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MALARIA: Malaria is transmitted by anopheline mosquitoes and caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium. Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax are the most serious. Symptoms of malaria are fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Severe complications can develop if left untreated. Approximately 515 million cases of malaria occur worldwide each year, and over one million people deaths, mostly young children in sub-Saharan Africa. Bednets, insecticides, and antimalarial drugs are currently employed to fight malaria. Novel control methods are urgently needed.  

AEDES DENGUE: Dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever are caused by dengue viruses that belong to the Flavivirus genus. Four antigenically distinct serotypes exist (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4)  and they are spread by Aedes mosquitoes. The Aedes aegypti is the most common dengue vector while Aedes albopictus is also emerging as a potentially important vector. The geographic distribution of dengue is similar to malaria but more frequently associated to urban areas because of the vectors capacity to adapt to these man-made environments, threatening 2/3 of the human population.
 
MOSQUITO IMMUNITY: The mosquito vector immune system plays an importnat role in regulating susceptibility to human pathogens such as the malaria parasite and dengue virus. We are interested in how the mosquito immune system fight human pathogens, and how it can be genetically or transiently manipulated to confer resistance to infection, and block transmission of disease. We are studying immune factors that can mediate recognition of pathogens and immune response, and pathogen killing. GM
 
Csp_P MOSQUITO MICROBIOTA: The mosquito's intestinal microbiota (bacteria and fungi) can influence susceptibility to pathogen infection in multiple ways. Our studies focus on microbes that exert pathogen inhibition through anti-pathogen metabolites. Such microbes can be used for the development of bio-control strategies for malaria and dengue. Of special interest are bacteria that can inhibit Plasmodium and dengue virus in their respective mosquito vectors, exert insecticidal activity, and produce secondary metabolites with in vitro anti-pathogen and antibacterial activity.
 
PATHOGEN HOST FACTORS: Pathogen host factors are mosquito proteins that are required for pathogen infection. Inhibition of such factors could thus block infection and transmission of disease. We have identified and studied several Plasmodium and dengue virus host factors through collaborative efforts. Small molecules that can inhibit such host factors, and hence block dengue virus infection in the mosquito, are being developed. We are also exploring RNA interference and vaccines that target host factors as novel strategies for transmission blocking.  
   
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PARASITOLOGY CORE FACILITY: The Parasitology Core Facility supports a variety of projects that focus on the parasite’s interactions with the mosquito vector and human host, and other biological processes that are relevant for its capacity to transmit and infect. The facility comprises a state-of-the-art tissue culture room with relevant equipment. It provides Plasmodium falciparum asexual blood- and gametocyte-stage cultures, and both human and rodent Plasmodium sporozoite stages. Specialized services are also provided upon request. malaria cycle
 
Department of Molecular Microbiology & Immunoogy
Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute

Bloomberg School of Public Health
Johns Hopkins University
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