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Antibodies are an important component of acquired immunity against malaria, as demonstrated in pivotal studies in which immunoglobulin G (IgG) from immune adults was transferred to malaria-infected children and resulted in clearance of infection.
The mechanisms of protection and specific target epitopes of protective immunity are not well understood, yet this knowledge is crucial for developing highly effective vaccines against malaria.
In recent studies, we have begun to uncover important roles for antibodies that can directly inhibit host-cell infection, interact with immune cells to kill and clear malaria, or recruit complement to neutralise infection.
The aims of this project include identifying the key targets of protective immunity and the quantifying the importance of specific mechanisms mediating immunity.
The project combines detailed studies of immune responses with clinical studies of children and adults who live in malaria-endemic regions.
The studies would particularly focus on using innovative approaches to understand how antibodies neutralise and clear malaria parasites in the blood, including interactions with monocytes/macrophages and dendritic cells, and identifying specific epitopes targeted by protective antibodies.
The project may involve assays of functional immunity, cell culture, isolation and analysis of immune cells, flow cytometry, western blotting, ELISA, and epitope mapping.