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Body in lead coffin may hold key to fighting bird flu

 
 
Reply Wed 28 Feb, 2007 12:40 am
From today's The Guardian (on page 1 & 13)

http://i15.tinypic.com/4ct7c60.jpg

Quote:
Go-ahead for exhumation of politician and diplomat who died in 1918-19 epidemic

Clare Dyer, legal editor
Wednesday February 28, 2007
The Guardian


A celebrated politician and diplomat who played a key role in the carve-up of the Middle East after the first world war is to be called on to perform a final service which could reap incalculable benefits for global health.
Nearly 90 years after his death, researchers hoping to find the best way of treating the predicted bird flu pandemic have been given the go-ahead to exhume the body of Sir Mark Sykes, 6th baronet and co-author of the Sykes-Picot agreement, which dismantled the Ottoman empire.

Sir Mark died at the age of 39 in a Paris hotel room in February 1919 while working for the British government at the Paris peace conference.
He was a victim of the Spanish flu epidemic which claimed at least 30 million lives; he is buried in the churchyard at St Mary's church, Sledmere, on the borders between North and east Yorkshire.

The epidemic was caused by an avian virus, H1N1, which is similar to the current virus, H5N1, and came from a bird in France.

Sir Mark's body was buried in a sealed lead coffin, which the researchers hope will produce well-preserved body samples. These could provide unparalleled insight into the mechanism by which bird flu kills and, with luck, contribute to finding a treatment for the virus.

... ... ...

The research team hopes to find out how victims of the Spanish flu died - from an overwhelming virus infection, a combined virus and bacterial infection or a cytokine storm which caused the patient's immune system to overwhelm the tissue of the lung.
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plainoldme
 
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Reply Wed 28 Feb, 2007 05:40 pm
The American science program Nova did a show on exhuming a victim of the flu and seeking DNA already. Apparently, that's how scientists know it is the same flu.
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roger
 
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Reply Wed 28 Feb, 2007 06:36 pm
Oh. I was visualizing a large number of funerals involving very small, bird shaped coffins.
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Walter Hinteler
 
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Reply Thu 1 Mar, 2007 08:09 am
plainoldme wrote:
The American science program Nova did a show on exhuming a victim of the flu and seeking DNA already. Apparently, that's how scientists know it is the same flu.


I haven't heard of that.

In the UK, Mark Sykes had got Spanish flu, which is very similar to bird flu.
Because he was buried in a lead case and because everyone agreed on it, the scientists now "can ask questions to a complete corpse" about how he died. (Victims of Spanish flu frequently experienced an over aggressive immune response, which began to attack their own bodies. The same situation arises in human H5N1 cases.)
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cjhsa
 
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Reply Thu 1 Mar, 2007 08:31 am
Pandora's box?
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plainoldme
 
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Reply Thu 1 Mar, 2007 06:16 pm
Walter -- American scientists exhumed a body from, I believe, Alaska, buried in permafrost, of a person who died of the Spanish Flu. Testing showed Spanish flu and avian flu are the same and the animal that allows the flu to jump species is the pig, if I remember it correctly.
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