Malaria, responsible for 1 million deaths every year worldwide, is caused by a microscopic parasite that alternates between human and mosquito hosts at various stages of its lifecycle. One of the major areas of focus in the Kumar lab is the development of a malaria transmission-blocking vaccine.
The malaria parasite life cycle inside the mosquito is critical for the transmission process. The way a malaria transmission-blocking vaccine will work is that "we will immunize populations with the vaccine, and let the mosquitoes do the job." When mosquitoes feed on blood they will pick up the antibodies, and the antibodies will work inside the mosquito midgut and block parasite development, hopefully, completely. In the lab and in models we can achieve almost 100% blocking of parasite development in mosquitoes.
In other research projects we are characterizing molecular mechanisms involving DNA double strand break repair and recombination process in the parasites.