The Molecular Diagnostics Core will support the three major research projects and interact directly with the Database and Biostatistics Core in the organization of an archive of biological material that will be collected during the course ofthe research projects. Core activities include the application of existing methods for identifying parasite and mosquito species and strains by conventional microscopy, current molecular diagnostic methods, and by newly emerging cell biology and DNA sequencing technology.
The Specific Aims are to: 1: Create an ICEMR Archive of human blood samples and mosquitoes for characterizing malaria species and strains, and for evaluating immunological parameters of infection by Plasmodium species and clinical malaria 2: Develop PCR-based assays to diagnose Plasmodium species Infections of human study participants and mosquitoes 3: Develop PCR-based assays to diagnose Infection by Plasmodium strains in human study participants and mosquitoes 4: In collaboration with the Transmission Project, develop PCR-based assays to perform mosquito speciation, process mosquitoes for blood meal source and monitor permethrin resistance 5: Develop microscopy- and PCR-based assays to diagnose Plasmodium gametocyte stages in human study participants 6: Evaluate and develop strategies based on advanced DNA sequencing strategies to analyze complexity of Plasmodium species infections and Anopheles mosquito diversity using polymorphisms distributed across the parasite and vector species genomes 7: Build capacity and transfer technology to partner institution laboratories in malaria endemic sites The Molecular Diagnostics Core will be directed by Prof. Zimmerman who has worked with PNGIMR (Mueller), the Swiss Tropical Institute (Felger) and UQ (Cooper and Beebe) on malaria epidemiology and mosquito ecology for >10 years. He will be assisted by I Felger, now at STI and previously an employee of PNGIMR. Capacity building and training in the malaria endemic site will be assured by the continuing high commitment of this team to expanding cost effective technologies to the region covered by the ICEMR.
Cost effective and high throughput methodologies ranging from microscopy, ELISA formats and most recently nucleic acid (DNA and RNA) interrogation techniques will facilitate malaria research and the monitoring and evaluation of public health interventions aimed at malaria control and elimination. These resources are rightfully based in malaria endemic settings where such large scale public health programs are expanding
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