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Biomarkers and their application towards cause of death investigations

Christofis, Madison (2018) Biomarkers and their application towards cause of death investigations. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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Causes of deaths are frequently unknown, and in general a post mortem examination must take place as establishing an individual’s cause of death is the foremost task for a forensic pathologist. Cause of death refers to the illness or injury that initiated the event that lead directly to death or the circumstances of the accident or violence that produced the injury.

However, autopsies or post mortem examinations occasionally cannot determine the cause of one’s death this is due to the body not automatically exhibiting visible evidence of how the fatality transpired and similarly there may not be a history of illness which could be as a means of death. Thus the practise of biomarkers is also involved to determine the cause of fatality in problematic cases.

Biomarkers reflect an interaction between the body’s biological system and a possible threat which can be either biological, chemical or physical. Although biomarkers have been reviewed and known about for some time in regards to disease and therapeutic intervention the concept for their application in a post mortem examination is relatively new. There is limited literature with regards to this topic with no exact correlation between the use of biomarkers and establishing cause of death, hence the purpose of this literature review is to determine and review the application of various biomarkers in cause of death investigations. This review will also support the use of biomarkers as diagnostic markers and used to generate diagnostic tests to conclude specific causes of death and encourage further biomarker research.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor(s): Coumbaros, John
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