Associate Professor Ian Cockburn, Malaria Immunology, Department of Pathogens and Immunity, JCSMR, ANU.
It is over 100 years since the discovery that malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, however we are still learning about the lifecycle and behaviour of the Plasmodium parasite in both the vector and the host. In this seminar I will discuss recent contributions to our understanding of parasite biology and immunology made possible by intra-vital imaging form our lab and others. Upon biting, the malaria-infected mosquitoes deposit parasites in the skin, many of which eventually exit to the bloodstream and infect hepatocytes. However, some parasites enter the skin draining lymph node where their antigens may initiate immune responses in particular by CD8+ T cells. These CD8+ T cells then migrate to the liver where they cluster around infected hepatocytes in a chemokine-dependent fashion to eliminate parasites. This enhanced understanding of the parasite lifecycle and immunity to malaria may help us to develop better vaccines to this major pathogen.