Hernando A. del Portillo

Hernando A. del Portillo

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 estabish cryptic erythrocytic infections.  To pursue bone marrow and spleen studies,  we are implementing the usage of humanized mouse models and organs-on-chip. To use this information in novel control strategies, we are exploring the use of reticulocyte-derived exosomes as a novel vaccine against P. vivax as well as novel biomarkers of asymptomatic infections. Last, to rapidly move this field to translation, we are pursuing the development of exosome-based vaccines against infectious diseases of veterinary importance.

Selected publications

- Aparici-Herraiz I, Gualdron-Lopez M, Castro-Cavadia CJ, Carmona-Fonseca J, Yasnot MF, Fernandez-Becerra C, del Portillo HA 2022, 'Antigen Discovery in Circulating Extracellular Vesicles From Plasmodium vivax Patients', Frontiers In Cellular And Infection Microbiology, 11, 811390.

- Gualdron-Lopez M, Diaz-Varela, M, et al. 2022, 'Mass Spectrometry Identification of Biomarkers in Extracellular Vesicles From Plasmodium vivax Liver Hypnozoite Infections', Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, 21, 10, 100406.

- Brito MAM, Baro B, Raiol TC, Ayllon-Hermida A, Safe IP, Deroost K, Figueiredo EFG, Costa AG, Armengol MDP, Sumoy L, Almeida ACG, Hounkpe BW, De Paula EV, Fernandez-Becerra C, Monteiro WM, Del Portillo HA & Lacerda MVG 2022, 'Morphological and Transcriptional Changes in Human Bone Marrow During Natural Plasmodium vivax Malaria Infections'. J Infect Dis., 225(7):1274-1283.

Selected research activities

Invited Speaker, (i) ISEV, Lyon, France (May); (ii) GRC Extracellular Vesicles, Maine, USA (July); (iii) ICOPA, Copenhague, Denmark (August); (iv) Closing Conference, ACPMT, Bogotá, Colombia (December)  

Ph.D. Thesis. Iris Aparici-Herraiz. "“Extracellular vesicles as intercellular communicators in cryptic erythrocytic infections in
Plasmodium vivax malaria”. UB. Cum Laude (September)