Vector-Borne Infectious Disease and Vector Biology

Vector-borne diseases form about 17% of global communicable diseases and cause over 700,000 deaths annually. It is estimated that about 80% of the world’s population are at risk of at least one or more vector-borne diseases. Our group currently focus on transmission dynamics, diagnosis and host immune response to Vectors (insect) and protozoan parasites they transmit. We mostly focusing on Malaria, Trypanosomiasis, and Cutaneous leishmaniasis. Our goal is to develop robust surveillance tools, accurate diagnosis and fundamental understanding of the biology of parasites and vectors. This will generate validated tools to support national control and elimination efforts of vector-borne diseases.

An infectious bite marker for sensitive malaria detection and population-level surveillance

Current malaria surveillance metrics have limitations in either sensitivity at low-level transmission or lack the inherent ability to track short-term changes at different geographical scales. Using community cohorts under varying levels of malaria transmission, we are currently conducting kinetic studies to evaluate the dynamics of antibody response to candidate infectious biter markers in comparison to other salivary gland proteins. Our previous findings have identified sporozoite and ookinete peptides/proteins which human immune response correlates with seasonal vector and parasite exposure and thus a promising ideal marker for an infectious bite. It is hoped that these biomarkers will be promising in identification of micro-geographical hotspots, vulnerable populations.

Partners: Funding: EU/ EDCTP European and Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership
Agona District Government Hospital / Obom community Hospital

PI: Kingsley Badu Ph.D (Kumasi Center for Collaborative Research, T.A.B, KNUST)
Prof. Dr. Sörge Kelm (Collaborator, Center for Biomolecular Interactions Bremen, University of Bremen, Germany)

Novel paper-based mass spectrometry immunoassay for malaria diagnosis

Prompt and accurate malaria diagnosis is fundamental for disease treatment and monitoring intervention strategies. A simple, rapid, affordable and ultrasensitive diagnostic tool is needed to support disease elimination efforts. Here, we evaluate the accuracy of a promising novel paper-based immunoassay for malaria diagnosis. The proposed platform employs the use of synthetic novel ionic probes to facilitate ultrasensitive detection of PfHRP-2 antigen using a handheld mass spectrometer. Preliminary studies in a lab setting have shown the proposed platform to be sensitive and stable. We expect this technology to provide three unique levels of malaria testing: (1) point-of-care (POC) application, (2) community-based surveillance detection – to identify people with latent infection and (3) field analysis in the case of an outbreak

Funders: National Institute of Health, NIAD, USA
PI Abraham Badu Tawiah Ph.D (Ohio State University, USA)/ Co-PI: Kingsley Badu Ph.D, KCCR/ TAB/KNUST)

Evaluation and Validation of automated device for malaria diagnosis

Accurate and prompt diagnosis of malaria is important in the renewed interest to eliminate and eradicate malaria. This project is in collaboration with Noul Inc., an AI-based blood cell diagnosis device developer which has its headquarters in Yong-in, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea.
The equipment (MiLab) is a fully automated device that employs artificial intelligence (AI) to detect and quantify the various malaria parasites. A successful implementation of this project might yield a better sensitivity than light microscopy and also eliminate the human error due to diagnosis. The Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases Research Group (VBID-RG) is partnering with Noul Inc. to assess the accuracy of the automated device for malaria diagnosis. VBID-RG has been studying malaria transmission at the community/hospital level in Ghana across all the transmission settings. The results obtained from the automated device will be compared with the traditional methods (microscopy and RDT) used in malaria diagnosis.

Funders: Noul Diagnostics, South Korea

Collaborators: Esther Shin, Noul/ PI: Prof. Cristian Koepfli (Eck Institute of Global Health, Un of Notre Dame)/ Co-PI (Kingsley Badu, Kumasi Centre for collaborative research in tropical medicine, Kumasi

Distribution and incidence of trypanosome infection in tsetse fly, pig, cattle and human populations in the Ayensuano and Suhum/Kraboa/Coaltar Districts in the Eastern region

African animal trypanosomiasis (AAT) known as ‘nagana’ is a life-threatening disease transmitted to livestock by tsetse fly of the Glossina genus. However, AAT causes huge loss of livestock and agricultural productivity with some socio-economic consequences. A cross-sectional survey was carried out to investigate the distribution and incidence of nagana in both the tsetse fly vector and livestock in the Eastern region of Ghana. Cytochrome c (cox1) and internal transcribed spacer (ITS1) dependent PCR assays were performed to detect and identify tsetse fly species as well as trypanosome species. Sequence analysis reveals that all tsetse flies collected belong to Glossina palpalis palpalis. There was high trypanosome infection rate in tsetse flies and pigs with majority of the infections due to T. congolense. There was molecular evidence of concurrent colonization of T. congolense and T. simiae, T. congolense and T. vivax, and T. congolense and T. b. brucei in the tsetse midgut. A cross-sectional study was carried out to recruit 214 human blood and urine samples and ten (10) of these samples have tested positive for trypanosome parasite DNA, other tests are still ongoing.

