New Vaccine for leishmaniasis
A vaccine developed from Sandfly saliva has proven effective in mice suffering from leishmaniasis, raising hope that such a vaccine may be effective in humans also.
The vaccine developed by researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) uses a key component of the sandfly's saliva that helps to destroy the parasites that cause leishmaniasis. A protein molecule called maxadilan increases the ability of the body's protective cells to act against the leishmaniasis parasite and prevent them from killing the cells. Mice that were given the vaccine were later injected with the parasite again. These mice showed the symptoms of a leishmaniasis infection in a much milder form than those who were not vaccinated. These mice had lesser skin lesions and their infection resolved within six weeks.
Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease spread by a species of sandfly, the female sandfly. It occurs in two main forms - one in which lesions are formed on the skin and the other in which the internal organs are affected. The disease usually takes on epidemic proportions when it occurs. Kala-azar (visceral leishmaniasis) is the commonest form found in India and the last major epidemic occurred in 1977 when more than 100,000 cases were reported from Bihar. There are states in India which are endemic for the disease. Assam, Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh, foothills of Sikkim report the maximum number of cases.
Leishmaniasis has a high mortality rate, therefore preventing the transmission of infection remains the best method to control outbreaks. Sanitation should be maintained in the neighbourhood with elimination of breeding places like garbage, rodent burrows, bricks or rubbish near the houses.
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