Armadillo: the leprosy bacterium regenerates the liver


The leprosy bacterium has been found to reprogram liver cells forcing them to produce new tissue. This is the case of the armadillo which, if infected with leprosy, causes its liver to become one-third larger, keeping its functions intact. A strange trick that can teach how to regenerate the liver even in humans.


The leprosy bacterium is capable of biological alchemy: it reprograms the cells it infects, bringing them back to a less mature but more powerful state. Something that looks like stem cells. This mechanism is present only among a few mammals capable of transmitting leprosy to humans. The bacterium returns the cells to a state of immaturity and great migratory capacity. Then using them to be carried to other organs of the body.

Now the researchers hope to be able to exploit this discovery to naturally induce liver regeneration in diseases related to this organ. All while keeping liver function intact and avoiding side effects. However, some question marks remain to be clarified: is the liver of armadillos bigger because of the bacteria that are inside? Furthermore, how does the leprosy bacterium not kill host cells, but only trigger regeneration?

  • The leprosy bacterium knows how to regenerate the liver (in armadillo) (


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