DOI：10.1126/science.aah7204 作者：Lizzie Wade
摘要 : 利马——古埃及人受困于从心脏疾病到癌症在内的许多今天同样困扰着人类的健康问题。
利马——古埃及人受困于从心脏疾病 到癌症在内的许多今天同样困扰着人类的健康问题。这很可能让他们的木乃伊成为获取这些疾病病史的宝贵信息来源。但是，谈到癌症，有一个问题：没有人确定地知道木乃伊化的肿瘤长什么样。于是，一位科学家开始自行创造“脱水”肿瘤来编录其特征。Jennifer Willoughby是加拿大伦敦市西部大学的一名生物考古学博士生，她说服了一个癌症实验室送给她一些刚死去不久的小鼠，它们大部分长有肿瘤，只有几只没有。她将一些埋在装有沙子的热玻璃容器中，模仿自然保存在干燥沙漠环境中的尸体。其它的小鼠则经过完整的古埃及丧葬处理。Willoughby小心地取出它们的内脏，除了大脑(小鼠的鼻孔太小，她没有办法将脑组织取出来)，然后用泡碱填充它们的腹部并覆盖它们的身体，泡碱是古埃及人使用的一种脱水化学品。在晾干50天后，Willoughby将第二组小鼠在松脂里蘸了蘸，再用亚麻绷带将它们包裹，然后用蜂蜡密封起来。最后，她给它们还抹了乳香和没药，并用“古埃及风的”祈祷方式为它们超度。后来当她用计算机断层扫描仪观察这两组小鼠时，它们的肿瘤显而易见，Willoughby上周在这里召开的木乃伊研究世界大会上报告了研究成果。与其他软组织相比，比如内脏，这些肿瘤看起来更硬实，它们与X射线的互动也不同。这一发现意味着包括Whilloughby在内的研究人员可以很快开始系统地搜寻古埃及木乃伊内的人类肿瘤。幸运的是，他们将不需要自己制作这些木乃伊。
LIMA—Ancient Egyptians suffered from many of the same health problems that still plague us today, from heart disease to cancer. That makes their mummies potentially valuable sources of information about the history of those diseases. But when it comes to cancer, there’s a problem: No one knows for certain what a mummified tumor looks like. So one scientist set out to catalog the traits of dried-out tumors by making her own. Jennifer Willoughby, a doctoral student in bioarchaeology at Western University in London, Canada, convinced a cancer lab to send her a handful of recently deceased mice, most with tumors and a few without. Some she buried in sand in a hot terrarium, to mimic bodies naturally preserved in dry desert environments. Others got the full Ancient Egyptian treatment. Willoughby carefully removed their internal organs, minus the brain (which she couldn’t get out through their tiny noses), and then filled their abdomens and covered their bodies with natron, a dehydrating chemical used by the Ancient Egyptians. After 50 days of drying, Willoughby dipped the second set of mice in pine resin and wrapped them in linen bandages sealed with beeswax. As a final touch, she anointed them with frankincense and myrrh and said a prayer over them, “Ancient Egyptian–style.” When she later looked at both groups of mice in a computed tomography scanner, their tumors were obvious, Willoughby reported last week at the World Congress of Mummy Studies here. Compared with other soft tissues, including internal organs, the tumors appeared much more solid, and they interacted differently with the x-rays. The finding means that researchers—including Willoughby—can soon start systematically searching for tumors in Ancient Egyptian human mummies. Fortunately, they won’t have to create those mummies themselves.
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