Ancient human bones may unravel TB conundrum

February 8th, 2008 - 6:04 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Feb 8 (ANI): Academics from Durham and Manchester universities are set to conduct a DNA-test of ancient human remains held in Portsmouth’s museum archives to analyse how tuberculosis evolved through the ages.

Skeletons, which got buried in the city during developments, some dating back to the Bronze Age, will now form a vital part of new research into TB.

For the study, the remains of two ancient city dwellers, one which is known to have suffered TB and one which did not, will be tested.

The researchers have asked for permission to remove bits of bone and teeth and it is hoped their findings will lead to the formulation of new drugs to combat the disease, which is presently on the rise.

An expert will remove the samples using a small circular saw and will be taken to Manchester University for testing.

The dentine or yellow underpart of the teeth will be taken away, and the teeth returned to the museum service.

The samples of the bones will be destroyed but it is proposed they will be kept by Manchester University on loan from Portsmouth City Council.

Other councils which own human remains have already allowed this study to take place and watchdog English Heritage has told Portsmouth City Council that it is happy to permit the sampling for this research request.

The remains will be treated respectfully throughout the sampling process, said Jennifer Macey, museums collections assistant at Portsmouth City Council.

The potential benefits of the research will be a greater understanding of the evolution of tuberculosis in Britain and Europe, possibly being able to identify whether particular strains of TB have always occurred in certain regions or whether this is due to modern factors, she added. (ANI)

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