The leishmaniases are vector-borne parasitic diseases with multiple disease phenotypes that range from self-healing cutaneous ulcers to disfiguring post-kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis and fatal visceral leishmaniasis (VL). Infected individuals can develop subclinical infections or overt disease. Current treatments are toxic and expensive. The only successful control measure is case detection and drug treatment. Resistance to anti-leishmanial drugs are increasing with few drugs in the pipeline. The Leishmania parasites are good candidates for vaccine development, with no change in its antigenic coat and extensive cross-reactivity between species. First-generation vaccines are safe, immunogenic with inconclusive efficiency. These vaccines presented the leishmanin skin test (LST) as a potentially good surrogate marker of immunogenicity/protection that can help in future vaccine studies. First-generation vaccines are the only leishmaniasis vaccines that progressed to phase III. Second-generation vaccines are safe and immunogenic, but none progressed to phase III. Third-generation vaccines recently entered human testing. Alternative approaches include in silico prediction of immunogenic Leishmania epitopes with in vitro immunogenicity testing. New adjuvants can help in the quest to develop efficacious leishmaniasis vaccines. Failure of second- and third-generation vaccines to reach phase III, rising drug resistance and continued VL pandemics make it a necessity to revisit first-generation vaccines.
Part of the book: Leishmaniases as Re-emerging Diseases