Emory Report
January 28, 2008
Volume 60, Number 17

Emory Report homepage  

January 28, 2008
Angiogenesis may hold key to treating leprosy

By robin tricoles

Scientists are hoping to treat leprosy by taking advantage of one of its most distinctive characteristics — the richly vascularized skin lesions that typify this disease.

Led by Jack Arbiser, professor of dermatology at Emory School of Medicine, the scientists found that different stages of leprosy vary widely in the number of blood vessels they contain. Results are published online in the Archives of Dermatology.

“Our findings demonstrate a significant increase in angiogenesis — blood vessel formation — toward the lepromatous spectrum of lesions, thus raising the possibility that angiogenesis inhibitors, drugs that prevent the growth of new blood vessels, may be useful in treating leprosy,” says Arbiser.

Although treatment for leprosy is available, the disease requires long courses of multiple antibiotics, which can decrease compliance and increase resistance to antibiotics used to treat the disease.

“If we use an angiogenesis inhibitor, such as interleukin 12 or thalidomide, we may be able to shorten the length of therapy,” says Arbiser.