Leishmaniasis future or investigational therapies

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Future or Investigational Therapies

The genomic sequence of Leishmania has provided a rich source of vaccine candidates. Genome-based approaches have been used to screen for novel vaccine candidates. One study screened 100 randomly selected genes as DNA vaccines against L. major infection in mice. Fourteen reproducibly protective, novel vaccine candidates were identified. A separate study used a two-step procedure to identify T cell antigens. Six unique clones were identified: glutamine synthetase, a transitional endoplasmic reticulum ATPase, elongation factor 1gamma, kinesin K-39, repetitive protein A2, and a hypothetical conserved protein. The 20 antigens identified in these two studies are being further evaluated for vaccine development.[1] Several potential vaccines are being developed, under pressure from the World Health Organization, but as of 2006 none is available. The team at the Laboratory for Organic Chemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich are trying to design a carbohydrate-based vaccine [1]. The genome of the parasite Leishmania major has been sequenced,[2] possibly allowing for identification of proteins that are used by the pathogen but not by humans; these proteins are potential targets for drug treatments.

On February 2012, the nonprofit Infectious Disease Research Institute launched the world’s first human clinical trial of the visceral leishmaniasis vaccine. The vaccine is a recombinant form of two fused Leishmania parasite proteins with an adjuvant. Two phase 1 clinical trials with healthy volunteers are to be conducted. The first one takes place in Washington (state) and is followed by a trial in India.[3]

In 2009, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, in a collaborative effort with Addis Ababa University, was awarded a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for research into visceral leishmaniasis in Ethiopia. The project will gather data to be analyzed to identify the weak links in the transmission cycle, and devise methods for control of the disease.[4]

HIV protease inhibitors have been found to be active against Leishmania species in two in vitro studies in Canada and India. The studies reported the intracellular growth of parasites was controlled by nelfinavir and ritonavir in a human monocyte cell line and also in human primary monocyte-derived macrophages.[5]

Since September 2011 there exists a World Community Grid project called Drug Search for Leishmaniasis which has the goal to find new drugs against this disease.[6]


  1. Myler P; Fasel N (editors). (2008). Leishmania: After The Genome. Caister Academic Press. p. [page needed]. ISBN 978-1-904455-28-8.
  2. Ivens AC; et al. (2005). "The genome of the kinetoplastid parasite, Leishmania major". Science. 309 (5733): 436&ndash, 42. PMID 16020728.
  3. Elvidge, Suzanne (February 23, 2012). "World's first kala azar vaccine enters the clinic". FierceVaccines.com. Retrieved March 1, 2012.
  4. $5m for disease control in Ethiopia in Israel 21c Innovation News Service Retrieved 2009-12-30
  5. Trudel N.; et al. (2008). "Intracellular survival of Leishmania species that cause visceral leishmaniasis is significantly reduced by HIV-1 protease inhibitors". Journal of Infectious Diseases. 198 (9): 1292–1299. doi:10.1086/592280. PMID 18816190. More than one of |number= and |issue= specified (help)
  6. http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/research/dsfl/overview.do

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