Reduction of alcohol-related health problems and behavioural risks: study of metabolites generated due to consumption of alcohol or its surrogates
The study is associated with the “Activities and Objectives in the Alcohol Abuse Prevention Domain” in the National Health Plan 2009-2020 of the Ministry of Social Affairs, as agreed in the “Healthy lifestyle” Domain of National Health Plan 2009-2020 and the action programme of the Government of the Republic 2015–2019 Alcohol and tobacco harm reduction
The necessity to assess the exact time point of alcohol consumption and to make quality improvements in the diagnosis of alcohol-use arises from the high number of drunk drivers and high prevalence of alcohol-related health problems. Knowing the ratio between concentrations of the alcohol metabolites ethyl glucuronide (EtG), ethyl sulphate (EtS), and alcohol enables the time of alcohol use to be determined. As a result of the study improvements will be made in the quality of diagnosing alcohol use in motor vehicle drivers. A method to test EtG and EtS levels will be developed that can be used to calculate the starting time of alcohol consumption in drunk drivers based on the ratio between EtG, EtS and alcohol.
The second objective of the project is to develop a determination method for β-hydroxybutyrate and to put it to use thereafter in patients with chronic and acute alcohol use and diabetic patients, and to identify the link between βHB concentration and diabetes or alcohol poisoning in the deceased. To differentiate between the causes of the health problem: disease (diabetes), alcohol surrogate poisoning, or chronic alcohol use, β-hydroxybutyrate (βHB) will be used as one of the metabolic products. The indicator for ketoacidosis is βHB, which is generated from free fatty acids in case of ketoacidosis, and helps to distinguish whether the β-hydroxybutyrate in the body is exogenous (derived from alcohol) or it is generated endogenously, e.g. due to diabetes. The βHB test enables the cause of death to be determined more precisely and thereby contribute to the resolution of legal issues.
The total cost of the research project is €150,000, €75,000 of which is self-financed. The project will be implemented from 30.01.2017–29.07.2018.
The project of the Estonian Forensic Science Institute “Learning from best practices and raising knowledge of personnel by study visits to forensic institutions in Sweden and Norway” is supported within the scope of the Nordic-Baltic Public Administration Mobility Programme of the Nordic Council of Ministers with 5545 euros (the total volume of the project is approximately 9200 euros). The purpose of the project is to visit different expertise institutions and to create contacts with their support services and chemistry departments. The visits should provide an overview of their organization of work, quality management system, the methods and equipment used, the way experts are trained, etc. It will also create the opportunity to exchange experience and look into possibilities for joint projects. The project will be carried out from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018.
Pursuant to the framework contract of the Estonian-Swiss cooperation programme, the Estonian Forensic Science Institute will receive a grant in the amount of 3,500,000 Swiss francs (approximately 35 million EEK) for capacity enhancement in the areas of forensic science and pre-trial procedures.
The project "Measures for securing borders – Capacity enhancement in various areas of forensic science and pre-trial procedures to prevent crimes and the capacity of emergency response" will be implemented in 5 years. It is planned to purchase a computer tomography apparatus, a magnetic resonance imaging apparatus, an electron microscope with an X-ray analyser, a forensic information system and portable field expertise equipment for the Estonian Forensic Science Institute within the scope of the project.
Computer tomography and MRI equipment allow experts to obtain objective information, preserve it and consult other experts and specialists if necessary; to obtain the information necessary for identification of persons; to document pathological findings better, use them more efficiently in determining the cause of death and in ascertaining trauma mechanisms. An electron microscope can be used to study cases associated with fires and explosives. A forensic information system improves the organisation of work by making processes inside the Institute more systematic and transparent and contributes to faster information exchange with Schengen and PRÜM states. Portable field expertise equipment makes it possible to collect evidence of better quality from the scenes of events.
The project "Establishing the international online functionality of the existing Estonian AFIS according to Council Decision 2008/615/JHA" will be financed within the scope of the programme for prevention of and fight against crime (ISEC) created by the European Commission. The total volume of the project is approximately 10 million EEK: 7 million of this is covered with the grant and 3 million EEK will be financed by the EFSI itself. As a result of the project, the existing AFIS will be developed in order to guarantee automated data exchange that complies with the requirements set out in EC decision no. 2008/615/JSK. Implementation of the decision requires guaranteeing that reference data exist in the automated fingerprint system created for prevention and investigation of crimes. The reference data may not contain data that allow for direct identification of the data subject. Reference data that cannot be connected to any individuals (that are unidentifiable) must be marked as such. The project will be carried out from October 2009 to February 2012.