LONDON: Scientists have discovered tuberculosis in 9,000 year-old human bones found submerged off Israel's coast -- evidence the disease is at least
3,000 years older than previously thought, researchers said on Wednesday.
The findings show how tuberculosis has evolved over thousands of years and provides a better understanding of ways it may change in the future, the researchers said.
"Examining ancient human remains for the markers of TB is very important because it helps to aid our understanding of prehistoric tuberculosis and how it evolved," said Mark Spigelman of University College, London, who worked on the study.
"This then helps us improve our understanding of modern TB and how we might develop more effective treatments."
Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease typically attacking the lungs that newly affects about 9.2 million people each year and kills an estimated 1.7 million around the world.
The emergence and spread of drug-resistant germs makes treating it much harder and could make the disease even deadlier.
The international team, which also included researchers from Israel's Tel Aviv University, found the bones believed to be a mother and baby submerged off the coast of Haifa.
DNA analysis and bone lesions characteristic of tuberculosis showed that the skeletons from a 9,000 year-old Pre-Pottery Neolithic village were infected with the disease, the team said in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS One.
6 months ago