Unlocking the secrets of the Elephant Man
2013 08 30
By Andrew Bomford | BBC
The Elephant Man, Joseph Merrick, was an object of curiosity and ridicule throughout his life - studied, prodded and examined by the Victorian medical establishment. Now, 123 years after his death, scientists believe his bones contain secrets about his condition which could benefit medical science today.
Joseph Merrick began to develop abnormally from an early age, eventually being gawped at by Victorian circusgoers and examined by inquisitive doctors. The cause of his malformed head, curved spine, "lumpy" skin and overgrown right arm and hand has never been definitively explained.
Ironically, it is the medical preservation of Merrick’s skeleton that is now causing the greatest problems in unlocking his body’s secrets.
"The skeleton, which is well over a hundred years old now, is actually very clean," says Prof Richard Trembath, vice-principal for health at Queen Mary University of London, and the custodian of Merrick’s body.
"This represents a significant problem. On a number of occasions over the years the skeleton has been bleached during the preservation process. Bleach is not a good chemical to expose DNA to. It gives us an added problem in trying to extract sufficient quantities of DNA in order to undertake sequencing."
The hope is, though, that DNA can be extracted which will determine once and for all exactly what genetic condition he suffered from.
There have been several theories. For many years it was thought he had neurofibromatosis type 1, but in more recent years doctors have come to believe he had a condition known as Proteus Syndrome, or possibly a combination of both.
A team of geneticists from Queen Mary University of London, King’s College London, and the Natural History Museum are currently working on techniques to extract DNA from similar age bones which have also been bleached before beginning work on Merrick’s skeleton. They are anxious to keep any further damage to the bones to a minimum.
Bleach is sometimes used in labs to remove traces of DNA, so in many ways it is the worst possible thing to do to bones if the hope is to extract genetic information.
The genetic condition of Richard III’s remains - buried for hundreds of years below a car park in Leicester - is actually better than those of Merrick.
Joseph Merrick photographed (left), and his skull
Read the full article at: bbc.co.uk
The famous ’Train Scene’ from The Elephant Man (1980) depicting the hard life of Joseph Merrick:
We’re All Mutants: The Average Human Has 60 New Genetic Mutations
DARPA to Genetically Engineer Humans by Adding a 47th Chromosome
UK Public OK with creating babies from 3 people to avoid genetic diseases
Black Death Skeletons Unearthed
A giant mystery: 18 strange giant skeletons found in Wisconsin - Sons of god; Men of renown
Kennewick Man: Scientists unravel 9,300-year-old skeleton’s past
Bones of 200 soldiers from time of Christ so well preserved in bog that their DNA can be studied
Latest News from our Front Page
Nigel Farage (UKIP) Speech on the EU, UK & Mass Immigration
2014 03 08
UKIP Nigel Farage Spring Conference speech - 2014
Red Ice Radio:
Nigel Farage MEP - The State of the EU & The Undemocratic Treaty of Lisbon
Labour wins UK by-election as Ukip trumps Tories
The ruling coalition in the UK was dealt a blow in the latest by-election test, as the UK Independence party pushed the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats into third and fourth ...
Pentagon studying Putin’s body language to predict his behavior
2014 03 07
The Pentagon has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years so that researchers can study the body movements of foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, in hopes of predicting future behavior.
An article published by USA Today reporter Ray Locker on Thursday and corroborated by documents discovered by RT provides rare insight into a scarcely-discussed military effort that ...
Pentagon Claims That Climate Change ‘Enables Terrorism’
2014 03 07
In it’s latest Quadrennial Defense Review the Pentagon has said that climate change and ’erratic’ climate will cause increased terrorist activity.
The four yearly reports highlight threats that face civilization and this years homed in on climate change causing an increase in terrorism.
It also mentioned that rises in sea levels and other issues associated with a warming planet will lead ...
Scientists Control Tiny Mechanical Probes Inside Human Cells
2014 03 07
Nanotechnology doesn’t get as much attention these days as genetic and stem cell approaches to medicine, but all three aim to target the causes of illness with greater precision and less collateral damage in the rest of the body than conventional approaches.
Nanotech breakthroughs have come more slowly than many had hoped, but a recent success shows progress toward the goal ...
Fukushima: The Ticking Nuclear Bomb. Over 800 Tons of Radioactive Material Pouring into Pacific Ocean
2014 03 07
First published by GR in October 2013
In August this column ran a piece claiming that the Pacific Ocean was being poisoned by radioactive material escaping from Fukushima, two years after the devastating tsunami and meltdown at the Japanese nuclear facility. Three months later, shocking evidence points towards a calamity situation.
Silence from the corporate media.
There is growing evidence coming from ...
|More News » |