Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Once-dreaded leprosy ‘replaced’ by tuberculosis, say researchers

02.08.2005


What caused leprosy – a widely dreaded disease in medieval Europe – to fade from the scene? By the 16th century, the scourge had practically disappeared there.

The reason seems to be, say researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and in London, that tuberculosis, a far more deadly disease, overtook leprosy, killing millions throughout Europe.

Their conclusion is based upon the examination of DNA from human remains from the ancient and medieval periods in Israel and Europe. In these examinations, the scientists found traces of both leprosy and tuberculosis bacteria in 42 percent of the cases.



The findings on the relationship between leprosy and tuberculosis were reported in a recent edition of the British Royal Society Proceedings B by Dr. Mark Spigelman, a visiting professor at the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine and of the University College London; Prof. Charles Greenblatt of the Sanford F. Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine; and Dr. Helen Donoghue of University College London.

The earliest case of co-infection of both leprosy and tuberculosis was found by the researchers in the DNA from a body discovered in a 1st century CE burial cave in Jerusalem. This prompted the investigators to re-examine DNA samples from other ancient sites that they and their colleagues had worked on previously. In doing so, they found leprosy and tuberculosis bacteria in remains from a 4th century CE Egyptian shrine that was known to have been visited by lepers, from a 10th century burial ground in Hungary, and from a Viking-age cemetery in northern Sweden.

The conclusion drawn by the researchers from these multiple signs of co-infection of leprosy and TB bacteria is that those with leprosy, which was seldom fatal, were weakened to the extent that they became highly vulnerable to the “big killer,” tuberculosis. This was exacerbated by the lives of deprivation that the lepers were forced to live as social outcasts.

Ultimately, the scientists theorize, so many of the lepers died of tuberculosis until there were too few of them to further spread leprosy. TB, meanwhile, was increasingly on the rise as people in the Middle Ages migrated to urban centers, where crowding and poor sanitary conditions provided a fertile breeding ground for the spread of the killer disease.

Today, tuberculosis, though curable, is still a major, long-term, epidemic disease, with millions of new cases reported around the world each year.

Jerry Barach | alfa
Further information:
http://www.huji.ac.il

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Usher syndrome: Gene therapy restores hearing and balance
25.09.2017 | Institut Pasteur

nachricht MRI contrast agent locates and distinguishes aggressive from slow-growing breast cancer
25.09.2017 | Case Western Reserve University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fraunhofer ISE Pushes World Record for Multicrystalline Silicon Solar Cells to 22.3 Percent

25.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Usher syndrome: Gene therapy restores hearing and balance

25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

An international team of physicists a coherent amplification effect in laser excited dielectrics

25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>