The Human Malaria Immunology Group’s goal is to inform the development of effective malaria vaccines by defining functional mechanisms of antibodies that target the parasite, and the development of protective antibodies in humans.
Currently, the most advanced malaria vaccine has only 36 per cent efficacy, with efficacy further reduced in infants and in populations with high prior malaria exposure. We aim to inform the development of next-generation malaria vaccines by:
- identifying and characterising key functional mechanisms of antibodies that mediate protection,
- defining the key cellular mechanisms that promote the generation of functional antibodies, and
- quantifying the impact of host age and prior malaria exposure on antibody development.
Our research is focused predominately in humans. We leverage human samples from controlled human malaria infection models and human clinical cohorts of malaria infection, and apply these clinical samples to in vitro systems.
We have shown that a large proportion of antibodies that target the blood stage of malaria infection require complement fixation to prevent RBC infection (Boyle et al, Immunity, 2015).
Antibody development requires the correct activation of CD4 T cells during infection. Using a large clinical cohort of children and adults from Uganda, we have shown that the development of malaria-specific CD4 T cells is independently affected by age and prior malaria exposure.
We are currently focused on defining the role of T-follicular helper cell in the induction of functional antibodies against malaria.
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