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New Tool Could Transform the Search for Drugs and Vaccines Against Relapsing Infections from Plasmodium Vivax Malaria

2015年03月31日 AM12:00
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SEATTLE

Seattle BioMed scientists Professor Stefan Kappe, PhD, and his colleagues and collaborators, Sebastian Mikolajczak, PhD, and Ashley Vaughan, PhD, are now using a human–chimeric mouse model as a tool to advance the study of Plasmodium vivax malaria parasite liver infections. The model is engineered to grow human livers that can be infected with P. vivax and used for effective investigations into parasite development, dormancy, activation and the effect certain drugs have on each aspect of the infection.

“This model is a real game changer,” said Professor Ivo Mueller, PhD, a leading malaria expert at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia. “For the first time we now have a realistic opportunity that not only allows us to directly study this normally hidden P. vivax life stage, but also to test new drugs and vaccines. This new model is an essential resource in our quest to develop the new anti-vivax interventions that we will need to eliminate P. vivax malaria.”

P. vivax malaria parasites are more resistant to control and elimination than other malaria parasites, because after infection they fall dormant within the liver for months to years. When these dormant parasites eventually become activated, they replicate, infect the blood stream and cause relapsing malaria. Plasmodium vivax is the most common malaria parasite in the Asia-Pacific region and the Americas where over 2 billion people are at risk of infection.

“By better understanding these parasites, including how they manage to remain hidden for months and how they wake up, we hope to find novel approaches for both new drugs and vaccines. We are also using the model to screen both existing drugs and novel antimalarial drug candidates for their effectiveness against dormant P. vivax,” said Dr. Kappe.

Each infection from a mosquito carrying the P. vivax malaria parasite results in one primary malaria episode and up to four relapses – making transmission to other people possible for up to three years if the patient is not properly treated.

“Unfortunately, the only drug we currently have in our arsenal to eliminate these dormant malaria stages is primaquine, which needs to be taken for 14 days and can have severe side effects. Due to these complications, better drugs and eventually vaccines to fight against dormant P. vivax are urgently needed,” said Dr. Mueller.

The research by Dr. Kappe, Dr. Mikolajczak and Dr. Vaughan was recently published in Cell Host & Microbe, a leading journal in infectious disease research. Dr. Mikolajczak and Dr. Vaughan have been working for the last several years on infections in the human liver-chimeric FRG KO huHep mouse model with P. vivax parasites from patients in Thailand.

About Seattle BioMed

Seattle BioMed is the largest independent, non-profit organization in the U.S. focused solely on infectious disease research. Our research is the foundation for new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics that benefit those who need our help most: the 14 million who will otherwise die each year from infectious diseases, including malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Founded in 1976, Seattle BioMed has more than 230 staff members. By partnering with key collaborators around the globe, we strive to make discoveries that will save lives sooner. For more information, visit www.seattlebiomed.org.

CONTACT

Seattle BioMed
Edward Jenkins, 206-256-7440
edward.jenkins@seattlebiomed.org

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