Our work

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a debilitating, and if left untreated, fatal neglected tropical disease (NTD) causing an estimated 50,000 to 90,000 infections per year in poverty-stricken populations. There is an urgent need for effective, safe, affordable, and field-adapted treatments for VL. Current World Health Organization (WHO) treatment guidelines recommend different treatment regimens in the Indian subcontinent and the Eastern part of Africa based on varying regional treatment efficacy results. 

Human cell with Leishmania. Credit: DNDi
Human cell with Leishmania. Credit: DNDi

The many components of drug efficacy need to be identified and measured, and treatments must be tailored to take account of parasite susceptibility and efficacy in patient sub-populations such as children, malnourished patients, and patients co-infected with HIV. However, clinical trials enrol relatively small numbers of patients over dispersed geographic regions, making treatment optimisation and registration a challenge.

Like many diseases of poverty, treatment decisions for visceral leishmaniasis (VL) patients are informed by limited evidence due to the scarcity of resources. Giving patients the best treatment depends on bringing together all the global data so that researchers can perform more comprehensive analysis to better understand how to fight this infection.

Data exists on more than 35,000 patients enrolled in over 150 trials in the past 20 years, as highlighted in a systematic literature review. This scattered, but rich resource could inform knowledge gaps in treatment optimisation and influence future research. However, usually only summary statistics are available from publications, with results often not reported in a standardised and statistically comparable manner across different trials. This makes comparative analysis of efficacy between drugs, regimens and regions almost impossible. 

The VL research theme is facilitating the pooling of data from available trials to address these knowledge gaps. By amalgamating and standardising individual patient data (IPD), we can maximise the utility of existing resources to address priority questions in VL treatment, create a framework to assemble future studies, guide optimal data collection and make research progress more efficient.

The main objectives of this platform are to:

  • Provide a secure and equitable data platform that meets the needs of VL researchers;

  • Facilitate pooled analysis of standardised VL data submitted by VL researchers in order to answer specific research questions which are of key interest to the VL community;

  • Provide a one-stop shop and reference point for VL researchers;

  • Develop data standards and tools that will strengthen and shape future VL clinical trial design;

  • Improve future VL clinical trial design through better understanding of VL treatment outcome determinants

The VL Surveyor provides summary data from clinical trials across the world. View the WHO fact sheet for more information on leishmaniasis. 

For further information, please email info@iddo.org.