Impact of Vector Derived Factors on Parasite Establishment and Transmission

A seminar by Dr Jesus Valenzuela, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, USA

When a sand fly takes a blood meal it injects saliva into the mammalian host. Saliva and other vector derived factors change the skin environment favoring pathogens injected by the vector to get established in the host. I will present our multidisciplinary approach to study vector salivary proteins and other vector derived factors, and show some novel biological activities we recently identified and the relevance of vector derived factors on pathogen establishment. I will present information regarding the use of sand fly salivary proteins as biomarkers of vector exposure, their potential use as components of an anti-Leishmania vaccine and our efforts to move this concept to human clinical trials. 

Dr. Valenzuela received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Arizona in 1995. He joined the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases at the NIH as a postdoctoral fellow in 1996 and became a research fellow in 1999. Dr. Valenzuela became a tenure-track investigator in the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, NIAID, NIH in October 2002 and became a senior investigator in October 2009. Dr. Valenzuela’s section focuses on understanding how molecules of the insect vector are critical for the success of pathogen or parasite transmission and translating this knowledge into disease control opportunities.  The section has two main themes that focus on 1) the immune events following an insect bite, mainly the cellular interactions at the vector-host-pathogen interface; and 2) the molecular interactions between pathogen and vector to elucidate the determinants of a successful transmission to a mammalian host.