Isolation and analysis of patient-derived malaria parasites

Parasitology

This project will generate new tools for the characterization of malaria parasites directly from the bloodstream of patients.

The characterization of malaria parasites directly from thebloodstream of patients is challenging since only a small percentage of circulatingblood cells are infected and parasites themselves are small. The key to successof this project will be the enrichment of malaria-infected cells from a smallvolume of patient blood. We plan to use a combination of density-based methods(i.e. gradient centrifugation) combined with microfluidics platforms to achievea suitable level of parasite enrichment. Downstream analysis of these samples willinvolve metabolomics to evaluate interesting parasite and disease phenotypes. Thiswork will be piloted using blood collected from malaria-infected patients fromUVA. Ultimately, we aim to employ these tools in hospitals in malaria-endemic countriesto perform larger studies on drug resistance and parasite metabolism.

Desired outcomes

-Description of two-step parasite enrichment methodology (centrifugation and microfluidics).

-Defined protocols to evaluate enrichment success (flow cytometry and microscopy).

-Generation of preliminary metabolomics data using the methodology devised above for grant proposals and peer review publication.