Characterising the mechanisms of action of the next-generation antimalarial therapeutics

Project type

  • PhD
  • Masters by Coursework
  • Honours

Project details

Target identification for antimalarial drugs has historically represented a major challenge, resulting in only fragmentary understanding of the mechanism of action (MoA) of many among clinically used and candidate antimalarial compounds. The lack of a well-characterised drug-target space prevents prioritisation of compounds with novel MoA for development and structure-activity optimisation studies, as well as the rational design of synergistic drug combination therapies.

In this project, students will have an opportunity to use emerging Mass Spectrometry-based functional proteomics tools to identify drug-targets and characterise drug-induced perturbations in Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest among malaria-causing parasite species. Identified candidate-targets will be characterised in detail through a combination of biochemical, structural and genetic approaches, including CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing and recombinant protein expression

About our research group

The Cowman lab’s research is aimed at understanding the biology of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the most severe form of malaria. Decades of research by our group and others into the fundamental biology of parasites, anti-malarial drug action and drug resistance mechanisms employed by the parasites present us with a remarkable nexus for stopping the malaria disease.

As a highly interdisciplinary team, we combine expertise in proteomics, cell biology, imaging, biochemistry and structural biology. Aiming to accelerate the development of the next generation of antimalarial chemotherapeutics, we use this cross-collaborative approach to study the mechanisms of action of clinically used and candidate antimalarial compounds.

Education pathways