Leishmaniasis has been classified as a neglected tropical disease by the WHO (World Health Organization) placing it in a list of disease with urgent need for novel treatments. The diseases is endemic to South America, East Africa and Asia, poverty and malnutrition are major indicators of predisposition. In other to assist individuals plagued by this disabling and potentially lethal parasitic disease, the EDCTP (European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership) provided €8 million in Grants money to enable a multinational research team evaluate the immune system of patient’s using flow cytometry.
The Burden of Parasitic Diseases
Africa is a harbinger of many parasitic diseases, categorized as Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) by WHO. At least a billion people are being affected by Neglected Tropical Diseases across 149 countries on a global scale. Of these, six are now considered treatable, the rest have no approved treatments resulting in tremendous loss and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).
The poor are the major victims of NTDs, the malnourished individuals and poor sanitary and hygiene conditions are major factors for NTDs. These factors result in a vicious cycle of poverty and disease. Leishmaniasis causes extensive physical damage, disfiguring its victims. The consequence could include mental health challenges, social stigmatization that interferes with the social interactions of the victim. Leishmaniasis as an NTD is a major risk to public health, an individual’s physical and mental health and to the socioeconomic development of regions across the world which need it most. The annual monetary loss is on the high side.
Advancing Cell Therapies with engineered Tregs
Regulatory T cells (Tregs) play a significant role in immune system regulation and inflammatory processes. CAR-Tregs i.e. Tregs genetically modified with a chimeric antigen receptor are under evaluation to study their capacity to treat immunological disorders such ass Crohn;s disease and multiple sclerosis and their capabilities for prevention of immune-mediated rejection in a solid organ transplantation. Sangamo Therapeutics is at the fore of this study.
Why cell therapies are of interest to researchers.
This is a novel and thus incredibly exciting therapeutic modality. The approach leverages cellular adaptation to a nascent environment, and self-renewal and persistence after a single dose. A unique characteristic of this therapy is that, the cells are living drugs. They are under development to treat a number of diseases such as; cancer, autoimmunity and monogenic diseases. Their potential to address medical challenges and offer certain levels of therapeutic benefits which are new in a field were therapeutic success has not been achieved previously. Two genetically engineered T-cell therapies have shown remarkable efficacy in the treatment of blood cancers and approval has been given for treatment of those diseases.