November 9, 2022
Exploring malaria parasite transmission and drug resistance in Cambodia using population genetics with Dr Kirsty McCann
Genomic analysis of remaining Plasmodium falciparum infections throughout forested areas in Cambodia will improve our understanding on persisting pockets of high malaria risk, asymptomatic infections and the emergence and spread of multi-drug resistance informing further control measures towards malaria elimination in Cambodia. We present the high-quality genotypes that were identified from the whole genome data and used to investigate malaria population structure, and the spread of drug resistance in P. falciparum.
Dr Kirsty McCann, Associate Research Fellow, Genomic Epidemiology, Deakin University
Defining the fine specificity of antibody responses to polymorphic and conserved epitopes of the lead malaria vaccine antigen: Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein with Alessia Hysa
In 2021, RTS,S became the first malaria vaccine recommended for susceptible young children; however, it confers modest efficacy (~30–50%). Developing highly effective vaccines requires understanding the specific epitopes within the vaccine antigen that mediate highly protective responses and how polymorphisms in the vaccine antigen impact efficacy. During my master’s project, we addressed these questions by analysing samples from children vaccinated with RTS,S in a phase IIb clinical trial. We defined the fine specificity of RTS,S-induced antibodies to polymorphic and conserved epitopes of the vaccine antigen: Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein. Our findings reveal how targeting cross-reactive and conserved epitopes could achieve highly-effective next-generation malaria vaccines.
Alessia Hysa, Post Masters Student, Burnet Institute