In the 1950s, doctors realised that a previously successful drug targeting leprosy wasn’t working properly any more. Finding out what had happened transformed leprosy into the curable disease it is today.
In 1964, working with the Sungai Buloh leprosy settlement in Malaysia, researchers from the National Institute for Medical Research proved that the leprosy bacterium had changed to become resistant to the standard drug treatment.
The findings led the World Health Organization to recommend a ‘cocktail’ of several drugs for all new patients. Thanks to this multidrug therapy, leprosy has been all but wiped out in many countries. Where it still exists, it can be cured.
Prosthetics for leprosy patients, Care and Share Circle, Sungai Buloh, Malaysia
The National Institute for Medical Research is now part of the Francis Crick Institute.
Here, Luiz Carvalho studies how antibiotics work against tuberculosis and how tuberculosis bacteria resist treatment. Luiz’s research may lead to more effective drugs and more manageable treatment regimes for tuberculosis patients.