Although leprosy is a disease that has been around for millennia, we still need to learn more. Even though we have a drug therapy that treats the disease, hundreds of thousands of people with leprosy continue to be diagnosed each year. There are millions alive today that live with disability, poverty and isolation because of leprosy.
Understanding how leprosy is transmitted may be a key game-changer. Knowing how a disease is passed on is critical for preventing the spread of it.
Three Key Areas of Research
Better Prevention and Care Today
Looking at tools for diagnosis and treatment, and prevention strategies for stigma and disability has a positive impact on those with leprosy. The results of field research are helping people live better lives today.
Working with partners who work to end other Neglected Tropical Diseases, we research best practices to implement effective programs that will tackle many diseases at once. This takes coordination with partners, and study, to make sure the programs work well. When these multi-disease programs are successful, it can positively impact millions of lives.
Lab research is studying the bug, M.leprae. The results are already helping to develop a vaccine that will prevent people from getting leprosy.This will change the lives of millions who might otherwise suffer the consequences of leprosy in the future.
The Leprosy Research Initiative
In 2013, The Leprosy Mission Canada became a charter member of The Leprosy Research Initiative, a collaborative project with American Leprosy Missions, German Leprosy and Tuberculosis Relief Association, and Netherlands Leprosy Relief. The aim is to establish a joint fund to support leprosy research that will change global understanding and response to the causes and consequences of leprosy.
Leprosy Transmission Research Committee
Dr. Tom Gillis has spent a career studying the behaviour of m.leprae, the bacteria that cause leprosy. Based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Dr. Gillis is the R2STOP Committee Chair, an initiative of effect:hope. In his role he will continue to champion research that will build a greater understanding of neglected tropical diseases transmission. Knowing such information could contribute to global elimination targets for these diseases.
The need for research is great. We often ask for support to meet an immediate and urgent need. It is also important to invest in programs that will make a game-changing difference. Research will help to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.