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Researchers Unravel Secrets of a 6,000-Year-Old Amulet

Researchers Unravel Secrets of a 6,000-Year-Old Amulet

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A scientific analysis of mysterious amulets dated back to 3,000 BC has brought new information to light about ancient metallurgy techniques. One copper amulet is the earliest lost-wax cast object known in history.

According to Phys.org, a team of researchers has a new explanation about technologies used for copper amulet production in the third millennium BC. By using a novel UV-visible photoluminescence spectral imaging approach, they could detail the parameters of the production process - such as the purity of the copper and melting and solidification temperatures.

The collection of small amulets was discovered in 1985 at the archaeological site of Mehrgarh in today's Balochistan in western Pakistan. The researchers believe that the amulets may have been created for religious purposes. However, the copper artifact focused on in their study had not been fully examined in three decades. As physicist Mathieu Thoury of the synchrotron SOLEIL lab in France told International Business Times :

Scientists had reached the limits of what they could learn from the amulet with traditional imaging techniques, and could not solve the paradoxes regarding how it had been manufactured. We have designed a full-field photoluminescence approach to look at the object's structure and composition in greater details. This has allowed us to infer what the amulet was made of when it was first created six millennia ago, based on what it is made of now.”

Comparison of high spatial dynamics-photoluminescence (PL) (top), and optical microscopy images (bottom). The area shown corresponds to part of one of the spokes of the amulet. The PL image reveals a eutectic rod-like structure that is undetectable in all of the other tested techniques. The image allowed the researchers to explain the process used to make the amulet. © T. Séverin-Fabiani, M. Thoury, L. Bertrand, B. Mille, IPANEMA, CNRS / MCC / UVSQ, Synchrotron SOLEIL, C2RMF

The new information came about through a collaboration between researchers from the CNRS, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, and the SOLEIL synchrotron. They documented their work in an article published in the journal Nature Communications .

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The lost-wax method is used to duplicate metal sculptures cast from an original mould. The method is still in use today, but until now evidence of its usage during the Neolithic period was limited. However, the procedure hasn’t changed much since Neolithic times. This procedure is often believed to be the result of technological innovations in many other areas, like: dentistry, pottery making, and textiles.

The lost-wax technique was crucial in the history of metallurgy. With time, it became popular across the Middle East, Mesopotamia, and the Mediterranean region. People started to create not only amulets, but also small figurines and other items with this method.

A collection of small lost-wax cast ornamental objects found during excavations at the MR2 site at Mehrgarh. ( D. Bagault, B. Mille, C2RMF )

The researchers described the process of making the amulet: it began with creating a model formed in a low melting point material, such as beeswax, which was covered with clay. The model was heated to remove the wax and baked to create a mold, which was then filled with copper.

To confirm the usage of this method, the team of scientists used a photoluminescence technique that works by shining light on the objects they wanted to analyze. Through this process they observed that two copper oxides were present in the sample. The same physical and chemical patterns appeared to be present across the surface of the sample, suggesting that the amulet was cast as a single piece. The presence of copper oxides proves that it was made from a pure copper melt.

The archaeological site in Mehrgarh where the amulet was found. (C. Jarrige/Mission archéologique de l’Indus )

Amulets are some of the most fascinating and mysterious ancient artifacts. April Holloway reported on two other interesting Neolithic pendants on Ancient Origins in November 2013. She wrote:

“In 1914, a Swiss amateur archaeologist, Ernest Roulin, approached the Museum of Science and Art in Ireland with an incredibly rare discovery – two ancient amulets made from fragments of human cranium. The amulets were dated to around 3,500 BC, during the Neolithic period, and have led to some fascinating conclusions regarding the practices and beliefs of our ancient ancestors. The amulets are oval in shape and perforated towards one end, possibly for threading so that the item could be worn around the neck. The edges are well finished and rounded, which also suggests that they were worn or displayed as pendants.”

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The two cranial amulets from Neuchâtel, Switzerland. ( National Museum of Ireland )

Regarding the possible purpose of these amulets, Holloway writes:

“Ernest Roulin, and a number of archaeologists have suggested that the cranial fragments were removed from the deceased and then perforated and polished to form pendants, possibly to draw strength or protection from the world of the deceased or perhaps simply to commemorate past members of the community. However, another more gruesome hypothesis has been put forward by French anthropologist Paul Broca, which is that the skulls were perforated prior to the individual’s death through the practice of trephination, otherwise known as trepanning.”

