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The Kurup lab is focused on studying the immunology of malaria. Malaria is a devastating disease with over 200 million new cases reported every year. It is caused by the protozoan parasite Plasmodium, which is transmitted by infected female Anopheles mosquitos. When the Plasmodium-infected mosquito bites a human, the parasites deposited in the skin travel through the bloodstream until they reach the liver. Here they infect the hepatocytes, in which they develop and multiply, to eventually be released in membrane bound vesicles into the blood-stream. These vesicles burst in the blood-vessels to release thousands of Plasmodium parasites capable of infecting the erythrocytes. Upon infecting the erythrocytes, the parasites multiply and continue to infect more blood cells and produce its sexual stages. When a mosquito bites a human infected with malaria, the sexual stage parasites get taken up in the blood-meal. The Plasmodium parasites reproduce inside the mosquito's midgut and infect the mosquito, ready to be transmitted to the next host. We investigate the underlying mechanisms of immunity to both the liver and blood stages of malaria. Our goal is to gain a fundamental understanding of the immunology of malaria in order to help design vaccines and drugs that can help control and eliminate this disease.

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Plasmodium Life Cycle

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Multi-photon microscopy image of a CD11c+ dendritic cell (yellow) harboring P. yoelii (green) in the mouse liver. Red indicates liver-sinusoids.   

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Confocal image of a section of mouse spleen showing germinal center formation in response to P. yoelii infection (28 days post infection). CD4 T cells are seen in green, B cells in blue, germinal center B cells in grey and plasma cells in red.

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