According to a recent research, published in the journal Cell Reports Medicine, scientists have discovered that parasites that lead to leprosy can regenerate cells in adult animals to increase the size of the liver without damaging, scarring, or resulting in tumours. As per the shocking revelation, the parasite makes the long lasting disease leprosy beneficial for the liver. The research findings indicate the possibility of going through this natural process to regenerate ageing livers and increase its healthspan.
To conduct the research, the team worked with the US Department of Health and Human Services in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on 57 infected armadillos. Armadillos are a natural host of leprosy bacteria. The livers of armadillos with the parasite were compared to the uninfected armadillos and those who were unaffected by the infection. The results concluded that the infected animals developed enlarged, healthy and non-damaged livers with the same crucial components, like blood vessels, bile ducts and functional units, unlike the uninfected armadillos.
The team of researchers thought that the bacteria took over the natural regenerative ability of the liver to expand the organ's size and, thus, to produce more cells to develop. They also noted several markers that the major types of liver cells -- known as hepatocytes, were at a "rejuvenated" state in the infected armadillos. The researchers hope that this discovery may help in the future of human therapies related to ageing and damaged livers.