Plasmodium falciparum is the most deadly human malaria parasite, causing more than 800,000 deaths per year. After the parasite enters the blood stream, it travels to the liver where it serially invades liver cells (hepatocytes), until it settles down to form a parasitophorous vacuole (PV). Once ensconced in its PV, the parasite undergoes a process known as liver stage (LS) development during which it spawns tens of thousands of new parasites.
In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Stefan Kappe and colleagues at the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute report on a human liver-chimeric mouse that replicates P. falciparum LS development in humans. This is the first reliable model for the study of the P. falciparum LS stage and will be important for understanding human host/parasite interactions during the course of malaria infection.
“Complete Plasmodium falciparum liver stage development in liver-chimeric mice”
Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, Seattle, WA, USA