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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 371828, 7 pages
Research Article

Evaluation of Novel Tools to Facilitate the Detection and Characterization of Leprosy Patients in China

1Beijing Tropical Medicine Research Institute, Beijing Friendship Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing 100050, China
2Department of Infectious Diseases, Huashan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai 200040, China
3Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
4Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), 1616 Eastlake Avenue East, Seattle, WA, USA

Received 26 June 2014; Revised 18 July 2014; Accepted 18 July 2014; Published 12 August 2014

Academic Editor: Valeria Rolla

Copyright © 2014 Yan Wen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Leprosy is the disabling outcome of chronic infection with Mycobacterium leprae. The disease often evades early detection, particularly now that fewer clinicians are able to confidently diagnose the disease following the integration of leprosy control measures within general health services in many countries. Although leprosy is officially eliminated in China, endemic regions remain in some difficult-to-reach, underdeveloped areas in Southwest China. In order to better understand the extent of M. leprae infection and identify new leprosy cases in a timely manner, simple tools that can detect infection and the early disease are required. In this report we evaluated the performance of antigen-specific ELISA, the NDO-LID rapid diagnostic test, and antigen-specific whole blood assays (WBA) as potential diagnostic tools. Our data support the use of antibody detection tests and WBA to facilitate the diagnosis of multibacillary and paucibacillary leprosy, respectively. These tools could be invaluable for increased, but simplified, monitoring of individuals in order to provide referrals for clinical exam and early leprosy diagnosis.