Friday, September 3, 2010

Wait - They Had WHAT In Their Beer?

Every so often you come across one of those science headline stories that really does make you go "huh?" and maybe even wraps your head around a really new concept.

Ancient Nubians drank beer laced with antibiotics

Tetracycline found in bones of 2,000-year-old mummies

Read the rest here:  
The yellow film is the extracted tetracycline from the 2000 year old bones.
"Given the amount of tetracycline there, they had to know what they were doing," said lead author George Armelagos, a biological anthropologist at Emory University in Atlanta. "They may not have known what tetracycline was, but they certainly knew something was making them feel better." 
There's a lot of interesting aspects of this story.  The original discovery of antibiotics in the Nubian mummies was thought to be contamination, so the researchers developed a way of making sure it wasn't contamination by extracting it from bones.  Another interesting point is that the researchers estimate the amount of tetracycline they were getting was therapeutic by today's standards, not just trace amounts. 

Although I remembered from my biology classes that tetracycline was derived from another bacteria, I had always assumed that it was a product of the 20th century.  To the occasional person who says, "gee, you learn something new every day", I always answer, "if I'm lucky".


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