An effective schistosome vaccine is a desirable control tool but progress towards that goal has been slow. Protective immunity has been difficult to demonstrate in humans, particularly children, so no routes to a vaccine have emerged from that source. The concept of concomitant immunity appeared to offer a paradigm for a vaccine operating against incoming larvae in the skin but did not yield the expected dividends. The mining of crude parasite extracts, the use of monoclonal antibodies and protein selection based on immunogenicity produced a panel of vaccine candidates, mostly of cytoplasmic origin. However, none of these performed well in independent rodent trials, but glutathione-S-transferease from Schistosoma haematobium
is currently undergoing clinical trials as an anti-fecundity vaccine. The sequencing of the S. mansoni transcriptome and genome and the development of proteomic and microarray technologies has dramatically improved the possibilities for identifying novel vaccine candidates, particularly proteins secreted from or exposed at the surface of schistosomula and adult worms. These discoveries are leading to a new round of protein expression and protection experiments that will enable us to evaluate systematically all the major targets available for immune intervention. Only then will we know if schistosomes have an Achilles' heel.