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Bones found in an excavation in Jericho may teach how to fight tuberculosis

Bones found in an excavation in Jericho may provide clues on how to fight tuberculosis, claims a group of Israeli, Palestinian and German researchers led by Prof. Mark Spiegelman from the Kovin Center for Infectious and Tropical Disease Research from the Faculty of Medicine at the Hebrew University

Bones found in an excavation in Jericho may provide clues on how to fight tuberculosis, according to a group of Israeli, Palestinian and German researchers led by Prof. Mark Spiegelman from the Kovin Center for Infectious and Tropical Disease Research from the Faculty of Medicine at the Hebrew University.

The bones, which were found in an excavation in Jericho more than fifty years ago, will undergo laboratory tests to detect tuberculosis, leprosy, the rose of Jericho (leishmania), and malaria. The research will mainly focus on tuberculosis.

Prof. Spiegelman is known for his pioneering research on infectious diseases found in mummified bodies from Hungary to Sudan and Korea, and for his search for an answer to the development of diseases that still attack us today, such as tuberculosis, leishmania and influenza.

Tuberculosis - still a common fatal disease

Tuberculosis, a deadly infectious disease that attacks the lungs, was very common in ancient times and continues even today to be one of the main causes of death, especially in developing countries. It is estimated that worldwide 2 billion people are infected with tuberculosis and about 3 million die from it every year.

Why Jericho?

The origin of tuberculosis is still not clearly known, but it is estimated that it first developed in the villages and towns that sprang up in the Fertile Crescent area about 9,000-10,000 years ago. Jericho, which was founded about 9,000 years BC, is one of the first settlements on earth, so it is likely that many communal diseases started there.

By examining the human and animal bones found in Jericho, the researchers can examine how the first people who lived in a dense community developed the disease and what are the changes that have occurred over the years in the DNA of the people and of the pathogens (the microbes). A comparison between the DNA data of the people and the DNA data of the corresponding animals will allow the identification of the relationship between the infected and the infected between the animals and the people.

How does this research help us today?

A preliminary examination of the bones reveals that there is enough DNA in the samples taken from them to contribute to the understanding of the origin and development of various diseases, including tuberculosis.

Prof. Spiegelman believes that the knowledge about the way the disease developed 6,000 years ago will help us understand what its consequences will be if it continues to develop. This knowledge will change the way people working in the field of public health will act and will help fight the disease.

Where were the bones until now?

Prof. Spiegelman came across the bones while examining mummies during his visit to the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney. "People at the museum told me that they have many boxes of bones and they don't know what to do with them," Prof. Spiegelman said. "It turns out that the boxes were deposited there fifty years ago by an anthropologist who worked with Dr. Kathleen Kenyon, an archaeologist who excavated in the 50s in Jericho. I examined the bones and realized that these are the bones from Jericho! I hurried to tell them - don't throw them away!"

Some of the bones were brought to Israel by Prof. Spiegelman while he was a research fellow at the Sir Zalman Cowan Foundation. The bones will be examined with additional bones from Jericho and Beit Shan donated by the Duckworth Collection at the University of Cambridge.

Israeli-Palestinian-German cooperation

The research, funded by a grant from the German Science Foundation (DFG), will be carried out by the Hebrew University, Al-Quds University and the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich. In Israel, research students from the Hebrew University and Al-Quds University will devote their full time to this project. The project is one of 11 projects at the Hebrew University in which Israeli, Palestinian and German researchers collaborate.

Prof. Spiegelman estimates that the project will help the Palestinians develop the appropriate technology and establish a DNA laboratory. Their predecessor at Al-Quds University.

10 תגובות

  1. As far as I know, tuberculosis bacteria damage the soft tissues of the body (especially the lungs). I don't know about their penetration into the bones.

    Regardless, the argument about the possibility of extracting bacterial DNA from bones that have been buried for thousands of years seems to me to be an impossible task. Are there any known cases of this being done? At least not known to me.

    It was almost impossible to extract viral DNA from the remains of victims of the 1918 flu, some of whose tissues were buried in frozen ground or preserved in laboratories. Therefore, the idea that they were based on bacterial DNA from thousands of years ago seems problematic to me.


  2. I didn't understand one thing -

    After all, they would say that examining the bones themselves will help identify signs of disease (identification of old ulcers, deformities, etc.), but what about DNA and tuberculosis testing???

    Can someone enlighten me on the effect of diseases, such as leprosy or tuberculosis, on DNA, and what changes in DNA as a result of these diseases???

    Hanan Sabat

  3. By the way, Matan:
    You probably didn't understand that everything I wrote in my response was my opinion on the issues I thought should be responded to and there was no prologue here.
    No statement of mine was condescending. I spoke only to the point. I was not talking to a person's body.
    Your response differs from mine in each and every one of the above elements:
    She is arrogant
    It has nothing to do with it
    She speaks to a person's body only

  4. giving:
    It turns out that analyzing my character and my motives has become a legitimate substitute for an answer for many.
    I hope everyone sees that there was no answer or reference here.
    And they accused me of not reading to the end 🙂

  5. Michael, let's start: 1. There is no need to condescend to me
    2. Your usual aggression proves once again that you are attacking even before you have finished reading. I did not make statements in conjecture!!
    Michael I understand that you have an opinion and you feel an urge to engrave it on the page - just say your opinion on the subject directly without your casual prologue
    Sorry if I caused confusion

  6. giving:
    I don't know the facts, but to write something like "because if that's the case..." is basically saying nothing.
    I can also write something along the lines of "Aren't all university lecturers pedophiles? Because if that's the case then they should all be prosecuted!"
    And what did I just say? Nothing, of course. I just slandered the lecturers in such a way that no one could sue me for libel.
    That's why I ask: Is the accusation you made true? I'm asking you because you raised the matter and I think it would only be fair if you said whether or not this is the case.
    This is beyond the fact that it does not seem logical to me that a university that boycotts Israel would cooperate with an Israeli university and that it is no longer a matter of our honor but rather of theirs.
    In general - considerations of honor are not the right considerations in any case. We want the elimination of the boycott. Sometimes counter-boycott can be useful and sometimes actually cooperation that sterilizes the boycott can do so. One must act according to reason and not according to emotion.

  7. Since when is there respect in the academy? And especially in Israel..

  8. Al Quds University is not a member of the Association for an Academic Boycott of Israel??? Because if that's the case then we are completely disrespectful

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