Parasitology

Head of Division - Dr Tony Holder

Malaria kills a million victims each year and is a major burden on the developing world. We seek to understand the host-parasite interactions causing malaria and use this knowledge for new strategies to control the disease.

Malaria is caused by Plasmodium species, which are parasitic protozoa. Infection results in a repeating cycle of parasite invasion of red blood cells. We are investigating the role in red cell invasion of parasite surface or secretory proteins, and their potential as the basis of novel vaccines. Many of these proteins are also cleaved by proteases, and these enzyme activities are targets of drugs that stop invasion. By studying the body's immune response to infection we aim to understand how it controls parasite growth, leading to improved vaccine design. We have shown that malaria parasites have a plastid organelle, and the biochemical pathways in this plastid suggest new targets for the design of antimalarial drugs.

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