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Duquesne Graduate Student Contributes to New Malaria Findings

An article focused on findings regarding malaria and published by the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)  included the work of a Duquesne University graduate student in the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences.

Nicholas Bongio co-authored a paper including scientists from the Malaria Institute, the School of Medicine and a number of scientific departments at Johns Hopkins University, plus the Loyola University in Chicago, the Chinese Academy of Science, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the National Institutes of Health. These scientists and others are looking for ways to end malaria, one of the world's most virulent killers, which claims more than 1 million lives worldwide and is gaining ground.

The paper, Multiple Pathways for Plasmodium Ookinete Invasion of the Mosquito Midgut, published in the Jan. 13-17 early edition of the PNAS, shows that two new pathways might be used to block the transmission of malaria.

Bongio has been mentored by Dr. David Lampe, associate professor of biological science, whose collaboration has led to genetically modifying bacteria that live inside the mosquitoes. The modified bacteria produce proteins substances that can kill malaria parasites.

Continuing work on this strategy, Bongio conducted further testing on the sensitivity of parasites to the proteins, testing for three generations of genetically altered bacteria/mosquitoes.

His findings show that some of the parasites are sensitive to these toxic proteins-so the mosquitoes containing them won't pass along malaria-while others have become resistant to the toxins. Additionally, the findings indicate that sensitive and resistant parasites live in the wild population.

When joined with the work of the entire group, Bongio's findings help to illustrate the different pathways that might be used to block malaria's transmission.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic research universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. The University is nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review for its rich academic programs in nine schools of study for nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, and by the Washington Monthly for service and contributing to students' social mobility. Duquesne is a member of the U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for its contributions to Pittsburgh and communities around the globe. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges acknowledge Duquesne's commitment to sustainability.