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Egyptian mummy’s cause of death determined to be tuberculosis

Analysis of a 2,600-year-old Egyptian mummy named Irtyersenu’s tissues show she died of tuberculosis, not ovarian cancer as was perviously though.

Thwarted by the difficulty of obtaining a well-preserved sample of DNA, they took material from the bones and soft tissues and tested it with liquid chromatography, analysing it for chemical telltales.

The signatures point to biomarkers of the cell wall of Mycobacterium tuberculosis — the germ which causes TB. It was found in the lung tissue, pleura, diaphragm and femur.

The fat, interspersed with skeletal muscle, that had been noted in 1825 and 1994 is consistent with a protracted, terminal illness like TB, in which a patient literally withers away, say the authors.

One thought on “Egyptian mummy’s cause of death determined to be tuberculosis

  1. Tuberculosis? Gee, you’d think the only thing an Egyptian mummy would have to worry about would be how to get enough tana leaves.

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