Research Article

Radiation-attenuated schistosome vaccination – a brief historical perspective

Q. D. BICKLEa1 c1

a1 Immunology Unit, Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK


The high level of protection which can be induced by vaccination of a range of hosts, from rodents to primates, with live radiation-attenuated schistosome larvae offers great promise for development of a human schistosome vaccine. Studies of the irradiated vaccine models benefitted from significant funding during the 1970–90s and much was learned concerning the inducers, targets and mechanisms of immunity. Less progress was made in definition of the protective antigens involved. The application of new techniques for identifying membrane and secreted antigens has recently provided new vaccine candidates and a new impetus for schistosome vaccine development. This article is intended as an overview of some of the main lessons learned from the studies of the irradiated vaccines as a backdrop to renewed interest in schistosome vaccine development.

(Received December 23 2008)

(Revised February 02 2009)

(Accepted February 03 2009)

(Online publication March 30 2009)


c1 Tel: +0207 927 2609. Fax: 0207 323 5687/636 8739. E-mail: