more info

LEPROSY vaccine
LEPROSY diagnostics
Leprosy is endemic in 24 countries, exposing 1.6 billion people. More than 1,300 new cases of leprosy are found every day. About 4 to 5 million people suffer from leprosy or have deformities due to leprosy. It is estimated that the delay between onset of the first discernible symptom to clinical diagnosis is anywhere from 1-3 years. We are developing both rapid diagnostic tests for primary leprosy diagnosis and new tools for the objective assessment of treatment. Curable, current leprosy programs are focused on detection and treatment—not on prevention. We are developing a defined subunit vaccine to provide long-term protection for those who are most at risk.


quick facts

IDRI has identified an expansive panel of recombinant antigens for specific detection of M. leprae infection. Working with our manufacturing partners we have developed prototype tests that enable rapid diagnosis of M. leprae infection even before the appearance of clinical symptoms. The success of these tests would substantially enhance global efforts to prevent leprosy and to improve the care and outcomes for the millions already living with the disease.
Our Focus

In partnership with the American Leprosy Missions, we have embarked on an aggressive program to develop an effective vaccine and better diagnostic tests for leprosy. Our approach to leprosy is based on the defined antigen approach that has already shown promise in tuberculosis and leishmaniasis: identifying and producing specific proteins from the organism and combining these with an effective adjuvant to stimulate a robust and effective immune response. We are incorporating advances made in the development of our vaccine programs into our leprosy vaccine program. Additionally, the availability of the genome from the organism that causes leprosy, Mycobacterium leprae, should further enhance our ability to optimize the proteins used in our defined antigen vaccine.

Making a Difference

IDRI has identified an expansive panel of recombinant antigens for specific detection of M. leprae infection. Working with our manufacturing partners we have developed prototype tests that enable rapid diagnosis of M. leprae infection even before the appearance of clinical symptoms. The success of these tests would substantially enhance global efforts to prevent leprosy and to improve the care and outcomes for the millions already living with the disease.

Development of a successful vaccine is also critical to leprosy eradication efforts. Toward this end, IDRI has identified the largest panel of M. leprae antigens that are relevant to human disease. We also have developed and refined systems for testing vaccine candidates and are working with partners in areas where leprosy is endemic as well as national health centers around the world to assess vaccine efficacy.

About Leprosy

Description: Sample College Image Leprosy is perhaps one of the most ancient diseases known to humans. Leprosy, or Hansen's disease, is a chronic infectious disease caused by the pathogen M. leprae—a bacterium related to the organism that causes tuberculosis. M. leprae grows slowly, primarily within cooler areas of the body such as the skin, limbs, eyes, and nasal cavity. Infection and damage of the peripheral nerves leads to numbness or loss of sensitivity to touch, muscle weakness, and atrophy. Leprosy is believed to be transmitted through droplets from the nose and mouth of infected people. Despite the availability of treatments, the stigma attached to leprosy has often caused those who contract the disease to be shunned by family, friends, and society. An effective vaccine may prevent infection, or improve treatment regimen and disease outcome.

Historically, leprosy has afflicted people in nearly every part of the world. Today, it is still considered a public health problem in 24 countries throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America, most likely due to socioeconomic factors. Although the World Health Organization has declared leprosy to be under control in many previously endemic countries, most experts agree that current measures alone are not sufficient to eliminate this disease as a public health problem. Indeed, statistics show a relatively consistent number of new cases detected over the last decade.

What is Needed to Stop Leprosy?

Approximately 25 years ago, it became possible to treat leprosy with a multidrug therapy (MDT). Although drug therapy during the early stages of the disease reduces its progression and spread, poor diagnostics and lack of access to regular health care often mean that many who develop leprosy are treated late in the disease, after disfigurement and transmission to others have already occurred. Despite the therapeutic success achieved with MDT in leprosy patients, more work is needed. Considering that the incubation period for the disease can be up to 20 years, a vaccine and diagnostic tests to prevent the disease will ultimately lead to its elimination.


1616 Eastlake Avenue East, Suite 400, Seattle, Washington 98102 office@idri.org  |  P: (206) 381-0883  |  F: (206) 381-3678 © 1993-2014 Privacy Policy
Infectious Disease Research Institute