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Helminth diseases Projects

The targeted development of a new generation vaccine for schistosomiasis

EC contribution
: € 3,800,000
: 48 months
Starting date
: 01/11/2009
Funding scheme
: Focused research project
Contract/Grant agreement number
: 242107

Keywords: Schistosomiasis in Africa, Skin stage specific antigens, Bioinformatics, Glycan arrays, Gene microarrays, Resistant and susceptible populations, Engineered antibodies as adjuvants


TheSchistoVac will search for exposed proteins and/or glycans of the vulnerable skin stage schistosomula, as safe and effective vaccines. The stage-specific vaccine target selection strategy is based on state-of-the-art schistosomal transcriptomics and glycomics technologies and data, and unique serum and sample libraries from endemic areas. Preclinical in vitro and in vivo testing of protective antigens with respect to cellular responses and effective parasite killing are part of the development pipeline. A unique SME-led approach to potentiate the effect of immunisation by use of engineered antibodies will be incorporated into the development of successful vaccine candidate antigens.


Schistosomiasis is an exceptionally chronic infection caused by the trematode worms of Schistosoma mansoni, S. haematobium and S. japonicum. More than 200 million people in many of the most resource-deprived regions of the developing world are chronically infected with blood-dwelling schistosome worms. Infection with these worms can cause chronic debilitating morbidity and result in a massive economic and social burden that is often underestimated. The current strategy for control of infection and morbidity of schistosomiasis depends on repeated mass treatments with the only available drug, praziquantel, a safe single dose drug treatment that is effective against all species of schistosomes. A major impediment to the sustainable success of this strategy is that rapid reinfection occurs after treatment, particularly in young children living in endemic areas. Thus, adequate schistosomiasis control would require, if it were possible, the repeated administration of hundreds of millions of drug treatments on a regular basis. Moreover, continuous mass treatments eventually will induce praziquantel-resistant strains of schistosomes and there is evidence of increased rebound morbidity. Although new drugs would be useful in case resistance develops, even new drugs cannot prevent rapid re-infection after treatment, indicating a real need for a vaccine.
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