NOTE: This article is only available to subscribers. Subscribe now to gain access to all articles, read exclusive interviews with top scientists from around the world, and browse the site ad free. The first month is free.

Scientists begin to unravel the secrets of leprosy

Rick Docksai | Science Recorder | June 14, 2013

Scientists begin to unravel the secrets of leprosy

Scientists unravel the secrets of leprosy.

Leprosy has been striking dread in communities around the globe since ancient times, but fortunately for us, our defenses against the illness have evolved considerably over the centuries while the pathogen itself has not. That is the conclusion of a new study that compares the present-day alongside bacterium alongside the preserved genome of leprosy bacteria taken from Medieval-era grave sites and finds that both are remarkably alike.

Jesper Boldsen, a University of Southern Denmark biological anthropologist and study co-author, said that he and his colleagues exhumed the remains of several leprosy victims dating from the Middle Ages and extracted large amounts of well-preserved DNA from one skeleton. It subsequently made for a simple compare-and-contrast with present-day leprosy pathogens.

Comments should take into account that readers may hold different opinions. With that in mind, please make sure comments are respectful, insightful, and remain focused on the article topic. In addition, readers can send us tips, press releases, or ideas for stories: