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  • Writer's pictureNate Scharping

Leprosy Reborn

How a long-maligned disease might unlock the secrets of stem cells

For the past 25 years, Anura Rambukkana has been studying a disease that’s already been cured. He studies leprosy, a disease that was once the scourge of humanity before a course of drugs developed in the mid-20th century brought it under control.

For decades, he’s worked in a field that sees little funding and few new faces, and many of his contemporaries have moved on to higher-profile projects involving diseases that attract grant dollars. Rambukkana, a professor of regeneration biology at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, likely would have joined them, but for a singular captivation by the leprosy bacterium — and the hunch that it might have something to teach us.

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