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Researchers Begin Clinical Trial Of First Visceral Leishmaniasis Vaccine

“Researchers say they’ve developed the first vaccine for visceral leishmaniasis (VL) — a disease that affects 500,000 people each year and has been called the ‘parasitic version of HIV,'” although the diseases are unrelated, U.S. News reports. “The vaccine took researchers more than two decades to develop and entered Phase I trials in recent weeks, according to Steve Reed, founder of the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), the vaccine’s developer,” the news service writes (Koebler, 2/22).

IDRI is launching Phase 1 trials of the vaccine, the Puget Sound Business Journal notes, adding that “research will include dual clinical trials for VL in Washington State at IDRI and with a partner in Pune, India.” According to the journal, “The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has supported this research with a $32 million grant awarded in 2006 to further trial phases 1, 2 and 3” (Bauman, 2/22). “Subsequent clinical trials will involve larger numbers of people who are at high risk of developing VL during their daily lives,” an IDRI press release states, adding, “Only such large trials, conducted in real-life situations of disease exposure, will determine the full effectiveness of the LEISH-F3 + GLA-SE vaccine” (2/22).