Leprosy turns the immune system against itself, study finds

Leprosy hijacks our immune system, turning an important repair mechanism into one that causes potentially irreparable damage to our nerve cells, according to new research that uses zebrafish to study the disease. As such, the disease may share common characteristics with conditions such as multiple sclerosis.
Leprosy is an infectious disease that affects the skin and peripheral nerves and is caused by Mycobacterium leprae and, less commonly, Mycobacterium lepromatosis. According to the World Health Organization, there has been a dramatic decrease in the global disease burden in the past few decades: from 5.2 million people with leprosy in 1985 to 176,176 at the end of 2015.
Despite the disease having been known about for thousands of years -- many people will have first heard about it through references in the Bible -- very little is understood about its biology. This is in part because the bacteria are difficult to grow in culture and there are no good animal models: M. leprae can grow in the footpads of mice, but do not cause nerve damage; the disease causes nerve damage in armadillos, but these animals are rarely used in research.
Source : www.sciencedaily.com      2017/9/13 08:13

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