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Investigating drug resistance of Mycobacterium leprae in the Comoros: a deep-sequencing study

Although considered a scourge of the past, leprosy is an infectious disease that still affects several hundred thousand people each year. The emergence of resistance to antibiotic treatments is worrying.

However, this resistance cannot be detected by conventional diagnostic methods, given the impossibility of growing the bacterium in vitro. In order to overcome this stalemate, a novel molecular test, called Deeplex Myc-Lep, has been developed by Genoscreen, a biotech located on the campus of the Institut Pasteur de Lille, with Dr Philip Supply, Director of CNRS Research, at the Infection and Immunity Center of Lille. This test makes it possible to deep sequence all the known genetic targets associated with the antibiotic resistance of the bacillus, directly from DNA extracted from skin biopsies of patients. In collaboration with the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp and the Damien Foundation, the use of this test has enabled us to show the absence of emergence of resistance to curative or preventive treatments in patients suffering from leprosy in the Comoros, a country heavily affected by the disease. These results provide encouraging information on the effectiveness of the control program currently deployed in the country, and open up the prospect of large-scale use of this new molecular approach for diagnosis and monitoring. These results were published in the prestigious journal Lancet Microbe.


Braet, SM, Jouet, A, Aubry, A, Van Dyck-Lippens, M,  Lenoir, E, Assoumani, Y, Baco, A, Mzembaba, A, Cambau, E, Gonçalves Vasconcellos, SE, Rigouts, L, Suffys, PN, Hasker, E, Supply, P, de Jong, BC. Investigating drug resistance of Mycobacterium leprae in the Comoros: a deep-sequencing study. Lancet Microbe, 2022

The Lancet Journal