Sunday, October 08, 2006

Mummy DNA Reveals Birth of Ancient Scourge

An article about analysis of mummies to determine the approximate age of the disease leishmaniasis which is caused by microscopic parasites, is transmitted by sand flies and results in painful skin sores: "Albert Zink of Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich and his colleagues tested the DNA of bone samples from 91 ancient Egyptian mummies and 70 from old Nubia--modern Sudan--to determine if they had suffered from leishmaniasis. In nine of the 70 Nubian mummies--taken from graves stretching as far back as A.D. 550--mitochondrial DNA of the parasite was discovered, proving the disease was endemic at least that far back. It likely has even more ancient roots; four of the Egyptian mummies carried the parasite's DNA, each dating from the Middle Kingdom period of 2050 to 1650 B.C. when trade ties with Nubia were strongest."
See the above page for the full story.

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