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Tooth, Roots & Cure?

Today, the Coronavirus is seen to have rapidly changed our economy, society and lives. However, this is not the first time when we are going through such a phase. People had experienced pandemics in Athens nearly 430 years before the birth of Jesus Christ! That is the oldest recorded history of pandemic, which had claimed 50 million lives! Meanwhile, modern researches have revealed that the history of infectious diseases is even older. Human beings, perhaps, had become the victims of pandemic 5,000 years ago in the Stone Age, or even earlier! Huge social changes had taken place due to the pandemic in that period of time, too.

The Scientists have revealed these facts by examining DNA samples taken from the ancient human teeth. This brand new field of science is called ‘Paleogenomics’, which focuses mainly on recovering and understanding the genomic information in long extinct species. Maria Spiro, a researcher at the Max-Planck Institute in Germany, has said that experts in Paleogenomics work with the instruments that are used by the specialists to detect COVID-19. They have discovered a new technology to extract DNA from the teeth of ancient human skeletons. A special method, called ‘Shotgun Sequencing’, helps the researchers get access to all the genetic information from the teeth. And, they would find the Pathogen, or the history of germs, after analysing those information.

The Scientists have already been able to add a lot of information, hitherto unknown, about germs to the database. For instance, there was a genetic difference between the type of pandemic (according to many, the Plague) that had spread during the Stone Age, and the type of pandemic that took place later.

The Scientists have also discovered that the Hepatitis B virus used to exist 7,000 years ago! Many are infected with Salmonella – a type of bacteria that can cause diarrheal illness in humans – in the US every year. People used to get infected with this bacterium even 6,500 years ago! It has been possible for the researchers to be able to reveal these facts only because of ancient human teeth…

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