A controlled human Schistosoma mansoni infection model to advance novel drugs, vaccines and diagnostics

Nat Med. 2020 Mar;26(3):326-332. doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-0759-x. Epub 2020 Feb 17.


Schistosomiasis treatment relies on the use of a single drug, praziquantel, which is insufficient to control transmission in highly endemic areas1. Novel medicines and vaccines are urgently needed2,3. An experimental human model for schistosomiasis could accelerate the development of these products. We performed a dose-escalating clinical safety trial in 17 volunteers with male Schistosoma mansoni cercariae, which do not produce eggs (clinicaltrials.gov NCT02755324), at the Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands. The primary endpoints were adverse events and infectivity. We found a dose-related increase in adverse events related to acute schistosomiasis syndrome, which occurred in 9 of 17 volunteers. Overall, 5 volunteers (all 3 of the high dose group and 2 of 11 of the medium dose group) reported severe adverse events. Worm-derived circulating anodic antigen, the biomarker of the primary infection endpoint, peaked in 82% of volunteers at 3-10 weeks following exposure. All volunteers showed IgM and IgG1 seroconversion and worm-specific cytokine production by CD4+ T cells. All volunteers were cured with praziquantel provided at 12 weeks after exposure. Infection with 20 Schistosoma mansoni cercariae led to severe adverse events in 18% of volunteers and high infection rates. This infection model paves the way for fast-track product development for treatment and prevention of schistosomiasis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Helminth / blood
  • Antigens, Helminth / immunology
  • Antiparasitic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiparasitic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Humoral / drug effects
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological*
  • Praziquantel / pharmacology
  • Praziquantel / therapeutic use
  • Schistosoma mansoni / drug effects
  • Schistosoma mansoni / physiology*
  • Schistosomiasis mansoni / blood
  • Schistosomiasis mansoni / drug therapy*
  • Schistosomiasis mansoni / immunology*
  • Schistosomiasis mansoni / microbiology
  • Vaccines / immunology*
  • Young Adult


  • Antigens, Helminth
  • Antiparasitic Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Vaccines
  • Praziquantel

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02755324