The Malaria Programme joined with the Infection Genomics Programme to form the new Parasites and Microbes Programme in 2018
We develop and enhance high-throughput tools and technologies for malaria research to enable us to understand specific biological problems relevant for malaria control and to understand the fundamental science of human host, mosquito vector and Plasmodium pathogen.
The Malaria Programme integrates genomic, genetic and proteomic approaches to:
Conduct large-scale, high-resolution analysis of Plasmodium and Anopheles genome variation to understand how they are evolving
Investigate genetic interactions between human, parasite and vector populations
Use molecular, cellular and organismal model systems to investigate how genetic variation affects host-parasite interactions
Developing scalable technologies and resources for Plasmodium experimental genetics using both in vitro and in vivo model systems
Develop new methods to investigate extracellular low-affinity interactions between P. falciparum extracellular proteins and host receptors
Malaria is a debilitating and sometimes fatal illness that is caused by infection with Plasmodium parasites that are passed between people by Anopheles mosquitoes. Despite progress in fighting the illness, nearly half the world's population - 3.4 billion people in 97 countries - are at risk. In 2012, there were 207 million reported cases and 627,000 deaths, with the majority of deaths among African children under the age of five (WHO Malaria Report, 2013). Developing an effective malaria vaccine and fighting antimalarial drug resistance remain major global public health challenges.
By integrating genomics with experimental research and operating both at scale, the Malaria programme is uniquely placed to tackle key challenges in malaria control, including the development of effective genomic surveillance of drug and insecticide resistance, and identifying and validating new drug and vaccine targets.
The Malaria Programme develops and applies high-throughput and large-scale platforms to significantly expand our understanding of natural genetic variation in human hosts, Plasmodium parasites and Anopheles vector populations; to enable large-scale genetic modification of Plasmodium parasites; and to identify host-parasite protein-protein interactions. We collaborate closely with other Sanger Institute research Programmes, particularly Infection Genomics, Cellular Genetics and Human Genetics.
The Anopheles Gambiae 1000 Genome project is a global collaboration using whole genome deep sequencing to provide a high-resolution view of genetic variation in natural populations of Anopheles gambiae, the principal vector of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Africa.
ARNIE is an online database that integrates the extracellular protein interaction network generated in our lab using AVEXIS technology with spatiotemporal expression patterns for all genes in the network.
Some mosquitoes are better at transmitting malaria parasites than others. Likewise, some parasites are better at infecting mosquitoes than others. Our research group uses genomics to investigate these phenomena. We have two major research themes we are working on, described in more detail below.
Marcus Lee’s group is interested in the molecular basis of drug resistance in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, and in developing molecular genetics tools to interrogate gene function in this important pathogen.
Julian Rayner's group investigates the molecular details of human-parasite interactions during the P. falciparum blood stages, with a particular focus on large-scale experimental approaches to understanding erythrocyte invasion.