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SWISS MUMMY PROJECT: CORRELATIVE RADIOLOGICAL AND IMMUNOHISTOCHEMICAL-GENETIC ASSESSMENT OF MODERN AND ANCIENT MUMMIFIED HUMAN TISSUES

Applicant Rühli Frank
Number 120662
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Anatomisches Institut Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Structural Research
Start/End 01.06.2008 - 31.12.2010
Approved amount 186'000.00
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All Disciplines (4)

Discipline
Structural Research
Archaeology
Ancient history and Classical studies
Prehistory

Keywords (5)

morphology; soft tissue; magnetic resonance imaging; histology; ancient DNA

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
The goal of the Swiss Mummy Project is to apply evidence-based diagnostic criteria for the study of artificially and naturally mummified human tissues to improve knowledge of post-mortem alteration of human corpses from ancient environments.The aim of the proposed study is to assess the temporal alterations of naturally and artificially mummified human tissues. Assessment of the aim will be conducted via:1. the use of innovative non-invasive diagnostic imaging modalities such as magnetic resonance techniques (NMR®-MOUSE, 1H- and 23Na-MRI) applied in correlation with established methods, e.g. computed tomography. 2. PCR-based aDNA-retrieval and correlative spatial tissue discrimination by immunohistochemistry (ELISA) and histology for the determination of the degree of molecular degradation.A particular focus will be on the (epi-) cutaneous and subcutaneous structures of artificially mummified tissue of human corpses.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
162803 The Canopic Jar Project: interdisciplinary analyses of ancient human soft tissues 01.12.2015 Interdisciplinary projects

Abstract

BackgroundMummy studies is a progressive global research field making a decisive contribution to the understanding of cultural practices and lifestyle, including diet, health and disease, in ancient populations, which can also help in the study of the evolution of modern disease. Furthermore, modern cases of naturally mummified corpses are of importance in legal medicine. No evidence-based study correlating radiological, immunohistochemical and genetic alterations in ancient and modern human mummies hitherto exists. Working hypothesisDuring artificial or natural mummification processes, human morphology undergoes spatial and temporal alterations which are tissue-specific, both in terms of radiological and immunohistochemical-genetic appearance and preservation, respectively. Co-localized, multi-methodological correlative assessment of these post mortem processes allows the development of criteria for tissue discrimination and identification in such unusual circumstances. Specific Aims The aim of the proposed study is to assess the temporal alterations of naturally and artificially mummified human tissues. Assessment of the aim will be conducted via:1. the use of innovative non-invasive diagnostic imaging modalities such as magnetic resonance techniques (NMR®-MOUSE, 1H- and 23Na-MRI) applied in correlation with established methods, e.g. CT. 2. PCR-based aDNA-retrieval and correlative spatial tissue discrimination by immunohistochemistry (ELISA) and histology for the determination of the degree of molecular degradation.The artificial mummification experiment will be performed in close collaboration with Egyptologists. Experimental design / methodsOn selected ancient and modern mummy samples, a temporal assessment of various anatomical tissue qualities will be co-localized correlatively assessed by MRI techniques (incl. 1H and 23Na spatial distribution), by CT (for radiologic-anatomical co-localization; criteria for diagnostic validity of imaging modalities would be, e.g. ability for tissue-specific segmentation) and by biomolecular techniques (e.g. ability of DNA isolation).Expected value of the proposed project •First ever correlative radiological, histological and geneticl study on human mummy tissue; •First ever study with ancient / modern human mummies for evidence-based tissue identification;•Study outcome sets new gold-standards in terms of diagnostic reliability for future non-invasive studies on such precious samples; •Study outcome of importance for legal medicine and human tissue research; and•Study allows Swiss Mummy Project to become a world-leading transdisciplinary reference center for research on modern and ancient human mummy morphology.
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