    A Recipe Made from the Stomach Contents of a 6,000-Year-Old Mummy

    Differing from typical Egyptian mummies from around 4000 BC – which would have had their organs stored separately in canopic jars— the mummified remains of a man were discovered in a prehistoric tomb and found with his digestive system intact. Luckily for the researchers, they could even see what his last meal was: a simple soup of barley, green onions, and tilapia.

    The Nile tilapia was a food staple and cultural icon thousands of years ago for the ancient Egyptians. It was also one of the first fish species cultured. The fish they caught in nets or speared in the Nile River appeared in their art and religion as well as on their plates. Much like in the tilapia farms around the world today, they also raised them in enclosed ponds for easier access too.

    Tilapia was such a feature of life that it even had its own hieroglyph. Egyptian tombs present the fish in ponds and it was also a popular shape for ancient Egyptian bottles and makeup palettes. People believed that this fish was a guide for the solar boat of the sun-god Ra as it sailed across the sky and it warned of the approach of the Apophis serpent in the netherworld voyage. The tilapia fish was also associated with rebirth and renewal, so its likeness was sometimes sewn into death shrouds.

    Moreover, the tilapia was linked to Hathor, the goddess of love and women and a symbol of fertility. People would wear amulets depicting the tilapia fish to try to increase their own fertility. This unusual association may be explained by a strange tilapia behavior. Baby fish swim into the mother’s mouth for protection soon after hatching and when danger nears. After the concern passed the little one’s emerged, which may have been misinterpreted by ancient Egyptians as miraculously regenerated fish babies or as creations born in an unusual manner.

    Fishermen clean and prepare fish. (Acrogame/AdobeStock)

    The ancient Egyptians wouldn’t recognize the tilapia most people eat today as the same fish they favored so long ago…and in some ways they’d be right, it’s not the same fish. Farmed tilapia, the most accessible version of the fish found around the world, is selectively bred to be white but the wild tilapia found near and in the Nile was the dark type.

    The last meal of the mummy mentioned above is an authentic ancient Egyptian barely and tilapia stew which includes the whole fish - bones, fins, scales, and all.

    Barley, the other main ingredient in the ancient fish dish, was a key crop for the ancient Egyptians. It was eaten as a cereal and was also used to make bread and beer. This grain was such a staple to the diet that some say that if an ancient Egyptian had barley bread and beer, they had a complete diet. Beer was enjoyed by all levels of society.

    If you prep a similar meal today, you could add a little more flavor with other spices from ancient Egypt, such as coriander, fennel, juniper, cumin, garlic and/or thyme. Butter and cheese are also options and could provide a touch of flavor that was accessible to the ancient nobility. Beer and a nice crusty bread could also round out the meal, for a truly authentic ancient Egyptian experience!

    Secrets of ancient amulet's creation revealed after 6,000 years

    A new photoluminescence technique has helped archaeologists uncover the secrets of a 6,000-year-old amulet found in Pakistan three decades ago. The object is thought to be the earliest created with lost-wax casting – a method used to duplicate metal sculptures cast from an original sculpture.

    The amulet was unearthed at the site of Mehrgarh, a Neolithic site located in Balochistan, western Pakistan. The site is often referred to as a "crucible for technological innovation" during Neolithic times in ancient South Asia, as people living there innovated in areas as varied as pottery making, textiles and even dentistry.

    When the amulet was discovered in 1985, researchers established that the object's complexity and lack of symmetry suggested it was probably made using lost-wax casting, but evidence of this was still lacking.

    "Scientists had reached the limits of what they could learn from the amulet with traditional imaging techniques. We have designed a full-field photoluminescence approach to look at the object's structure and composition in greater details. This has allowed us to infer what the amulet was made of when it was first created six millennia ago, based on what it is made of now", physicist Mathieu Thoury of the European platform IPANEMA (located on the SOLEIL synchrotron site in France), told IBTimes UK.

    Photograph of the amulet found in Mehrgarh, the oldest-discovered evidence of lost-wax casting techniques D Bagault/C2RMF

    Pure copper and lost-wax casting

    The full-field photoluminescence technique works by shining light on the objects that researchers want to analyse. They can then determine the spectrum re-emitted by the sample. This enables them to distinguish between the different elements constituting the amulet. In this case, they observed that two copper oxides were present in the sample.

