Infection with malaria parasites leads to an antimalarial antibody response. These responses can be measured to determine exposure history at the individual or population level. This data can also be used to measure the level of malaria transmission in the endemic setting.
Plasmodium knowlesi primarily infects macaques and represents both a neglected tropical disease and a zoonotic infection of humans. The true extent of the geographical distribution of P.knowlesi is not yet known. However, P. knowlesi is now also the most common cause of malaria in Malaysian Borneo. Reporting is limited to clinical cases presenting to health facilities and there is scarce data on the true extent of transmission. Due to its neglected status there is a distinct lack of suitable surveillance tools for this rapidly emerging disease. With the current drive to achieve malaria elimination, it is important to be able to understand who is infected and with what?
We have published a proof-of-concept study describing the development of a species-specific assay to detect P. knowlesi antibodies. I will do this by identifying protein markers that correlate with either recent or historical exposure and use these to build picture of exposure in P.knowlesi endemic areas. The current study aims to build upon this previous work by developing a P.knowlesi-specific multiplex assay that will allow us to comprehensively detect both recent and historical infections and measure disease transmission in various geographic regions.
Innovation Fellowship press release from LSHTM: