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Expression of malaria parasite invasion-associated proteins in the sporozoite: Novel vaccination strategy

Final Report Summary - MALINV (Expression of malaria parasite invasion-associated proteins in the sporozoite: Novel vaccination strategy)

The Expression of malaria parasite invasion-associated proteins in the sporozoite: Novel vaccination strategy (MALINV) project was designed to establish whether a newly described set of host cell invasion-associated proteins can serve as novel targets of inducible protective immune responses against pre-erythrocytic Plasmodium parasites. In the last few years it was discovered that Plasmodium sporozoites express protein members of the EBL and the RH family thought till then to be exclusive to the erythrocytic stages of the parasite. Additional work has shown that sporozoite penetration and/or development can be inhibited by antibodies specific to some of these proteins. This confirms that members of the EBL and RH families may play a functional role during the pre-erythrocytic stages of the malaria infection.

The project have made use of different model systems, together with the human parasite to study the expression of these sporozoite invasion-associated (SIA) genes and investigate their role in host immunity. The different skills of the groups (whole animal studies through to molecular biology and bio-informatics) has allowed the production of reagents, expression of proteins and the development of laboratory techniques, which are generally applicable and available to all partners. This co-operative work has determined RNA transcription profiles and protein location in sporozoite and/or liver stage of many of these SIA genes and approached their role in sporozoite invasion and development. This information was used to perform preliminary investigations on their potential as a vaccine.

The project has published three articles and submitted one in peer reviewed journals. Members of the consortium have presented some of their results at two conferences and have given or been involved in five seminars. Particular attention will be paid to protect intellectual rights via patents, prior to any public dissemination. The creation of the MALINV consortium has been instrumental in the study of two families of malaria proteins. However, no exploitable results can be reported as a result of the MALINV project. The project has clearly obtained evidence that some members of the EBL family, and in particular MAEBL, and the RH genes family may be useful as vaccine targets for immunisation against malaria.

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