Leprosy May Be Able To Regenerate, This Giving Hope To The Transplant Waitlist


Leprosy, a disease that has appeared in medical literature since decades ago. In fact, books and writings have been there to provide people with knowledge about it. However, latest writing doesn’t involve discussion on how to treat or cure it. Rather, it delves into the parasites’ unique ability to regenerate livers.

While this piece of information may come as a shock, scientists are looking further into it for the possibilities it provides to the medical field. The findings of the research suggest the possibility of adapting this natural process in order to renew aging livers and to repair the ones that have been damaged in order to increase health span people. In fact, if this comes to fruition, it may even be able to remove a significant number of patients waiting for their liver transplant.

A team currently looking into this matter has been working with the US Department of Health and Human Services in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The team hails from the Univ. of Edinburgh and they observed that the livers of 57 armadillos, an animal that’s a natural carrier of the leprosy parasite, were rather enlarged when they compared these to uninfected ones. They also saw that while these were infected, the livers were still healthy and relatively undamaged.

“If we can identify how bacteria grow the liver as a functional organ without causing adverse effects in living animals, we may be able to translate that knowledge to develop safer therapeutic interventions to rejuvenate aging livers and to regenerate damaged tissues,” said Professor Anura Rambukkana. He is the lead author of the study and he is from University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine.

Inside the animals, the team found that the infected livers demonstrated gene-expression that this akin to those of young livers or even fetal livers. This somewhat suggested that the “rejuvenated state” observed in the liver cells was because of the fact that the biological age is currently being reversed.

Genes that are related to metabolism, growth, and cell proliferation were activated. As for those connected to aging were down-regulated, or suppressed. Scientists assume that it is because the bacteria reprogramed the liver cells, bringing them back to the earlier stage of progenitor cells, which in turn, turned into new hepatocytes as well as grow new liver tissues.

The team are have hopes that the discovery has the ability to help develop interventions for aging and damaged livers in people. That’s because liver diseases oftentimes bring in around two million deaths per year all over the world.

It also must be noted that the findings made with the armadillo shouldn’t be a go signal for those who suffer from a liver disease to go seek out an armadillo. Rather, this could merely be the beginning of a research that may or may not provide hopeful findings for the future.