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Researchers extracted DNA from Beethoven's hair to learn the cause of his illness
Nearly 200 years after Ludwig van Beethoven's death, researchers extracted DNA from strands of his hair, looking for clues to the health problems and hearing loss that plagued him. They were unable to solve the case of the German composer's deafness or severe stomach ailments. But they found a genetic risk for liver disease, plus a liver-damaging hepatitis B infection in the last months of his life. This Sunday marks the 196th anniversary of Beethoven's death in Vienna on March 26, 1827, aged 56. The composer himself wrote that he wanted doctors to study his health problems after his death.
"With Beethoven in particular, it's the case that sometimes illnesses greatly limit his creative work. And for doctors, it's always been a mystery what was really behind it."
Since his death, scientists have long tried to piece together Beethoven's medical history and have offered a number of possible explanations for his many ailments. Now, with advances in ancient DNA technology, researchers have been able to extract genetic data from locks of Beethoven's hair that were cut and preserved as keepsakes. They focused on five locks that are "almost certainly authentic," coming from the same European male, according to the study.
Ata shikuan gjithashtu tre brava të tjera historike, por nuk ishin në gjendje të konfirmonin se ato ishin në të vërtetë të Beethoven. Testet e mëparshme në njërën prej këtyre bravave sugjeruan se Beethoven kishte helmim nga plumbi, por studiuesit arritën në përfundimin se mostra ishte në të vërtetë nga një grua. Pas pastrimit të flokëve të Beethoven një fije në një kohë, shkencëtarët i shpërndanë copat në një tretësirë dhe gjetën copa të ADN-së, tha autori i studimit Tristan James Alexander Begg, një antropolog biologjik në Universitetin e Kembrixhit.
The main question of what caused Beethoven's hearing loss is still unanswered, said Dr. Avraham Z. Cooper of Ohio State University, who was not involved in the study. And it can be hard to understand because genetics can only tell us half of the equation that makes up our health.