ISGlobal | Barcelona Institute for GlobalHealth

Equipo ISGlobal

Alfredo Mayor Aparicio

Associate Research Professor

He graduated from Biology in the University of Barcelona in 1995 and obtained a PhD degree in 2001 on molecular epidemiology of malaria (Institute of Immunology in Colombia and Manhiça Health Research Centre in Mozambique). Upon completing his post-doctoral research at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (New Delhi, India), he started his research at ISGlobal as leader of the Malaria Physiopathology group.

The main focus of his malaria research is the interplay between parasite (cytoadhesion, resistance) and host factors (host defenses) that modulate the course of disease under different intensities of malaria transmission. He is developing his research in close collaboration with the Manhiça Health Research Centre in Mozambique. As part of this research, he is conducting capacity building activities in laboratories from Mozambique and Liberia.

Lines of Research

The overall goal of the Malaria Physiopathology group is to contribute to the development of new tools for the control and eventual elimination of malaria through the understanding of the physiopathology of malaria infections. The group is applying the knowledge gained on parasite sequestration and antimalarial resistance, as well as on the immune resistance mechanisms developed by the exposed hosts, to develop new approaches for malaria diagnosis and surveillance in elimination activities. To this end, we combine molecular biology, immunology, epidemiology and clinical medicine with innovation in next generation platforms for the analysis of the parasite and the host.

The specific objectives are:

  • The study of mechanisms leading to persistence of parasite reservoirs in exposed populations (asymptomatic malaria, antimalarial/diagnostic resistance): The success of malaria control and progressing towards elimination will depend on sensitive approaches to identify persistent reservoirs of infection and anticipating parasite adaptation to pressure exerted by antimalarial drugs and diagnostic testing. We aim to develop reliable and scalable molecular methods for molecular surveillance of drug resistance, parasite diversity and diagnostic failure in elimination contexts.
  • Understanding of the mechanisms leading to severe malaria: Severe malaria is suggested to primarily result from microcirculatory dysfunctions triggered by the extensive sequestration of infected erythrocyte in the microvasculature. We aim to use molecular tools to identify molecular determinants of severity as well as miRNA-based biomarkers through next-generation sequencing approaches.
  • Evaluate the potential of pregnant women as sentinel groups for malaria surveillance: To achieve the goal of a world free of malaria, there is a need of developing robust, cost and time effective approaches that can measure and monitor changes in transmission intensities. We aim to understand the underlying biological factors that constitute the basis for an antenatal-based approach for surveillance of malaria, and apply multiplexed arrays to assess serological markers of recent malaria exposure.
  • Capacity building on malaria research in the the Post-ebola era: By October 2015, 10,666 Ebola cases and 4,806 Ebola-attributable deaths had been documented in the worst Ebola epidemic in West Africa. In close collaboration with the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership (EDCTP), we aim to strengthen laboratory and regulatory capacities in Liberia for the research on infectious diseases.

Main Publications

  • Tuikue Ndam N, Mbuba, E, González R, Cisteró P, Kariuki S, Sevene E, Rupérez M, Fonseca AM, Vala A, Maculuve S, Jiménez A, Quintó Ll, Ouma P, Ramharter M, Aponte JJ, Nhacolo A, Massougbodji A, Briand V, Kremsner PG, Mombo-Ngoma G, Desai M, Macete E, Cot M, Menéndez C, Mayor A. Resisting and tolerating P. falciparum in pregnancy under different malaria transmission intensities. BMC Medicine, 2017.
  • Magallón-Tejada A, Machevo S, Cisteró P, Lavstsen T, Aide P, Rubio M, Jiménez A, Turner L, Valmaseda A, Gupta H, De Las Salas B, Mandomando I, Wang CW, Petersen JE, Muñoz J, Gascón J, Macete E, Alonso PL, Chitnis CE, Bassat Q, Mayor A. Cytoadhesion to gC1qR through Plasmodium falciparum Erythrocyte Membrane Protein 1 in Severe Malaria. PLoS Pathog. 2016 Nov 11;12(11):e1006011.
  • Rubio M, Bassat Q, Estivill X, Mayor A. Tying malaria and microRNAs: from the biology to future diagnostic perspectives. Malar J (2016) 15:167
  • Galatas B, Bassat Q, Mayor A. Malaria Parasites in the Asymptomatic: Looking for the Hay in the Haystack. Trends Parasitol. 2016 Apr;32(4):296-308.
  • Mayor A, Bardají, A, Macete E, Nhampossa T, Fonseca AM, González, R, Maculuve S, Cisteró P, Rupérez, M, Campo J, Vala A, Sigaúque B, Jimenez A, Machevo S, de la Fuente L, Nhama A, Luis L, Aponte JJ, Acácio S, Nhacolo A, Chitnis C, Dobaño C, Sevene E, Alonso PL, Menéndez C. Changing Trends in P. falciparum Burden, Immunity, and Disease in Pregnancy. N Engl J Med. 2015 Oct 22;373(17):1607-17.
  • Moro L, Bardají A, Nhampossa T, Mandomando I, Serra-Casas E, Sigaúque B, Cisteró P, Chauhan VS, Chitnis CE, Ordi J, Dobaño C, Alonso PL, Menéndez C, Mayor A. Malaria and HIV infection in Mozambican pregnant women are associated with reduced transfer of antimalarial antibodies to the newborn. J Infect Dis. 2015;211(6):1004-14.
  • Ruth A, Magallon-Tejada A, Achtman AH, Moraleda C, Joice R, Cisteró P, Li Wai Suen, CNS, Nhabomba A, Macete E, Mueller I, Marti M, Alonso PL, Menéndez C, Schofield L, Mayor A. Molecular evidence for the localization of Plasmodium falciparum immature gametocytes in the bone marrow. Blood. 2014;123(7):959-66.
  • Menendez C, Serra-Casas E, Scahill MD, Sanz S, Nhabomba A, Bardaji A, Sigauque B, Cistero P, Mandomando I, Dobano C, Alonso PL, Mayor A. HIV and placental infection modulate the appearance of drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in pregnant women who receive intermittent preventive treatment. Clin Infect Dis 2011, 52(1):41-48.