Funders: DFG : German African Research Cooperation in infectiology
PI: Kingsley Badu Ph.D (Kumasi Center for Collaborative Research, T.A.B, KNUST)
Prof. Dr. Sörge Kelm (Collaborator, Center for Biomolecular Interactions Bremen, University of Bremen, Germany)

Transmission of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in the Nkwanta South District in the Oti Region of Ghana: Leishmaniasis, a typical

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) caused by different species of the protozoan parasite of the genus Leishmania, is transmitted through the bites of infected female sand flies of varying species. In Ghana the cutaneous leishmaniasis has been identified which manifests as a papule that enlarges into a nodule and then ulcerates. However, it is unclear which vector-parasite species system is driving the transmission.
A cross-sectional-study was conducted in the Nkwanta South District of Oti Region to identify the vector species transmitting the disease as well as the parasite species causing the disease. Cutaneous leishmaniasis was confirmed with the discovery of new vector species in Ghana. Phlebotomus chinensis and Lutzyomia anduzei haplotype were the vector species identified with Phlebotomus chinensis being the most abundant.
However, Leishmania parasites were not detected in these vectors but L. major and L. tropica parasites were detected in tissue fluids of cutaneous lesions

Funders: KNUST Research fund/ ARNTD Internal small grant/ Erasmus Plus
PI: Kingsley Badu Ph.D (Kumasi Center for Collaborative Research, T.A.B, KNUST)
Prof. Dr. Sörge Kelm (Collaborator, Center for Biomolecular Interactions Bremen, University of Bremen, Germany)

2024 – 2028:              Role: Principal Investigator CAD $362,484,000.00 AI4PEP IDRC (Grant agreement negotiation ongoing)

2020-2021 :         Role: Principal Investigator US$62,000. MILAB I/MILAB 2 project. Evaluation of automated microscope for malaria diagnostics. Noul Diagnostics, South Korea through University of Notre Dame, USA

2019 – 2024:   Role: Co-Investigator Sub-Award USD $1,340,000.00 NIH R01Ai143809- 6007100:  Malaria Management through an On – Demand Diagnostic Approach using Novel Ionic Probes

2018 -2022:    Role: Principal Investigator EUR 144,500.00 EDCTP TMA2016CDF-1605 Fellowship PSOP24-377: An infectious bite marker for sensitive malaria detection.         

2018-2018:     Role: Co -investigator DFG African German Research co-operation in infectiology (Grant Number DFG KE 428/13-1) Partners: Sørge Kelm, UB, Bremen, Germany (coordinator) Funding: Total grant: 742.165 Euro

01/04/2016:   €20,000.00 TWAS-DFG Cooperation Visits Programme for scientists from sub-Saharan Africa Ref.:3240285656 Fellowship DNA barcoding and vector incrimination of sandfly species implicated in leishmaniasis outbreak in Ghana.

2015 – 2017:   Principal Investigator £23,000.00 Africa Research Excellence Fund MRF-157-0007-F-BADU Fellowship Developing Biomarker(s) of Infectious Anopheles Bite with a Potential for Blocking Malaria Transmission

2014 – 2015    Principal Investigator University of Ghana Research Development Fund (URF/6/ILG-018/2012-2 ) (Ghana cedis 25,000.00) PF11_0394: A dual immuno – epidemiological biomarker of vector exposure and malaria risk Utilizing malaria protein expressed in salivary gland to identify individuals recently exposed to malaria

Vera-Arias, C. A., Holzschuh, A., Oduma, C. O., Badu, K., Abdul-Hakim, M., Yukich, J., … & Koepfli, C. 2022. High-throughput Plasmodium falciparum hrp2 and hrp3 gene deletion typing by digital PCR to monitor malaria rapid diagnostic test efficacy. Elife, 11, e72083.

