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Alex Ahilon-Jeronimo (CAMP)

Using in vivo bio-luminescence imaging and FACS based approaches to understand the role of Nfkbid in immunity to T-gondii

Alex Ahilon-Jeronimo, Scott Souza, and Kirk D. C. Jensen, PhD

Toxoplasma gondii is a parasitic organism that infects one-third of the human population. Human parasitic pathogens, such as T.gondii, are classified by the CDC as neglected parasitic infections because they are one of the leading public health problems that disproportionately affect developing countries. And unlike viral diseases, parasitic diseases have been especially difficult to develop an effective vaccine. Only one vaccine is in the process of being tested for parasitic diseases, RTS, S-AS01, and even though it reduces clinical malaria by 27%, it has no effect on mortality rates. Ongoing research has been focused on understanding host-pathogen interactions of T.gondii as it relates to the susceptibility of a host to parasitic infections and how the host develops immunity. The Jensen Lab uses host genetics to find important components of host immunity against virulent strains of T.gondii. Utilizing in-vivo bioluminescence imaging, we will measure the susceptibility of a host by tracking the progression of the infection. By infecting mice with a strain of parasite that expresses luciferase, we can track photons emitted by each individual parasite within a mouse. This research will help us identify what genes are required to fight a T. gondii infection so we can develop an effective vaccine against parasitic diseases.


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