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First vaccine against kala azar enters clinical trials


AGENCIES | Houston, February 23, 2012 15:18
Tags : kala azar | vaccine | malaria | clinical trials |


The first-ever vaccine to prevent kala azar, the world's second largest parasitic killer after malaria, has been developed and clinical trials to test it is being planned in India, the epicentre of the disease, along with the US.
Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) or black fever affects 500,000 people each year in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sudan, and Brazil and also called the "parasitic version of HIV."
According to the National Vector-borne Disease Control programme, more than 25,000 cases had been reported in 2010 in India with 73 deaths.
The vaccine, which took researchers more than two decades to develop, entered Phase I trials in recent weeks, according to the Vaccine's developer Steve Reed, founder of the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI).
The Phase 1 trial is taking place in Washington State, with a companion Phase 1 trial planned in India.
"Vaccines can do what medicines can't – prevent the disease from even occurring," said Dr N K Ganguly, a highly distinguished biotechnology professor and former Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
"Only with an effective vaccine can we expect to control leishmaniasis in South Asia."
The Phase 1 clinical trials are being funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which also recently announced a global partnership with the World Health Organisation and 13 pharmaceutical companies to control or eliminate 10 neglected tropical diseases, including leishmaniasis.
VL affects vital organs and bone marrow, destroying white and red blood cells.
Because VL attacks the immune system, it has been called 10the parasitic version of HIV/AIDS.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017