Niyukuri, D., Sinzinkayo, D., Troth, E.V., Oduma, C.O., Barengayabo, M., Ndereyimana, M., Holzschuh, A., Vera-Arias, C.A., Gebre, Y., Badu, K. and Nyandwi, J., 2022. Performance of highly sensitive and conventional rapid diagnostic tests for clinical and subclinical Plasmodium falciparum infections, and hrp2/3 deletion status in Burundi. PLOS Global Public Health, 2(7), p.e0000828.

Goonoo, N., Laetitia Huët, M.A., Chummun, I., Karuri, N., Badu, K., Gimié, F., Bergrath, J., Schulze, M., Müller, M. and Bhaw-Luximon, A., 2022. Nanomedicine-based strategies to improve treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis. Royal Society Open Science, 9(6), p.220058.

Fagbamigbe, A.F., Tolba, M.F., Amankwaa, E.F., Mante, P.K., Sylverken, A.A., Zahouli, J.Z., Goonoo, N., Mosi, L., Oyebola, K., Matoke-Muhia, D. and de Souza, D.K., Badu, K., Dukhi, N. 2022. Implications of WHO COVID-19 interim guideline 2020.5 on the comprehensive care for infected persons in Africa Before, during and after clinical management of cases. Scientific African, 15, p.e01083.

Mfisimana, L.D., Nibayisabe, E., Badu, K. and Niyukuri, D., 2022. Exploring predictive frameworks for malaria in Burundi. Infectious Disease Modelling, 7(2), pp.33-44.

Afriyie, S.O., Addison, T.K., Gebre, Y., Mutala, A.H., Antwi, K.B., Abbas, D.A., Addo, K.A., Tweneboah, A., Koepfli, C. and Badu, K., 2022. Accuracy of diagnosis among clinical malaria patients: comparing microscopy, RDT, and a highly sensitive quantitative PCR and the implication of submicroscopic infections.

Badu, K., Oyebola, K., Zahouli, J.Z., Fagbamigbe, A.F., de Souza, D.K., Dukhi, N., Amankwaa, E.F., Tolba, M.F., Sylverken, A.A., Mosi, L. and Mante, P.K., 2021. SARS-CoV-2 viral shedding and transmission dynamics: implications of WHO COVID-19 discharge guidelines. Frontiers in Medicine, p.843.

Mosi, L., Sylverken, A.A., Oyebola, K., Badu, K., Dukhi, N., Goonoo, N., Mante, P.K., Zahouli, J., Amankwaa, E.F., Tolba, M.F. and Fagbamigbe, A.F., 2021. Correlating WHO COVID-19 interim guideline 2020.5 and testing capacity, accuracy, and logistical challenges in Africa. Pan African Medical Journal, 39(1).
Tweneboah, A., Rosenau, J., Agyapong, A.K., Addison, T.K., Mahamat, I.A.M., Weber, J.S., Kelm, S. and Badu, K., 2021. The transmission of African animal trypanosomiasis (nagana) in two districts in the forest zone of Ghana. bioRxiv.

Yeboaa, C., Boamah, V.E., Odoi, H., Owusu-Ntim, R., Boakye, Y.D., Nuako, G.K., Agyare, C. and Badu, K., 2021. Diversity And Antibiograms of Secondary Bacterial Isolates From Cutaneous Leishmaniasis Wounds.

Akuamoah-Boateng, Y., Brenyah, R.C., Kwarteng, S.A., Obuam, P., Owusu-Frimpong, I., Agyapong, A.K. and Badu, K., 2021. Malaria transmission, vector diversity, and insecticide resistance at a peri-urban site in the forest zone of Ghana. Front. Trop. Dis. 2: 739771. doi: 10.3389.

Badu, K., Larbi, A.A. and Boampong, K., 2021. Malaria Elimination: The Role and Value of Sero-Surveillance. Current Topics and Emerging Issues in Malaria Elimination, p.57.

  1. Mrs Vivian Etsiapa Boamah –           Research associate / collaborator
  2. Kwadwo Boampong –           Research associate
  3. Edmund I. Yamba –           Research associate
  4. Mutala Abdul-Hakim –           PhD student
  5. Thomas Kwame Addison –           PhD student

Mr. Kofi Agyepong Addo                    –           PhD student

Group Leader

Dr. Kingsley Badu
Phone: +233265012563
E-Mail :

Group Collaborator

Dr. Vivian Etsiapa Boamah
E-Mail :