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Although viruses and bacteria have been known as agents of diseases since 1546, 250 years went by until the first vaccines against these pathogens were developed (1796 and 1800s). In contrast, Malaria, which is a protozoan-neglected disease, has been known since the 5th century BCE and, despite 2,500 years having passed since then, no human vaccine has yet been licensed for Malaria. Additionally, no modern human vaccine is currently licensed against Visceral or Cutaneous leishmaniasis. Vaccination against Malaria evolved from the inoculation of irradiated sporozoites through the bite of Anopheles mosquitoes in 1930's, which failed to give protection, to the use of controlled human Malaria infection (CHMI) provoked by live sporozoites of Plasmodium falciparum and curtailed with specific chemotherapy since 1940's. Although the use of CHMI for vaccination was relatively efficacious, it has some ethical limitations and was substituted by the use of injected recombinant vaccines expressing the main antigens of the parasite cycle, starting in 1980. Pre-erythrocytic (PEV), Blood stage (BSV), transmission-blocking (TBV), antitoxic (AT), and pregnancy-associated Malaria vaccines are under development. Currently, the RTS,S-PEV vaccine, based on the circumsporozoite protein, is the only one that has arrived at the Phase III trial stage. The "R" stands for the central repeat region of Plasmodium (P.) falciparum circumsporozoite protein (CSP); the "T" for the T-cell epitopes of the CSP; and the "S" for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). In Africa, this latter vaccine achieved only 36.7% vaccine efficacy (VE) in 5-7 years old children and was associated with an increase in clinical cases in one assay. Therefore, in spite of 35 years of research, there is no currently licensed vaccine against Malaria. In contrast, more progress has been achieved regarding prevention of leishmaniasis by vaccine, which also started with the use of live vaccines. For ethical reasons, these were substituted by second-generation subunit or recombinant DNA and protein vaccines. Currently, there is one live vaccine for humans licensed in Uzbekistan, and four licensed veterinary vaccines against visceral leishmaniasis: Leishmune® (76-80% VE) and CaniLeish® (68.4% VE), which give protection against strong endpoints (severe disease and deaths under natural conditions), and, under less severe endpoints (parasitologically and PCR-positive cases), Leishtec® developed 71.4% VE in a low infective pressure area but only 35.7% VE and transient protection in a high infective pressure area, while Letifend® promoted 72% VE. A human recombinant vaccine based on the Nucleoside hydrolase NH36 of Leishmania (L.) donovani, the main antigen of the Leishmune® vaccine, and the sterol 24-c-methyltransferase (SMT) from L. (L.) infantum has reached the Phase I clinical trial phase but has not yet been licensed against the disease. This review describes the history of vaccine development and is focused on licensed formulations that have been used in preventive medicine. Special attention has been given to the delay in the development and licensing of human vaccines against Protozoan infections, which show high incidence worldwide and still remain severe threats to Public Health. Copyright © 2020 Palatnik-de-Sousa and Nico.


Clarisa Beatriz Palatnik-de-Sousa, Dirlei Nico. The Delay in the Licensing of Protozoal Vaccines: A Comparative History. Frontiers in immunology. 2020;11:204

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PMID: 32210953

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