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Department of Protozoology

Malaria is responsible for a huge burden of death and disease in large areas of the tropical and sub-tropical world. Unfortunately, those countries hardest hit by the disease are often amongst the poorest. Despite continuing efforts, there is still no effective vaccine against the disease. In order to design and implement effective disease intervention strategies, we believe that one of the key priorities in malaria research should be the strengthening of our understanding of the basic biology of the parasite. We are currently investigating some fundamental aspects of the parasite’s life cycle, such as the mechanisms behind red blood cell (RBC) invasion and the phenomenon of cytoadherence of parasite-infected RBCs using a variety of malaria parasites including human-infecting Plasmodium falciparum, rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium yoelii, and Plasmodium knowlesi a causative agent of zoonotic human malaria. To expand a platform for basic and clinical malaria researches, we also aim to establish novel malaria model systems for Plasmodium vivax and ungulate malaria parasites. In addition, we are also conducting research aimed at elucidating the intracellular survival strategy of Trypanosma cruzi that cause Chagas disease and Babesia parasites that cause Babesiosis in cattle.

Department of Protozoology
P. falciparum expressing a calcium biosensor. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) signal from the same parasite is shown in pseudocolor before (left) and after (right) adding an inhibitor of calcium-dependent ATPase.
 
Department of Protozoology
Recombinant protein (green) expressed in P. falciparum co-localized with Maurer's cleft protein (red) seen in the RBC cytosol outside of the malaria parasite. Nucleus is visualized with blue color.

Members

  • Professor Osamu Kaneko
  • Senior Assistant Professor Haruki Uemura
  • Assistant Professor Kazuhide Yahata
  • Assistant Professor Masahito Asada
  • Research Fellow Amuza Byaruhanga Lucky
  • Research Fellow Mika Takeda
  • Assistant Miki Kinoshita
  • Assistant Reiko Tanaka
  • Assistant Sachie Takahama
  • Graduate Student Yuto Kegawa
  • Graduate Student Kwame Kumi Asare
  • Graduate Student Ben-Yeddy Abel Chitama
  • Graduate Student Takahiro Ishizaki
  • Graduate Student Nattawat Chaiyawong
  • Visiting Researcher Hassan Hakimi
  • Visiting Researcher Jesse Gitaka Njihia

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Activities

Malaria

  1. The molecular basis of host cell invasion by parasites.
  2. The molecular basis of cytoadherence of parasite-infected RBCs.
  3. Calcium signaling in malaria parasites.
  4. Molecular epidemiology of malaria parasites in endemic countries.
  5. Understanding the biology of Plasmodium vivax hypnozoites.
  6. Establishment of a reporter line of Plasmodium vivax.
  7. Molecular basis of human Plasmodium knowlesi infection.
  8. Establishment of a novel malaria model using ungulate Plasmodium.

Trypanosoma

  1. The function and expression mechanism of trans-sialidase.
  2. Stage specific adaptation mechanisms employed by different Trypanosoma species.

Babesia

  1. Molecular basis of host cell invasion and modification.
  2. Development of genetic manipulation techniques for Piroplasm parasites.

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