Developing novel serosurveillance tools to monitor declining infection in the malaria elimination age

Speaker
  • Assistant Professor, LSHTM
    Biography
      Kevin joined the school in January 1999, working for Professor Eleanor Riley on the epidemiology of malaria. In June 2000 he moved from the Immunology Unit to the Pathogen Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (PMBB) Unit of the school to take up a postdoctoral position as a research fellow with Dr David Conway. The project is funded by the European Commission and is focused on the development of the N-terminal region of the merozoite surface protein (MSP) 1 as a vaccine candidate. Prior to joining the school Kevin had been studying for his PhD at Edinburgh University under the supervision of Professor Rick Maizels. His PhD project focused on the parasitic nematode Toxocara canis as a model system for the study of parasitic nematodes.

    Abstract

    Background and aim:
    Worldwide malaria cases have declined. However, despite recent advances, resistance to front line drugs and insecticides means the burden remains high (219 million cases in 2017). The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Technical Strategy (GTS) milestone for 2020 was to eliminate  malaria from 10 countries. One of the three main aims towards achieving this was to “Transform malaria surveillance into a core intervention”. However, declining malaria also means increasing difficulty in detecting infections. Therefore, as countries approach elimination, additional measures are required to improve the sensitivity of surveillance. Antibodies are a sensitive marker of exposure that are acquired after each infection and lost over time. By focusing on markers of recent exposure, we have developed a serosurveillance panel and a prototype lateral flow device to help contribute to malaria elimination efforts.

    Methods:
    We have developed a number of novel malaria species-specific recombinant antigens and coupled these to MagPlex® Microspheres, or “beads”, to develop a novel multiplex serology assay. Using the MAGPIX® platform, we have screened serum samples or eluted dried blood spots to determine prevalence of exposure.

    Results:
    We have generated a rich dataset from malaria-endemic regions spanning a wide geographical range and contrasting endemicities, totaling >35,000 serum samples (and dried blood spots) since 2017. In addition, we have established the MAGPIX® platforms in most of these sites to aid sample access and knowledge transfer.

    Conclusion:
    Using the MAGPIX® platform, we have developed a unique panel of reagents to help detect exposure to three of the main causes of human malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, P.vivax and P.knowlesi.


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