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Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 15:35 GMT
DNA discovery helps forensic scientists
Shanty towns in Sao Paulo
The research was done with experts from Sao Paulo
Two Brazilian murder victims have been identified using a new DNA technique which scientists from Sheffield helped develop.

The bodies were found dumped in sugar cane plantations near Sao Paulo in the 1990s.

The identification was made a result of a joint project between forensic scientists at the University of Sheffield and the University of Sao Paulo.

Dr Martin Evison, of Sheffield University's Academic Unit of Forensic Pathology, has been working on methods of DNA recovery from forensic and ancient skeletons with Sao Paulo University's Dr Marco Guimaraes.

Model of human DNA strand.
The new DNA technique will be widely used

Dr Evison said: "DNA recovery from the skeleton is a very difficult technique, especially when the material originates from a climate as extreme as Brazil's.

"Usually there's hardly any DNA left, and what there is is extremely difficult to recover."

A DNA extraction technique developed by Dr Evison to analyse ancient DNA from archaeological skeletons has been used by the project team.

Now the scientists are turning their attention to forensic cases.

These will include the skeletons of people who "disappeared" under the periods of military government in Brazil from 1964 to 1985.

On his return to Brazil Dr Guimaraes will oversee the identification of a further 1,200 skeletonised bodies recovered on the outskirts of Sao Paulo.


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