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QUESTION: Hello, and thank you for being willing to answer questions. If you find this question to be beneath your station or not important enough, I will of course understand.

My question is, aside from other forensic traces, what controls how quickly blood proteins will degrade after the blood has been exposed to air and has clotted?

I read and write science fiction. Many stories feature fictional characters who have undergone extremely extensive genetic engineering of the somatic type -- specifically intended to help them accomplish certain tasks in law enforcement, national defense, or intelligence services.

In all these stories, something occurs to me. If a "parahuman" variant species individual like this were hurt, managed to escape, and left behind biological trace evidence -- especially blood -- then such evidence would be particularly incriminating because it would prove that the individual was extensively engineered. That, in turn, would set off alarms in the mind of an investigator. It would suggest that the matter they were dealing with was not a small matter, but rather that it must involve a foreign government, big business, or some other wealthy and powerful interest. From the perspective of that interest, such a revelation would be a bad thing, so the responsible party would try to anticipate that danger and prevent it from happening. One cannot always assume the person has time to spray solvents, because someone could be chasing after them. One cannot always rely on a biological isolation garment, because there are many ways that garment could be damaged.

Thank you for your time.

ANSWER: Hi, Julian,

Thanks for your question - right into Science Finction myself so I can see where you are coming from!

Not sure if it's the proteins you need to worry about here - they break down relatively quickly but leave characteristic traces of blood.

It is the DNA in the blood trace that would remain and last a good time - they are extracting DNA from wooly mammoths frozen in the arctic tundra in Russia from a very long time agon and have extracted the DNA and compared it to modern animals.

The DNA would show any "engineered" features easily.

Any further questions, please get back to me.

Hope this helps,

Best wishes,

Paul


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you! The actual intent of my question was to ask wether you thought it might someday be feasible for "organism designers"  to engineer a parahuman so that incriminating DNA traces would denature themselves very quickly once the biological material was not in the parahuman's body anymore. That is what I wanted to find out; it would be a parahuman whose DNA evidence eliminated itself if accidentally left behind, making it unnecessary to destroy such evidence by hand.

I have been thinking that maybe this could not be done unless you incorporated nanotechnology into the person.

Now that I know that it will not annoy you, I will list some intriguing parahumans from stories, because you might not know all of them. There is the character called Denton, from the computer game franchise called Deus Ex. There is the character called David Plissken, or "Snake," from the computer game franchise called Metal Gear Solid. Finally there is the character of Miranda Lawson, from the computer game franchise called Mass Effect. Of course, there are others.

I find Deus Ex particularly interesting, since at one point in the first game in that franchise, we can read how:

" ... The cells of every major tissue in the body of a nano-augmented person are host to nanite-capsid 'hybrids'. These hybrids replicate in two stages: the viral stage, in which the host cell produces capsid proteins and packages them into hollowed viral particles, and the nanotech stage, in which the transceiver and CPU are duplicated and inserted into the protective viral coating.  New RNA sequences are transmitted by microwave radio and translated into plasmid vectors, resulting in a wholly natural and organic process.

Additional augmentations can be added through the use of microscopic ROM modules - shaped a little like flying saucers - that diffuse through the blood and attach to the long spine of nanite CPUs.  These additional augmentations are software 'upgrades' in the most literal sense of the word. ... "

Answer
Hi, Julian,

Sorry for delay - needed some sleep!

Don't see a problem with the enzyme DNase (which denatures DNA) being engineered into a nanobot and getting rid of DNA traces. However, how does it know to activate - what is the trigger outside the body and what prevents it activating inside the body?

Maybe body has inhibitors as it does for blood clotting which stop working when blood leaves the body. Yes, can't see a problem working this out!

Best wishes,

Paul  

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Dr.Paul Skett

Expertise

drug metabolism or biotransformation from basic to advanced, hepatocytes from basic to advanced, drug toxicity and side effects, alcohol clearance and levels

Experience

32 years research experience in above areas, 30 years educational experience in University. Retained expert for numerous legal firms dealing with matters of drugs (legal and illegal)and alcohol.

Education/Credentials
B.Sc(Hons) Biochemistry, University of Liverpool, UK
fil.dr. (Medical Chemistry) Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

Fellow of the British Pharmacological Society

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

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