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Dino Doc Roundup

March 17, 2006

Some diseases that humans suffer from today, like cancer and gout, can also be seen in animals all the way back to dinosaurs. But do doctors belong in the same room as fossilized bones? One medical school says yes.


Diagnosing dinosaurs. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

At the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, students are diagnosing fossilized patients. It’s part of a new partnership with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. The medical students gain new understanding of human disease by studying the evolution of vertebrate animals. For example, back pain and hernias arose when our ancestors began walking upright, instead of on all fours. Understanding the roots of these ailments may help doctors devise new ways to treat them.

In other news, University of Florida researchers hope to use a type of DNA found in lake trout to treat hemophilia patients. They’ve used the DNA to fix defective blood clotting genes in lab animals. The research may someday provide a way to correct a variety of gene defects.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.