No sex please, we’re inhibited: searching for drugs to prevent malaria transmission

No sex please, we’re inhibited: searching for drugs to prevent malaria transmission

Project details

The transmission stages of malaria are an exciting and largely untapped area for therapeutic discovery. Understanding which parasite molecules are essential during this phase is critical for malaria elimination. 

The Plasmodium falciparum genome encodes ten aspartyl proteases known as plasmepsins that are involved in key developmental and pathological processes and are important druggable targets. 

In this project you will characterise the function of plasmepsins, using an integrated genetic and protein chemistry approach to discover when and where these molecules are expressed. Harnessing CRISPR technology, advanced microscopy techniques and in vivo developmental biology, you will examine the role of these proteins during blood and mosquito stage development to provide a stepping-off point for potential new antimalarial drug discovery.

About our research group

We use CRISPR genome editing technology for efficient and specific parasite molecular genetics to make parasite lines with specific gene knockouts and also florescent protein tags. We perform experiments to define the loss-of-function phenotypes as well as live imaging and super-resolution microscopy to define the function of these proteins. Additionally, we express the parasite proteins in insect and E. coli cells to enable biochemical characterisation and structural analysis.

Our laboratory is made up of a mixture of postdoctoral fellows and PhD students providing opportunities for close supervision and assistance as well as working in a team environment.

Further reading: Hodder et al., Nature Struct Mol Biol 2015 22 :590


Professor Alan Cowman

Alan Cowman standing in a laboratory
Deputy Director and Joint Division Head
Dr Tony Hodder profile shot
Infection and Immunity division
Dr Julie Healer profile shot
Infection and Immunity division

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