Using a novel human liver-chimeric mouse model developed at Oregon Health and Science University and Yecuris Corporation, researchers at Seattle Biomedical Research Institute have made a breakthrough that will greatly accelerate studies of the most lethal forms of human malaria.

Global health crisis

Plasmodium falciparum, one of two human-specific malaria parasites, is a global health crisis, causing more than 216 million new infections annually and resulting in an estimated 655,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Sporozoites, the infectious form of the parasiteundergo liver stage development, culminating in the formation and release of tens of thousands of merozoites, the parasitic phase of development that infects red blood cells.

Until now, there have been few data on human malaria liver stage biology due to the lack of a viable small animal model and because liver stage P. falciparum does not grow well in a dish.

Consequently, most research and therapeutics to date have targeted the human blood stage of P. falciparum’s development because it replicates well in culture.

In this study, researchers have demonstrated that a complete liver-to-blood stage infection of P. falciparum is possible using a unique immunocompromised mouse model engrafted with human liver-chimeric cells.

The mouse modelwas developed Markus Grompe, a co-author from the Pape Family Pediatric Research Institute. The study is published in Journal of Clinical Investigation. — ANI