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Title: Assessment of anti-merozoite antibody function in the context of blood-stage malaria vaccine development
Author: Llewellyn, David C. C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6060 6186
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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In regions endemic for malaria, natural exposure results in an acquired immunity which protects individuals from severe disease. However, no vaccine against the blood-stage of malaria, against which naturally-acquired immunity is targeted, currently exists that is capable of emulating, or out-performing, natural protection. To rationally direct the next generation of blood-stage malaria vaccine development, a greater understanding of the immunological mechanisms involved in clinical protection is required. To date, the assessment of naturally-acquired and vaccine-induced immunity to the blood-stage of malaria has suffered from a paucity of in vitro immunological assays that are both robust and reproducible, whilst allowing for assessment of anti-parasitic activity induced by antibodies, either alone, or in conjunction with immune cells. Thus this Thesis describes the development of the antibody-dependent respiratory burst (ADRB) assay, for assessment of blood-stage immunity against Plasmodium falciparum, as well as the Duffy antigen receptor for chemokines (DARC) – Duffy binding protein (DBP) binding inhibition assay, for assessing antibody mediated immunity to P. vivax. A reproducible and standardised assay of ADRB activity was developed here and applied to studies of immunity in both mice and humans. ADRB activity, which assesses antibodies' ability to activate oxidative burst in neutrophils via Fc receptor (FcR)-dependent pathways, was shown to associate with clinical protection in a cohort from Mali where FcR-independent immunological assays, such as the assay of growth inhibition activity, did not. This work thus elucidates the importance of FcR-dependent immunity to P. falciparum malaria and establishes the ADRB assay as a useful tool for future vaccine development. In addition, the DARC-DBP binding inhibition assay was established and utilised to assess inhibitory activity of antibodies induced in the first Phase I clinical trial of this antigen. Results identify the need for significant improvements in vaccine design, and show the utility of the assay as a tool for assessing future blood-stage vaccine development efforts against this neglected parasite.
Supervisor: Draper, Simon Sponsor: Rhodes Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Infectious Disease ; Immunology ; Malaria ; Neutrophil ; Antibody ; Vaccine