Old proteins tell tales of historical artifacts and the people who touched them

April 11, 2018

"Dead men tell no tales" is a common saying, but according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the old proteins on historical artifacts, such as manuscripts and clothing, can tell quite a yarn.

Senior Correspondent Bethany Halford notes that metabolites from medications, bacterial proteins and even traces of past meals are being found on manuscripts and other cultural heritage objects. To make such discoveries, an international team of researchers has developed a new technique in which a plastic diskette embedded with chromatography resins is moistened with water and placed on a historical artifact. The scientists pick up the diskette, wash it and then analyze the collected compounds. In one study, for example, the researchers used the technique to identify kidney disease biomarkers and morphine on an old manuscript. The team deduced that the author of the text took morphine to ease the pain he was experiencing from his chronic kidney disease.

The team says that the method doesn't damage objects or leave behind any residue, though concerns have been raised about the use of water to moisten the diskette. Old parchment could turn to gelatin when wet, says one expert. Despite this potential drawback, the team has soldiered on and plans to study additional historical objects with the approach. The researchers also say that the method could prove helpful in crime scene investigations in modern times.

The article, "Trace proteins on texts and clothes offer insight into the past," is freely available here.
-end-
The American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Follow us on Twitter | Facebook

American Chemical Society

Related Proteins Articles from Brightsurf:

New understanding of how proteins operate
A ground-breaking discovery by Centenary Institute scientists has provided new understanding as to the nature of proteins and how they exist and operate in the human body.

Finding a handle to bag the right proteins
A method that lights up tags attached to selected proteins can help to purify the proteins from a mixed protein pool.

Designing vaccines from artificial proteins
EPFL scientists have developed a new computational approach to create artificial proteins, which showed promising results in vivo as functional vaccines.

New method to monitor Alzheimer's proteins
IBS-CINAP research team has reported a new method to identify the aggregation state of amyloid beta (Aβ) proteins in solution.

Composing new proteins with artificial intelligence
Scientists have long studied how to improve proteins or design new ones.

Hero proteins are here to save other proteins
Researchers at the University of Tokyo have discovered a new group of proteins, remarkable for their unusual shape and abilities to protect against protein clumps associated with neurodegenerative diseases in lab experiments.

Designer proteins
David Baker, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Washington to speak at the AAAS 2020 session, 'Synthetic Biology: Digital Design of Living Systems.' Prof.

Gone fishin' -- for proteins
Casting lines into human cells to snag proteins, a team of Montreal researchers has solved a 20-year-old mystery of cell biology.

Coupled proteins
Researchers from Heidelberg University and Sendai University in Japan used new biotechnological methods to study how human cells react to and further process external signals.

Understanding the power of honey through its proteins
Honey is a culinary staple that can be found in kitchens around the world.

Read More: Proteins News and Proteins Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.