The development of sexual stage malaria gametocytes in a Wave Bioreactor

Corine G. Demanga, Jenny W.L. Eng, Donald L Gardiner, Alison Roth, Alice Butterworth, John H. Adams, Katharine R Trenholme, John P. Dalton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
281 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Blocking malaria gametocyte development in RBCs or their fertilization in the mosquito gut can prevent infection of the mosquito vector and passage of disease to the human host. A ‘transmission blocking’ strategy is a component of future malaria control. However, the lack of robust culture systems for producing large amounts of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes has limited our understanding of sexual-stage malaria biology and made vaccine or chemotherapeutic discoveries more difficult. Methods: The Wave BioreactorTM 20/50 EHT culture system was used to develop a convenient and low-maintenance protocol for inducing commitment of P. falciparum parasites to gametocytogenesis. Culture conditions were optimised to obtain mature stage V gametocytes within 2 weeks in a large-scale culture of up to a 1 l. Results: We report a simple method for the induction of gametocytogenesis with N-acetylglucosamine (10 mM) within a Wave Bioreactor. By maintaining the culture for 14-16 days as many as 100 million gametocytes (stage V) were produced in a 1 l culture. Gametocytes isolated using magnetic activated cell sorting (MACS) columns were frozen in aliquots for storage. These were revitalised by thawing and shown to retain their ability to exflagellate and infect mosquitoes (Anopheles stephansi). Conclusions: The production of gametocytes in the Wave Bioreactor under GMP-compliant conditions will not only facilitate cellular, developmental and molecular studies of gametocytes, but also the high-throughput screening for new anti-malarial drugs and, possibly, the development of whole-cell gametocyte or sporozoite-based vaccines.

Original languageEnglish
Article number216
JournalParasites & vectors
Issue number216
Publication statusPublished - 02 May 2017


  • Drug discovery
  • Gametocytes
  • In vitro culture
  • Malaria
  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • Vaccines
  • Wave Bioreactor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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