Dr Michael Delves
I originally studied Biochemistry at Imperial College before completing a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology in 2008. I then moved into the field of malaria transmission research in the Lab of Prof Bob Sinden, playing an instrumental part in establishing the Medicines for Malaria Venture Centre of Excellence at Imperial and developing gold standard high throughput assays for the discovery of new transmission-blocking antimalarial drugs.
In 2018 I moved to LSHTM to begin an independent career focusing on Plasmodium falciparum transmission cell biology and in Feb 2021 I was awarded the MRC Career Development Award Fellowship.
Whereas Plasmodium asexual parasites are responsible for malarial disease symptoms and pathology, it is the male and female gametocyte stages that are responsible for parasite transmission from humans to mosquitoes. Due to their divergent cell biology and different lifestyle choices, gametocytes are insensitive to most antimalarial drugs. This can lead to the unfortunate situation where a malarial patient can be “cured” of their disease symptoms, but still be infectious to mosquitoes, thus allowing the parasite (and drug resistant alleles) to propagate. My overall research goal is to accelerate the discovery of new therapeutics that prevent parasite transmission. To achieve this, I have four ongoing research projects:
- Using phenotypic imaging to characterise novel transmission blocking molecules
- How do gametocytes regulate energy metabolism in their quiescent state?
- What are the biological differences between male and female gametocytes and can these be exploited?
- Developing new “open source” tools for better P. falciparum gametocyte culture and mosquito transmission.