Student Projects

Translating Molecular Research into Clinical Applications to Control Scabies

Project Supervisor/s

Prospective students (Honours/Masters or PhD) will learn a wide range of molecular biology techniques, protein technology, including protein expression and purification techniques, microscopy, animal work and more.

Scabies and associated co-infections cause substantial illness and a major health burden in Indigenous communities of Northern Australia. In particular scabies-caused childhood pyoderma (bacterial skin infection) can cause severe complications in later life. Scabies-associated Streptococcus infections can lead to heart and kidney disease (rheumatic heart disease and post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis). Several research projects are underway in our laboratory:

  1. Recognising the health risk of scabies-associated pathogens, we lead the international scabies microbiome program to define the impact of scabies on the healthy skin flora and examine the synergy between mites and bacteria.
  2. Current drugs often fail because they do not kill parasite eggs and their effects wear off rapidly in the skin. In addition, drug resistance is an emerging problem in controlling the mites (causing scabies) and the bacteria (causing secondary infections). Our current research program combines cutting-edge basic research and unique pre-clinical studies to develop new therapeutics.
  3. Diagnosis of scabies relies mostly on epidemiological and clinical algorithms rather than pathogen detection. Delayed or misdiagnoses are common. Early and accurate diagnosis is however critically important, as it can help prevent transmission and/or stop scabies outbreaks. . We are developing the first Scabies Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) System for Point-of-Care.
  4. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underpinning this disease is crucial to the development of diagnostics, treatments and cures. Therefore, we are also studying key aspects of mite biology and scabies pathogenesis, e.g. the skin immune modulation due to scabies. We have generated comprehensive integrated multi-omics databases from which we hope to identify and analyse molecular mechanisms unique to scabies. Our program was developed in consultation with consumers and in response to concern over persistent high rates of scabies in remote A&TSI communities across Australia.

To apply for this project, please contact the project supervisor/s

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