gms | German Medical Science

12th Malaria Meeting

Malaria Group / Section Antiparasitic Chemotherapy of the Paul-Ehrlich-Society (PEG e. V.) in cooperation with the German Society for Tropical Medicine and International Health (DTG e. V.) and the German Society for Parasitology (DGP e. V.)

14.11. - 15.11.2014, Bonn

Screening and identification of sporozoite motility inhibitors

Meeting Abstract

  • Ross Douglas - Department of Infectious Diseases, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
  • Miriam Ester - Department of Infectious Diseases, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
  • Janina Hellmann - Department of Infectious Diseases, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
  • Friedrich Frischknecht - Department of Infectious Diseases, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany

12th Malaria Meeting. Bonn, 14.-15.11.2014. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2014. Doc14mal16

doi: 10.3205/14mal16, urn:nbn:de:0183-14mal162

Published: December 17, 2014

© 2014 Douglas et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Since the discovery of malaria transmission by mosquitoes it was assumed that the parasites are injected into the blood. However, indirect experiments and direct microscopic observations using mice as hosts and rodent malaria species expressing fluorescent proteins showed that the parasites are instead injected into the skin. These Plasmodium sporozoites then migrate rapidly through the dermis and enter blood or lymph vessels. Stopping sporozoite motility has been shown to halt infection. We aim to understand the mechanisms that drive sporozoite motility and to stop it with drugs. To this end, we adapted and developed new methods including a screening pipeline to test small molecules that could interfere with motility and thus stop malaria transmission in the skin.

A screening pipeline was developed that allowed to rapidly assess if a small molecule is inhibiting sporozoite motility in vitro followed by in vivo testing during transmission from mosquito to mouse.

We tested over 200 substances selected from a library of drugs approved by the Federal Drug Administration for their potential to interfere with motility. We identified two molecules that inhibited in vitro motility at a nano-molar level. When tested during the transmission by mosquitoes a topically applied drug resulted in a decrease of transmission efficiency, while an orally given drug showed no effect on transmission at non-toxic doses. This approach could be used to screen for further candidates for skin stage prophylactic intervention.