In cases of firearm related fatalities a systematic investigation at the scene of death is indispensable to differentiate between self-inflicted and homicidal gunshot injuries. A common method to preserve gunshot residues (GSR) is their collection using adhesive tapes. However, the biological material gathered at the same time by the tapes would be of special interest if backspatter, ejected from the entrance wound against the direction of fire, could be detected. In the present study we examined the success rate of co-analysis of RNA and DNA recovered from biological traces sampled with adhesive tapes. The material originated from eight cases of fatal gunshots, taken from the hands of suspects or victims, examined 5 to 19 years ago for GSR. For all types of adhesive tapes tested, quantity and quality of the co-extracted nucleic acids was insufficient for successful DNA profiling, but was sufficient for the detection of blood-specific micro RNA (miRNA). In summary, sampling trace evidence from the hands of persons involved in fatal gunshots with adhesive tapes has a long-term detrimental effect on biological traces.
Adhesive tapes Backspatter Gunshot residues Blood specific expression RNA/DNA co-analysis
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The authors would like to thank the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) and the SNF (Swiss National Science Foundation) for funding this project.
Compliance with ethical standards
The study protocol was reviewed and approved by the ethics committee of the Hospital of the University of Bonn.
Conflict of interest
All authors declare they have no conflict of interest.
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