The Ability of Teeth to Preserve Antibodies Through the Ages

Category Science

tldr #

A new study has discovered that teeth can preserve antibodies for centuries, potentially allowing experts to analyze how human antibody responses developed through history. Scientists from the University of Nottingham and University College London have identified proteins from infections 800 years ago, as well as 6.5 million years ago. This opens up a new field of study, with modern technology allowing them to identify antibodies in teeth from centuries ago and gain valuable insight into the immune system's journey.

content #

A recent study has discovered that teeth may have the ability to preserve antibodies for several centuries. This could provide scientists with a valuable resource for exploring the history of infectious diseases in humans. Antibodies are proteins that the immune system generates in response to pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. These proteins function to identify these harmful microbes, enabling the immune system to target and eliminate them from the body. In the new paper, published by iScience, antibodies extracted from 800-year-old medieval human teeth were found to be stable and still able to recognize viral proteins.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Nottingham and University College London

The study, led by Professor Robert Layfield and research technician Barry Shaw from the School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham, in collaboration with Professor Anisur Rahman and Dr. Thomas McDonnell from the Department of Medicine at University College London, expands the study of ancient proteins, referred to as palaeoproteomics, potentially allowing experts to analyze how human antibody responses developed through history.

The proteins identified in these teeth are from infections 800 year ago

Palaeoproteomics can reach back into deep time with ancient proteins already successfully recovered and identified after preservation in 1.7-million-year-old dental enamel from an ancient rhinoceros and an ostrich eggshell more than 6.5 million years old. In this new study, the authors also found preliminary evidence that, like the medieval human teeth, mammoth bones nearly 40,000 years old appear to preserve stable antibodies.

Using palaeoproteomics, researchers have identified proteins dating back to over 6.5 million years ago

This science has previously been applied by the Nottingham team to the analysis of other disease-associated proteins recovered from archaeological human bones and teeth to allow the identification of an unusual ancient form of the skeletal disorder Paget’s disease. Professor Layfield explained: "In discovery science, we come to expect the unexpected, but the realization that intact, functional antibodies can be purified from skeletal remains in the archaeological record was quite astonishing. Some ancient proteins were known to be stable, but these tend to be ‘structural’ proteins such as collagens and keratins, that are pretty inert." Professor Rahman added: "Antibodies are different because we are able to test whether they can still do their job of recognizing viruses or bacteria even after hundreds of years. In this case, we found that antibodies from medieval teeth were able to recognize the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes glandular fever. In the future, it could be possible to look at how antibodies from ancient specimens react to diseases present during those periods, such as the Black Death." .

Whole antibodies can be preserved in ancient teeth, unlike other structural proteins.

Today, modern technological and scientific advancement allows for the identification of antibodies in teeth from centuries ago, providing researchers with an unprecedented opportunity to understand in detail how human Immunology has evolved since medieval times. By exploring this new field of study, we are one step closer to unlocking the secrets of the immune system’s journey up until Sunday, 20 August 2023.

It is believed that antibodies preserved in teeth could be used to trace the history of infectious diseases throughout the centuries

hashtags #
worddensity #