In view of the fact that symptoms and respose to drug therapy of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) differed between different parts of east Africa, it was hypothesized that East African visceral leishmaniasis is caused by geographically and genetically isolated populations of Leishmania donovani. The results of studies of genetic polymorphisms among Leishmania isolates from different parts of Sudan and Ethiopia are described; genetic heterogeneity was found between isolates from different regions, and among isolates from some individual regions. Other studies suggest the existence of distinct Leishmania genotypes in different parts of Africa. Further research is planned to investigate whether genetic variation is correlated with drug sensitivity/resistance.
Presentation from ‘Challenges for and Potential in the Early-Stage R&D Pipeline to Develop New Antileishmanial Drugs. Symposium held at World Leish 4, Lucknow, India, 4 February 2009.