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The human malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax remains vastly understudied, mainly due to the lack of suitable laboratory models. Here, we report a humanized mouse model to test interventions that block P. vivax parasite transition from liver stage infection to blood stage infection. Human liver-chimeric FRGN huHep mice infected with P. vivax sporozoites were infused with human reticulocytes, allowing transition of exo-erythrocytic merozoites to reticulocyte infection and development into all erythrocytic forms, including gametocytes, in vivo. In order to test the utility of this model for preclinical assessment of interventions, the invasion blocking potential of a monoclonal antibody targeting the essential interaction of the P. vivax Duffy Binding Protein with the Duffy antigen receptor was tested by passive immunization. This antibody inhibited invasion by over 95%, providing unprecedented in vivo evidence that PvDBP constitutes a promising blood stage vaccine candidate and proving our model highly suitable to test blood stage interventions.

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Center for Global Infectious Disease Research, Seattle Children's Research Institute, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.