6.14.13 Medieval Leprosy: Just find this fascinating …

DNA, bacteria, Medieval leprosy, Surprising Science:  Just find this fascinating …  

 results, published today in the journal Science, reveal that the bacterium has, in terms of genetic makeup, remained relatively the same despite the last 1,000 years. Only 800 mutations occurred among the 16 genomes in that time, the researchers write. This number means that the mysterious disappearance of the disease by the Middle Ages in Europe can’t be attributed to M. leprae losing its virulence.

“If the explanation of the drop in leprosy cases isn’t in the pathogen, then it must be in the host—that is, in us,” says Stewart Cole, co-director of the study and the head of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne’s Global Health Institute. “So that’s where we need to look.”

The pathogen’s genetic resilience was evident in its modern strains. Researchers found that a medieval strain present in Sweden and the U.K. was nearly identical to one currently found in the Middle East. Their findings also suggest that some strains found in the Americas originated in Europe. What they can’t tell us, however, is the direction in which the epidemic spread throughout history.

This research marks a growing trend in using DNA analysis to learn more about epidemics and other devastating events in human history. Last month, scientists sampled 166-year-old Irish potato leaves using similar technology: They determined that a previously unknown strain of P. infestans caused the blight that shrunk 19th-century Ireland’s population by 25 percent. Perhaps future research could someday pinpoint the pathogen responsible for the bubonic plague, commonly known as the Black Death, which wiped out nearly half of Europe’s population between 1347 and 1351.

via Scientists Sequence DNA of Bacteria Responsible for Medieval Leprosy | Surprising Science.

0 Responses to “6.14.13 Medieval Leprosy: Just find this fascinating …”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 630 other followers

June 2013
« May   Jul »

%d bloggers like this: