My Speaker List

How the Black Death Changed Our Immune Systems

A study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, found that people who survived the bubonic plague of the mid-1300s were much more likely to carry a certain mutation. But the mutation has a downside, the study said: increased risk of chronic and potentially debilitating conditions like Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. 

By looking at the genome of 206 human remains buried in mass graves in the UK and Denmark before, during, and after the Black Death, scientists measured four mutations, called genetic variants, which changed in prevalence after the outbreak, suggesting they either helped or hindered people’s ability to survive.

Read the original article in Science.