London, Dec 17 (ANI): Scientists in Singapore and China have identified seven genes that increase an individual's susceptibility to leprosy.
The researchers, who analyzed more than 10,000 DNA samples from leprosy patients and healthy people in China, said their discovery highlights the important role that the innate immune response plays in the development of leprosy.
"Though leprosy is not common, the discoveries have significant ramifications for chronic infectious disorders and for host-pathogen interactions in other more prevalent mycobacterial diseases such as tuberculosis," Edison Liu, executive director of the Genome Institute of Singapore, said.
"This study represents one of the largest and best organized studies of the host genetics in infectious diseases published," Liu added.
Jianjun Liu, Human Genetics Group Leader at the GIS, said: "The discovery of these genes is a major breakthrough for research in leprosy and infectious diseases in general, and will be significant in the early diagnosis and development of new treatments."
The seven genes associated with susceptibility to leprosy are: CCDC122, C13orf31, NOD2, TNFSF15, HLA-DR, RIPK2 and LRRK2.
Leprosy, a chronic infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae (M. leprae), mainly affects skin and peripheral nerves and may lead to irreversible disabilities.
Although it has been largely eliminated in developed countries, leprosy is still a major public health problem in many developing countries, particularly in tropic and sub-tropic regions.
The study appears in the New England Journal of Medicine. (ANI)