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The Journey to a Scientific Understanding of Leprosy: A Brief Outline


The many chapters in this textbook present medical and scientific knowledge about leprosy as we know it in 2022. That information is the result of numerous studies conducted in many countries. This chapter traces the major advances in understanding leprosy and how they developed, from the clinical definition in 1847, to the discovery of M. leprae in 1873, to the sequencing of M. leprae’s genome at the start of the twenty-first century. Landmark observations regarding the epidemiology and immunology of this disease are outlined, as well as the discovery of a cure and progress in treating its complications. Progress often closely follows technological developments, and the context of scientific and medical concepts surrounding each discovery is discussed briefly.

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