Current projects

Molecular parasitology laboratory

Research project

Juvenile liver fluke which is the target of our vaccine control program.

The Spithill lab is interested in determining the kinetics of expression of tegument membrane proteins during fluke development and to study the effect of protein knock-down on fluke biology.

This project will use in vitro culture techniques we have discovered to allow the fluke to develop from the juvenile stage to the immature liver stage.

  • We will characterise gene and protein expression profiles in the developing flukes to define which tegument proteins are switched on at different stages in the life cycle in the host.
    Buffalo in Nanning, China, which are a natural host for liver fluke and a key target for a fluke vaccine.
  • Using RNAi techniques, we will evaluate how knock-down of different proteins influence the parasite’s behavior in vitro and in vivo.
  • We will evaluate how tegument proteins associate to create the overall tegument structure.

These studies will help define the functional role of various tegument proteins in fluke development and the ability of the parasite to infect the host. These studies will allow us to prioritise certain tegument proteins as drug or vaccine targets.

This research will involve techniques in parasite biology, RNA seq analysis, proteomic analysis, in vitro culture, vaccine studies and host infection.