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National Hansen's Disease Program Laboratory Research Program

The National Hansen's Disease Laboratory Research Branch, located at the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, conducts and supports research in the diagnosis, transmission, prevention, and treatment of Hansen's Disease (Leprosy).

The causative agent of leprosy is Mycobacterium leprae, an acid-fast, Gram positive bacterium. M. leprae is non-cultivable on laboratory medium and must be grown in animal models. Recently, a second leprosy causing bacterium, M. lepromatosis, has been identified.

The Laboratory Research Branch has developed and implemented many of the newer sophisticated molecular biology tools used today to study leprosy. It plays an integral role in NHDP’s quest for a more complete understanding of Hansen's Disease and the translation of basic research findings into an internationally coordinated program designed to improve diagnosis and treatment.

The Laboratory Research Branch has unique expertise in the propagation of leprosy bacilli, including the only colony of M. leprae-infected armadillos in the world.

  • Molecular diagnostic testing for verification of the presence of M. leprae and M. lepromatosis DNA
  • Molecular viability testing of M. leprae
  • Drug susceptibility testing
  • Molecular epidemiology and strain typing
  • Global provision of M. leprae to qualified researchers worldwide
  • Global provision of leprosy research materials
  • Specialized Biological Repository for reference strains of M. leprae and M. lepromatosis
  • Animal models (i.e. conventional mice, athymic nude mice, genetically engineered mice, armadillos) for testing leprosy therapeutics and vaccines
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