Skip to main content

A multi-disciplinary international effort to identify clinical, molecular and social factors impacting cutaneous leishmaniasis

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - LeiSHield-MATI (A multi-disciplinary international effort to identify clinical, molecular and social factors impacting cutaneous leishmaniasis)

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2020-03-31

Leishmania causes devastating human diseases – leishmaniases - representing an important public health problem in the Mediterranean basin and declared as emerging diseases in the EU due to climate change and population displacement. The LeiSHield-MATI consortium will for the first time investigate in an integrative fashion the complex parasite-vector-host interplay in cutaneous leishmaniasis affecting Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Iran (MATI), using field isolates and hu-man clinical samples. The ultimate goal of our project is to identify genetic factors selected during natural infection and to understand how the complex parasite-vector-animal interaction impacts clinical outcome in infected patients. This goal will be achieved through a highly ambitious se-condment plan between all partners, and the organization of courses and workshops to train the next generation of scientists generating a long-term impact on the research capacities in endemic areas. Capitalizing on complementary infrastructures of its EU, African and Asian partners and their expertise in molecular parasitology, epidemiology, systems level analyses, bioinformatics, computational biology, immunology, dermatology, field studies, and public health, our project will drive important innovation in clinical research, strengthen capacities in disease endemic regions, inform authorities on control measures, and raise awareness in all partner countries on this emerg-ing EU public health problem.
The major goal of LeiSHield-MATI is to establish a novel collaborative platform across the EU and CL-endemic countries in Africa and Asia. We will attain this goal through the following Spe-cific Objectives:

1. Standardize procedures for sampling, species determination, and HTseq analyses;

2. Correlate CL clinical manifestations to parasite genomic diversity and Leishmania LRV in-fection;

3. Identify common and region-specific bio-markers associated with the different forms of CL;

4. Assess genetic diversity, recombination, and mixed infection in Leishmania isolates from natural sand fly infections and reservoir animals;

5. Characterize the genetic heterogeneity of the natural sand fly population and their suscep-tibility to Leishmania infection using a phylogenomic approach;

6. Identify the natural rodent reservoir for CL to understand the local transmission cycles;

7. Define surrogate marker(s) of human protection applying a systems-immunology approach on clinical samples;

8. Investigate CL lesion evolution and its social and psychological impact in endemic regions;

9. Coordinate knowledge transfer actions inside and outside of LeiSHield-MATI consortium to ensure optimal staff exchanges, build strong sustainable collaborations, promote self-sustainability and further develop the careers of participating staff;

10. Communicate and disseminate results stemmed from the project to policy makers and indus-try in order to create new incentives for the development of novel diagnostic and therapeu-tic tools.
LeiSHield-MATI developed the potential of individuals at international and trans-disciplinary lev-els. While researchers from all stages participated in the mobility scheme, early-career researchers have been encouraged to fully exploit the LeiSHield-MATI networking actions, course, work-shops, and access to infrastructure and intellectual exchange to favour their long-term career per-spectives. In order to capitalize on the secondees’ expertise in a domain relevant to the host insti-tution, events were organized for the benefit of a wider audience and with a far-reaching impact on the long-term. 69 researchers participated in the LeiSHield-MATI secondments from month 1 to month 24. Secondees improved existing and acquired new lab management and softs skills, im-proved knowledge transfer to host institutions with training on “Rodents reservoirs hosts of Leish-mania parasites in Tunisia and North Af-rica (Conference)”; Biosafety and Biosecurity (Work-shop) for examples. At this stage, the outcome have been the development of new and lasting re-search collaboration. Self-sustainability has been promoted through the training of participants in the framework of the kick-off meeting and the organization of the workshop on project preparation and project management. The aim is to ensure an efficient collaboration in the submission of pro-jects in the future. In fact, we aim to submit an ITN proposal at the end of the RISE project to en-sure continuity of our consortium.
LOGO Leishield-Mati