Robert Hicks, the director at the time Philadelphia Mother Museum, When he peeked in the drawer and found new employees, he was patrolling: five kinds of civil war vaccination kits, which contained small lancets like knives, glass slides and infected humans sc sub.
As Elizabeth Cooney reported Statistics News, Hicks immediately realized that he had accidentally discovered a long-established medical treasure, and sent the kits for further research. This month, a team of researchers from McMaster University in Canada published a complete study of these kits. Genomic Biology, Revealing new clues about the history of the underworld The only infectious disease Smallpox that was successfully eliminated by humans.
Smallpox is caused by the smallpox virus and one of the deadliest diseases in human history. It has plagued the world as early as the third century BC, as reported by Katherine J. Wu. Smithsonian Magazine In 2018, the disease killed nearly one-third of infected people and often left survivors with severe scars, hearing or vision loss statement.
During the Civil War, Confederate and Allied troops died of thousands of diseases, including smallpox. At the time, as Kat Eschner reported, the only line of defense for doctors against this cruel disease was vaccination. Smithsonian magazine In 2017. The doctor will use the kit discovered by Hicks to use pus or other infectious materials from people with smallpox-like diseases and apply it to the wound to enhance the person’s immunity to the virus.
As reported by Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman CNN, McMaster scientists did not find any variola virus in the kit. However, it is worth noting that by immersing items in a chemical solution, they were able to carefully collect fragments of virus vaccine DNA, which have been preserved in the materials, tools, jars and leather boxes of the vaccination tool for more than 150 years. The research team led by researcher Ana Duggan then reassembled the molecules like a puzzle and sequenced the DNA of five separate virus vaccine strains. New scientist.
It is worth noting that the McMaster team found that the five vaccine strains used in the Civil War kit are very different from the vaccines used to eradicate the disease in the 1970s and 1980s.
Duggan told CNN: “Our civil war vaccines and 20th century vaccines are both vaccinia viruses, but (ours) are not the same as any future commercial vaccines.”
She continued: “… Today’s medicine and vaccine development are very different from those in the 19th century, but there is evidence that exploring multiple sources and strategies for vaccines has potential.”
McMaster University said in a statement: “From an evolutionary point of view, the primary issue in vaccine design is that the vaccine strain must be a disease-causing strain to prevent disease.” This research shows that doctors during the Civil War are working Use long-distance related viruses to protect smallpox.
“This work points to the importance of looking for the diversity of these vaccine strains found in the wild,” said Hendrik Poinar, director of the research center. McMaster Ancient DNA Center, Add in the statement. “We don’t know how many can provide cross-protection against multiple viruses (such as influenza virus or coronavirus).”
As reported by Wu, the history of the smallpox vaccine can be traced back to the British doctor Edward Jenner. In 1796, Jenner, after realizing he was suffering from cowpox (relative with milder smallpox), appeared to be immune to cowpox, and conducted an extremely unethical experiment with an eight-year-old boy, James Phipps .
For most of the next century, vaccination has become a common practice to prevent this disease. The milder virus related to smallpox is said to be “grown” and then harvested from the infected human chain, which usually involves using women and enslaved Africans as human incubators for the disease. statistics.
However, as Wu reported in 2018, many questions about the early smallpox vaccine remain a mystery. For example, researchers are still not sure whether the modern smallpox vaccine (called vaccinia virus) originated from horses or cattle.
José Esparza, a virologist who specializes in historical smallpox vaccines who has nothing to do with the study, told reporters statistics Although this study is exciting, it still has not answered many questions about the history of smallpox vaccines. He said: “The mystery of the origin and evolution of the smallpox vaccine remains to be solved.”
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