London, July 3 (IANS) By observing how muscle proteins and enzymes degrade in animals, a team of Austrian researchers has developed a method to calculate the exact time of death even after as much as 10 days. (14:12)
This method can be applied in forensics to estimate the time elapsed since death in humans, said researchers from University of Salzburg in Austria.
Currently, there are no reliable ways to determine the time since death after approximately 36 hours.
The researchers have already started running experiments on human samples and initial results are promising.
“We detected similar changes and the same degradation products in human muscle tissue as we had in our pig study,” said lead researcher Peter Steinbacher.
The team found that some of the proteins analysed showed no form of degradation until after 240 hours.
“It is highly likely that all muscle proteins undergo detectable changes at a certain point in time. This would extend the currently analysed timeframe even further,” Steinbacher said.
Specific degradation products of proteins appear at a specific time after death.
By studying the timing of their appearance, the researchers were able to calculate time since death.
The use of muscle tissue in post-mortem studies is a novel approach which presents several advantages.
Since muscle tissue is the most abundant tissue of the human body, it can be sampled easily.
Secondly, proteins in muscle tissue are well known.
“Thirdly, this method is simple and can deliver results within a day.”