Medicine: Of Mice and Leprosy

The fleshy pads beneath the feet of the common house mouse and its albino kin in the laboratory are so tiny that it takes a highly imaginative researcher to suggest how they might be useful in the control of human leprosy. Dr. Charles C. Shepard had that kind of imagination. He knew that countless other investigators had failed to persuade Hansen's bacillus, the microbe that causes leprosy, to grow in lab animals—a vital step in virtually all infectious-disease research. At the National Communicable Disease Center in Atlanta, Shepard reasoned that perhaps the bacilli...

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