Genotyping Medieval English Leprosy

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*Event cancelled*

Thursday 26 April
6 pm
Room 16, Medecroft, King Alfred Campus, University of Winchester, Sparkford Road, Winchester, Hampshire So22 4NR

The first successful amplification of any ancient pathogen DNA from human remains dates back to 1994, and was from an archaeological case of lepromatous leprosy. The ability to confirm disease in human remains by biomolecular means was met in some quarters with doubt, even disbelief. However, confirmation of the initial findings and a growing number of independent studies applied to cases of leprosy (and tuberculosis) resulted in the field of microbial palaeogenetics developing rapidly. Validation criteria for working with aDNA were established. The ability to recover lipid components from the mycobacterial cell wall has been particularly helpful in confirmation of the disease by a means which does not require an amplification step.

In 2006, strain variation was identified by researchers working on modern cases from different parts of the world and the phylogeographic nature of M.leprae was recognised. Although few cases of leprosy occur in modern Europe, it was evident that genetic information could be retrieved from past European cases when leprosy was at its height, from approximately the 10th to 16th centuries.

This presentation details some of these cases from Southern Britain including burials from the leprosarium of St. Mary Magdalen, Winchester and earlier and later examples from East Anglia, where the disease seems to have lingered on for a longer period. The results are compared to cases from mainland Europe.​

This talk will be given by Dr Michael Taylor, University of Surrey.

This event is from the Centre for Medical History. For more information about the centre, click here

Please note this event is cancelled.

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