Ancient DNA confirmation of lepromatous leprosy in a skeleton with concurrent osteosarcoma, excavated from the leprosarium of St. Mary Magdalen in Winchester, Hants., UK
AbstractTo establish a biological profile and disease aetiologies for one of four burials recovered during a Time Team dig at the St. Mary Magdalenleprosarium, Winchester, UK in AD 2000. Osteological techniques were applied to estimate age at death, biological sex, stature and pathology. Visual assessment of the material was supplemented by radiographic examination. Evidence for leprosy DNA was sought using ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis. The remains are those of a male individual excavated from a west –east aligned grave. The skeleton shows signs of two pathologies. Remodelling of the rhino-maxillary area and degenerative changes to small bones of the feet and reactive bone on the distal lower limbs suggest a multibacillary form of leprosy, whereas the right tibia and fibula show the presence o f a primary neoplasm identified as an osteosarcoma. The aDNA study confirmed presence ofMycobacterium leprae in several skeletal elements, and the strain was genotyped to the 3I lineage, one of two main SNP types present in mediaeval Britain and ancestral to extant strains in America. This is a rare documentation of leprosy in association with a primary neoplasm.