The eradication of leprosy, one of the world’s oldest and most feared diseases, may be one step closer. An international research team lead by scientists from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) discovered that small changes in certain genes, the Parkin 2 gene and its neighbor, PACRG, result in an increased susceptibility to leprosy. Parkin 2 has also been shown to cause certain forms of Parkinson’s Disease, a common neuro-degenerative disease in developed countries. These findings will be published in the February issue of the research journal Nature. The research was supported by the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network (CGDN), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and granting institutions in France and the Netherlands.
"Our results give an entirely novel view of the leprosy disease process," says MUHC molecular geneticist and James McGill Professor Dr. Erwin Schurr, one of the lead authors of the study that included scientists and physicians from Vietnam, Brazil, The Netherlands, France and Canada. "Our findings may hold the key to unravel why, despite effective drug treatment, leprosy persists in many parts of the world."
"Leprosy has plagued humans for many centuries and it continues to be a concern in many countries," says co-investigator Dr. Laurent Abel, study co-author and Research Director at Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médical (INSERM) Unité 550 at Necker Medical School, Université René Descartes.
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