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How an "immunity gene" evolved to ward off leprosy

Tatan Syuflana / AP

An "immunity gene" evolved in populations across Southeast Asia 50,000 years ago to combat leprosy, a new study finds, and 110 million people of Southeast Asian descent carry the gene today.

What it matters: Leprosy still exists — there were 210,000 new cases reported worldwide in 2015. This study could help emerging gene therapy research combat remaining leprosy cases by further exploring the "immunity gene."