Scientists unravel the secrets of leprosy.
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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.