|14 July 2013
Protein analysis sheds new light on Oetzi
When tissue samples are analysed, regardless of the antiquity of the body in question, DNA will always be the same, wherever in the body the samples are taken. The same cannot be said for protein analysis. Proteins allow the possibility of a more detailed analysis as they are specific to a localized area of the body.
Now a team of scientists gathered from a select group of Institutions have made a major breakthrough in the field of protein analysis, specifically protein mixtures known as 'proteomes'. They carried out studies on minute samples of brain tissue taken from the world renowned Oetzi the Iceman.
Oetzi is a well preserved mummy, dating from approximately 3,300 BCE, which was found in the Alps on the border between Austria and Italy, in 1991. It is believed he may have died from loss of blood from an arrow wound, or a blow to the head. Two parallel independent studies were carried out and the results corroborated each other. Without delving into the exact science involved, they concluded that Otzi had suffered bruising of the brain which had either been caused by a blow to the head or a knock when falling to the ground.
Whilst not wholly conclusive the breakthrough in analysis has been quite exciting. Microbiologist Frank Maixner, of EURAC, Institute for Experimental Medicine, Kiel University, a member of the research team, is quoted as saying "When you think that we have succeeded in identifying actual tissue changes in a human who lived over 5,000 years ago you can begin to understand how pleased we are as scientists that we persisted with our research after many unsuccessful attempts. It has definitely proved worthwhile!"
Edited from ScienceDaily (10 June 2013)
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