Researchers from the UK have found an analysis method that can determine the time of death of a person in water. To do this, they measured a specific protein level.
A team of scientists from the University of Northumbria in Newcastle (UK) presented a new method for determining the exact time of death of a person. It involves measuring the level of a specific protein in your bones. They reported their findings in the Journal of Proteome Research.
The researchers explained that forensic pathologists usually sample the decomposition rate at multiple sites on the body, but when it has been in water for a long time, other factors can make it difficult to determine what is known as the postmortem immersion interval (PMSI).
In order to test their method, they used the bodies of 22 frozen mice. They thawed one set of mice at room temperature and the other at body temperature. Then they put the carcasses of mice in different types of water.
They found that the type of water had less effect on protein levels than the duration of the body’s immersion. For example, they found that the longer the dive time, the lower the level of a protein called aldolase becomes. The type of water influenced one type of protein: fetuin was more likely to change chemically in the pond water.
The researchers note that proteins can be excellent biomarkers for timing of death. In the future, the team wants to study the effect of different temperatures on bone proteomics.