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Lepr Rev. 2000 Dec;71 Suppl:S50-4.

Skin test development in leprosy: progress with first-generation skin test antigens, and an approach to the second generation.

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Department of Microbiology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.


One of the most urgent needs from leprosy research is a test for infection. The lepromin test is not suitable as a diagnostic test for leprosy, and neither the Rees nor the Convit soluble antigens has appeared sufficiently specific. Because two new antigens, MLSA-LAM and MLCwA, may not fully meet the requirements for specificity, we have embarked upon the preparation of a second generation of skin test antigens. Size-fractionated cryptozoic proteins were prepared from M. leprae by electroelution from preoperative sodium dodecylsulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and individual fractions were probed with polyclonal and monoclonal antibody reagents to identify both known and novel proteins. In addition, immunological responses were assessed in M. leprae-sensitized guinea pigs against both crude subcellular fractions (cytosol, membrane, and soluble cell wall proteins) and the size-fractionated cytosolic proteins. A particularly promising subcellular fraction is the membrane fraction of M. leprae, which contains many proteins unique to the organism. Clinical trials of the M. leprae membrane proteins are now being planned.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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