Infectious Diseases: Molecular Helminthology

The Molecular Helminthology Laboratory specializes in the use of molecular biology tools to investigate host-parasite interactions between helminth (worm) parasites and their mammalian hosts. Globally, worm infections cause diseases in over one billion people and create serious problems for companion and farm animals. The laboratory currently puts emphasis on the blood flukes that cause schistosomiasis although we have additional projects on nematode (roundworm) parasites. The lab uses molecular genetic techniques to characterize the biochemical nature of the surface and to identify drug targets and vaccine candidates that are exposed to the host and may be protective against parasite infection.

The group is particularly interested in surface molecules that allow intravascular schistosomes to maintain access to necessary host metabolites yet manage to impede or evade potentially damaging host protective immune and hemostatic defenses. The laboratory has cloned and characterized genes encoding a wide variety of transporters as well as putative immunomodulators, and is exploring the utility of new molecular tools such as RNA-mediated interference (RNAi), CRISPR-Cas9 and display technologies to enhance our ability to investigate host/parasite interactions.

The Molecular Helminthology Laboratory in the Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health specializes in the use of molecular biology tools to investigate host-parasite interactions between helminth (worm) parasites and their mammalian hosts.