The Plasmodium parasite, the causative agent of malaria, is an excellent model for immunomic-based approaches to vaccine development. The Plasmodium parasite has a complex life cycle with multiple stages and stage-specific expression of ∼5300 putative proteins. No malaria vaccine has yet been licensed. Many believe that an effective vaccine will need to target several antigens and multiple stages, and will require the generation of both antibody and cellular immune responses. Vaccine efforts to date have been stage-specific and based on only a very limited number of proteins representing <0.5% of the genome. The recent availability of comprehensive genomic, proteomic and transcriptomic datasets from human and selected non-human primate and rodent malarias provide a foundation to exploit for vaccine development. This information can be mined to identify promising vaccine candidate antigens, by proteome-wide screening of antibody and T cell reactivity using specimens from individuals exposed to malaria and technology platforms such as protein arrays, high throughput protein production and epitope prediction algorithms. Such antigens could be incorporated into a rational vaccine development process that targets specific stages of the Plasmodium parasite life cycle with immune responses implicated in parasite elimination and control. Immunomic approaches which enable the selection of the best possible targets by prioritising antigens according to clinically relevant criteria may overcome the problem of poorly immunogenic, poorly protective vaccines that has plagued malaria vaccine developers for the past 25 years. Herein, current progress and perspectives regarding Plasmodium immunomics are reviewed.
Copyright © 2010 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.