Documenting the emergence of rheumatoid arthritis through the intersection of historical, osteological, digital and biomolecular evidence

Michelle Marie Alexander, Davina Craps, Norma Schmill, Malin Ragnhild Holst, Mark Jenner, Kate Kingston, Keri Rowsell, Camilla Filomena Speller, Christina Warinner, Matthew James Collins

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a much debated enigma in medical history. Some believe it is a recent disease in Europe but that it has a greater antiquity in the Americas. Others argue that the disease was present in Old World well before what is generally agreed to be the first full clinical description of the condition in the early 19thC and that the identification and thus appearance of the disease was the result of new approaches to nosology and medical theory at the time.
Did it really emerge much later in Europe compared to the Americas? If so, does its late appearance give clues to its underlying cause? We are reviewing the historical and osteological evidence for the supposed ‘emergence’ of RA in Europe in the 1800s, and propose new biomolecular and digital technologies that may serve to validate ambiguous cases of RA in osteological remains, including: (i) radiography and CT to confirm diagnoses of RA; (ii) proteomics, to identify citrullinated proteins in RA skeletons; and (iii) biochemical analyses, to investigate dietary/lifestyle information (sugar consumption, tobacco use).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 19 Sept 2015
EventBABAO Conference - University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom
Duration: 18 Sept 201520 Sept 2015


ConferenceBABAO Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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