Infection and Immunity

Infection and Immunity

Mosquito midgut 24hrs after a blood meal infected with malaria
Malaria, tuberculosis and HIV are three of the major global infectious diseases causing significant death and disease, particularly in resource-poor countries.
The Infection and Immunity division aims to understand how infectious agents cause human disease and use this knowledge to develop new treatments.

Developing new antimalarial drugs

The malaria parasite exports hundreds of proteins to the host red blood cell during human infections. These proteins remodel the malaria-infected red blood cell so it can obtain nutrients and build protective systems to evade immune attack.

We identified an enzyme called Plasmepsin V that performs an essential step for export of these proteins to remodel the host red blood cell. In collaboration with the ACRF Chemical Biology division, we discovered and synthesised a drug that inhibits the function of Plasmepsin V, an important step in the development of new antimalarial drugs.

International network to eliminate malaria

The institute joined the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) in 2014, an international collaborative network working towards eliminating malaria in the Asia-Pacific region.

The network is bringing attention and support to the under-appreciated and little-known work of malaria elimination in the Asia-Pacific region, with a particular focus on Plasmodium vivax.

The institute’s role in the partnership is developing and implementing tools to aid malaria elimination programs throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The institute is already working with APMEN on the evaluation of malaria treatment protocols in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to help inform future elimination programs.

Health impact

Infectious disease: chronic infections, hepatitis b, hiv, malaria, toxoplasmosis, tuberculosis, vaccines

Lab heads

Professor Alan Cowman, Joint Division Head

Professor Marc Pellegrini, Joint Division Head

Dr Alyssa Barry

Dr Justin Boddey

Dr Diana Hansen

Professor Louis Schofield

Dr Chris Tonkin

Dr Wai-Hong Tham

Scientific coordinator

Joan Curtis