Biology and determinants of in vitro proliferation of Plasmodium vivax
With the call for the eradication of malaria, interest in understanding the biology of all human malaria parasites, including P. vivax, is increasing. Due to the ability of P. vivax to hide in the liver, they may persist even when P. falciparum is eliminated, and are therefore of great public health importance. This parasite has been understudied, in part due to the lack of in vitro culture system, leaving extensive gaps in knowledge of its strategies and mechanisms of infection, that are distinct to that of P. falciparum.
P. vivax is limited to the invasion of reticulocytes. We are focused on identifying the ligand-receptor interactions that are required for parasite invasion and result in reticulocyte tropism, and to characterize those with potential for vaccine development.
We are developing and employing assays to study invasion, antibody inhibition and drug susceptibility, both using cryopreserved isolates in Boston and in field studies in India.
Much effort is going into establishing the determinants of P. vivax growth and red blood cell tropism, with the long-term goal of establishing in vitro P. vivax culture that will facilitate biological and genetic studies.
Papers of interest:
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