Leishmaniasis Translation


  • Target disease: Post Kala-Azar Dermal Leishmaniasis (PKDL) and Cutaneous Leishmaniasis (CL)
  • Main partners (since project start): US Food and Drug Administration, USA; National Institutes of Health, USA; Ohio State University, USA; Nagasaki University, Japan; University of Osaka, Japan; GeneDesign Inc., Japan.
  • Project Start: June 2014
  • Funding: Department for International Development (DFID), UK; WHO-TDR (Demonstration Project).


Overall Objective:

  • Produce an immunomodulator to stimulate the innate immune system to fight the parasitic infection as an adjunct to drug therapy.


CpG-D35 is being developed as a combination therapy for the treatment of complicated cutaneous leishmaniasis and post kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL). Leishmania parasites are able to persist in host cells by evading or exploiting immune mechanisms. Modulating the immune response with CpG oligonucleotides may improve the effectiveness of chemotherapies. The project has four phases: production and characterization of GMP-grade CpG-D35, pre-clinical studies in two species to assess potential toxicities, Phase I clinical trials in healthy volunteers, and proof-of-concept clinical trials in patients for CpG-D35 and the combination of CpGD35 with chemotherapy.

Two studies, one in vitro and one in vivo, were initiated in 2016. The in vivo study aims to demonstrate if CpG-D35 – whether alone or in combination with antimonials chemotherapy – will lead to improved leishmania infection outcomes, compared with antimonials alone. Results are expected by mid-2017. The in vitro study aims to assess the stimulatory capability of CpG-D35 in both peripheral blood mononuclear cells and whole blood samples from patients with both CL, due to different leishmania species, and PKDL patients and to determine which host genes are modulated in these two conditions. Results are expected by the end of 2017.

IND-enabling pre-clinical safety prerequisites and service providers for entry into Phase I proof-of-concept clinical trials were identified.


Last update: February 2017