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Hansen's Disease Research

Dr. Richard W. Truman

Dr. Richard W. Truman image.

Research Scientist, Captain, USPHS
Chief, Microbiology and Epidemiology
Ph.D. 1985
Louisiana State University
School of Veterinary Medicine
Baton Rouge, LA

Our laboratory performs translational research on the Immunology and Epidemiology of leprosy to

  • benefit early diagnosis of the infection,
  • differentiate susceptible from non-susceptible individuals, and
  • monitor transmission of leprosy in communities.

A principal focus of our laboratory is the elucidation of the nine-banded armadillo as an animal model for leprosy. These animals closely recapitulate the disease seen in man, and are natural hosts of the infection in the wild. They also are the hosts of choice for in vivo propagation of M. leprae, and our armadillo colony is the world's primary source of leprosy research materials.

We conduct basic research to refine our model and to translate new knowledge into the clinical setting. This laboratory has pioneered most of the basic microbiological techniques used in work with viable M. leprae, and collaborates in production of new skin test antigens. We have developed the first reference strains for M. leprae and are using genotypic markers to differentiate geographically diverse isolates in the laboratory, and to assess the transmission of M. leprae infection between animals and humans in different communities.

A major component of our current effort involves describing the cytokine response of laboratory animals after infection and determining their pattern and utility as diagnostic aids or for differentiating the susceptibility of different individuals. In addition, we are actively engaged in studies to describe the efficacy and mode of action of the anti-tuberculosis vaccine ‘BCG' for prevention of leprosy using the armadillo model.

Representative Publications

TRUMAN, R.W. (2006), “Summary of Hansen's Disease in the United States - 2005”, NHDP informational brochure.

TRUMAN, R.W . (2005), “Leprosy”, Loughry J. (ed), The Xenarthra , University of Florida Press . ( in press 2006).

Adams, J.E., Pena, M.T., Gillis, T.P., Adams , L.B., Williams, D.L., TRUMAN, R.W .. “Expression of nine-banded armadillo ( Dasypus novemcinctus ) interleukin-2 in E. coli. Cytokine 32:219-225, 2005.

TRUMAN, R.W., “Leprosy in wild armadillos.” Lepr. Rev. 76:198-208, 2005.

Marc Monot, Nadine Honoré, Thierry Garnier, Romulo Araoz, Jean-Yves Coppée, Céline Lacroix, Samba Sow, John Spencer, Richard W. TRUMAN , Diana L. Williams, Robert Gelber, Marcos Virmond, Béatrice Flageul, Sang-Nae Cho, Baohong Ji, Idani Vasquez, Alberto Paniz Mondolfi, Jacinto Convit, Saroj Young, Voahangy Rasolofo, Patrick J. Brennan, and Stewart T. Cole . “On the Origin of Leprosy”. Science 308:1040-1042, 2005.

TRUMAN , R.W., Fontes, A.N., Miranda, A.B., Suffys, P.N., Gillis, T.P.. ”Genotypic variation and stability of four variable number tandem repeats and the suitability for discriminating strains of Mycobacterium leprae. J. Clin. Microbiol. 42(6):2258-2565, 2004.

Spencer, J.S., Kim, H.J., Marques, A.M., Gonzalez-Juarerro, M., Lima, M.C.B., Vissa, V., TRUMAN, R.W., Gennaro, M.L., Cho, S.N., Cole, S.T., Brennan, P.J., Comparative analysis of B and T cell epitopes of the Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium tuberculosis culture filtrate protein-10. Infection and Immunity 72(6):3161-3170, 2004.