Plasmodium’s Kryptonite: Developing Tools to Study Essential Genes in Plasmodium
Malaria is a disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite that disproportionately affects developing regions of the world. It is the biggest killer among all parasites, killing thousands of people per year. There is still a lot we don’t know about the parasite’s biology, and this is one of the reasons why it has been difficult to eradicate the disease. Conventional methods to study the function of genes involves removing the gene and looking at the effect on the parasite. However, it has been difficult to uncover and study essential genes with this approach as upon removal of an essential gene the parasite dies.
I am trying to address this problem by developing tools to study these essential genes, to try to get a better understanding of the parasite’s biology and provide information useful to the development of ways to target the parasite such as therapeutics and vaccine design.