Kouichi Hasegawa of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in India will develop an assay using human liver cells to study the parasite Plasmodium vivax, which causes malaria, and to screen for new anti-malarial drugs. During the parasitic life cycle inside human hosts, P. vivax infects hepatocytes (liver cells), where it can lie dormant and protected from treatment, leading to disease relapse. To identify new drugs to target this stage of P. vivax requires large numbers of human liver cells, which are difficult to obtain and often unsuitable. A new approach will be used to generate human hepatocytes by isolating a type of white blood cell from individuals infected with P. vivax, and inducing them to differentiate into hepatocytes, which should better support parasite growth. Once validated, this P. vivax liver-stage culture system will be used in a preliminary screen of a set of chemical compounds to identify new anti-malarial drugs. This grant was selected through India's IKP Knowledge Park and their IKP-GCE program.
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