    The archaeological site in Mehrgarh where the amulet was found C Jarrige/Mission archéologique de l’Indus

    The same physical and chemical patterns appeared across the surface of the amulet. This indicates that it was probably cast as a single piece – giving credit to the theory that it was created using the lost-wax casting technique. Additionally, the presence of the copper oxides suggests that amulet was made from a very pure copper melt. It would have then been poured into a prepared clay mould using the lost-wax casting method – the earliest evidence of the use of such a technique.

    "The use of pure copper may indicate that this object had a particular status, it was maybe used for religious or ritualistic purposes. The fact the metallurgists used the lost-wax technique so early on confirms the impressive capacity that people living at Mehrgarh had to innovate – and it really was an important innovation considering the technique is still used today, nearly 6,000 years after the amulet was created," Thoury says.

    "This innovation is crucial in the history of metallurgy. From the end of the 5th millennia to the third millennia, it is going to spread across the the Middle-East. People are going to use lost-wax casting to create small statues and then later in Mesopotamia bigger ones to represent important spiritual figures. The fact they chose to use this particular technique when they could have used another to create the amulet, as well as the fact it is made of pure copper, suggest the object was valuable to them", his colleague and co-author Benoit Mille adds.

    Photoluminescence (top) and optical microscopy (bottom) images of an area of the amulet T Séverin-Fabiani/M Thoury/L Bertrand/B Mille/Ipanema CNRS MCC UVSQ/SOLEIL/C2RMF

    The full-field photoluminescence technique thus allowed scientists to uncover the secrets of how the amulet was manufactured, identifying a significant technological innovation that occurred 6,000 years ago.

    This 6,000-Year-Old Amulet Is The First Evidence of a Technology Still Used by NASA Today

    Scientists have found the earliest known use of a modern-day metalworking process in a 6,000-year-old amulet from Pakistan, showing that the ancient craftspeople who made it were way ahead of their time.

    The process is called lost-wax casting, and variations of it are still used by NASA and many other manufacturers today. It involves making a wax cast replica of your chosen object, putting it inside a clay mould, and then replacing the wax with molten metal.

    To get the six-spoked amulet to give up its origin story, a team led by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) fired a high-powered beam of light on the artefact. This technique, called photoluminescence spectroscopy, uses light absorption and reflections to determine what metals are contained in an object.

    The scientists noticed tiny rods of copper oxide inside the metal, suggesting that oxygen was accidentally let into the amulet as its makers tried to shape it from a single piece of copper. That, together with its non-symmetrical shape, points to lost-wax casting.

    "We discovered a hidden structure that is a signature of the original object, how it was made," lead researcher Mathieu Thoury from CNRS's ancient materials centre told Sarah Kaplan at The Washington Post. "You have a signature of what was happening 6,000 years ago."

    For photoluminescence spectroscopy to work, the light beams need to be powerful enough to excite the electrons inside materials, so that they emit their own spectrum of light in response.

    Scientists can then analyse these, in this case giving them access to parts of the amulet that they otherwise couldn't see.

    The technique revealed the metal ore used in the amulet (extremely pure copper), the level of oxygen it absorbed, and the melting and solidification temperatures (around 1,072 degrees Celsius, or 1,962 degrees Fahrenheit).

    The photoluminescence technique (top) revealed copper oxide traces. Credit: T. Séverin-Fabiani/M. Thoury/L. Bertrand/B. Mille/IPANEMA/CNRS/MCC/UVSQ/Synchrotron SOLEIL/C2RMF

    The introduction of lost-wax casting at this point in human history marked a major shift in the way metal objects were made. Before that, metalworkers used permanent mould casting, where the same metal moulds are used again and again.

    Lost-wax casting allows for more complicated designs: knives, water jugs, tools, jewellery, even metal statues.

    As The Washington Post reports, that giant Buddha statue at Tōdai-ji, ultra-expensive Fabergé eggs, and various NASA equipment all exist thanks to low-wax casting – or its successor, investment casting (basically a more complex version of the same idea).

    This ancient amulet might not be quite as fancy or sophisticated, but it's nonetheless a powerful demonstration of scientific knowledge from several millennia ago.

    "It is not the most beautiful object, but still it holds so much history," Thoury said. "It shows how the metalworkers at the time were so innovative and wanted to optimise and improve the technique."

    The findings have been published in Nature Communications.

    And finally, here's a full look at the historic amulent:

    Credit: D. Bagault/C2RMF

    Antarctica Reveals Ancient Secrets As Researchers Explore 120,000-year-old Hidden Underwater World

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    A mysterious ancient seabed that has remained in total isolation for more than 120,000 years is set to be explored by researchers.

