Fredericks, Jamie D., Ringrose, Trevor J., Dicken, Anthony, Williams, Anna and Bennett, Phil (2015) A potential new diagnostic tool to aid DNA analysis from heat compromised bone using colorimetry: A preliminary study. Science and Justice, 55 (2). pp. 124-130. ISSN 1355-0306

Extracting viable DNA from many forensic sample types can be very challenging, as environmental conditions may be far from optimal with regard to DNA preservation. Consequently, skeletal tissue can often be an invaluable source of DNA. The bone matrix provides a hardened material that encapsulates DNA, acting as a barrier to environmental insults that would otherwise be detrimental to its integrity. However, like all forensic samples, DNA in bone can still become degraded in extreme conditions, such as intense heat. Extracting DNA from bone can be laborious and time-consuming. Thus, a lot of time and money can be wasted processing samples that do not ultimately yield viable DNA. We describe the use of colorimetry as a novel diagnostic tool that can assist DNA analysis from heat-treated bone. This study focuses on characterizing changes in the material and physical properties of heated bone, and their correlation with digitally measured color variation. The results demonstrate that the color of bone, which serves as an indicator of the chemical processes that have occurred, can be correlated with the success or failure of subsequent DNA amplification.

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