Development of Leishmania vaccines: predicting the future from past and present experience
- Received Date: 2012-06-17
- Available Online: 2013-03-28
Abstract: Leishmaniasis is a disease that ranges in severity from skin lesions to serious disfigurement and fatal systemic infection. Resistance to infection is associated with a T-helper-1 immune response that activates macrophages to kill the intracellular parasite in a nitric oxide-dependent manner. Conversely, disease progression is generally associated with a T-helper-2 response that activates humoral immunity. Current control is based on chemothera-peutic treatments which are expensive, toxic and associated with high relapse and resistance rates. Vaccination remains the best hope for control of all forms of the disease, and the development of a safe, effective and afford-able antileishmanial vaccine is a critical global public-health priority. Extensive evidence from studies in animal models indicates that solid protection can be achieved by immunization with defined subunit vaccines or live-at-tenuated strains of Leishmania. However, to date, no vaccine is available despite substantial efforts by many labo-ratories. Major impediments in Leishmania vaccine development include: lack of adequate funding from national and international agencies, problems related to the translation of data from animal models to human disease, and the transition from the laboratory to the field. Furthermore, a thorough understanding of protective immune re-sponses and generation and maintenance of the immunological memory, an important but least-studied aspect of antiparasitic vaccine development, during Leishmania infection is needed. This review focuses on the progress of the search for an effective vaccine against human and canine leishmaniasis.