Navigation Links
Scientists crack medieval bone code
Date:1/3/2012

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Two teams of Michigan State University researchers one working at a medieval burial site in Albania, the other at a DNA lab in East Lansing have shown how modern science can unlock the mysteries of the past.

The scientists are the first to confirm the existence of brucellosis, an infectious disease still prevalent today, in ancient skeletal remains.

The findings, which appear in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, suggest brucellosis has been endemic to Albania since at least the Middle Ages.

Although rare in the United States, brucellosis remains a major problem in the Mediterranean region and other parts of the world. Characterized by chronic respiratory illness and fever, brucellosis is acquired by eating infected meat or unpasteurized dairy products or by coming into contact with animals carrying the brucella bacteria.

Todd Fenton, associate professor of anthropology, said advanced DNA testing at MSU allowed the researchers to confirm the existence of the disease in skeletons that were about 1,000 years old.

"For years, we had to hypothesize the cause of pathological conditions like this," Fenton said. "So the era of DNA testing and the contributions that DNA can make to my work are really exciting."

Here's how the discovery came about.

Fenton and a group of MSU graduate students were serving as the bioarcheologists, or bone specialists, for a multinational team of archaeologists excavating sites in the ancient Albanian city of Butrint. Once a large Roman colony, Butrint in its final centuries served as an outpost of the Byzantine Empire until it was abandoned in the Middle Ages due to flooding.

Fenton and his team developed biological profiles of the human remains, which included determining sex, age and skeletal pathologies, or health histories. Vertebrae from two of the Byzantine-era skeletons both adolescent males from the 10th century to the 13th century had significant lesions, leading the researchers to theorize the boys had suffered from tuberculosis.

Samples of the ancient bone were sent to the forensic DNA lab in East Lansing, which is headed by David Foran, director of MSU's Forensic Science Program. Foran and his team of graduate students took tiny portions of the bone, extracted DNA and tested it for any residual DNA that might still exist from the expected pathogen.

But the results came back negative for tuberculosis.

Fenton's team re-examined the bones that tested negative for tuberculosis and concluded the disease might instead be brucellosis. The infection from brucellosis and tuberculosis causes similar damage basically eating away the bone although no one had ever confirmed brucellosis in human bone recovered from an archaeological site.

Foran's team then developed a different set of tests for detecting the brucella bacteria and undertook a new round of testing on the diseased vertebrae.

This time the results came back positive for brucellosis.

Foran said the collaboration on the project highlights the benefits of modern science and interdisciplinary research, even when the respective research teams are some 5,000 miles apart.

"In this case it was a combination of inquisitiveness, persistence and of course collaboration," Foran said. "It is amazing to find something brand new in something that is a thousand years old."


'/>"/>
Contact: David Foran
foran@msu.edu
517-432-5439
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. Scientists Pinpoint Area of Brain That Fears Losing Money
2. Scientists Discover How HIV Is Transmitted Between Men
3. Prevention Is Key Research Goal for Premature Babies, Scientists Say
4. Scientists Discover Molecular Pathway for Organ Tissue Regeneration and Repair
5. Scientists find donut-shaped structure of enzyme involved in energy metabolism
6. Neuroscientists reveal new links that regulate brain electrical activity
7. Two UCSF Scientists to Receive Prestigious Dementia Research Honor
8. Johns Hopkins scientists develop personalized blood tests for cancer using whole genome sequencing
9. Scientists Spot Genetic Fingerprints of Individual Cancers
10. Scientists Unravel Mysteries of Intelligence
11. MSU scientists develop more effective method of predicting lead-poisoning risk
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Scientists crack medieval bone code
(Date:5/2/2016)... NV (PRWEB) , ... May 02, 2016 , ... ... Pharmacy Times, has announced a new Specialty Pharmacy Patient Satisfaction Award that will ... based on the quarterly results from Zitter Health Insights’ Specialty Pharmacy Patient Satisfaction ...
(Date:5/2/2016)... ... May 02, 2016 , ... The 2016 World Ultimate & Guts Championship (WUGC) Mixed roster was ... made the cut. The WUGC is being held in London, England this year from June ... the men’s division, another gold in the women’s masters division, and a silver in the ...
(Date:5/2/2016)... ... , ... Pregnancy Awareness Month offers a great time to get familiar with ... are ready to have a baby, it’s best to get started before age becomes ... Personal Conception & Pregnancy Organizer, written for women who plan on becoming pregnant to ...
(Date:5/2/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 02, 2016 , ... ... division of Permobil, recently completed two groundbreaking studies that determined that the adjustability ... – are critical in the prevention of pressure injuries, which are now referred ...
(Date:5/2/2016)... Washington, DC (PRWEB) , ... May 02, 2016 , ... ... “ How CMS’s Medicare Part B Payment Model Could Transform the Pharma Landscape .” ... an eye on reducing its spend on provider-administered drugs while preserving care provided to ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:4/29/2016)... 29, 2016 ReportsnReports.com adds ... market research report that provides an overview of ... at various stages, therapeutics assessment by drug target, ... and molecule type, along with latest updates, and ... key players involved in the therapeutic development for ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... 2016 Glycotope GmbH, a clinical-stage ... the appointment of Dr. Alfredo Zurlo as ... oncologist with many years clinical experience and a proven ... last role was at Mologen AG where he was ... Previously Dr. Zurlo held various positions at F Hoffmann ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... , April 28, 2016  While Abbott,s ... complement the company,s valve repair and stent business, ... also places Abbott more firmly into patient monitoring.  ... the fastest growing device areas, with double-digit growth ... recent report,  Advanced Remote Patient Monitoring ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: