Buruli ulcer

Mycobacterium Ulcerans Infection (Buruli ulcer): Towards Improving Control, Diagnosis and Therapy

After tuberculosis and leprosy, Buruli ulcer (BU), caused by M. ulcerans, is the third most common mycobacterial disease, and Western Africa is the world region most affected by this chronic necrotising disease of the skin and the subcutaneous tissue. M. ulcerans is unique among mycobacterial pathogens in that it is mainly extracellular and produces a plasmid-encoded toxin with a polyketide-derived macrolide structure, named mycolactone.

Symptoms and Treatment

Mycolactone is believed to play a central role in determining the extracellular localization of the bacteria and modulation of immunological responses to M. ulcerans. Clinical lesions usually start as painless nodules and if left untreated lead to massive destruction of skin and sometimes bone. While surgery has traditionally been the only recommended treatment for BU, in 2004 WHO published provisional guidelines recommending treatment with a combination of rifampicin and streptomycin for 8 weeks.

Our research

We developed a brad research portfolio comprising clinical, field and laboratory studies.

The goals of our research are to

  • improve understanding of the pathogenesis, immunology and transmission of Buruli ulcer,
  • develop methods for early diagnosis, and
  • investigate prospects for improving therapy and vaccine development.

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Laager M et al. A metapopulation model of dog rabies transmission in N'Djamena, Chad. J Theor Biol. 2019;462:408-417. DOI: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2018.11.027

Lee T.E, Penny M.A. Identifying key factors of the transmission dynamics of drug-resistant malaria. J Theor Biol. 2019;462:210-220. DOI: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2018.10.050

Mattli R, Wieser S, Probst-Hensch N, Schmidt-Trucksäss A, Schwenkglenks M. Physical inactivity caused economic burden depends on regional cultural differences. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2019;29(1):95-104. DOI: 10.1111/sms.13311

Mhimbira F et al. Prevalence and clinical significance of respiratory viruses and bacteria detected in tuberculosis patients compared to household contact controls in Tanzania: a cohort study. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2019;25(1):107 e1-107 e7. DOI: 10.1016/j.cmi.2018.03.019

Mitsakou C et al. Environmental public health risks in European metropolitan areaswithin the EURO-HEALTHY project. Sci Total Environ. 2019;658:1630-1639. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.12.130