Target identification of potent antimalarial agents

Target identification of potent antimalarial agents

Project details

Malaria causes approximately 800,000 deaths annually. The future effectiveness of current combination therapies is limited by emerging resistance. This project focuses on the new classes of antimalarial drugs must be developed if we are to eliminate malaria.

We have used a high throughput screening campaign to discover new drug candidates. This identified a class of novel small molecules that potently kill the malaria parasite. We are now using medicinal chemistry to improve their potency and physicochemical properties. To expedite their development, we aspire to identify how these small molecules act.

The project will use complementary genetic and affinity-based probe approaches to identify the molecular target of these antimalarial small molecules. The student will learn a multidisciplinary skill set including organic synthesis, molecular modeling, biochemical techniques and parasitology.

About our research group

Our research is aimed at understanding how Plasmodium falciparum, the causative agent of the most severe form of malaria, infects humans and causes disease. To establish infection in the host, malaria parasites export hundreds of remodelling and virulence proteins into the red blood cell. Understanding the function of the proteins involved in parasite invasion and host cell remodelling is important for the development of a vaccine and new treatments required to treat and control this disease.

Our laboratories are also interested in the identification of small molecules with antimalarial activity, which are used to discover and interrogate biological mechanisms essential to the malaria parasite and also as a platform to develop new antimalarial agents.




Professor Alan Cowman

Alan Cowman standing in a laboratory
Laboratory Head; Deputy Director, Science Strategy

Project Type:

Interview with Justin Boddey

The institute's malaria research team is homing in on a new target for malaria treatment

Bacteria growing in petri dishes

Our malaria research program and why research the disease.