Home   News   About us   Contact   Nederlands   Education   Art   Nature   Leprosy 
Leprosy elimination


The Turing Foundation aims at the elimination of leprosy as a disfiguring disease.

Leprosy is a cruel, disfiguring disease which strikes almost exclusively the poorest of the poor (to such extent that people in richer countries are often unaware that the disease still exists). Its victims hardly ever die as a result of it, but leprosy often leads to loss of hands or feet or loss of sight. Leprosy has an incubation period of many years. A key challenge is to detect the disease in an early stage and to treat it before it infects others and before nerve damages have become irreparable.

The Turing Foundation focuses on scientific research in the area of diagnostics and treatment of leprosy. More information on submitting applications can be found in our application procedures.


Most recent projects:
Dr. L. Adams / National Hansen's Disease Programs: Translation of Mycobacterium Leprae molecular viability assays (MVA) to the clinical setting and application of MVA to a chemoprophylaxis-of-contacts-model, 2015-2018
April 2017
Translation of Mycobacterium Leprae molecular viability assays (MVA) to the clinical setting and application of MVA to a chemoprophylaxis-of-contacts-model, 2017-2018
The recently developed molecular viability test... more

Leprosy in the spleen
January 2017
Donation to the leprosy research department of Netherlands Leprosy Relief, 2016-2017
For many years the Turing Foundation has cofinanced projects to combat leprosy with the... more

Identification of leprosy associated immune signatures that aid as early signals for determination of type I and type II reactions in leprosy, Karigiri, India, 2016-2019
January 2017
Identification of leprosy associated immune signatures that aid as early signals for determination of type I and type II reactions in leprosy, Karigiri, India, 2017-2019
Early recognition and treatment of leprosy... more

Randomised controlled trials of methotrexate in Erythema Nodosum Leprosum
January 2017
Randomised controlled trials of methotrexate in Erythema Nodosum Leprosum, 2017-2019
Erythema Nodosum Leprosum (ENL) is a serious and very painful leprosy complication. It is often... more

Comparative sequencing analysis of genes associated with susceptibility to leprosy and its reactive states
January 2017
Comparative sequencing analysis of genes associated with susceptibility to leprosy and its reactive states, 2017
Developing leprosy is highly dependent on the host's genetic risk... more

Biomarkers for early detection of leprosy using comparative transcriptomics
January 2017
Biomarkers for early detection of leprosy using comparative transcriptomics, 2017
Leprosy is usually only diagnosed at a late stage. Diagnosis is based mainly on the presence of... more

Taking blood samples for the IDEAL biobank
January 2017
INDIGO, field evaluation of novel immunodiagnostic tools for early detection of leprosy in a BCG vaccination field trial amongst contacts of leprosy patients, 2017-2018
The IDEAL consortium (Initiative for Diagnostic... more

IDRI: Integration of rapid diagnostic tests to facilitate earlier diagnosis and simplified case management of Leprosy, 2015-2017
January 2017
IDRI: Integration of rapid diagnostic tests to facilitate earlier diagnosis and simplified case management of Leprosy, 2017
The Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) does... more

Scientific Research
National Hansen's Disease ProgramsLeprosy Research InitiativeLSU Translation of Mycobacterium Leprae molecular viability assays (MVA) to the clinical setting and application of MVA to a chemoprophylaxis-of-contacts-model, 2017-2018
The recently developed molecular viability test has proved to be able to quickly and accurately determine the viability of the leprosy bacterium in laboratory animal tissue. This research, led by Dr. L. Adams (LSU) as part of the National Hansen's Disease Programs, is using animal models to define the test's technical limitations. This is being used to develop a standardised protocol and reporting form, and research is being conducted into new preventive treatments, the ultimate goal of which is making the test usable for clinics.

