AfriCoLeish Project

One project, six partners developing effective treatment for Leishmaniasis in East Africa.



Research and development (R&D) project, AfriCoLeish, is supported by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (EU FP7) through a grant of €3 million. The project will run for four years and aims to test new treatments for kala-azar (visceral leishmaniasis, or VL) and co-infection of the disease with HIV in Ethiopia and Sudan.

Visceral leishmaniasis is fatal if left untreated. East Africa is one of the key endemic areas in the world. Untreated patients are part of the retransmission cycle and VL-HIV coinfection is an additional emerging problem.

Existing visceral leishmaniasis monotherapies are difficult to administer, toxic, costly and long, with emerging resistance. Although the current recommended first line therapy (sodium stibogluconate and paromomycin) is efficacious, it still has limitations of toxicity and requires intramuscular injections over 17 days.

The AfriCoLeish project, ‘Care Package for Treatment and Control of Visceral Leishmaniasis in East Africa’, aims to carry out studies towards the development and delivery of a package of care for VL patients in East Africa through safe and cost-effective treatment. The project will focus on studies to assess oral treatments that can potentially be combined in a VL treatment. The project also aims to determine appropriate treatment strategies for kala-azar in patients that are HIV positive, in order to treat and also prevent repetitive relapses that are common in co-infected patients.

To do this, AfriCoLeish bring together six partners from Europe and East Africa with vast experience in R&D and treatment of HIV and kala-azar, namely the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi); the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp (ITM-Antwerp); the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM); Médecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, The Netherlands); the Institute of Endemic Diseases, University of Khartoum (IEND), Sudan; and the University of Gondar (UoG), Ethiopia.

The AfriCoLeish project addresses the FP7 Health call objectives, which are to provide innovative ways to confront and control neglected infectious diseases in resource-poor settings. Projects should focus on novel applications of current tools and combining dispersed and fragmented knowledge to provide new and cost-effective solutions.