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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 617521, 8 pages
Review Article

Drug Resistance in Visceral Leishmaniasis

Department for Interventions in Health-Care Facilities, Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 15123 Athens, Greece

Received 29 June 2009; Revised 10 August 2009; Accepted 30 August 2009

Academic Editor: Abhay R. Satoskar

Copyright © 2010 Helena C. Maltezou. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Visceral leishmaniasis remains a public health problem worldwide. This illness was included by the World Health Organization in the list of neglected tropical diseases targeted for elimination by 2015. The widespread emergence of resistance to pentavalent antimonials in India where half cases occur globally and the unavailability of a vaccine in clinical use constitute major obstacles in achieving this goal. The last decade new antileishmanials became available, including the oral agent miltefosine. However, in poor endemic countries their wide use was curtailed because of the high costs, and also due to concerns of toxicity and emergence of resistance. Various mechanisms of antileishmanial resistance were identified recently in field isolates. Their elucidation will boost the design of new drugs and the molecular surveillance of resistance. Combination regimens should be evaluated in large trials. Overall, the development of antileishmanials has been generally slow; new drugs are needed. In order to control visceral leishmaniasis worldwide, treatment advances should become affordable in the poorest countries, where they are needed most.