The Turing Foundation contributes €159,000 towards this project (of which €53,000 in 2017). The Leprosy Research Initiative (LRI) is contributing the same amount. see also:
      National Hansen's Disease Programs: other projects
      Leprosy Research Initiative: other projects
Dr. L. Adams / National Hansen's Disease Programs: Translation of Mycobacterium Leprae molecular viability assays (MVA) to the clinical setting and application of MVA to a chemoprophylaxis-of-contacts-model, 2015-2018
Dr. L. Adams / National Hansen's Disease Programs: Translation of Mycobacterium Leprae molecular viability assays (MVA) to the clinical setting and application of MVA to a chemoprophylaxis-of-contacts-model, 2015-2018


Leprastichting Donation to the leprosy research department of Netherlands Leprosy Relief, 2016-2017
For many years the Turing Foundation has cofinanced projects to combat leprosy with the Netherlands Leprosy Relief . In 2016 alone the Turing Foundation contributed in excess of €436,989 towards projects like TENLEP (Research on treatment of early neuropathy in leprosy), Erasmus/LUMC (INDIGO field evaluation of novel immunodiagnostic tools for early detection of leprosy), NHDP (Translation of M. Leprae molecular viability assays to the clinical setting, and application to a chemoprophylaxis-of-contacts-model), LSHTM (Randomised controlled trials of methotrexate in Erythema Nodosum Leprosum), SIHR (Identification of leprosy associated immune signatures as early signals for leprosy reactions), PUCPR (Comparative sequencing analysis of genes associated with susceptibility to leprosy and its reactive states), NHDP (Biomarkers for early detection of leprosy using comparative transcriptomics), IDRI (Integration of rapid diagnostic tests to facilitate earlier diagnosis and simplified case management of Leprosy), and the Leonard Wood Memorial Research Center (Research into macro- and micro-epidemiology of leprosy).

For this reason, the Turing Foundation donated €21,849 in 2016 directly to Netherlands Leprosy Relief to cover its scientific research overheads. see also: Leprastichting: other projects
Leprosy in the spleen
Leprosy in the spleen


Schieffelin Institute of HealthLeprastichting Identification of leprosy associated immune signatures that aid as early signals for determination of type I and type II reactions in leprosy, Karigiri, India, 2017-2019
Early recognition and treatment of leprosy reactions helps prevent nerve damage and disfigurement. The Schieffelin Institute of Health (SIHR) is developing a laboratory test for early diagnosis of type I and type II leprosy reactions. Genetic material from blood and skin biopsies from leprosy patients are used to determine which genes differ in function between patients with and without leprosy reactions, and also which gene expression patterns possibly play a role in eliciting leprosy reactions in the skin, and the nervous system. These genes and associated proteins they encode are being used to develop the laboratory test. In addition, the level of cytokines, chemokines, growth factors and antimicrobial peptides in the blood are estimated, and research is being conducted in order to see whether diagnostic conclusions can be drawn.

The Turing Foundation is contributing €73,838 towards this research (of which €21,062 in 2017). see also: Leprastichting: other projects
Identification of leprosy associated immune signatures that aid as early signals for determination of type I and type II reactions in leprosy, Karigiri, India, 2016-2019
Identification of leprosy associated immune signatures that aid as early signals for determination of type I and type II reactions in leprosy, Karigiri, India, 2016-2019


London School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineLeprastichting Randomised controlled trials of methotrexate in Erythema Nodosum Leprosum, 2017-2019
Erythema Nodosum Leprosum (ENL) is a serious and very painful leprosy complication. It is often chronic and causes serious morbidity, not only affecting the skin but also bones, joints, eyes, nerves, testes, and kidneys. Effective treatment for ENL is available but expensive, has considerable side-effects, and is often inaccessible in many countries where leprosy is endemic. Methotrexate is cheap and has been used all over the world to treat conditions like psoriasis since the 1950s. This medicine is possibly an effective alternative to prednisolone (the most widely used corticosteroid treatment for ENL). The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine will validate this by inviting patients with ENL in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nepal and the Philippines to take part in a study where some patients are prescribed methotrexate, and others prednisolone.

