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A Leprosy Vaccine?

A promising development in the treatment and management of leprosy is the preliminary success shown by two different vaccines. One vaccine being tested in Venezuela combines a vaccine originally developed against tuberculosis, called Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG), and heat-killed M. leprae cultured from infected armadillos. The other vaccine uses a relative of M. leprae called M. avium. The advantage of this vaccine, currently being tested in India, is that M. avium is easy to culture on media and is thus cheaper than the Venezuelan vaccine. Both vaccines have performed well in their clinical trials, leading many to hope that a vaccine against leprosy might be available as early as 1995.



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Mastro, Timothy D., et al. "Imported Leprosy in the United States, 1978 through 1988: An Epidemic Without Secondary Transmission." American Journal of Public Health 82 (August 1992): 1127-30.

Randall, Teri. "Thalidomide's Back in the News, but in More Favorable Circumstances." Journal of the American Medical Association 263 (March 16, 1990): 1467-68.

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Kathleen Scogna


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Antibody response

—The part of the immune system that marks foreign cells, such as bacteria, for destruction by other immune cells.

Cellular immune response

—The part of the immune system that destroys infected cells.

Lepromatous leprosy

—The most severe form of leprosy, characterized by numerous lesions and extensive nerve damage.


—In bacteria, the acquisition of genetic mutations that render the bacteria invulnerable to the action of antibiotics.

Tuberculoid leprosy

—The least severe from of leprosy, characterized by a few skin lesions and little nerve damage.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Laser - Background And History to Linear equationLeprosy - The Cause Of Leprosy, The Leprosy Continuum, Treatment Of Leprosy, A Leprosy Vaccine?