Kinetoplastids are a group of flagellated protozoans that include the species Trypanosoma and Leishmania, which are human pathogens with devastating health and economic effects. The sequencing of the genomes of some of these species has highlighted their genetic relatedness and underlined differences in the diseases that they cause. As we discuss in this Review, steady progress using a combination of molecular, genetic, immunologic, and clinical approaches has substantially increased understanding of these pathogens and important aspects of the diseases that they cause. Consequently, the paths for developing additional measures to control these “neglected diseases” are becoming increasingly clear, and we believe that the opportunities for developing the drugs, diagnostics, vaccines, and other tools necessary to expand the armamentarium to combat these diseases have never been better.
Ken Stuart, Reto Brun, Simon Croft, Alan Fairlamb, Ricardo E. Gürtler, Jim McKerrow, Steve Reed, Rick Tarleton