    A team of scientists is heading towards Antarctica in order to explore a region that has remained covered in ice for more than 120,000 years. This rare opportunity came after an iceberg known as A68—four times the size of London—broke from the Larsen Ice Shelf in 2017, exposing an alien world that has never before been explored by scientists.

    This is a never-before-seen rare opportunity that will allow experts to study an alien ecosystem that is about 6,000 square kilometers in size.

    When the massive block of ice moved, it revealed a region that had not seen the light of day for a long time, and now experts will delve into its mysteries and begin searching for any life that may have remained trapped there.

    It’s a rare opportunity to explore a hidden, alien ecosystem. Image Credit: BAS

    Speaking about this rare opportunity, BAS marine biologist Katrin Linse said to the Independent: “We don’t know anything about it, it has been covered by an ice shelf that is several hundred meters thick.”

    “It’s important we get there quickly before the undersea environment changes as sunlight enters the water and new species begin to colonize.”

    During the exploration which is planned to last for three weeks, seabed animals, microbes, plankton, sediments and water samples will be collected, in addition to documenting the evidence of new marine mammals or birds that may have migrated to the exposed waters.

    While their plane is spot on, researchers acknowledge that they really do not know what to expect when they get there.

    “We need to be bold on this one,” says BAS science director David Vaughan.

    Antarctica as seen from Space. Image Credit: NASA.

    “Larsen C is a long way south and there’s lots of sea ice in the area, but this is important science, so we will try our best to get the team where they need to be.”

    This trip represents a unique and unprecedented opportunity for scientists to look into an isolated region on Earth that has never before been explored.

    “We’re going into an area where we don’t know what we’re going to find, and this is an exciting thing,” Linse told BBC News Radio.

    “I expect to find animals similar to animals we find in the extreme deep sea, so animals that are not used to feeding on green food, because there was no phytoplankton in the water above… We don’t know until we’ve seen it.”

    All of the researchers taking part in the new survey are aware of the importance of their mission since observational windows like this one sometimes take more than 100,000 years to open.

    “I cannot imagine a more dramatic shift in environmental conditions in any ecosystem on Earth,” said in an interview with Nature, marine ecologist Julian Gutt from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany – one of the participating institutions on this voyage.

    As noted by the Independent, besides studying any life that may be inhabiting the region, climate scientists will try and establish whether or not the breaking apart of the Larsen Ice Shelf was induced by climate change.

    Scientists unravel secrets of ultra-black fish swimming the deepest depths

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - For fish inhabiting the immense darkness of the deep sea, being ultra-black offers great camouflage in a fish-eat-fish world. Scientists studying some of these exotic creatures now have unraveled the secret behind their extreme color.

    These fish - like the fangtooth, the Pacific blackdragon, the anglerfish and the black swallower - have modified the shape, size and packing of the pigment in their skin to the point that it reflects less than 0.5% of light that hits it, researchers said on Thursday.

    They studied 16 species that fit this definition of ultra-black. These spanned six different orders of fish - large groupings that each have a shared evolutionary history - indicating this modification evolved independently in all of them.

    "In the deep, open ocean, there is nowhere to hide and a lot of hungry predators," said zoologist Karen Osborn of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, a co-author of the research published in the journal Current Biology. "An animal's only option is to blend in with the background."

    Very little sunlight penetrates more than 650 feet (200 meters) below the ocean's surface. Some of these fish reside three miles (5,000 meters) deep.

    At such depths, bioluminescence - light emission by living organisms - is the only light source. Some of the ultra-black fish have bioluminescent lures on their bodies to coax prey close enough to be eaten.

    The skin of these fish is among the blackest material known, absorbing light so efficiently that even in bright light they appear to be silhouettes, as Osborn discovered when trying to photograph them after they were brought to the surface.

    The pigment melanin is abundant in this skin and distributed in an unusual fashion. By packaging perfectly sized and shaped melanosomes - pigment-filled structures within the skin cells - into tightly packed and continuous layers at the skin's surface, the fish ensure that essentially all light reaching them will hit this layer and never escape.

    "This mechanism of making thin and flexible ultra-black material," Osborn said, "could be used to create ultra-black materials for high-tech optics or for camouflage material for night ops."

