Where did smallpox and its many less famous cousins come from?
Molecular anthropologists Dr. Ana Duggan and Dr. Hendrik Poinar from the Ancient DNA Centre at McMaster University are working on answering this exact question. The team have developed a non-destructive sampling technique to recover small pieces of highly decayed genetic material (not intact viruses) from historical vaccination tools. They are using this genetic material to reconstruct the evolutionary history of orthopoxviruses and are hoping to understand which of these viruses were used as vaccines against smallpox.
The Museum of Health Care is delighted to be McMaster University’s latest partner in this exciting new research project and will be loaning many of our vaccination tools in the upcoming months to the researchers in support of the project. Keep an eye on our social media to find out how the project progresses.
You never know – the Museum of Health Care might just be the key to unlock the whole puzzle!
Are you as excited about this project as we are? You can learn more about it by watching the video below.