles.

Human Skeleton Sketch

Anthropological Research

In collaboration with Dr. Joe Adserias-Garriga, from Mercyhurst University, our lab is trying to improve current anthropological techniques for sex and age estimation through the analysis of metric traits.

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