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LEISHMANIASIS vaccine
LEISHMANIA diagnostics
IDRI developed the world's first defined vaccine candidate for leishmaniasis, and the first recombinant vaccine for canine leishmaniasis. Our scientists were the first to identify rK39, a recombinant antigen that can be used to diagnose more than 98% of human visceral leishmaniasis cases with no more than a drop of blood. Because infected dogs compound the problem by increasing prevalence of leishmaniasis in parts of the world, IDRI is focusing on a strategy to stop disease transmission using a canine vaccine.


quick facts

Leishmaniasis threatens about 350 million people in 88 countries

1-2 million people become sick with leishmaniasis each year, including 500,000 with the deadly visceral form

70% of those who die from leishmaniasis are children
Our Focus

We are actively developing therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines for human and canine leishmaniasis. Our human therapeutic vaccine is designed for use in conjunction with chemotherapy. Because dogs are an important source of human infection in Latin America and the Mediterranean, a preventative canine vaccine would be an effective way to control disease spread. Canine studies focusing on visceral leishmaniasis are being pursued at several sites in Brazil.

Making a Difference

IDRI developed the world's first defined vaccine candidate for leishmaniasis. It has been tested in the U.S., Peru, Brazil and Colombia, and is currently being tested in Sudan and Peru. We also developed the first recombinant vaccine for canine leishmaniasis, which has demonstrated therapeutic improvement in diseased dogs.

Our scientists also identified a recombinant antigen (rK39) that is useful for diagnosing more than 98% of human visceral leishmaniasis cases with no more than a drop of blood. This is a significant advance from the prior diagnostic test, which was painful, invasive, and required the patient to undergo biopsies of the spleen or bone marrow. Our partner InBios International has received FDA approval for an rK39-based blood test, which is now being used extensively in India. Another diagnostic partner, Chembio Diagnostic Systems, is developing an antigen-based test for human and canine leishmaniasis in Brazil, in conjunction with Fiocruz.

About Leishmaniasis

Description: Sample College Image About 12 million people are believed to be currently infected with about one to two million new cases occurring every year. Leishmaniasis is a widespread parasitic disease with frequent epidemics in the Indian subcontinent, Africa, and Latin America. The World Health Organization has declared developing a vaccine for the disease to be a priority.

The multiple species of protozoan Leishmania parasites responsible for leishmaniasis are transmitted by the bite of a sand fly. There are several forms of the disease caused by these different species of Leishmania. Visceral leishmaniasis causes fatal infections of internal organs. It is estimated that about half a million new cases of the visceral form, also known as "kala-azar," or "the killing disease," occur each year. Most of these deaths occur in children. The cutaneous and mucosal forms of the disease are typically not fatal, but they cause lesions that can be severely and permanently disfiguring. Both cutaneous and mucosal leishmaniasis cause scarring, destruction of the mouth and nose, and severe disability.

Leishmaniasis is now out of control in many areas, and the number of cases is increasing—even in some developed countries of southern Europe—as a result of HIV infection. Available drugs are toxic, expensive, and require long-term daily injections. The emergence of drug-resistant visceral leishmaniasis has increased the urgency of developing improved therapeutic strategies.


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Infectious Disease Research Institute