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FP6

MALINV — Result In Brief

Project ID: 12199
Funded under: FP6-LIFESCIHEALTH
Country: France

Novel protective anti-malaria vaccines

Can we generate protective immunity against malaria? A European consortium investigated the potential of Plasmodium proteins as targets for a novel vaccination strategy.
Novel protective anti-malaria vaccines
Upon malaria infection, the mosquito bites the host releasing Plasmodium sporozoites – cells that develop in the mosquito's salivary glands – in the bloodstream which multiply in the liver. The infection process culminates with infection of host erythrocytes where the parasites increase even more in numbers. Research has shown that this last stage can be blocked with antibodies against erythrocyte-binding proteins. However, the precise functional role of such proteins in parasite development and infection is still elusive.

Seeking to delineate the role of these invasion-associated proteins, the EU-funded project ‘Expression of malaria parasite invasion-associated proteins in the sporozoite: Novel vaccination strategy’ (Malinv) brought together scientists of multiple disciplines across Europe. Project partners used molecular biology techniques, mouse models and bioinformatics to delineate how reticulocyte-binding-like protein homologue (RH) and erythrocyte binding-like (EBL) protein families were implicated in Plasmodium sporozoite invasion and development. The protein location in sporozoite and/or liver stage of many of these sporozoite invasion-associated (SIA) genes was determined and preliminary investigations were conducted on their potential as vaccines against Plasmodium parasites.

Overall, the Malinv project provided invaluable information on the functional role of Plasmodium invasion-associated proteins in the parasite life-cycle and showed that some members of the EBL and the RH genes family may be useful as vaccine targets for immunisation against malaria. This knowledge can be further exploited for the development of protective vaccines, helping to reduce the onset and spreading of malaria in affected areas.

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