Molecular Helminthology Laboratory Strongylids Projects

The Molecular Helminthology Laboratory is investigating the specific mechanisms responsible for the rejection of Strongylid parasitic nematodes. Animals hyper-immunized by multiple hookworm infections in which the parasites are not permitted to mature to adults will develop a potent resistance to hookworm re-infections. Similarly, animals given multiple high dose infections of gastrointestinal strongylid worms such as Trichostrongylus colubriformis, each terminated several days later by anthelmintic treatment, develop the ability to rapidly reject subsequent infections. In work done at AgResearch in New Zealand we showed that rapid immune rejection can be elicited by mucosal antibodies against larval surface antigens.

The lab is currently seeking to extend these studies by exploiting the unique advantages of rodent models and focusing on hookworm. Partly through collaborations with George Washington University (Hotez lab) and Yale (Cappello lab), we are working to identify the hookworm antigens that are responsible for eliciting the protective immunity and determine the mechanism(s) of protection. Most current work takes advantage of recombinant antibodies we identified that recognize the living surface of infectious larval surface in a manner very similar to that of mucosal antibodies from hyper-immunized hosts (above). Ultimately the lab wants to develop a strategy using defined antigens to elicit rapid rejection responses against strongylids.

For more information about the Molecular Helminthology Laboratory's research with this model species please see the Nematode Publications page.