Research Group Coordinator – Ana Paula Arez
The objective of VBD group is to strengthen local and global capacity to control vector-borne diseases. Competences include molecular, genetic, and eco-epidemiological studies, mechanisms of drug and insecticide resistance, transmission and vector/host-pathogen interactions, host-pathogen microbiome, vector bioecology and control, and development of innovative diagnostic and
We study both pathogens and hosts (vectors or reservoirs) of various parasitic diseases, viruses, and bacterial infections. In 2022, the VBD group published 37 scientific papers, 38% of the total GHTM publications. VBD activities were aligned with the SDGs #1 No poverty, #3 Good Health and Well-being, #4 Quality Education, #6 Clean Water and Sanitation, #10 Reduce inequality within and among countries and #15 Life on Land.
Under the GHTM Cross Cutting Issues (CCIs), the following results are of note:
Diagnostics (DG) and Fair Research Partnerships (FRP)
- Although endemic for malaria, data on the molecular epidemiology of malaria in Guinea-Bissau are scarce. The results confirm the frequent presence of asymptomatic low-density infection (LDI) with Plasmodium falciparum and highlight its potential impact on malaria transmission.
Drug Discovery and Resistance (DDR)
- Leishmaniasis remains a Neglected Tropical Disease with significant morbidity and mortality in humans. The current treatment of visceral leishmaniasis lacks effective, non-toxic, and non-extensive drugs. Synthetic endoperoxides (1,2,4-trioxolanes; 1,2,4,5- tetraoxanes) have been discovered as new potential anti-Leishmania chemotypes;
- The creation of structurally diverse chemical entities from simple biorefinery products remains a challenge. A 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) was identified as a key synthon for preparing highly complex cyclopentenones (CP), which exhibited activity against intraerythrocytic Plasmodium falciparum;
- Mechanisms of malaria parasite interaction with its host red blood cell may provide potential targets for new antimalarial approaches with few adverse effects on host cells. The endogenous host metabolite 2,3-DPG associated with pyruvate kinase deficiency impaired parasite growth with an effect on parasite maturation.
Global Pathogen dispersion and Population Mobility (GPPM)
- Studies of Plasmodium falciparum demography in Southwest Africa have shown that Angola harbors a distinctly structured P. falciparum population that may be distinct from others in the
region. Finally, whole genome sequencing data from Angolan P. falciparum isolates will be used to inform malaria elimination strategies;
- Bartonella spp. comprises emergent and re-emergent fastidious Gram-negative bacteria. Cats are the main reservoir hosts and dogs are opportunistic hosts for the bacteria. Results showed
that B. henselae and B. clarridgeiae are circulating in stray cats in Lisbon.