Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mummies Help Fight Tuberculosis

The largest exhibition of mummies to date has opened in Los Angeles, California. The show not only provides a glimpse into the lives of ancient humans; as it is fundamentally a scientific project, it also allows researchers the opportunity to examine the different exhibits to elucidate the history of tuberculosis, by putting the mummies through medical technology, such as non-invasive CT scans, MRIs and X-rays, to look inside them without damage. “We’re able to explore tuberculosis in several ancient populations, and so by studying the pathogen DNA over time, we’ve been able to look at how the strain has developed,” says Dr. Heather Gill-Frerking, scientific research curator for the German Mummy Project. “Now with the resurgence of tuberculosis and drug resistant tuberculosis in modern populations, we can trace the evolution of the disease and perhaps find better ways to treat it.” Photos of some of the 150 mummies on display can be viewed at BBC News.