Mainly looking at vitamin utilisation pathways, but also pH regulation, in the red blood cell stage of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. We are investigating these pathways/processes as potential drug targets for new antimalarials.
On the vitamin side of things, it's probably the demonstration that the human malaria parasite synthesises it's own coenzyme A from pantothenate (vitamin B5). P. falciparum was previously believed to acquire coenzyme A directly from the host cell.
Next big thing
We are just getting set up to start using P. knowlesi - a monkey malaria parasite capable of infecting humans. This parasite has recently been adapted for in vitro culture in human red blood cells and it is highly amenable to genetic manipulation. We are hoping that it will dramatically increase our capacity to generate transgenic human malaria parasites.
Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915) - considered to be the founder of chemotherapy. He developed the first modern chemotherapeutic agent (arsphenamine, to treat syphilis) in the early 1900s and coined the term "magic bullet" for drugs specifically targeting infectious organisms.
Source: RSB Newsletter, July 2013.