Role of Research in Leprosy
Leprosy has existed for thousands of years but still there is much about this disease that we do not know. There are still questions about modes of transmission, reservoirs of infection, lepra reactions and effective therapy for preventing permanent nerve damage. There are no known ways of prevention and an effective vaccine has not yet been developed.
Since the Government of India’s declaration that leprosy has been eliminated (new infections below 1/10,000 people) in 2005, there is limited interest in leprosy research in the general medical fraternity. We are seeking to address the need for research in different aspects of leprosy, from basic sciences such as immunology and genetics and clinical research to the social aspects of leprosy including stigma and discrimination.
What Research means to us
In TLMTI research is a cross cutting issue, being carried out at the central level as well as in the field, through it’s hospitals and projects. The Research Resource centre and the Stanley Browne Research Laboratory have a small group of core staff dedicated to research, while field staff engage in research as part of their routine work.
Areas of focus
Early detection :
• Methods to encourage Early Detection / reporting
• Development of immune and molecular diagnostic tools
• Methods to improve adherence /prevent defaulting
• U-MDT and new regimens
• Alternative drugs for treatment of lepra reactions
NFI and Reactions
• Understanding nerve function impairment
• Optimal steroids regimens for management of Nerve Function Impairment
Prevention of Disability
• Novel treatments for plantar ulcers
Community Based Rehabilitation
• Increase CBR participation Test CBR guidelines
Stigma Reduction and Advocacy
• Implementation of proven interventions
• Test interventions to reduce stigma
Health/Social Care Integration
• Ways to facilitate Integration with Primary Care,
• Urban Leprosy
Current research in TLMTI
This includes operational studies in the field, working with communities, and general health care providers to improve early detection and adherence to treatment.
Social science research in communities addresses the issues of stigma, gender issues etc. Research being carried out in hospitals is concerned with early detection of neuritis and how to prevent disabilities, effective ways to manage ulcers and disintegrating feet, reconstructive surgery techniques etc. A list of our Current Research Projects can be found here.
The Stanley Browne Laboratory is situated in the premises of the TLM Community Hospital , in Shahadara, New Delhi, to facilitate collaboration between clinical and laboratory aspects . The laboratory is named after the pioneering researcher Dr Stanley Browne who conducted extensive research on leprosy including creating the MDT treatment and was a medical consultant with The Leprosy Mission from 1966-1978.
The main focus in the laboratory is on basic issues such as :
• How leprosy is transmitted (particularly transfer through the environment e.g. soil, water),
• Development of tools for early detection of leprosy and reactions
• Which types of people are particularly susceptible to leprosy,
• Drug resistance studies
Our research publications can be found here.