Masayuki Morita

Proteo-Science Center, Ehime UniversitySenior Assistant Professor*Profile is at the time of the award.

2019Inamori Research GrantsBiology & Life sciences

Research topics
Malaria vaccine antigen discovery: Identification of parasite proteins interacting with CD55; a human protein essential for erythrocyte invasion
Malaria is a serious infectious disease that affects humans, and mostly children. The disease is caused by malaria parasites which infect and develop within red blood cell (RBC). It’s the process of invading and rupturing of the infected RBC that greatly contributes to the disease symptoms such as anemia, fever, and consequently death. Although it is most likely that a malaria vaccine can eradicate the disease, currently, there is no such a vaccine in clinical use.
One important observation is that malaria parasites need to recognize and bind RBC proteins prior to invading these human cells. Recently, it was reported that malaria parasites have a substantially reduced efficiency to invade RBC lacking CD55; a RBC protein. While CD55 binding parasite proteins are considered as promising malaria vaccine candidates, there has been a serious challenge associated with production of recombinant malaria parasite proteins using conventional protein expression methods.
Wheat germ cell free system is a robust system capable of synthesizing recombinant malaria parasite proteins with high success rate. We have recently synthesized more than 2500 malaria parasite proteins using the system. In this study, we will screen the 2500 proteins to identify important CD55 binding partners, for downstream characterization as novel malaria vaccine candidates.

Message from recipient

It’s a great honor for me to be supported by Inamori foundation. Although there is no malaria in Japan, the disease is prevalent in tropical and subtropical region in the world. I consider the development of malaria vaccine in Japan a big contribution for global health improvement. I make every effort to produce significant achievements toward malaria eradication.

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Biology & Life sciences