As part of the modernization of the forensic biological laboratory of the Republican Bureau of Forensic Medical Examination of the DPR Ministry of Health, the institution has started testing a complex of new equipment and reagents.
In the course of the first pilot molecular genetic studies in one of the episodes, the mother-son relationship was preliminarily established. A match was found when comparing the control female genotype (from among the relatives of persons missing in the conflict zones in Donbass) and the genotype extracted from the skeletal remains of an unknown male, whose samples have been stored in the Bureau’s archive since 2015. At this stage, experts analyze the information received.
“The identification of the dead is one of the main humanitarian tasks that the state is obliged to solve in the conditions of the armed conflict. The most objective scientific method of establishing identity is by comparing DNA samples. Therefore, despite all the difficulties, in 2016 a special laboratory was created in the DPR to conduct molecular genetic research. Taking into account the intensification of exhumation works on the territory of the Republic, the need for the development of the DNA identification sphere is extremely high. An important step was the modernization of the laboratory,” said Daria Morozova, Human Rights Ombudsman in the DPR, and Chairman of the Interdepartmental Commission for the Search for Missing Persons, Burial Places of Deceased in Areas of the Armed Conflict in Donbass.
According to Dmitry Kalashnikov, head of the Republican Bureau of the FME, member of the Interdepartmental Commission, the use of high-tech automatic equipment and modern reagents will allow experts to reach a new level of work.
“We are talking about a complex of highly sensitive, certified equipment that meets international standards. The main part of it is an automatic genetic analyzer, which will complement and significantly expand research methods. Similar devices have proven themselves in the practice of forensic medicine institutions in many countries, including the Russian Federation” Dmitry Kalashnikov explained. “The main thing is that now we can isolate genomic DNA not only from blood, but also from bone tissue. This is essential in the identification of exhumed remains. Comparison of samples is carried out not by 18, but by 24 or more loci of the human genotype. And in the future, we are considering the possibility of establishing kinship not only of the first, but also of the second generation.”
Employees of the laboratory in test mode carry out research on several episodes at once. The focus is on cases with a high probability of matching genotypes. It was established by indirect signs and on the basis of intravital information. This makes it possible to evaluate the equipment in practice and gradually get back to the normal mode of operation.
The legal aspects of documenting of research results are also being coordinated, including the specifics of registration of a medical death certificate and issuing it to the relatives of the deceased.
At the same time, the archive of genotypes is being expanded and updated in the department of forensic biology of the Republican Bureau of the FME. A generalized database of DNA of the deceased in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics is being formed.
Also, for the purpose of additional training and mastering new methods of data analysis, experts of the laboratory receive training at the FSBI “Russian Center of Forensic Medical Examination of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation”.
As Dmitry Kalashnikov emphasized, the methods and technologies being introduced today in the forensic biological laboratory make it possible to carry out identification even after many years. This is an important step towards achieving the main goal of the Interdepartmental Commission, namely, to establish the names and fates of all citizens who became victims of Ukrainian aggression in Donbass.
The Republican Bureau of the Forensic Medical Examination invites relatives of missing persons, including those living on the territory of other states, to take a test with biomaterial in order to carry out a molecular genetic research. The procedure is carried out on a humanitarian (pro Bono) basis. Apply to the address: Donetsk, Ilyicha Ave., 14 “D”, second floor. Contact phone numbers: +38 071-326-15-93, +38 062-312-71-44.