Protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania generate severe human diseases termed Leishmaniases. Due to their frequency and the severity of certain clinical forms, these diseases represent a major public health problem and limit the economic growth in various developing countries. The presence of Pasteur Institutes in countries endemic for Leishmaniasis has provided important incentives to develop a strong public health agenda in the Pasteur scientific community with respect to these important diseases. A concerted effort is now coordinated through the recently created LeishRIIP platform, which aims to identify synergies and complementarities between the 9 members of the Institute Pasteur International Network (IPIN) working on various aspects of the disease including epidemiology, diagnosis, chemotherapy and vaccination.
A round table discussion on LeishRIIP held at the WorldLeish5 meeting (Brazil 2013) called for a defined agenda to allow the emergence of a cutting-edge transversal research project between LeishRIIP partner labs. This project should combine the unique field expertise of partners from endemic countries, with the systems-level and high throughput technologies available at Institut Pasteur in Paris and its collaboration partners, which then will feed back information to these ‘endemic’ institutes for the validation and translation of potential diagnostic bio-markers, new drug targets, and/or vaccine candidates.
This transversal project, which we termed LeiSHield aims to investigate the epidemiology and anticipate the emergence of cutaneous (CL) and visceral Leishmaniasis (VL) in endemic countries in the Mediterranean region and non-endemic countries of the EU, and to assess the risk and spread of urbanizing Leishmaniasis in South America.