Dr Dalu Mancama


Towards malaria eradication: Exploiting advances in disease modelling to develop a new generation of drugs against malaria transmission

Dr Dalu Mancama
Mancama heads the CSIR’s biomedical technologies research group. He completed a BSc (Hons) in applied biochemistry at the Brunel University in the UK, an MSc in human molecular genetics at the University of London’s Imperial College and a PhD in genetics at King’s College, London. He primarily works in high-throughput molecular cell and systems biology, to study holistically the interactions within biological systems, such as the life cycle of the malaria parasite, to uncover novel methods to stop disease or to improve treatment.

About the talk: Researchers at the CSIR have begun screening thousands of synthetic compounds in an effort to identify those that might form the basis for a new generation of drugs that will be able to permanently disrupt the life-cycle of the malaria parasite in order to eventually eradicate the disease, rather than to just treat or cure it.

Central to the current global malaria eradication strategy, is the need to develop a new generation of drugs that have the ability to block malaria transmission, preventing the cycle of infection. However, there are major challenges in finding the right compounds, due to the limited ability to accurately replicate, in vitro, key stages associated with disease transmission; the unique metabolism of malaria during these stages; and significant bottlenecks associated with producing sufficient biomass from these stages for drug screening.

Together with collaborators from the South African Malaria Transmission Blocking Consortium, the University of Cape Town and MMV and its global partners, the CSIR has developed robust validated methods for generating high-yield, high-quality Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte forms which track disease transmission from humans to the mosquito vector. Conversely, Mancama’s team has developed models of mosquito sporozoite to human infection, which monitors the process responsible for completing the infection cycle. High-throughput screening technologies are also being developed, ultimately enabling the most comprehensive portfolio to date of transmission blocking compounds to be curated for exploitation by collaborating partners and the pharmaceutical industry. Mancama’s talk will discuss the latest developments in this regard.

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