Kivecu Martha Nginya

Student Short Biography:

Martha Nginya Kivecu is a MSc. Bioinformatics student under Developing Excellence in Leadership and Genetics Training for Malaria Elimination in sub-Saharan Africa (DELGEME) scholarship.
Her MSc. project involved Evaluation of P. falciparum Histidine Rich Protein 2 (Pfhrp2) and 3 genes deletions in Kenya. Which she conducted at KEMRI-US Army Medical Research Directorate Africa-Kenya, Malaria Drug Resistance lab, Kisumu. During her masters, she was awarded a NIH travel award for a short talk presentation at Keystone symposia, Kampala Uganda 2018. She was also awarded best presenter genomics, diagnostics and innovation- session 2 at KEMRI- Annual Scientific and Health Conference (KASH) 2020.
She holds Bachelors of Science degree in Biochemistry from Pwani University and a Postgraduate Diploma (PGD) in health research methods from the same University. Her PGD was through a studentship offered by Initiative to Develop African research Leaders (IDeAL) based at KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme. Her PGD project looked at the genetic variation of Apical Membrane Antigen 1 (AMA 1) in Plasmodium falciparum field isolates collected over 18 years in Kilifi county, Kenya.
Prior to joining PGD, she worked as an intern at KEMRI National Influenza Centre (NIC), where she was involved in surveillance of viral causes of respiratory infection.

Project Summary

Thesis Project Title: Evaluation of Plasmodium falciparum histidine rich protein 2 and 3 genes deletion prevalence in Kenya and its implication to RDTs use

Thesis Project Abstract:

Globally, Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) diagnoses about 75% of all suspected malaria cases. The accuracy of the most frequently used Pfhrp2 based RDTs can be compromised by deletion in Pfhrp2 gene or cross-reaction with Pfhrp3 antigens. The WHO criteria necessitate accuracy above 95 % as the threshold for selection or withdrawal of RDTs advocating for vigorous Pfhrp2 gene deletions mapping. This study investigated the prevalence of Pfhrp2/3 genes deletion as well as their polymorphisms in three of five malaria transmission zones in Kenya.
Generally, 350 samples (255 Post-RDTs and 95 Pre-RDTs) from the epidemiology of malaria drug resistance study were diagnosed for malaria by microscopy, Pfhrp2/pan RDTs and P. falciparum PCR. All P. falciparum PCR positive samples, were genotyped and sequenced using primers targeting Pfhrp2 and Pfhrp3 genes.
The prevalence of single Pfhrp2 gene deletion was 0.3% while that of Pfhrp3 was 2.1% of the 327 P. falciparum PCR positive samples. No sample had double deletion of both Pfhrp2 and Pfhrp3 genes. Twenty one (10.8%) of the 195 samples positive by P. falciparum PCR (with 30 parasites per microliter) and pan RDTs were negative by Pfhrp2 based RDTs. However, all the 21 samples had Pfhrp2 and only one sample (4.8%) had deletion of Pfhrp3 gene. Thirty-eight of the 69 Pfhrp3 sequences had partial deletion while the rest had no deletion. Amino acid repeat type 4 and type 16 were the most frequent.
This study findings shows that Pfhrp2 and Pfhrp3 genes deletion are indeed present in Kenya among the symptomatic individuals enrolled. However, these genes deletion could not be associated to false negative RDTs results.