Medieval Briton found to have leprosy and osteosarcoma

(ORDO NEWS) — British scientists examined the remains found during excavations of a necropolis at a medieval leper colony.

It turned out that they belonged to a man 26-35 years old, who died in 1229-1290. Bone examination and DNA analysis showed that he suffered from osteosarcoma and leprosy.

Leprosy (leprosy) has been known since ancient times and is mentioned in the written sources of the first civilizations.

It is a chronic infectious disease caused by the mycobacterium Mycobacterium leprae or M. lepromatosis. It seems that the first foci of this disease appeared in Southeast Asia, from where it spread to the Middle East and North Africa.

So, in the ancient Egyptian papyri, leprosy is mentioned as early as the time of the pharaoh of the 19th dynasty Merneptah, who ruled at the end of the 13th century BC.

During the Middle Ages, leprosy spread widely throughout Europe. There were more than 300 leper colonies in England alone, mostly opened between the 12th and 13th centuries.

Scientists put forward different hypotheses as to why this happened. So, some researchers associate the spread of infection with the Crusades, pilgrims or the Vikings.

There are also more unusual suggestions, for example, British scientists blamed the spread of leprosy on ordinary squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris).

Although leprosy is now considered a neglected disease by the World Health Organization, many regions report large numbers of cases, such as India, Brazil and Myanmar.

Medieval Briton found to have leprosy and osteosarcoma 2
Photograph and radiograph of a right tibia with lesions due to osteosarcoma

Garrard Cole of the Institute of Archeology at University College London, together with British colleagues, examined human remains found by archaeologists in 2000 during excavations of the necropolis at the medieval leper colony of St.

Mary Magdalene in the vicinity of the English city of Winchester. Judging by the fact that his burial was near the walls of the chapel, the researchers suggested that this man was not the most ordinary resident.

According to the bones of the pelvis and skull, scientists found that the remains belonged to a man who died at the age of 26 to 35 years.

The length of his femur indicates that in life, the height of a person was about 169 ± 3 centimeters.

From the femur, scientists took about one gram of tissue for radiocarbon analysis, which showed that the man died around 1229-1290 AD.

Paleopathological examination showed that the individual had osteosarcoma (a malignant tumor of the bone), which caused extensive degenerative changes on the right tibia and fibula, as well as leprosy.

To verify the accuracy of the diagnosis, scientists conducted a DNA test. Genetic testing confirmed that the individual was male.

In addition, in samples from bones and teeth, scientists found convincing evidence that he had leprosy.

Moreover, SNP genotyping showed that the read M. leprae genome belonged to clade 3I, one of the two main lineages (along with 2F) common in the Middle Ages in the British Isles.

Earlier on N + 1 they said that the remains of non-native people were found in an English necropolis for lepers. In addition, scientists have found that in medieval England, leprosy patients were fed low-quality meat.

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