Hernando A. del Portillo

Institut d’Investigació en Ciències de la Salut Germans Trias i Pujol & Institut de Salut Global Barcelona

Life & Medical Sciences

I studied at the University of Georgia where I received my PhD in 1985 followed by two WHO-postdoctoral trainings at the New York University Medical Centre and the Institut Pasteur where I specialized in molecular biology of malaria.  Next, I consolidated an interdisciplinary malaria research group at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.  In 1990, I did a sabattical year at the Center for Molecular Biology (ZMBH), University of Heidelberg. In 2007, I became an ICREA Research Professor and joined the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, and in 2016 co-joined the Institut d’Investigació Germans Trias i Pujol. Cornerstones of this research activity are the discovery of the largest multigene virulent family of human malaria parasites and the discovery that reticulocyte-derived exosomes from infections act as intercellular communicators and can be used as vaccines and biomarkers.

Research interests

My main research area is the biology of Plasmodium vivax, a neglected human malaria parasite responsible for millions of yearly clinical cases. We are presently looking for mechanistic insights of the role of reticulocyte-derived exosomes, nanovesicles of endocytic origin, in signalling the spleen and the bone marrow to unveil molecular basis of anaemia and splenomegaly and to use this information in rationale vaccine development.  To pursue spleen studies,  we are implementing the usage of humanized mouse models and microfluidic approaches. In addition, we are exploring the use of exosomes as novel vaccines and biomarkers in vivax malaria aimed for elimination. Last, we are immortalizing human hematopoietic stem cells to develop a continuous in vitro culture system for blood stages of this malaria species, a major technological key-gap to advance studies of this neglected human malaria.

Selected publications

– Gualdron-Lopez M, Flannery EL, Kangwanrangsan N, Chuenchob V, Fernandez-Orth D, Segui-Barber J, Royo F, Falcon-Perez JM, Fernandez-Becerra C, Lacerda Marcus VG, Kappe SHI, Sattabongkot J, Gonzalez JR, Mikolajczak SA & del Portillo HA 2018, ‘Characterization of Plasmodium vivax Proteins in Plasma-Derived Exosomes From Malaria-Infected Liver-Chimeric Humanized Mice’, Frontiers In Microbiology, 9, 1271.

– Diaz-Varela M, de Menezes-Neto A, Perez-Zsolt D, Gamez-Valero A, Segui-Barber J, Izquierdo-Useros N, Martinez-Picado J, Fernandez-Becerra C & del Portillo HA 2018, ‘Proteomics study of human cord blood reticulocyte-derived exosomes’, Scientific Reports, 8, 14046.

– Montaner-Tarbes S, Novell E, Tarancón V, Borrás FE, Montoya M, Fraile L & del Portillo HA 2018, ‘Targeted-pig trial on safety and immunogenicity of serum-derived extracellular vesicles enriched fractions obtained from Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive virus infections’, Scientific Reports, 8:17487.

– Elizalde-Torrent A, Val F, Cardoso CI, Monteiro WM, Ferreira LCL, Fernandez-Becerra C, del Portillo HA & Lacerda MVG 2018, ‘Sudden spleen rupture in a Plasmodium vivax-infected patient undergoing malaria treatment’, Malaria Journal, 17, 79.

– Théry C, Witwer K, Hill EF, Lotval J, Aikawa E, et al., 2018, ‘Minimal Information for Studies of Extracellular Vesicles 2018 (MISEV2018): a position statement of the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles’,  J Extracell Vesicles, 7(1).

Selected research activities

Member of the International Scientific Committee and President of the local Organizing Committee for the International Society of Extracellular Vesicles Meeting. Barcelona 2-6 May.

Invited lectures at CIDR, Seattle, Washington USA, Essen University Hospital, Essen, Germany, Vivax Malaria Research Unit, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand and International Congress for Parasitology, Daegu, South Corea