The Turing Foundation is contributing €350,000 towards this research (€104,331 in 2017). see also: Leprastichting: other projects
Randomised controlled trials of methotrexate in Erythema Nodosum Leprosum
Randomised controlled trials of methotrexate in Erythema Nodosum Leprosum


PUCPR Brazil Pontifícia Universidade Católica do ParanaLeprastichting Comparative sequencing analysis of genes associated with susceptibility to leprosy and its reactive states, 2017
Developing leprosy is highly dependent on the host's genetic risk factors. Molecular studies have been conducted to determine the genetic characteristics of leprosy patients. A number of candidate genes which are associated with susceptibility to leprosy and the development of leprosy reactions have successfully been identified. However, none of these studies have demonstrated which genes cause susceptibility to leprosy, nor which cause leprosy reactions.

The Turing Foundation is contributing €21,334 towards this PUCPR project, which will map the six genes consistently associated with sensitivity with leprosy and leprosy reactions. They expect to describe rare and/or new varieties, providing more insight into leprosy susceptibility. In addition, the effect of these variants on the early detection of leprosy patients will be analysed. see also: Leprastichting: other projects
Comparative sequencing analysis of genes associated with susceptibility to leprosy and its reactive states
Comparative sequencing analysis of genes associated with susceptibility to leprosy and its reactive states


National Hansen's Disease ProgramsLeprastichting Biomarkers for early detection of leprosy using comparative transcriptomics, 2017
Leprosy is usually only diagnosed at a late stage. Diagnosis is based mainly on the presence of clinical symptoms (loss of sensation from nerve damage) and detection of the bacterium in a skin scrape or skin biopsy.

Leprosy has virulence factors which - in combination with other molecules (called Pathogen Associated Molecular Patterns or PAMPs) - elicit a characteristic gene expression pattern - known as a transcriptional profile. This profile determines the outcome of the infection in different hosts: sickness or removal of the bacteria.

To find out why some people are resistant to M. leprae whilst others develop the disease, the NHDP (National Hansen's Disease Programs) is conducting research on armadillos, which react similarly to M. leprae as humans. Transcriptional profiles are compared at various times after infection to identify genes differing between resistant and susceptible hosts. In this way identification of characteristic genetic signatures will probably be able to predict these animals' reaction to the M. leprae. This offers great potential for early leprosy diagnosis in humans.

The Turing Foundation is contributing €55,000 to this project (of which, €30,000 in 2017). see also:
      National Hansen's Disease Programs: other projects
      Leprastichting: other projects
Biomarkers for early detection of leprosy using comparative transcriptomics
Biomarkers for early detection of leprosy using comparative transcriptomics


IDEALLUMCErasmus Universiteit Rotterdam INDIGO, field evaluation of novel immunodiagnostic tools for early detection of leprosy in a BCG vaccination field trial amongst contacts of leprosy patients, 2017-2018
The IDEAL consortium (Initiative for Diagnostic and Epidemiological Assays for Leprosy) is developing a new generation of tests to detect leprosy infections at an early stage. Since 2013 IDEAL has been collecting blood samples from leprosy patients and their domestic contacts in a 'biobank' for analysis of infection and transmission of the leprosy bacterium. The goal of the project is to investigate a total of over 6,000 individual blood samples, and to use this to establish a 'biomarker profile' with which an effective diagnostic test can be developed.

The Turing Foundation has contributed approximately €950,000 to the IDEAL consortium's research in recent years, and will contribute more than €747,000 in the period 2015-2018 (of which €187,000 in 2016). see also:
      IDEAL: other projects
      LUMC: other projects
      Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam: other projects
Taking blood samples for the IDEAL biobank
Taking blood samples for the IDEAL biobank


Infectious Disease Research InstituteLeprosy Research Initiative IDRI: Integration of rapid diagnostic tests to facilitate earlier diagnosis and simplified case management of Leprosy, 2017
The Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) does research into improving the early diagnosis of leprosy patients in Cebu City in the Philippines. An easily usable test was recently developed which can detect leprosy in blood and/or serum, enabling patients to be diagnosed more quickly. Blood samples from these patients are examined and used together with the results of the clinical trials as a benchmark for the diagnosis and treatment process.

