Mummies in Hungary could help TB battle

A collection of 265 mummies in Hungary may help local scientists to develop new ways to fight tuberculosis.

The mummified bodies, which were discovered in the crypt of a Dominican church in Vac during 1994 renovations, include surgeons, priests, nuns, and the wife and child of the local postmaster. Approximately 89 percent of the mummies were infected with tuberculosis, RT reports.

"What was probably the most exciting and most comprehensive study was the one about tuberculosis," Idilko Pap, the head of the Department of Anthropology of the Hungarian Natural History Museum, said, according to Associated Press. "In some of the individuals, the traces of the mutations on the bones caused by tuberculosis are evident to the naked eye. So we thought it would be worthwhile to study not only the individuals on whose body the traces of tuberculosis mutations can be seen, but the others as well."

Approximately 35 percent of the mummies died from TB. The strains found in the mummies will allow scientists to study what TB was like before antibiotics were developed.

"Their immune system was likely better than ours," Pap said, according to Associated Press. "If we could locate some gene sections and discover why they were more resistant to tuberculosis than us, than that could be of great assistance to modern medical science."

The studies are being conducted along with experts from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and University College London.