A High Throughput Mosquito Assay
Koen Dechering of TropIQ Health Sciences in the Netherlands is developing a high-throughput functional assay to identify new compounds that specifically block transmission of the malaria parasites to their vector hosts, which is a difficult stage to target, and to test candidate drugs. The assay incorporates luciferase- expressing parasites, which emit light as they develop in the mosquito midgut, along with barcoded chemical libraries. In Phase I, they tested several barcoding strategies and identified a bacterium that could be genetically modified to carry a unique barcode for identifying hit compounds selected in the screen. They also developed the luminescent reporter parasite to track transmission. In Phase II, they will further develop the assay for higher throughput, and screen compounds from the Tres Cantos Antimalarial Set and the MMV Validation, Malaria and Pathogen boxes. They will also use the assay to characterize the mechanisms of action of other candidate transmission-blocking compounds.