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GENETIC CONTROL OF MALARIA PARASITE TRANSMISSION: THRESHOLD LEVELS FOR INFECTION IN AN AVIAN MODEL SYSTEM

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  • 1 Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of California, Irvine, California; Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of California, California
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Genetic strategies for controlling malaria transmission based on engineering pathogen resistance in Anopheles mosquitoes are being tested in a number of animal models. A key component is the effector molecule and the efficiency with which it reduces parasite transmission. Single-chain antibodies (scFvs) that bind the circumsporozoite protein of the avian parasite, Plasmodium gallinaceum, can reduce mean intensities of sporozoite infection of salivary glands by two to four orders of magnitude in transgenic Aedes aegypti. Significantly, mosquitoes with as few as 20 sporozoites in their salivary glands are infectious for a vertebrate host, Gallus gallus. Although scFvs hold promise as effector molecules, they will have to reduce mean intensities of infection to zero to prevent parasite transmission and disease. We conclude that similar endpoints must be reached with human pathogens if we are to expect an effect on disease transmission.

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