Academic Forensic Pathology

The Official Publication of the National Association of Medical Examiners

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Title: The Promise of Molecular Autopsy in Forensic Pathology Practice
Author(s): Cunningham Kristopher S.
Citation: Acad Forensic Pathol. 2017 Nov; 7(4):551-566.
Type: Invited Review
Keywords: Forensic pathology Molecular autopsy
Abstract: Molecular autopsy is changing the practice of forensic pathology. Under some circumstances, one must contemplate the involvement of genetic factors to help explain why someone has died unexpectedly. Such considerations most commonly occur when a young person dies by natural means. However, there are deaths that occur by nonnatural means that the forensic pathologist will be asked to investigate, which could involve natural disease that has a significant genetic underpinning. Elucidation of genetic mutations may not only further an understanding of the pathophysiology at hand, but also speak to underlying susceptibilities in an individual who dies that may not have been recognized. In addition, one may occasionally identify pathological findings that are confused for trauma that may actually be better explained by an underlying disease process. Using molecular medicine as a tool to explore such possibilities can improve the quality of death investigations and provide a new lens to probe challenging and contentious forensic cases that have proved resistant to traditional methods.
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