The Turing Foundation is contributing €140,000 in the period 2015 - 2017 to this project (of which, €51,000 in 2017). The Leprosy Research Initiative (LRI) is contributing the same amount. see also: Leprosy Research Initiative: other projects
IDRI: Integration of rapid diagnostic tests to facilitate earlier diagnosis and simplified case management of Leprosy, 2015-2017
IDRI: Integration of rapid diagnostic tests to facilitate earlier diagnosis and simplified case management of Leprosy, 2015-2017


TENLEP research consortium Research on treatment of early neuropathy in leprosy 2016-2017
The TENLEP Research Consortium (Treatment of Early Neuropathy in Leprosy) is a large international association in which 14 researchers from renowned research institutes all over the world work together, combining their expertise in the field of leprosy-related inflammation of the nerves.

TENLEP Trial is a large-scale research project focussing on nerve damage caused by leprosy. Its central research questions are: 1. To what extent can treatment of sub-clinical nerve damage reduce the number of patients with permanent nerve function impairments?
2. What is the most effective treatment for patients who have a clinical nerve function impairments?
A random double blind research method was designed to find the answers to these questions, including two integrated trials. In these trials, a corticosteroid treatment of sub-clinical nerve damage will be tested (during sixteen weeks and six months). Dependent on the type of nerve damage, patients will participate in one of the two trials. Subsequently, all patients will be categorized randomly into a group getting treatment and a group receiving a placebo. The effect of the leprosy treatment will be measured within 6, 12, and 18 months after it has started. Various advanced electronic devices, measuring factors such as nerve conductivity and sense of temperature, will be used to monitor the effect of treatment as meticulously as possible. Apart from that, the measuring will be done by means of an activity scale. A comparison between the results of the groups getting either treatment or a placebo must make clear which type of treatment reduces the risk of permanent nerve damage as much as possible. The research will be conducted in the Netherlands, England and the largest leprosy endemic countries (Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Brasil and Ethiopia).

The Turing Foundation contributes € 742,847 to this research project (approx. 50% of the total research budget).

Scanning Electron Microscopy of M. leprae
Scanning Electron Microscopy of M. leprae


Leonard Wood Memorial Research CenterLeprastichting Research into macro- and micro-epidemiology of leprosy 2016
The Leonard Wood Memorial Research Centre in Cebu, Philippines, is conducting research into the transmission patterns of leprosy. In many areas, the transfer of leprosy seems to continue despite years of successful MDT (Multi-Drug Treatment) for lepers. The study's hypothesis is that effective leprosy control can be developed only with a better understanding of the transmission patterns within communities, and the identification of people with an increased risk of developing leprosy. Only then, interventions like chemoprofylaxe and/or immunoprofylaxe can be distributed properly and be cost-effective.

Main goal of the research is to map all known cases of leprosy in Cebu in both space and time, and add all new cases of leprosy to the database (macro-epidemiology). Then, the database should be expanded with the M.leprae strain typing within the clusters of the new cases (micro-epidemiology) to reach a better understanding of the disease's transmission patterns, its risk factors and the virulence patterns of the M.leprae strains. The detailed mapping of cases of leprosy combined with the strain typing that should enable the identification of transmission patterns within a properly demarcated area has never before been attempted.

