Covance in Madison has started the first human trial of the first vaccine designed specifically for leprosy, an ancient disease that continues to sicken about a quarter of a million people worldwide each year.

Two dozen people are expected to take part in the phase 1 study, announced Thursday by the Infectious Disease Research Institute and American Leprosy Missions, developers of the vaccine called LepVax.

Covance, which conducts drug trials and food analysis in its research facility near the Dane County Regional Airport, is the only site involved in the initial study of the vaccine, said Lee Schoentrup, spokeswoman for the Seattle-based Infectious Diseases Research Institute. Read the full story here.