NEW ORLEANS--Analysis of stools of centuries-old
mummies shows that some were infected with Helicobacter pylori,
indicating that this bacterium, which colonizes the stomach and can
cause ulcers and stomach cancer, has long plagued humans.
"All animals that have stomachs have a similar bacterium in the
stomach," Pelayo Correa, MD, Boyd Professor of Pathology,
Louisiana State University Medical Center, said at a press
conference. So scientists suspected that humans had likely long been
hosts to H pylori. But this study provides the first proof.
For this research, presented at the annual meeting of the American
Gastro-enterological Association, Dr. Correa collaborated with Marvin
J. Allison, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Medical College of Virginia,
Richmond. Since 1969, Dr. Allison has been studying mummies found in
the Andes of South America to discover how they died. His goal, Dr.
Allison said at the press briefing, is to "form a history of
disease in the Americas." So far, he and his colleagues have
been able to identify the cause of death in about 40% of the mummies
examined, and in 95% of those with all the organs.
In this study, Drs. Correa and Allison and others teamed up to
investigate whether ancient people may have suffered from ulcers. The
stomach linings of the mummies had disintegrated long ago, so the
researchers turned to the Premier Platinum HpSA test, which detects
antigens of H pylori in stool specimens).
A New Diagnostic Test for H pylori
NEW ORLEANS--The FDA has cleared for marketing a noninvasive test for
The new test, Premier Platinum HpSA, detects antigens of Helicobacter
Half the people in the world--and one-third of Americans--are thought
About half of Americans who present with ulcer symptoms for the first
By making diagnosis easier and cheaper, the Premier Platinum HpSA
Drawbacks of Other Tests
Currently, the most accurate tests are endoscopy and the urea breath
According to Meridian, the HpSA test has several advantages: Its
Meridian is currently conducting more clinical trials to determine
Stool samples from 30 mummies were tested. Results indicated that six
were positive for H pylori. One was a young man who is thought
to have died of pneumonia 1,700 years ago and whose body was found in
Arica, Chile. Another, whose results were less conclusive, was a man
who died 1,800 years ago and who was found in the Tarapaca Valley in Chile.
This study confirms that H pylori has infected humans for many
centuries and may have caused ulcers and stomach cancer in
prehistoric peoples. The successful use of a test specific for modern H
pylori to detect the bacteriums ancient ancestors suggests
that its antigens have not changed much in the past 1,700 years.