Research in the Malaria Immunology Section focuses on analysis of the interface between the malaria parasite and the immune system of the vertebrate host. It is known that those living in malaria-endemic areas progressively acquire resistance to this infection, although this takes many years to attain. We have also known that pioneering studies going back to the early 1960s have established that antibodies from adults in endemic areas, when passively transferred to children with malaria, can drive down parasitemias. However, we still do not know the antigenic targets of those antibodies, nor do we know the effector mechanisms involved in the reduction of parasite burdens. In addition, we have only limited knowledge of the parasite sexual stages and their transmission through mosquitoes in the field. Our studies are directed toward a better understanding of these complex and important parasites, as well as identification and evaluation of possible candidate antigens for a malaria vaccine.
We are studying the acquisition of clinical immunity in children living in malaria-endemic areas and investigating the impact of hemoglobin polymorphisms such as sickle cell trait on malaria incidence and disease. We have a long-standing collaboration with investigators in Mali, and in 2008, we established a new field site in Kenieroba, Mali. We are characterizing malaria-specific antibody responses in children and adults to both erythrocytic and sexual stages of parasite development. Antibodies to these stages are being characterized for their functional activity against parasites using a number of different assays. Moreover, these assays are being used to evaluate various parasite-encoded proteins as potential malaria vaccine candidates.
Because the process of transmission in the field is not well understood, we initiated a new project in 2013 for a comprehensive assessment of dynamics of erythrocyte and sexual stage parasites and immunity and sexual stage parasites in our field site in Mali, and we are currently determining possible targets of antibodies that might block transmission to mosquitoes. Understanding the assays that are utilized to measure transmission blocking, the parasite antigens that might be effective vaccine candidates against sexual stage parasites, and the process of malaria transmission in the field will aid in efforts to develop a vaccine to block transmission of infection as a novel strategy for control of this disease.
Dr. Long received her Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from the University of Pennsylvania and also did postdoctoral training there. Before joining NIAID in 1999, Dr. Long was a professor of microbiology and immunology at Hahnemann University School of Medicine (now Drexel University) in Philadelphia. She has served as president of the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and chair of the Tropical Medicine and Parasitology Study Section. Her lab’s work focuses on immune responses to malaria parasites, particularly in those living in malaria-endemic areas, and also on identification and evaluation of possible candidate antigens for malaria vaccines.
- Minassian AM, Silk SE, Barrett JR, Nielsen CM, Miura K, Diouf A, Loos C, Fallon JK, Michell AR, White MT, Edwards NJ, Poulton ID, Mitton CH, Payne RO, Marks M, Maxwell-Scott H, Querol-Rubiera A, Bisnauthsing K, Batra R, Ogrina T, Brendish NJ, Themistocleous Y, Rawlinson TA, Ellis KJ, Quinkert D, Baker M, Lopez Ramon R, Ramos Lopez F, Barfod L, Folegatti PM, Silman D, Datoo M, Taylor IJ, Jin J, Pulido D, Douglas AD, de Jongh WA, Smith R, Berrie E, Noe AR, Diggs CL, Soisson LA, Ashfield R, Faust SN, Goodman AL, Lawrie AM, Nugent FL, Alter G, Long CA, Draper SJ. Reduced blood-stage malaria growth and immune correlates in humans following RH5 vaccination. Med (N Y). 2021;2(6):701-719.e19.
- Miura K, Swihart BJ, Deng B, Zhou L, Pham TP, Diouf A, Burton T, Fay MP, Long CA. Transmission-blocking activity is determined by transmission-reducing activity and number of control oocysts in Plasmodium falciparum standard membrane-feeding assay. Vaccine. 2016;34(35):4145-4151.
- Coonahan ES, Yang KA, Pecic S, De Vos M, Wellems TE, Fay MP, Andersen JF, Tarning J, Long CA. Structure-switching aptamer sensors for the specific detection of piperaquine and mefloquine. Sci Transl Med. 2021;13(585).
- Miura K, Perera S, Brockley S, Zhou H, Aebig JA, Moretz SE, Miller LH, Doumbo OK, Sagara I, Dicko A, Ellis RD, Long CA. Non-apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) IgGs from Malian children interfere with functional activity of AMA1 IgGs as judged by growth inhibition assay. PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e20947.
- Singh S, Miura K, Zhou H, Muratova O, Keegan B, Miles A, Martin LB, Saul AJ, Miller LH, Long CA. Immunity to recombinant plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1): protection in Aotus nancymai monkeys strongly correlates with anti-MSP1 antibody titer and in vitro parasite-inhibitory activity. Infect Immun. 2006;74(8):4573-80.
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Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
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This page was last updated on Thursday, August 18, 2022