redeLEISH, the leishmaniasis research network, released a manifesto during the WorldLeish 7 international conference calling on the scientific community and health authorities to prioritize the need to develop simple diagnostic tools for cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately one million people worldwide are affected by CL. People affected by the disease develop single or multiple lesions on different parts of the body, which leads to social stigma, psychological distress, and economic losses. Despite its broad geographic distribution and its devastating impact on vulnerable communities, research and development (R&D) for this type of leishmaniasis still attracts very little investment.
The lack of availability of adequate tools for the diagnosis of CL is one of the biggest challenges to reaching the target of eliminating this disease as a public health problem, as set in WHO’s Road Map for Neglected Tropical Diseases, 2021-2030.
‘The lack of rapid diagnostic tests that are highly effective, accessible and easy to use in primary care makes it difficult to detect and treat CL early, compounding the suffering of the people impacted by the disease,’ said Joelle Rode, Senior Leishmaniasis Clinical Project Manager at the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi).
In an effort to guide the development of rapid diagnostic tools, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) set forth with experts a target product profile (TPP) with the requirements for an ideal CL test. ‘The development of a rapid test guided by criteria consensually defined and agreed upon, and which may be implemented in low-resource environments, must be a priority for the scientific community, governments and donors,’ said Israel Cruz, Head of International Health at the National School of Public Health, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, and a FIND collaborator.
The TPP was recently reviewed and supported by the WHO Diagnostic Technical Advisory Group (DTAG) for Neglected Tropical Disease Diagnostics.
Released today during the 7th edition of WorldLeish, the world’s foremost scientific conference on leishmaniasis, the manifesto highlights the challenging environment in endemic countries and the urgent need for more incentives for R&D of diagnostic tests for CL. According to a report from G-FINDER, a mere USD 100,000 was invested in 2020 for R&D of diagnostic tools for leishmaniasis, representing less than 0.5% of global R&D investment for the disease (USD 45 million in total).
‘Through this manifesto, we researchers pledge to contribute to the creation of a common strategic agenda aiming at the production, validation, implementation and access to adequate new diagnostics tools for CL,’ said Glaucia Cota, Coordinator of the Leishmaniasis Reference Group at the Instituto René Rachou, from Brazil’s Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ).
redeLEISH brings together around 200 experts from 91 organizations around the world who are engaged in strengthening collaborations and maximizing R&D efforts for cutaneous leishmaniasis. Created in 2014, the initiative supports the implementation of clinical trials for the evaluation of new therapeutic tools for the leishmaniases, promotes the harmonization of criteria for the conduction of clinical trials, and facilitates the information sharing on treatments, diagnostics and research developments in CL. With representatives in 28 countries, the network operates through a virtual forum to assist in technical-scientific exchanges, publishing annual newsletters, and through in-person meetings that allow the identification of research priorities and the articulation of collaborative projects.
A not-for-profit research and development organization, DNDi works to deliver new treatments for neglected patients, those living with Chagas disease, sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis), leishmaniasis, filarial infections, mycetoma, paediatric HIV, and hepatitis C. DNDi is also coordinating the ANTICOV clinical trial to find treatments for mild-to-moderate COVID-19 cases in low- and middle-income countries. Since its inception in 2003, DNDi has delivered twelve new treatments to date, including new drug combinations for kala-azar, two fixed-dose antimalarials, and DNDi’s first successfully developed new chemical entity, fexinidazole, approved in 2018 for the treatment of both stages of sleeping sickness. dndi.org
+55 21 981149429
Photo credit: Vinicius Berger – DNDi