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Elephant Man may shed light on causes of cancer

5 January 2014 Last updated at 10:30 GMT

Joseph Carey Merrick, better known as the Elephant Man, was born in Leicester 150 years ago.

The film starring John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins made him famous but we still know very little about the condition that caused his deformities.

Now cutting edge research could shed new light not only on his disease but also on the causes of cancer.

Joseph Merrick's bones are stored at Queen Mary University of London and Inside Out has been granted rare access to film them and the casts taken from his body.

Merrick left his remains to science but previous attempts to extract DNA failed because the skeleton was bleached to clean it.

Now 125 years after his death, new techniques mean these bones may finally yield their secrets.

Inside Out is broadcast on Monday, 6 January at 19:30 GMT on BBC One East Midlands and BBC London on Monday, 10 February. It is also available nationwide for seven days thereafter on the iPlayer.

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