Research ArticleMalaria

Naturally acquired immunity against immature Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes

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Science Translational Medicine  05 Jun 2019:
Vol. 11, Issue 495, eaav3963
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aav3963

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Targeting transmission

Effective malaria vaccines to block transmission of Plasmodium falciparum may require targeting of different antigens than those that are currently being studied. To identify candidate antigens, Dantzler et al. studied immune responses from large cohorts of people that had been infected with P. falciparum. They used multiple complementary assays to study how antibodies recognize different stages of gametocytes, the sexual stage that allows transmission from human blood into mosquitoes. Immune sera recognized immature but not mature gametocytes inside red blood cells. They further studied a selection of candidate antigens that are not present in other stages and are relatively conserved across P. falciparum strains. Strong natural immunity to these antigens indicates that a vaccine may be designed to induce protective immune responses that could potentially interfere with transmission.