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Mycobacterium leprae

Gene favors Hansen’s Disease

Susceptibility to Hansen’s Disease may be associated with different forms, known as polymorphism, that the ficolin 1 (FCN1) gene presents in a given population. The gene produces a protein called M-ficolin whose levels seem to be somehow related to the propensity for having the disease.  According to a  variant of the gene present in the DNA, an individual may be more protected or more exposed to infection by Mycobacterium leprae, the agent that causes Hansen’s Disease.  The conclusion comes from a study conducted by researchers at the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR), the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná (PUC/PR) and their colleagues from Denmark and Germany (September 1, 2012 issue of Journal of Clinical Immunology). The study involved 715 individuals from Brazil  (315 with leprosy and 400 from a control group) and 296 healthy Danes.  After sequencing the gene in question in this sample population, the researchers found 10 variants of FCN1 and realized that some of the forms seemed to favor the development of Hansen’s Disease.