Rhesus macaques are valuable pre-clinical models for malaria vaccine development. The Plasmodium knowlesi/rhesus and Plasmodium falciparum/rhesus models are two established platforms for malaria vaccine testing, and both have previously been used to assess live-attenuated sporozoite vaccines. However, there is evidence that the susceptibility of the rhesus liver to P. knowlesi versus P. falciparum sporozoites likely differs, potentially complicating comparisons between these two platforms.
Immunization with attenuated malaria sporozoites protects humans from experimental malaria challenge by mosquito bite. Protection in humans is strongly correlated with the production of T cells targeting a heterogeneous population of pre-erythrocyte antigen proteoforms, including liver stage antigens. Currently, few T cell epitopes derived from Plasmodium falciparum, the major aetiologic agent of malaria in humans are known.