    Now We Don’t Have to Unravel Mummies to Study Them at a Cellular Level

    During the 19th century, the looting of ancient Egyptian treasures was manifest. Swedish nobleman Carlo Lundberg was one of the many who simply took artifacts of interest back home. For Lunderg, that included a mummified hand dating to around 400 B.C. Although the hand was in relatively good condition, researchers had no way to examine the well-preserved soft tissue without physically removing it from its linen wrappings. So, for the next 200 years, its tissue remained unstudied.

    Now, Kiona N. Smith reports for Ars Technica, researchers led by Jenny Romell, a physicist at Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, have used a variation of CT scanning known as propagation-based phase-contrast imaging to bypass the mummified hand’s wrappings and produce high-resolution scans of its one-time owner’s blood vessels, skin layers and connective tissue—all without inflicting damage to the ancient remains.

    The team’s innovative use of CT scanning was recently detailed in Radiology . As George Dvorsky notes for Gizmodo, scientists have long relied on conventional CT scanning and similarly non-invasive imaging techniques to peer beneath mummies’ wrappings, but they’ve never been able to view mummified soft tissue at such a microscopic, detail-rich level, as most forms of soft tissue don’t produce the level of contrast necessary to produce high-resolution X-ray scans. If archaeologists and researchers wanted to examine mummified tissue, they were forced to extract physical samples and analyze them with a microscope.

    The team scanned both the hand in its entirety and the tip of the middle finger (Radiological Society of North America)

    Comparatively, propagation-based phase-contrast imaging (as its name suggests) utilizes not just the absorption of X-ray beams into a sample, but the change that occurs when the beam phases through it. As Cosmos’ Andrew Masterson explains, the combined approach creates a higher contrast, resulting in a higher-resolution image of soft tissue.

    That’s why phase-contrast imaging is already used to examine the soft tissue found in living humans. But Romell and her team wanted to test the technology’s research applications, which brings us back to that 2,400-year-old mummified hand, which is held in the collections of Sweden’s Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities. Their scans of both the specimen in its entirety and the tip of the middle finger, zooming in at resolution of between 6 and 9 micrometers—slightly larger than the width of a human red blood cell—successfully captured the mummified hand’s fat cells, blood vessels and nerves.

    Romell tells Smith of Ars Technica that she and her team don’t plan on conducting additional mummy experiments in the immediate future, but they hope their research provides a new avenue of exploration for medical researchers, archaeologists and researchers working in the field of paleopathology, or the study of ancient disease.

    "There is a risk of missing traces of diseases only preserved within the soft tissue if only absorption-contrast imaging is used," Romell said in a Radiological Society of North America statement. "With phase-contrast imaging, however, the soft tissue structures can be imaged down to cellular resolution, which opens up the opportunity for detailed analysis of the soft tissues."

    4 Mayan Hieroglyphs

    For years, researchers assumed that Mayan hieroglyphs were derived from the writing system of the Zapotecs, a pre-Columbian civilization that inhabited the Oaxaca valley south of Central Mexico. However, a set of newly discovered hieroglyphs suggested that the &ldquoMaya were writing at a complex level 150 years earlier than previously thought.&rdquo

    Though the Mayans didn&rsquot invent writing in the New World, the newly discovered writing system is a completely developed script, implying that the &ldquoMaya style [of writing] was not influenced by the Zapotecs.&rdquo

    The hieroglyphs were found inside Las Pinturas, a pyramidal building located in San Bartolo, Guatemala. Unfortunately, researchers have not yet deciphered the newly found hieroglyphs despite the fact that it&rsquos a &ldquoclearly developed written text.&rdquo

    TFI Daily News

    The amulet doesn&rsquot look like much: A lopsided, six-spoke wheel barely an inch across, swollen and green from corrosion.

    But the 6,000-year-old object, uncovered from the ruins of a Neolithic farming village in Pakistan, holds clues about the ancient world it came from. And the effort to decipher those clues required some of the most sophisticated technology of today.

    In the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday, scientists describe how they used a powerful synchrotron beam to analyze the tiny amulet on a microscopic level, revealing secrets about its origins that were once thought lost.

    Peering through the corrosion, &ldquowe discovered a hidden structure that is a signature of the original object, how it was made,&rdquo said lead author Mathieu Thoury, a physicist at Ipanema, the European center for the study of ancient materials. &ldquoYou have a signature of what was happening 6,000 years ago.&rdquo

    The study relied on an imaging technique called full-field photoluminescence. The researchers shined a powerful light at the amulet, exciting electrons in the atoms that compose it so that they emitted their own light in response. By analyzing the spectrum of this emission, the researchers could figure out the shape and composition of parts of the amulet they couldn&rsquot see.

