Dracula appears to be the next on scientist’s wishlist. “Protein detectives” Gleb and Svetlana Zilberstein claim to have managed the extraction of biochemical traces from a letter signed by Vlad The Impaler. These biochemical traces include molecules like proteins and metabolites. “These molecules are more stable than DNA and provide more information about the environmental conditions, health, lifestyle, nutrition of the historical person,” the duo tells The Guardian.
The couple claims that they also deduced the drug usage and kidney ailment of famous writer Mikhail Bulgakov using biomolecules extracted from manuscript pages. They also did a similar analysis of renowned short story writer Anton Chekov’s shirt and found signs of tuberculosis, and got a similar peek into the medical history of science fiction icon George Orwell. The couple has also worked on biochemical analysis of a mammoth’s trunk to understand the kind of habitat these wooly elephant ancestors lived in, based on the types of microorganisms inhabiting its body.
The Zilbersteins previously researched the dietary patterns of the Crusaders and their Saracen enemies by collecting biomolecule samples from pottery dating back to their era. In case of the Transylvanian tyrant, the pair analysed a letter that he is said to have written, or signed, in 1475. It will be interesting to see whether the latest research yields a different face for Vlad The Impaler than the one we know from paintings depicting him as a slender man with a thin face and sharp cheek lines.