The Plasmodium liver stage is an attractive target for the development of antimalarial drugs and vaccines, as it provides an opportunity to interrupt the life cycle of the parasite at a critical early stage. However, targeting the liver stage has been difficult. Undoubtedly, a major barrier has been the lack of robust, reliable, and reproducible in vitro liver-stage cultures. Here, we establish the liver stages for both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax in a microscale human liver platform composed of cryopreserved, micropatterned human primary hepatocytes surrounded by supportive stromal cells. Using this system, we have successfully recapitulated the full liver stage of P. falciparum, including the release of infected merozoites and infection of overlaid erythrocytes, as well as the establishment of small forms in late liver stages of P. vivax. Finally, we validate the potential of this platform as a tool for medium-throughput antimalarial drug screening and vaccine development.
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