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Development of an early diagnostic system and vaccine for canine leishmaniasis

Contract nr: FAIR-CT98-4104
Project nr: 4104
Project type: SC
Starting date: 01/01/1999
Duration: 36 months
Total cost: 1,278,505 EUR
EC Contribution: 1,088,000 EUR
Scientific Officer: Isabel MINGUEZ - TUDELA
Research topic: Animal health
Acronym: LEDIVAC

Canine infections by Leishmania infantum are extremely frequent in southern Europe, with prevalences of 5-7% of the total dog population. The reduction of infection rates in dogs is expected to lower the transmission in the natural reservoir, reducing the frequency of human exposure and eventually allowing the eradication of this life-threatening disease of dogs and humans. The response to chemotherapy is better when infected dogs are diagnosed very early, but such a procedure is not available at present. Moreover, preliminary work seems to indicate that some dogs exposed to the parasite in endemic areas never develop the disease.

On these grounds, the project presented has two main objectives: the development of an early diagnostic system and a vaccine for canine leishmaniasis.

The development of a diagnostic kit will be accomplished through the identification and selection of antigens, in naturally and experimentally infected dogs, and the purification and/or cloning and expression of recombinant antigens. The development of a vaccine against canine leishmaniasis will start with the characterisation of resistant dogs in endemic areas. This study - involving clinical, parasitological and immunological evaluations - will allow the identification of potentially protective antigens.

Vaccination trials in dogs (mixed breed and pure bred animals) will be carried out with putative protective antigens (purified biochemically or from gen cloning) and DNA immunogens. After selection of an immunisation procedure, the final phase of the project will include a field trial, in endemic areas, of the efficacy against a natural challenge by L. Infantum.

Current situation/results:
Identification and preliminary selection of the diagnostic antigens have been carried out. In addition, the purification and testing of some antigens (purified and expressed) are presently being carried out in non-endemic and endemic areas of canine leishmaniasis. Parallel work included the first part of the identification of naturally resistant dogs by performing clinical, parasitological and immunological evaluation.

Jose Maria ALUNDA
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Avda. Seneca 2-4
E-28040 Madrid
Tel.: +34 91 394 37 01
Fax: +34 91 394 39 08


  • Montserrat PORTUS VINYETA
    Universitat de Barcelona
    Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 585
    E-08007 Barcelona
    Tel.: +34 93 402 45 02
    Fax: +34 93 402 45 04

  • Hans-Peter BECK
    Swiss Tropical Institute
    Socinstrasse 57
    CH-4002 Basel
    Tel.: +41 61 284 81 16
    Fax: +41 61 271 86 54

  • Renaud PIARROUX
    Faculté de Médecine et de Pharmacie
    Université de Franche Comte
    Place St. Jacques
    F-25030 Besancon
    Tel.: +33 3 81 66 82 86
    Fax: +33 3 81 66 89 14

  • Charles JAFFE
    Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    Terra Sancta Building
    IL-91904 Jerusalem
    Tel.: +972 2 675 80 76
    Fax: +972 2 675 74 25

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