Bunnik Lab

Home | Research | People | Publications | Contact | Protocols
Research | अनुसंधान | Onderzoek | 科研方向 | Investigación | Исследование | Recherche
A mosquito taking a blood meal (image obtained from the CDC) and red blood cells infected with the malaria parasite.
BACKGROUND | Malaria is caused by a parasite of the Plasmodium species that is transmitted from human to human by a mosquito. During the stage of the parasite’s life cycle that causes symptomatic disease in the human host, the parasite replicates inside red blood cells. Infected individuals develop an immune response against this stage of the parasite. In endemic regions, people often experience many episodes of malaria in their life, which boosts their immune response against the parasite to a level that protects against symptomatic disease. However, this protective immunity takes years to develop, leaving children highly susceptible to severe disease and death.
 "We study the development of protective immunity against  the malaria parasite to facilitate the design of an effective anti-malaria vaccine."   —Dr. Bunnik
GOALS | A vaccine that elicits a protective immune response against Plasmodium and effectively inhibits parasite replication would be a breakthrough in the fight against malaria. A handful of parasite antigens has been tested as vaccine candidates, but with little success. The identification of novel vaccine candidates is therefore a high priority. A better understanding of the development of the protective immune response against Plasmodium would be an important contribution towards this goal. One approach to increase our knowledge about protective immunity is to learn from nature, i.e. to study immune responses during natural infection. In the Bunnik Lab, we have four major goals.

1. Understanding the development and maintenance of protective immunity to malaria.
2. Elucidating mechanisms of parasite escape from immunity.
3. Identifying parasite antigens that may be suitable novel candidates for vaccine development.
4. Studying the role of gene expression & chromatin structure of immune cells on their function.
3D view of the malaria parasite's genome organization (Bunnik et al., 2014) and malaria parasite blood cultures.
APPROACH | To study the development of humoral immune responses against the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, the Bunnik Lab performs a combination of molecular biology, functional genomics, and cell-based high-throughput assays. We like to use the most advanced equipment and methodologies, such as liquid robot handlers and next-generation sequencing, to generate large data sets in a way that is as comprehensive and unbiased as possible.
Home | Research | People | Publications | Contact | Protocols

San Antonio, TX   |   June 2016   |   Website Design © Sebastiaan Bol