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DNA test reveals Charles Darwin had Crohn's disease

ANI  |  London 

Iconic English naturalist and geologist Charles Darwin suffered from Crohn's disease, a new documentary has revealed.

Using some of his hairs 130 years after his death, Channel 4 looked into his DNA and discover why he struggled with a debilitating illness which affected his work on books, such as On the Origin of Species, which contributed to the theory of evolution.

In the second episode of Dead Famous DNA, Dr Stephan Schuster, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Pennyslvania State University analyses two of Darwin's 130-year-old beard hairs which came from his great, great grandson, the Mirror reported.

Darwin suffered from a debilitating mystery illness for most of his life. He had stomach problems, diarrhoea, skin issues, heart symptoms, fatigue, vomiting and headaches. Desperate to find a cure, Darwin tried eighteen different doctors.

Until now, no definite diagnosis had been possible. Most of Darwin's children were also sickly. Three out of the ten died, including his beloved eldest daughter Annie.

Darwin suspected he had an inherited illness and blamed himself for marrying his first cousin and passing on his poor health.

Professor Schuster extracted half of Darwin's DNA from the beard hairs and has been able to show that the scientist suffered from Crohn's disease, a condition which was not identified until fifty years after Darwin's death.

First Published: Wed, April 02 2014. 12:19 IST