7000 years ago: One of the oldest cases of tuberculosis discovered

October 30, 2013

Tuberculosis was present in Europe as early as 7000 years ago, according to new research published October 30th in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, by Muriel Masson and colleagues at the University of Szeged.

A disease called Hypertrophic Pulmonary Osteopathy is characterized by symmetrical new bone formations on the long bones. Based on the archaeological record, it has been suggested that tuberculosis might have caused HPO thousands of years ago. HPO is a rare find in the , making it difficult to verify this hypothesis.

In this study, the authors examined seventy-one human skeletons from a 7000-year-old site in the south of Hungary. They found numerous cases of infections and metabolic diseases, and some skeletons showed signs of HPO and therefore potentially tuberculosis. They focused on one skeleton in particular to verify this hypothesis, and analyzed the ancient DNA and lipids from its bones to do so. Both tests confirmed the presence of the bacterial complex associated with tuberculosis.

This is one of the earliest known cases of HPO and to date, and helps shed new light on this European community in prehistoric times. Masson adds, "This is a crucial find from a fantastic site. It is not only the earliest occurrence of fully-developed HPO on an adult skeleton to date, but also clearly establishes the presence of Tuberculosis in Europe 7000 years ago."

Explore further: Potential new drug for tuberculosis

More information: Masson M, Molnár E, Donoghue HD, Besra GS, Minnikin DE, et al. (2013) Osteological and Biomolecular Evidence of a 7000-Year Old Case of Hypertrophic Pulmonary Osteopathy Secondary to Tuberculosis from Neolithic Hungary. PLoS ONE 8(10): e78252. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0078252

Related Stories

Potential new drug for tuberculosis

August 5, 2013
A new drug capable of inhibiting growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is reported this week in Nature Medicine. The findings may improve therapeutic options for the treatment of drug resistant tuberculosis (TB).

FDA approves first new tuberculosis in 40 years

December 31, 2012
The Food and Drug Administration says it has approved a Johnson & Johnson tuberculosis drug that is the first new medicine to fight the deadly infection in more than four decades.

Technology brings new life to the study of diseases in old bones

October 22, 2012
A study led by The University of Manchester has demonstrated that new technology that can analyse millions of gene sequences in a matter of seconds is an effective way to quickly and accurately identify diseases in skeletons.

New tuberculosis vaccine boosts impacts of old counterpart

October 2, 2013
A tuberculosis vaccine developed at McMaster University offers new hopes for the global fight against tuberculosis.

Drug resistance-associated genes: A cornerstone for the control and protection against tuberculosis

September 5, 2013
BGI in collaboration with Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and other Chinese institutes, have completed the genome sequencing of 161 Mycobacterium tuberculosis that can cause an infectious disease tuberculosis ...

Research reveals new drug target urgently needed for tuberculosis therapy

December 20, 2012
One third of the world is infected with the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB), a disease that is increasingly difficult to treat because of wide spread resistance to available drugs. Researchers from the Institute of ...

Recommended for you

Researchers report new system to study chronic hepatitis B

July 25, 2017
Scientists from Princeton University's Department of Molecular Biology have successfully tested a cell-culture system that will allow researchers to perform laboratory-based studies of long-term hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections. ...

Research examines lung cell turnover as risk factor and target for treatment of influenza pneumonia

July 24, 2017
Influenza is a recurring global health threat that, according to the World Health Organization, is responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths every year, most due to influenza pneumonia, or viral pneumonia. Infection with ...

Scientists propose novel therapy to lessen risk of obesity-linked disease

July 24, 2017
With obesity related illnesses a global pandemic, researchers propose in the Journal of Clinical Investigation using a blood thinner to target molecular drivers of chronic metabolic inflammation in people eating high-fat ...

Raccoon roundworm—a hidden human parasite?

July 24, 2017
The raccoon that topples your trashcan and pillages your garden may leave more than just a mess. More likely than not, it also contaminates your yard with parasites—most notably, raccoon roundworms (Baylisascaris procyonis).

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.