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Hum Vaccin. 2011 Nov;7(11):1225-33. doi: 10.4161/hv.7.11.18203.

Vaccination against trypanosomiasis: can it be done or is the trypanosome truly the ultimate immune destroyer and escape artist?

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Laboratory for Cellular and Molecular Immunology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium.


To date, human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) still threatens millions of people throughout sub-Sahara Africa, and new approaches to disease prevention and treatment remain a priority. It is commonly accepted that HAT is fatal unless treatment is provided. However, despite the well-described general symptoms of disease progression during distinct stages of the infection, leading to encephalitic complications, coma and death, a substantial body of evidence has been reported suggesting that natural acquired immunity could occur. Hence, if under favorable conditions natural infections can lead to correct immune activation and immune protection against HAT, the development of an effective anti-HAT vaccine should remain a central goal in the fight against this disease. In this review, we will (1) discuss the vaccine candidates that have been proposed over the past years, (2) highlight the main obstacles that an efficient anti-trypanosomiasis vaccine needs to overcome and (3) critically reflect on the validity of the widely used murine model for HAT.

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