New research has led scientists to gain a more accurate understanding of the pathogen responsible for causing leprosy. Leprosy is caused by Mycobacterium leprae, which are slow-growing bacteria. These bacteria target nerve cells.
Previously, scientists believed that the disease spreads by transmitting between human hosts. This was based on the fact that the disease is found mainly in families and in areas where people have more direct contact with each other. However, scientists from Colorado State University have discovered that M. leprae can survive for long periods in amoeba. This occurs when the bacteria is engulfed by an amoeba. The amoeba forms cysts to resist digestion and attack by the immune system. During the cyst formation process, the M. leprae is able to survive for months. It is then able to infect mice and other targets. The amoeba is able to survive in specific parts of the human body, such as mucus and eye fluids. M. leprae then infect the host or are transmitted to a new host. In conclusion, this research study has found the reason behind the persistence of the disease-causing bacteria. The study is significant because results give information about the survival dynamics of the bacteria.
The research conclusions stated above are central to finding a treatment for leprosy. Knowing how the bacteria are able to survive is crucial for leading research projects that aim to target the bacteria and kill it. Therefore, this study is a step in the right direction for finding an end to leprosy.
Future research can focus on finding ways to target and destroy living amoeba that carry the M. leprae or can target and destroy the M. leprae specifically. Personally, I think it would be beneficial to destroy the amoeba so that cyst formation cannot be successful. This would prevent the survival of M. leprae. This calls for further research that focuses on destroying amoeba that live inside hosts. An “anti-amoeba” should be created that can sense the amoeba cells that carry the M. leprae. Once this target has been identified, the “anti-amoeba” can cross the amoeba membrane and cause lysis of the amoeba cells. After lysis of cells, antibiotics can be used to eliminate any remaining M. leprae in the body. The idea to target amoeba cells in order to kill the M. leprae comes from idea of how viruses work. In the possible project explained above, a virus can be used to lyse the amoeba cell. Thus, many new directions can be taken to target and destroy amoeba that contains the M. leprae.
The study mentioned in the news can be improved in some ways. For example, other animals can be tested to see if the mechanisms of survival are consistent across various animals. I do think the study was valuable because it was carried out in live animals, which shows that the bacteria are able to survive outside of a lab culture.
The article can be found here.
The study can be found here.