In News: Scientists from the University of Edinburgh and the US Department of Health and Human Services have found that armadillo livers grew substantially when infected with Mycobacterium leprae.
- The pathogen was able to maintain liver function and keep its exquisite architecture intact, giving rise to something that looked like stem cells.
- Caused by an acid-fast, rod-shaped bacteria Mycobacterium leprae
- It is a chronic infectious disease that mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, and the eyes.
- Leprosy is curable and treatment in the early stages can prevent disability.
- Treatment includes MDT regimen consists of medicines: dapsone, rifampicin and clofazimine.
About the discovery:
- The leprosy bacteria need functional cells to function within it because of its dependency on the host to survive and replicate.
- It can reprogramme adult Schwann cells, the bacteria’s preferred host niche in the peripheral nervous system to a stage of progenitor/stem-like cells.
- The bacteria’s functions do not involve tumour formation or any adverse effects like fibrosis, it appears safe for now.
- Significance: This discovery may be lifesaving for the two million annual deaths due to liver disease for which there is no licensed therapy.
- Many predicted several new avenues and implications in infection and regenerative medicine
- If we could harness the bacterial ingenuity, the way they hijack the high regenerative capacity of the adult liver, not the use of bacteria as a whole and apply that knowledge to develop strategies to promote organ level growth, keeping architecture of the organ intact for proper function, then certainly such strategies would revolutionise the field of regenerative medicine
- The bacteria were performing something akin to ‘biological alchemy’ — a bacterial pathogen was changing the biology of infected cells to become more ‘valuable’ such that it can promote the growth of a vital organ like the liver in living animals.
- They are New World placental mammals in the order Cingulata.
- The Chlamyphoridae and Dasypodidae are the only surviving families in the order, which is part of the superorder Xenarthra, along with the anteaters and sloths.
- All species are native to the Americas, where they inhabit a variety of different environments.
- Armadillos are characterized by a leathery armour shell and long, sharp claws for digging. They have short legs, but can move quite quickly. The average length of an armadillo is about 75 cm (30 in), including its tail.
- When threatened by a predator, Tolypeutes species frequently roll up into a ball; they are the only species of armadillo capable of this.
Source Down To Earth
Previous Year Question
Q.1) Consider the following statements: (2017)
- In tropical regions, Zika virus disease is transmitted by ‘the same mosquito that transmits dengue.
- Sexual transmission of Zika virus disease is possible
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2