Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type


Primary Advisor

Dr. Brittany McConchie


Malaria is a life-threatening illness that 3.2 billion people, half of the world's population, are at risk of contracting. In 2015, there were 214 million malaria cases and 438,000 deaths caused by the disease. It is caused by Plasmodium parasites which infect humans through the bite of the Anopheles mosquito. The four species of Plasmodium that are known to cause malaria are P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, P. malariae, and P. knowlesi. The symptoms of malaria greatly resemble symptoms of a common cold, so accurate diagnosis can be a challenge. Symptoms commonly include fever, headache, vomiting, but can progress to include anemia, respiratory distress, cerebral problems, multi-organ failure, and death in cases of severe malaria.

The most available and effective treatment for malaria currently is artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). Due to widespread misdiagnosis and overuse of effective drugs, many strains of Plasmodium have become resistant to common antimalarial drugs. Multi-drug resistant strains may become a larger problem, so development of an effective malaria vaccine is an important step in malaria control and hopeful eradication.

In some individuals, immunity against severe malaria can be acquired by the age of 5 years. The rapid development of immunity against severe malaria shows that a vaccine targeting young children is feasible. The exact immunological basis of this protective immunity is still unknown. It was seen through epidemiological studies that the antibody anti-AMA1 was present in a larger proportion in immune individuals than in non-immune individuals. It was also found that merozoite surface proteins 1 and 2 (MSP1 and MSP2) seem to be major targets of antibody-mediated complement-dependent inhibitory activity. This study aims to test whether these antibodies do successfully prevent malaria infection in mouse models, both individually and in combination.