The bacteria that cause leprosy have the amazing ability to regenerate liver tissue
The bacterium Mycobacterium leprae is responsible for the ancient disease – extremely disabling – which affects the skin and peripheral nerves. Previous studies had already tried to grow liver cells by injecting stem cells into mice, but the side effects were the growth of tumors, evidently because the technique used was too invasive.
To try to avoid this harmful side effect, researchers at the University of Edinburgh (Centre for Regenerative Medicine) turned to a previous interesting result of their research: the cellular reprogramming ability of the bacterium that causes leprosy.
The English researchers worked with the Department of Health and Human Services of Baton Rougen in Louisiana. They used the same bacterium ( Mycobacterium leprae) to infect 57 armadillos and then compared the infected livers with those of uninfected armadillos and with those that were found to be resistant to infection. The result is that the animals developed enlarged but perfectly healthy and undamaged livers.
The researchers are banking on this research because the encouraging results increase the chances of adapting this process in humans to improve the condition of livers affected by liver disease or cancer, while also reducing the need for transplantation , which is currently the only curative option.
The findings were published in Cell Reports Medicine .