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Modified Tuberculosis Vaccine Protects Against Leprosy as Well

Scientists have discovered that a minor genetic change to the bacteria currently used in the tuberculosis vaccine could result in a vaccine that also protects against leprosy. The researchers from Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases report their findings in the October 2009 issue of the journal Clinical and Vaccine Immunology.

Leprosy, which is cause by Mycobacterium leprae, is an infectious disease that still affects thousands of people worldwide. The World Health Organization reported over 250,000 new cases in 2007. While treatable, the disease continues to be prevalent because because the slow growth of the bacteria means that symptoms often do not appear until years after infection.

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