De Turing Foundation contributed € 118.500 to the previous phase of this long-range study and will contribute another € 132,000 in the coming years (€ 45,000 of which will be donated in 2016). see also:
      Leonard Wood Memorial Research Center: other projects
      Leprastichting: other projects
Skin infected with leprosy
Skin infected with leprosy


LUMCLeprastichting Research on immunopathology of leprosy, 2ndphase, 2015
The leprosy bacterium (M.leprae) knows a high affinity for Schwann cells, which are cells that create a protective layer around peripheral nerves. A team of the Leiden University Medical Centre is researching the processes that may lead to the damaging of Schwann cells and nerves, and the lifelong handicaps that result from that damage.

For some time now, an effective treatment of the leprosy bacterium has been available, consisting of an antibiotics cocktail. Unfortunately, for some people the treatment is accompanied with severe immune responses that cause irreparable nerve damage anyway. It is thought that sometimes, a leprosy bacterium in a Schwann cell is destroyed, after which the Schwann cell could be damaged or even killed by immune cells (T cells) because they respond to the leprosy bacterium's tiny residue (peptides). It could be one of the mechanisms that are involved in causing of nerve damage due to leprosy. Based on models from previous research involving mice, LUMC researchers think that certain T-cell types are an important link in the process, yet are uncertain about its exact nature and functioning.

Now, new research will be conducted to determine which immune cells (and which products they produce, such as signal molecules and cytokines) play a part in the damaging of Schwann cells and nerves with lepers. Researchers think a dysregulation of immune responses to the M.leprae bacterium is responsible for the uncontrolled inflammatory and defensive responses that are characteristic for leprosy. They also predict the unravelling of the mechanisms involved will lead to the identification and development of new methods to treat or even prevent responses in leprosy. Another thing that is very important for the identification of biomarkers for an early diagnosis or prediction of responses in leprosy, as well as for the development of new treatments and improvement of the prevention of responses in leprosy, is a better understanding of the mechanisms of the nerve damage that is so common with responses in leprosy, and the immune cells and substances responsible for it.

The study is aimed at understanding these immunopathological mechanisms, in the hope its results can be used in the development of new strategies for the prediction, detection, and prevention of nerve damage in leprosy.

Until 2015, the Turing Foundation will contribute € 150,000 to this study; € 37,500 is donated in 2015. Previously, the Turing Foundation contributed € 337,500 to phase I of this research. see also:
      LUMC: other projects
      Leprastichting: other projects
Researching the immunopathology of leprosy
Researching the immunopathology of leprosy


Nederlands Kanker InstituutLeprastichting Research into how mycobacteria lyse the phagosomal membrane 2015
The Tumor Biology Department of the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NCI) conducts fundamental research into the BCG vaccine. The vaccine is used to prevent tuberculosis, but also contributes to prevention of leprosy.

Previous research of NCI showed an important difference between pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria. The difference lies in their location within the host cell. Pathogenic strains such as M.leprae, as well as other mycobacteria, live freely within the cell and can meet proteins that are able to hold antigens (small parts of the bacterium) and present these to the immune system. The strain currently used to prevent mycobacterial infections (vaccine strain BCG) is non-pathogenic. This strain resides in a compartment of the cell that wraps the bacterium in a film (membrane). Researchers want to improve the vaccine by using these characteristics, but to do this it is vital to understand what factors of both the bacterium and the host are involved in the process.

The Turing Foundation contributes € 260,000 to this long-range study (€ 56,000 of which in 2015). see also: Leprastichting: other projects
Mycobacterium Tuberculosis
Mycobacterium Tuberculosis




more leprosy projects...
Leprosy in the spleen
Research on immunopathology of leprosy 2010-2011
mycobacterium leprae
Research on impact of preventive interventions on the transmission of M. Leprae, 2010
Workers are being trained in recognizing and preventing leprosy (Cambodia 2009)
Field Projects Leprosy Control, Cambodia 2009
Leprosy Field Visit in Luang Namtha, Laos
Field Projects Leprosy Control, Laos 2009
Milou Halbesma presents €1,000,000 to Kommer Braber, manager of the Leprosy Foundation
€1.000.000 for the Dutch Leprosy Foundation, 2007