Leprosy

projects 2008-2012

The Future and Public Interest

Future studies

There is a conscious attempt at the Foundation to resurrect the experimental arm of studies in leprosy - given that the last six years were focussed largely on field-base projects.

  • A conscious attempt will be made to develop comparative genomic studies between M. leprae and M. tuberculosis especially in the area of drug resistance prediction, transmission of infection and host-modulation of genetic drift in both mycobacteria.
  • Neurobiological studies in leprosy will be revived with the use of tracer techniques in animal models to study the central spinal column route of dissemination of M. leprae  or its products in the mouse. This is expected to reflect in the understanding of diffused peripheral nerve damage in a leprosy infected human host.
  • Understanding the anti-inflammatory role of Vitamin D3 in modulation of leprosy reactions through immune mechanisms. This aspect is to be studied in collaboration with Dr. C.Hawrylowicz, King’s College, London.
  • Setting up of a prototype for early detection and handling of leprosy patients who are released from treatment with emphasis on reactions, deformities and relapses.

Issues of Public Interest

Field studies undertaken by FMR in the last decade have indicated a resurgence of leprosy in India due to flawed and incompletely implemented elimination strategies. The findings were responsible for a nationwide prevalence survey which confirmed our finding of high number of cases. This period also saw the application of molecular epidemiological studies to identify leprosy bacterium strains and to understand their transmission in the local environment. A third arm of these studies was able to document several problems in leprosy patients that had been released from treatment. These included disease relapses as well as occurrence of ongoing nerve damage and consequential deformities. These findings highlighted a great gap in post treatment services in the public health system. Future studies in leprosy are in continuity with the ongoing work and include genomic studies on the germ as well as development of health systems that take care of long term needs of the leprosy patients.

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