Using alpaca antibodies to understand malaria invasion and transmission

Using alpaca antibodies to understand malaria invasion and transmission

Project details

Nanobodies are single domain antibodies isolated from alpacas, llamas and camels. They are used as therapeutics and research tools due to their small size, high antigen binding affinity, solubility and increased stability across temperature and pH.

The main aims of this project are to dissect the roles of 6-cysteine proteins which are conserved across Plasmodium species and present on the parasite surface throughout the parasite life cycle. We will characterise nanobodies against malaria proteins to inhibit parasite invasion, transmission or growth across the whole malaria lifecycle. We will use a wide range of biochemical, structural and molecular techniques to characterise the mechanism of inhibition. The results from this project will identify new potential vaccine candidates against malaria.

Skills learnt: Phage display, protein purification, nanobody characterization, protein-protein interactions

Dietrich, Biochem J. 2021 478(3):579-595.

About our research group

Malaria remains one of the most widespread parasitic diseases in the world. More than 40 per cent of humans are under the risk of contracting this devastating disease caused by six species of Plasmodium parasites, of which Plasmodium falciparum is the deadliest. 

We want to understand how malaria parasites engage human receptors and interact with our immune system. We aim for a deeper understanding on the molecular mechanisms used by malaria parasites to infect humans and mosquitoes, and of parasite evasion strategies to circumvent human immune responses so that we can use this pivotal information to develop novel therapeutics. 

Chan, Nat Commun. 2021 12(1):1538.
Gruszczyk, Nature 2018 559(7712):135-139.
Gruszczyk, Science 2018 359(6371):48-55.



Email supervisors




Professor Wai-Hong Tham

Professor Wai-Hong Tham in a laboratory
Joint Division Head
Infectious Diseases and Immune Defence

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