Developing new antimalarial drugs that block protein trafficking and host cell modification in malaria parasites

Research Opportunity
PhD, Masters by Research, Honours, Master of Biomedical Science
Project Status
Medicine and Radiology
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Paul Gilson Personal web page
Dr Ben Dickerman Personal web page

Project Details

Malaria is a devastating parasitic disease that infects hundreds of millions of people each year, tragically killing about half a million, mainly children. Antimalarial drugs are the main weapons used to combat infection but alarmingly parasites are starting to become resistant to the latest frontline drugs. For this reason new drug targets need to be identified and new medicines developed. Thankfully thousands of potent parasite killing compounds have been discovered, but their targets in the parasite are unknown.

One potential suite of targets is the protein trafficking pathways used by parasites to shuttle proteins around not only their own cells, but also those of the human red blood host cells (RBC) they infect. These so-called exported proteins modify the RBCs so the parasite can evade host immunity and rapidly reproduce. We have discovered several drugs that not only block parasite protein trafficking, but also prevent the parasite from taking up nutrients via the RBC. These drugs cause parasite death and the aim of this project is to help evaluate the biological targets of these drugs and how to make the drugs more potent and specific for potential clinical applications.

Techniques and methods will include Parasite cell culture, drug assays, fluorescence microsopy, functional assays, molecular biology skills (eg, PCR and cloning), parasite transfection.

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD, Masters by Research, Honours, Master of Biomedical Science students to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the supervisor to discuss your options.

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Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.


Medicine and Radiology

Research Group / Unit / Centre

Research Node

Royal Melbourne Hospital