Development of tools to inform malaria vaccine design

Development of tools to inform malaria vaccine design

Project details

Thanks to the huge scale-up of intervention strategies, we have seen malaria transmission rates declining in many areas, however it is widely recognized that elimination of the disease will require a highly effective vaccine.  

We are working towards the development of a combination malaria vaccine that targets multiple life cycle stages in the parasite’s development in humans and mosquitoes. One of the contributors to vaccine efficacy and duration of antibody response is immunological boosting from parasite exposure. In this project we will examine pre-existing antibody responses to vaccine antigens in a cohort of malaria-exposed individuals to ascertain whether natural boosting of vaccine antigens could occur post-immunization. 

This project will have two components: 

  1. Expression of malaria vaccine candidate antigens in vitro 

  2. Immunoscreening of human plasma samples from malaria-endemic regions for responsiveness to vaccine antigens  

About our research group

In the Cowman lab, a research focus area is entry and survival mechanisms of malaria parasites in erythrocytes. We study cell, protein complex and molecular mediators of these events. We have revealed essential interactions that can be targeted by drugs and vaccines. In this way, we exploit our deep understanding of parasite biology as rationale for design of therapeutics. eg Volz et al, Cell Host & Microbe 2016 20:60 

In the Hansen lab, we are interested in the cellular and molecular processes that modulate the balance between protection and susceptibility to malaria. We work with samples from people in malaria endemic areas to understand what constitutes protective immunity to malaria. A knowledge of the natural processes can aid better design of vaccines.


Dr Julie Healer profile shot
Infectious Diseases and Immune Defence division

Dr Diana Hansen

Dr Diana Hansen using a microscope
Laboratory Head

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