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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 molecular interactions and signaling mechanisms behind red blood cell (RBC) invasion and the phenomenon of cytoadherence of parasite-infected RBCs.

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
  • Assistant Professor Kazuhide Yahata
  • Assistant Professor Hassan Hakimi
  • Research Fellow Kwame Kumi Asare
  • Visiting Researcher Haruki Uemura
  • Assistant Miki Kinoshita
  • Assistant Reiko Tanaka
  • Assistant Momoko Sakura
  • Graduate Student Ben-Yeddy Abel Chitama
  • Graduate Student Takahiro Ishizaki
  • Graduate Student Nattawat Chaiyawong
  • Graduate Student Chuang Huai
  • Graduate Student Maya Suzuki

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Activities

We utilize a variety of malaria parasites including human-infecting Plasmodium falciparum, the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium yoelii, and Plasmodium knowlesi a causative agent of zoonotic human malaria. To expand a platform for basic and clinical malaria research, we are investigating the molecular epidemiology of malaria parasites in endemic countries, the biology of Plasmodium vivax hypnozoites, and the establishment of a novel malaria model using ungulate Plasmodium In addition, we are also conducting research about the function and expression mechanism of t rans-sialidase a nd t he s tage s pecific adaptation mechanisms of Trypanosoma cruzi that cause Chagas disease. Also we are investigating the molecular basis of host cell invasion and modification o f Babesia p arasites t hat cause Babesiosis in cattle and the development of genetic manipulation techniques for piroplasm parasites.

         Recent main research achievement
1. Chitama et al. Parasitol Int 2019;71:186-193.
2. Kegawa et al. Parasitol Int 2018;67:706-714.
3. Asare et al. Parasitol Int 2018;67: 481-492.
4. Kaewthamasorn et al. Sci Rep 2018;8:5827.
5. Asada et al. Int J Parasitol Parasites Wildl 2018;7:44-47.

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