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In 2016, there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria. Most cases of malaria remain clinically silent. However, some infected people develop severe symptoms, leading to the death of over 500’000 people a year. Why some patients die from malaria, while some are only mildly sick?
To gain insights into the pathogenesis of malaria, the Mantel lab investigates the regulation of host-parasite interactions. In particular, we are studying factors secreted by infected red blood cells and how those factors regulate the immune response.
Recently, our work has focused on extracellular vesicles (EVs), which are small vesicles secreted by Plasmodium falciparum infected red blood cells. Our lab has developed new tools to isolate EVs and we have described several cargoes including the RNA and protein contents. We have shown that EVs carry functional miRNAs that can regulate transcription in the recipient cells. Interestingly, we have demonstrated that miR451 transferred to endothelial cells via EVs can modulate the endothelial barrier permeability by directly regulation of gene expression.
The lab seeks to identify fundamental principles that explain the outcome of host-parasite interactions, with the goal of understanding how the parasite infections affects the immune response and pathogenesis. To achieve these goals, we use cell and molecular biology, immunology and the rodent malaria model.