Maintenance of the parasite reservoir in Ghana
In West Africa, malaria control is impeded by the large reservoir of asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum infections in the human population. In areas of seasonal malaria transmission, infections that comprise the P. falciparum reservoir persist throughout the dry season, when transmission declines. Subsequently, these infections serve to fuel transmission during the next wet season when the mosquito population emerges.
PfEMP1 is encoded by the var multigene family and is a major target of naturally acquired immunity. Variation in PfEMP1 / var genes is able to prolong duration of infection in the human host by immune evasion and is critical in areas where transmission is seasonal.
Using an age-stratified longitudinal cohort study design, we surveyed individuals with asymptomatic P. falciparum infections to describe the seasonal genetic epidemiology of P. falciparum var genes and examine the role that parasite diversity plays in sustaining the parasite reservoir of infection in endemic areas. We addressed the age-specific and temporal changes in var diversity and population structure to examine var complexity at the individual and population level in the asymptomatic reservoir across all ages. Using computational experiments, we also explore the implications of the complexity of the var system for the development of immunity to P. falciparum blood stages.
The seminar will be availble to watch live online, or afterwards, using your LSHTM login. Link TBC.