Valentina Di Francesco
The MaHPIC scientists use systems biology to study and catalog in molecular detail how malaria parasites interact with their human and non-human primate (NHP) hosts. In particular, they will monitor and investigate the development and progression of the disease over an extended time course. Knowledge being gained from these long-term experiments is fundamental for understanding mechanisms of pathogenesis and for developing and evaluating new diagnostic tools, antimalarial drugs and vaccines for different types of malaria. The MaHPIC project is a large team effort designed to integrate clinical information on malaria with biological data generated by immune profiling, functional genomics, proteomics, lipidomics and metabolomics technologies and to analyze these data with powerful methods of informatics, mathematical modeling and computational analysis.
The MaHPIC project involves investigations of several NHP model infections as well as clinical samples from humans living in several parts of the world where malaria is endemic. The project entails the collection of comprehensive data on how infections caused by different Plasmodium species produce changes in host and parasite genes, proteins, lipids, the immune response and metabolism. Non-human primate infections are initiated with sporozoites of several Plasmodium species that cause malaria in humans and NHP (P. falciparum, P. vivax and P. knowlesi) or in experimental infections of NHP (P. coatneyi and P. cynomolgi). As an integral part of the project, computational researchers are designing mathematical models to simulate, analyze, and explain host-pathogen interactions that occur during a new or repeated infection and identify patterns that may define the course of the disease and its severity. Together, the insights will help guide the development of future experimental plans and interventions. The MaHPIC furthermore aims to reveal possible biomarkers or drug targets associated with relapsing blood-stage infections caused by the activation of P. vivax and P. cynomolgi hypnozoite (dormant) forms in the liver. Also investigated are co-infections and morbidities, as well as different cultural and environmental backgrounds of the diverse global communities involved in MaHPIC collaborations. These collaborations often involve NIAID-supported International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research.
The central unifying hypothesis of this project is: “Non-Human Primate host interactions with Plasmodium pathogens are model systems that will provide insights into corresponding mechanisms in humans and reveal early indicators for human malarial disease conditions”.
Last Updated February 27, 2013
Last Reviewed February 27, 2013