After many decades of research, an effective vaccine for malaria is still not available. Most research efforts have focused on identifying a key target antigen and then using powerful adjuvants to generate specific antibodies that can block parasites from entering host cells (hepatocytes, red blood cells). However, the inability to generate sufficiently potent antibody responses has led to significant disappointment with current vaccine programs.
Controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) is an established model in clinical malaria research. Upon exposure to Plasmodium falciparum parasites, malaria‐naive volunteers differ in dynamics and composition of their immune profiles and subsequent capacity to generate protective immunity. CHMI volunteers are either inflammatory responders who have prominent cellular IFN‐γ production primarily driven by adaptive T cells, or tempered responders who skew toward antibody‐mediated humoral immunity. When exposed to consecutive CHMIs under antimalarial chemoprophylaxis, individuals who can control parasitemia after a single immunization (fast responders) are more likely to be protected against a subsequent challenge infection.
New drugs that target Plasmodium species, the causative agents of malaria, are needed. The enzyme N-myristoyltransferase (NMT) is an essential protein, which catalyzes the myristoylation of protein substrates, often to mediate membrane targeting. We screened ∼1.8 million small molecules for activity against Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax) NMT. Hits were triaged based on potency and physicochemical properties and further tested against P. vivax and Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum) NMTs. We assessed the activity of hits against human NMT1 and NMT2 and discarded compounds with low selectivity indices.
Dipeptidyl aminopeptidases (DPAPs) are cysteine proteases that cleave dipeptides from the N-terminus of protein substrates and have been shown to play important roles in many pathologies including parasitic diseases such as malaria, toxoplasmosis and Chagas’s disease. Inhibitors of the mammalian homologue cathepsin C have been used in clinical trials as potential drugs to treat chronic inflammatory disorders, thus proving that these enzymes are druggable.
Approximately 120 years ago the link between mosquito and the malaria transmission was discovered. However, even today it remains an open question whether the parasite is able to direct the blood-seeking and feeding behavior of its mosquito vector to maximize the probability of transmission. If the parasite has this ability, could it occur only through the alteration of the vertebrate host’s volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and/or the parasite alteration of the behavior of the infected vector in a manner that favors its transmission?
Starting from a bipyridine-sulfonamide scaffold, medicinal chemistry optimization leads to the discovery of a novel Plasmodium falciparum PI4K kinase (PfPI4K) inhibitor compound 15g (CHMFL-PI4K-127, IC50: 0.9 nM), which exhibits potent activity against 3D7 Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum) (EC50: 25.1 nM). CHMFL-PI4K-127 displays high selectivity against PfPI4K over human lipid and protein kinase.
Plasmodium spp. parasites are the causative agents of malaria in humans and animals, and they are exceptionally diverse in their morphology and life cycles. They grow and develop in a wide range of host environments, both within blood-feeding mosquitoes, their definitive hosts, and in vertebrates, which are intermediate hosts. This diversity is testament to their exceptional adaptability and poses a major challenge for developing effective strategies to reduce the disease burden and transmission. Following one asexual amplification cycle in the liver, parasites reach high burdens by rounds of asexual replication within red blood cells. A few of these blood-stage parasites make a developmental switch into the sexual stage (or gametocyte), which is essential for transmission.
The efficient spread of malaria from infected humans to mosquitoes is a major challenge for malaria elimination initiatives. Gametocytes are the only Plasmodium life stage infectious to mosquitoes. Here, we summarize evidence for naturally acquired anti‐gametocyte immunity and the current state of transmission blocking vaccines (TBV). Although gametocytes are intra‐erythrocytic when present in infected humans, developing Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes may express proteins on the surface of red blood cells that elicit immune responses in naturally exposed individuals.
Tamoxifen is an oestrogen receptor modulator that is widely used for the treatment of early stage breast cancer and reduction of recurrences. Tamoxifen is also used as a powerful research tool for controlling gene expression in the context of the Cre/loxP site-specific recombination system in conditional mutant mice.
CD4+ T follicular helper (Tfh) cells dominate the acute response to a blood-stage Plasmodium infection and provide signals to direct B cell differentiation and protective antibody expression. We studied antigen-specific CD4+ Tfh cells responding to Plasmodium infection in order to understand the generation and maintenance of the Tfh response.