Saint John native develops synthetic blood
Paul Wilson says his team's forensic blood substitute feels, looks, dries and spatters like the real thing
Saint John geneticist Paul Wilson is working on a product designed to change forensic science: synthetic blood.
When it comes to forensic science training, most places use water, cornstarch and food colouring as their blood substitute.
But Wilson and his team are aiming higher.
"We're running it in comparison to blood, ensuring that it has the same properties," the Millidgeville native said. "You put the cornstarch, red dye suggestions in for fake blood and it just doesn't behave even close."
Wilson, who works at Trent University in Peterborough, Ont., said his team's forensic blood substitute feels, looks, dries and spatters like the real thing.
What makes their substitute realistic is a trade secret, but it's been validated against real blood, Wilson said.
Theresa Stotesbury, the PhD student who came up with the idea, said that through her studies she saw there was a niche market for better fake blood.
For Wilson, with better blood substitutes comes better training. With better training comes better forensic scientists in the field.
Although the team makes all of its blood in-house, Stotesbury would like to take the product to international markets.
"There are a lot of countries around the world that can't use blood in their training or they're looking for a fake thing that does the same thing, has a long shelf life," the 27-year-old said. "Working with blood can be tricky because it coagulates really quickly."
Their team has sent off some samples to high schools that teach forensic science and received great feedback, said Stotesbury.
"You can see in our analysis that the students are really understanding and learning the physics of blood stains."
Bonding with DNA
In future versions of the product, Wilson said, the team would like to bond DNA with the blood.
While bonding the fake blood to DNA will be more expensive, it also opens possibilities, he said.
"That opens up another training realm," he said. "There are a lot more DNA analysts than there are people training in blood spatters.