Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Old Man TB

Researchers from University College London and Tel-Aviv University have discovered the oldest cases of tuberculosis (TB) infection in human history. DNA analysis of 9,000 year old bones unearthed near Haifa, Israel recently confirmed the existence of the human TB strain.

"Examining ancient human remains for the markers of TB is very important because it helps to aid our understanding of prehistoric tuberculosis and how it evolved. This then helps us improve our understanding of modern TB and how we might develop more effective treatments," said Dr. Mark Spigelman, one of the investigators.

TB is a mycobacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis that has infected up to one third of the world's population and was responsible for the deaths of at least 1.6 million people in 2005.

(photo credit: Centers for Disease Control)