Immunology+Infectious Diseases 050
Dates of Research:
July 15, 2008 — December 31, 2008
Infection with the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum leads to widely different clinical conditions in children- ranging from mild flu-like symptoms to coma and death. Despite the immense medical implications, the genetic and molecular basis of this diversity remains largely unknown. We hypothesize that parasites residing in the human host have needed to adapt to this specialized environment that varies in temperature, substrate and immune response. Using whole genome analysis from fresh blood samples of infected patients, three biologic and two novel states of the parasite have been identified when it resides in the human host. Through further clinical study, this project will seek to: 1) identify the host factors that are associated with these novel biologic states: 2) identify parasite biology that is specifically found in severe disease: and 3) test environmental responses of the parasite under controlled conditions using the in vitro model. The long term goal of this research is to identify parasite biology that can be targeted to reduce individual and global health burden of Plasmodium falciparum.