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Training Years: 2013-2014

Training Site: Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH)

Country: Peru

Mentors: Willy Lescano, PhD, Nirbhay Kumar, PhD

Title: Survey of Polymorphic Antigens among the Malaria Transmission Blocking Vaccines: Pfs230, Pfs48/45, and Pfs25

Project Objectives: Studies on the reemergence of P. falciparum across Peru suggest that repopulation in the 1990s occurred from five clonal lineages. Of these lineages, two are believed to have been eradicated through the implementation of new drug schemes. However, the persisting three lineages have crossed as suggested by epidemiology tracking studies involving the sequencing of microsatellite loci around drug resistance genes11. In concordance with these findings, we hypothesize genetic diversity of the Peruvian Amazon basin is not limited to drug resistance genes and DNA sequencing of the transmission blocking antigen genes is likewise expected to reveal polymorphisms. The identification of polymorphisms that result in non-synonymous mutations will allow for the selection of the most suitable transmission blocking antigens for vaccination in the Peruvian context. Similar comparative analysis in other regions of South America will also help to identify the most conserved alleles for broader application in multiple regions in the future.

Aim: To Determine If the Transmission Blocking Antigens of P. falciparum within Peru Contain Nonsynonymous Polymorphisms. We will collect samples from each of the four sites associated with the previously identified clonal lineages where P. falciparum malaria transmission continues to take place. The genomic DNA from each of the samples will be used as template for PCR amplification of genes encoding the transmission blocking antigens. Sequences for each allele within the designated geographic areas will be statistically analyzed to account for frequency and the presence of non-synonymous mutations. The most prevalent found alleles will be documented and used as the basis of an RO1 application for the development of TBVs.

NIH Support: Fogarty fellowship postdoctoral training award

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