Global Experts Meeting on Infectious Diseases
The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology
Title: Turning against Plasmodium its own Survival Strategies
Biography: Xavier Fernàndez Busquets
The fragile malaria parasite, Plasmodium spp., through millions of years of coevolution with its natural hosts, has developed exquisitely sophisticated strategies to survive hostile environments in the blood and in mosquito tissues. Some of its tricks are, among others, (i) using as human host cell erythrocytes, which do not emit any alarm signal when they are parasitized by the pathogen; (ii) adhering to vascular endothelia to remove itself from the circulation thus avoiding spleen clearance; and (iii) escaping to a different host (the insect) when threatened in the human. We will discuss how we might profit from these evolutionary adaptations and turn them against the parasite, e.g. by (i) harnessing erythrocytes as antimalarial drug carriers, (ii) employing as targeting elements of drug-loaded nanovectors certain cell surface ligands used by Plasmodium for its sequestration in capillaries, or (iii) drugging parasite stages in the mosquito vector and thus avoiding lengthy and expensive clinical assays.