DNA analysis alters notion of how Renaissance-era child died

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DNA analysis alters notion of how Renaissance-era child died

Postby oneh2obabe » Jan 5th, 2018, 4:28 am

TORONTO — An international team of disease detectives has shed new light on a virus that kills almost a million people around the world each year by probing an unusual source — the mummified remains of a young child who died about 450 years ago in Renaissance Italy.

The scientists were able to sequence the complete genome of an ancient strain of hepatitis B after extracting DNA from the naturally mummified body of the two-year-old girl, which was interred with a number of other bodies in the sacristy of the Basilica of Saint Domenico Maggiore in Naples.

In the mid-1980s, before the advent of advanced genomic sequencing, Italian researchers had suggested the child likely died of smallpox because of evidence of rash-like scarring on her body.

"The blisters are clearly all over the face ... when you look at the image, your first thought would be smallpox," agreed Hendrik Poinar, an evolutionary geneticist at McMaster University in Hamilton, who co-led the new study with evolutionary biologist Edward Holmes of the University of Sydney.

But after extracting viral DNA from small samples of the child's skin and bone and analyzing its genetic signature, researchers turned up no evidence of smallpox.

"Nada. We couldn't find anything," said Poinar, director of McMaster’s Ancient DNA Centre, who previously helped sequence the genome of the extinct woolly mammoth and traced the genetic evolution of the bacteria that causes bubonic plague.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/dna-ana ... -1.3746158
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