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    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2008
    I few weeks ago I saw Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs, which I recommend to any other documentary-loving nerds in the room, and which sent me looking for articles about mummy DNA and malaria.

    Which brought me to this (click through to get to the whole article):

    "We can contribute to a better understanding of pathogen evolution and, thereby, to a more efficient treatment and control of infectious diseases," Zink says. The pathogens that proved a curse to ancient mummies may yet provide a cure for ancient scourges that still plague humanity.

    Which isn't quite so new any more (article from Oct. 2006), but as near as I can tell the research is still ongoing.

    And I really like the idea of new treatments for disease coming from research involving ancient mummies.

    (Incidentally, the researcher featured in the documentary was Angelique Corhals but I can't get through right now to the relevant page off her publication links section.)
    • CommentAuthorPooka
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2008
    huh? It took them this long to figure that one out?
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2008
    @Pooka Part of the deal is that it is actually quite hard to get DNA samples out of ancient mummies. The documentary I mention has researchers making a modern mummy (with a body someone generously left to science) using what they best understand to be the methods the ancient Egyptians used. Then they take samples out of numerous locations in the mummified body to see where you can still get DNA from after the process.
    Which in turn led to them knowing which parts of the ancient mummies are most likely to give up the DNA goods.

    So while I doubt that the concept is one they just figured out, it did take time to figure out where to pull the samples from.
    I mean, you're going to get a lot less from an ancient mummy than from a fresh one to begin with, and there aren't a whole tonne of them around so it is unlikely you will be allowed to just jab your sample-taking needle into them repeatedly and randomly until you hit pay dirt.

    Now that they can actually get DNA samples out, there will be quite a bit of ongoing work while they study and experiment with what they've found, and I think it's exciting to finally be into that phase of things.
    That's all.