Chagas disease is caused by Trypanosoma cruzi and affects 16-18 million people in Central and Latin America, leading to chronic disease with severe incapacitation. It is characterized by an acute phase followed by an indeterminate stage that can last for years without signs or symptoms. Nearly 30% of patients’ progress to a chronic phase in which different types of pathology appear. Chemotherapy of Chagas disease has limited efficacy and is not innocuous. Recent studies suggest that parasite persistent infection is responsible for chronic manifestations, suggesting the importance of developing prophylactic or therapeutic vaccines. However, certain candidate antigens (Ag) seem to be involved in immune escape. Due to the natural infection cycle and logistic constraints, it would be a plus to develop a mucosal vaccine. Different antigens from this parasite will be used to develop mucosal vaccine formulations, which will be tested for immunogenicity to select appropriate Ag combinations or to design chimeric proteins based on Ag domains lacking immune evasion properties. The efficacy of the resulting candidates will be assessed in acute and chronic infection models.
This project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Ministerio de Ciencias, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva (MINCYT).