Canada Research Chair in Infectious Diseases
Tier 1 - 2011-03-01
Coming to Canada from
University of Technology Sydney (UTS)
Investigating parasitic infections of animals and humans, and designing ways to counteract the strategies used by parasites.
This research will lead to the development of new vaccines and ways to diagnose and treat major human parasitic diseases such as malaria.
Fighting the global spread of drug-resistant parasites
Malaria kills more than one million people around the world each year. To make matters worse, our available anti-malaria drugs are being depleted by the global spread of drug-resistant parasites.
Malaria parasites are transmitted by mosquitoes and live inside red blood cells, feeding on proteins and breaking them down so that they can use the proceeds as building blocks for their own proteins. Dr. John P. Dalton, Canada Research Chair in Infectious Diseases, is discovering how these parasites survive, which will enable him to identify a plan of attack for the development of urgently needed new treatments.
Dalton is focusing his research on certain digestive enzymes in the parasites. He and his colleagues have determined the three-dimensional structures of these enzymes and are designing new drugs to disable them. These findings are building on his research on “blood fluke” and “liver fluke” worm parasites, which infect 200 million people and kill 20,000 to 80,000 annually.
Dalton is designing ways to counteract the parasite strategy that involves shutting-off the body’s pro-inflammatory response by releasing proteases (a kind of enzyme) once they enter the blood stream. The proteases are then taken up by macrophages (the white blood cells that would normally provoke the pro-inflammatory response) and switch off key cellular signals. This allows the parasite to survive and reproduce in the host for years.
Dalton’s research could lead to new ways to battle malaria, as well as common non-parasitic inflammatory diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes and arthritis.