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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2014 May 29;8(5):e2791. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0002791. eCollection 2014.

The challenge of producing skin test antigens with minimal resources suitable for human application against a neglected tropical disease; leprosy.

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1
Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, United States of America.

Abstract

True incidence of leprosy and its impact on transmission will not be understood until a tool is available to measure pre-symptomatic infection. Diagnosis of leprosy disease is currently based on clinical symptoms, which on average take 3-10 years to manifest. The fact that incidence, as defined by new case detection, equates with prevalence, i.e., registered cases, suggests that the cycle of transmission has not been fully intercepted by implementation of multiple drug therapy. This is supported by a high incidence of childhood leprosy. Epidemiological screening for pre-symptomatic leprosy in large endemic populations is required to facilitate targeted chemoprophylactic interventions. Such a test must be sensitive, specific, simple to administer, cost-effective, and easy to interpret. The intradermal skin test method that measures cell-mediated immunity was explored as the best option. Prior knowledge on skin testing of healthy subjects and leprosy patients with whole or partially fractionated Mycobacterium leprae bacilli, such as Lepromin or the Rees' or Convit' antigens, has established an acceptable safety and potency profile of these antigens. These data, along with immunoreactivity data, laid the foundation for two new leprosy skin test antigens, MLSA-LAM (M. leprae soluble antigen devoid of mycobacterial lipoglycans, primarily lipoarabinomannan) and MLCwA (M. leprae cell wall antigens). In the absence of commercial interest, the challenge was to develop these antigens under current good manufacturing practices in an acceptable local pilot facility and submit an Investigational New Drug to the Food and Drug Administration to allow a first-in-human phase I clinical trial.

PMID:
24874086
PMCID:
PMC4038479
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pntd.0002791
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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