Researchers Discover Tuberculosis in 9,000-year-old skeleton using HPLC

October 15, 2008

Research by scientists from University College London (UCL) and Tel Aviv University shows that the tuberculosis infection is 3,000 years older than was previously imagined and that TB in people evolved before bovine TB.

Research by scientists from University College London (UCL) and Tel Aviv University shows that the tuberculosis infection is 3,000 years older than was previously imagined and that TB in people evolved before bovine TB. Professor Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University noticed lesions that are a sign of TB in the bones of skeletons discovered at Alit-Yam, a 9,000 year-old pre-pottery Neolithic village. Dr. Helen Donoghue and Dr. Mark Spigelman, of the UCL Centre for Infectious Diseases & International Health, led an international collaborative team through analysing the bones using scientific techniques to reveal DNA and cell wall lipids from mycobacterium tuberculosis, the principal agent of human TB. The DNA in the excavated bones was sufficiently well-preserved for molecular typing to be carried out and the analysis of the bacterial cell wall lipids by high performance liquid chromatography provided evidence of tuberculosis.