Back to overview

Imaging Tools to Characterise Migration and Interaction of Parasites within their Host


With roughly half of the world's population at risk, the treatment and prevention of parasitic infections remains a medical priority. Parasites typically display migratory behavior, disregard anatomical barriers and interact with their host at several levels during their life cycle. Very little is known about the biology that drives the migration and interaction of parasites within their intermediate or definite hosts. A better understanding of this is essential to help improve the design and development of vaccines. Using malaria parasites as an example, LUMC researchers reasoned that imaging-based tracking of individual parasites or different native malaria species can help understand the interaction of these parasites with their host.

Technology Overview

LUMC researchers have developed molecular imaging technology that uses a fluorescent / radioactive tracer to label parasites. Malaria parasites can be labeled either in the mosquito host or under in situ conditions. Next to this labeling, LUMC has developed a complementary software package that allows for quantitative analysis or parasite behavior in tissue. This molecular imaging technology allows for quantification of the behavioral differences between wild-type parasites and radiation, chemically, or genetically-attenuated vaccine derivatives. Feedback from imaging these parasites provides a reference to which vaccine administration routes and future vaccine formulations can be benchmarked. The imaging technology also supports the isolation of distinct behavioral features that could be critical in interaction with the immune system. Because the technology is based on chemistry rather than GMO technologies, it allows for the first time imaging of wild-type parasites including those species for which GMOs do not exist. In addition, the molecular imaging technology has been successfully applied to Schistosoma mansoni and Necator americanus parasites. In addition to an established application in the field of parasites, the developed technology could also be applied to monitor other pathogens eg bacterial infections or colonization models.


We are looking for partner (s) to license the technology for commercialization and / or to fund research into refinement and clinical translation of the technology.

Keywords: parasite, malaria, vaccine, molecular imaging, formulation, parasites, fluorescence, schistosoma, hookworm, bacteria 

Key benefits

  • Allow for straight forward fluorescence imaging of parasites
  • Allow for quantification of parasite migration in human tissue
  • Are suitable for clinical translation

Luris reference number


Patent status