On the origins of Leprosy: the primate connection

Project: Research project

Project Details


On the origins of Leprosy: the primate connection On the origins of Leprosy: the primate connection Pathogen exchanges between humans and other animals impose selective pressures shaping our evolution. Thus far, research has focused on pathogens that likely became human-specific during the transition to agriculture. More recently, the importance of non-human primates as sources of pathogens now adapted to humans has been highlighted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It is likely that non-human primates (NHPs), as our closest relatives, have contributed pathogens to humans in past and present times, since this is expected to require few changes to make the species "jump". NHPs may also serve as ancient or even continuous pathogen reservoirs for humans. Several lines of evidence suggest that human leprosy may have a non-human primate origin, including the pervasive human primate sympatric coexistence in the Old World, where human leprosy originated based on archaeology, history, and genetics. The aim of this stUdy is to test hypotheses about the origin and human-f\lHPs transmission of Mycobacterium leprae, the bacterial agent of leprosy. This project follows preliminary work documenting the presence of M. leprae DNA in 25% of tested NHP buccal swabs collected in South and South East Asia. Hypothesis testing will be based on single nucleotide polymorphism strain typing data from human and NHP strains. This work will contribute to anthropological theory on the origin and evolution of infectious diseases.crease
Effective start/end date7/1/099/30/11


  • Wenner-Gren Foundation: $16,348.00


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