Concluding Remarks

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  • World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

This symposium on Hansen's Disease has provided an excellent opportunity to review some of the recent advances in leprosy research. The symposium has covered a wide variety of areas in leprosy research, including studies on genetic mechanisms in leprosy, local immune response to Mycobacterium leprae infection, primate models in leprosy, second generation vaccines, and the epidemiology and serology of leprosy. The symposium has shown not only the tremendous progress that is being made on several fundamental aspects of leprosy research, but the immense opportunities that lie ahead for the potential application of the newer tools emerging from such basic research.

Studies on genetic predisposition to leprosy have very important potential applications in relation to the identification of target high-risk groups so that such groups can be placed under increased surveillance apart from possibilities for special interventions. The identification of high-risk groups from the point of view of genetic resistance may also have significant relevance to vaccination strategies with future anti-leprosy vaccines.