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Preserved Tissue From Soldiers In WW1 Reveals New Information About 1918 Pandemic

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Mahmoud Abudeif, May 30, 2021.

  1. Mahmoud Abudeif

    Mahmoud Abudeif Golden Member

    Mar 5, 2019
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    On the 27th of June 1918, Two young German soldiers-one was 18 years old, the other 17 years old- passed away in Berlin from a strain of new influenza that had begun earlier that year.


    20th Century Pandemic

    The lungs of the soldiers ended up in Berlin Museum of Medical History collection, where they rested, placed in formalin, for about 100 years. Now, scientists have made effort to sequence big parts of the virus that infected the two young soldiers, taking a brief look at the early days of the most catastrophic 20th-century pandemic. The partial genomes have some tantalizing hint that the well-known flu strain between the first and second waves of the pandemic may have adapted to humans.

    The scientists also made effort to sequence a whole genome of the pathogen from a young woman who in 1918 passed away in Munich at an unspecified time. It is only the third complete genome of the virus that led to that pandemic and the first not from inside North America, the authors write in a preprint that was posted on bioRxiv.

    Sequencing Viral Genomes

    Hendrik Poinar, who is in charge of running an ancient DNA lab at McMaster University said: "It's totally fantastic work, the scientists have created reviving RNA viruses from archival material an attainable goal. Not too long ago this was, like great ancient DNA work, a fantasy."

    Sequencing viral genomes have turned into a routine. In the coronavirus pandemic that is presently in progress, researchers have gathered a database of over 1 million genomes of SARS-CoV-2, letting them observe variants appear and disperse while old ones disappear. But not a lot of sequences exist of the H1N1 influenza virus that led tothe pandemic of 1918-19.

    Experts in the United States in the early 2000s, carefully put together one genome from samples collected from a woman's body buried and stored in the frozen ground in Alaska. And in 2013 they made a presentation of a second genome from a U.S. flu death, unraveled from autopsy tissue preserved in formalin at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.


    Tissue Samples

    Angela Rasmussen, virologist of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Research Organization at the University of Saskatchewan said both studies consumed a lot of time, costly efforts that few people made attempt to imitate. Tracking down tissue samples that are archived is a challenge itself, says Michael Worobey, evolutionary biologist of the University of Arizona, and also a co-author on the new preprint. "It's all about discovering samples," Michael says. "Our group has searched so many different locations, and they're difficult to find."

    Sébastien Calvignac-Spencer, Evolutionary biologist of the Robert Koch Institute and his team from between 1900 and 1931 have carried out an investigation on 13 lung tissue samples that were in the medical museum in Berlin and in a collection in Vienna.


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