    The technique revealed something surprising: countless tiny, bristle-like rods of copper oxide scattered throughout the interior of the amulet. Their structure was very different from the copper-oxygen compounds that pervade the rest of the object as a result of heavy corrosion over the course of thousands of years.

    Thoury believes that ancient metallurgists were trying to craft the amulet out of pure copper, but inadvertently allowed some oxygen in during the production process. Those early copper oxides hardened into the microscopic bristles in the amulet&rsquos interior.

    Their existence, paired with the fact that the amulet is not symmetrical, also suggests that the amulet was made via a process called lost-wax casting&ndashone of the most important innovations in the history of metallurgy. The age-old process, which is still used to make delicate metal instruments today, involves crafting a model out of wax, covering it in clay, and baking the whole thing until the wax melts out and the clay forms a hard mold. Then molten metal is then poured into this cavity and cooled until it hardens. When the mold is broken open, a perfect metal model of the original wax structure remains.

    At 6,000 years, the amulet is the oldest known example of this technique. Eventually, lost-wax casting would be used to produce countless functional objects&ndashknives, water vessels, utensils, tools&ndashas well as jewelry, religious figurines, impressive metal statues of gods, kings and heroes. The technique helped societies transition from the Stone Age to the ages of copper and bronze and gave rise to new and powerful types of culture. We have it to thank for the incredible bronze Buddha at Todai-ji temple in Japan and Faberge eggs. Investment casting, which is based on the process, is now used to produce equipment for NASA that has flown to the International Space Station and Mars.

    Mehrgarh, the ancient settlement where the amulet was uncovered 35 years ago, is already known as a &ldquocrucible&rdquo of innovation, Thoury added. The first evidence of proto-dentistry was uncovered at the site, which is more than 600 miles southwest of Islamabad. It also contains some of the most ancient evidence of agriculture and the oldest ceramic figurines in South Asia. It&rsquos thought that this small farming community was a precursor to the entire Indus Valley civilization, one of the most important cultures in the ancient world.

    Researchers unravel genetic secrets that may pave the way for India-specific treatment of eczema

    When a team of Indian geneticists and doctors dug deep into a common skin disease, they were surprised to see that it follows an altogether different trajectory in Indians, as compared to a known pathway seen among Westerners.

    The discovery, they say, may pave the way for an India-specific treatment of eczema, an ailment that occurs in one out of every five kids in the country.

    Eczema is caused by a variety of factors. Notable among them is atmospheric humidity that impacts on the dryness of the skin. There are genetic factors too, as genes that affect the structural integrity of the skin occur more frequently among persons suffering from eczema.

    As Indian researchers investigated the disease, they realised that known underlying genetic factors were not at work among Indians even though the desi population was getting exactly the same disease.

    So how did Indians receive the disease? For nearly three years, the team probed this question taking samples from 35 eczema patients and compared them with 50 healthy individuals. They ultimately found the answer in the microbiome, a colony of microbes that lives on the skin.

    “We found there is a complete separation of Staphylococcus species between eczema patients and healthy individuals. Patients with eczema have only Staphylococcus aureus species, while healthy controls have only Staphylococcus hominis species,” Souvik Mukherjee, a scientist at the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics, Kalyani and one of the team members told DH.

    The two species don’t cohabit the colony as S.hominis kills the other one. S.aureus, on the other hand, releases an enzyme that neutralises a protein that degrades the skin and is responsible for the disease.

    Mukherjee collaborated with researchers and clinicians at the Unilever R&D, Bangalore Calcutta Medical College and Hospital and College of Medicine and Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Hospital, Kalyani, for a better understanding of the disease so that an antidote in the form of a probiotic lotion or cream for topical application can be developed.

    "It took us three years to find out the cause of the manifestation of the disease among Indians. It may take another 2-3 years to find a solution. We now have a starting point, which is a very good starting point” said another team member Rupak Mitra from Unilever R&D.

    The scientists are also excited because for the first time they report a host-microbiome interaction for such patients. The level of microbiome disruptions is associated with the genetic makeup of the patient. “This is a novel finding, hitherto unreported from anywhere in the world,” said Mukherjee.

    The study would be published shortly in a journal titled Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology.

    Watch the video: MIT researchers unravel the secrets of spider silks strength (August 2022).