Leishmaniasis is a disease that ranges in severity from skin lesions to serious disfigurement and fatal systemic infection. WHO has classified the disease as emerging and uncontrolled and estimates that the infection results in two million new cases a year. There are 12 million people currently infected worldwide, and leishmaniasis threatens 350 million people in 88 countries. Current treatment is based on chemotherapy, which relies on a handful of drugs with serious limitations such as high cost, toxicity, difficult route of administration and lack of efficacy in endemic areas. Vaccination remains the best hope for control of all forms of the disease, and the development of a safe, effective and affordable 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-attenuated strains of Leishmania. However, to date, no such vaccine is available despite substantial efforts by many laboratories. The major impediment in vaccine design is 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 responses and generation and maintenance of the immunological memory, the most important and least-studied aspect of antiparasitic vaccine development, during Leishmania infection is needed. This review focuses on recent findings in antileishmania vaccine field and highlights current difficulties facing vaccine development and implementation.
Keywords: Immune response; Leishmania; Vaccine.