Secret of the Great Plague

Do the survivors of the Black Plague hold the key to scientists in the fight against modern diseases?

Released : 2006

Runtime : 60 minutes

Since the beginning of recorded history, infectious disease has reigned supreme as the number one killer on the planet. But as scientists and leaders around the world brace for the next disaster, some experts are looking for help in the most unlikely of places – the past. Following medical detective Stephen O’Brien, we discover the advances he has made and what they will mean to medical science.

In 1665, London seemed to be on the brink of destruction when the black plague swept through the city killing a third of its population. And yet out of the devastation came survivors – men and women mysteriously resistant to the deadliest disease then known. Why did they survive? Why didn’t everybody die? Now, through a series of groundbreaking experiments and archaeological discoveries, Dr. O’Brien is determined to find the answers.

Studying descendants of plague survivors, researchers are discovering natural defences that scientists couldn’t have thought of, but nature did. In this way, doctors may be on the brink of finding a way to successfully treat AIDS, Sars, leukaemia, prostate cancer, breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and a host of other diseases.

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