Hansen's Disease Research: Animal Models

Genetic knockout mice as models for the leprosy spectrum

Investigator: Linda Adams, Ph.D.

Leprosy, with its broad immunopathological spectrum, is an intriguing immunoregulatory disease. Understanding these basic mechanisms could lead to methods for predicting or preventing reactions, improved vaccines, and the development of efficient diagnostic tests and tools for epidemiological studies.  With their vast array of immunological reagents and the tremendous repertoire of genetically engineered strains, mice are a valuable research model for the intricate analysis of leprosy pathogenesis and host defense.  Moreover, findings in the mouse model could furnish a focus for studies in the more robust armadillo model.

Dr. Adams has worked diligently to bring this approach into focus for studying Hansen's disease and leads a dynamic research team.

The Armadillo: A model for translational research

Investigator: Richard Truman, Ph.D.

As part of the infrastructure for leprosy research the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases funds a Leprosy Research Support Interagency Agreement to provide rare research materials. This agreement provides for propagation of leprosy bacilli and modeling leprosy infections using armadillos and other animal hosts. Armadillos closely recapitulate leprosy infection as seen in humans. Besides humans, armadillos are the only other natural host of M. leprae and the only animal model that develops extensive neurological involvement with M. leprae.

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