Associate Professor Brendan McMorran
Brendan McMorran was born in New Zealand and completed his education in Dunedin. He majored in biochemistry at The University of Otago, New Zealand, and graduated with BSc Hons (1993) and PhD (1997). He conducted his postdoctoral studies with Professor Brandon Wainwright at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland (1997-2006), where he worked on cystic fibrosis and host response to lung disease. He was appointed a Senior Research Fellow at Menzies Research Institute, University of Tasmania in 2006 and co-led a research program with Professor Simon Foote investigating the protective role of platelets in malaria infection. This research continued at Macquarie University, Sydney, following his appointment as Associate Professor in 2012. He joined The John Curtin School of Medical Research in December 2014 as an Associate Professor, and continues to lead research programs on platelets and malaria, development of host-directed therapies, and genetic causes of renal disease in Tiwi Islanders. His research is supported by the NHMRC and ARC.
The main focus of my research is to understand the host response to malarial infection. Malaria survival has been a major driver in the evolutionary history of humans and many protective mechanisms have arisen that determine an individuals’ susceptibility to infection. One such mechanism involves platelets, which are able to bind parasite-infected cells and kill the parasite within. Understanding the molecular basis and clinical importance of these observations are major focuses in my group. I am also interested in discovering novel genes and pathways that protect the host during an infection, and using this knowledge to develop so-called host-directed therapies for malaria.
- Supervisor, Host red enzymes as targets for host-directed antimalarial therapy
- Supervisor, Identification and analysis of platelet polymorphisms associated with malaria susceptibility
- Supervisor, Platelet-erythrocyte interactions in the bloodstream
- Supervisor, Studying the interaction between genes and environment in Indigenous Kidney Disease
- Supervisor, Synthetic platelet microbicidal peptides as novel anti-malarial drugs
- Supervisor, The role of platelets in the protection against malarial infection
Platelets and Malaria
- Lawrence N, Dennis ASM, Lehane AM, Ehmann A, Harvey PJ, Benfield AH, Cheneval O, Henriques ST, Craik DJ, McMorran BJ. (2018). Defense peptides engineered from human Platelet Factor 4 kill Plasmodium by selective membrane disruption. Cell Chemical Biology 25(9):1140-1150. PMID: 30033131
- Kho S, Barber BE, Johar E, Andries B, Poespoprodjo JR, Kenangalem E, Piera KA, Ehmann A, Price RN, William T, Woodberry T, Foote S, Minigo G, Yeo TW, Grigg MJ, Anstey NM, McMorran BJ. (2018). Platelets kill circulating parasites of all major Plasmodium species in human malaria. Blood 132(12):1332-1344. PMID: 30026183
- McMorran BJ. (2018). Immune role of platelets in malaria. IBST Science Series doi: 10.1111/voxs.12451
- McMorran BJ, Wieczorski L, Drysdale KE, Chan JA, Huang HM, Smith C, Mitiku C, Beeson JG, Burgio G, Foote SJ. (2012). Platelet factor 4 and Duffy antigen required for platelet killing of Plasmodium falciparum. Science. 338(6112):1348-51. PMID: 23224555
- McMorran BJ, Marshall VM, de Graaf C, Drysdale KE, Shabbar M, Smyth GK, Corbin JE, Alexander WS, Foote SJ. (2009). Platelets kill intraerythrocytic malarial parasites and mediate survival to infection. Science. 323(5915):797-800. PMID: 19197068
Developing Host-directed Therapies for Malaria
- Huang HM, McMorran BJ, Foote SJ, Burgio G. (2018). Host genetics in malaria: lessons from mouse studies, Mammalian Genome 29: 507-22.
- Lelliott PM, Huang HM, Dixon M, Namvar A, Blanch A, Rajagopal V, Tilley L, Coban C, McMorran BJ, Foote SJ, Burgio G. (2017) Erythrocyte beta spectrin can be genetically targeted to protect mice from malaria, Blood Advances 1: 2624-2636
- Smith CM, Jerkovic A, Truong TT, Foote SJ, McCarthy JS, McMorran BJ. (2017) Griseofulvin impairs intraerythrocytic growth of Plasmodium falciparum through ferrochelatase inhibition but lacks activity in an experimental human infection study. Scientific Reports 7: 41975.
- Hortle E, Nijagal B, Bauer DC,… McMorran BJ, Foote SJ, Burgio G. (2016) Adenosine monophosphate deaminase 3 activation shortens erythrocyte half-life and provides malaria resistance in mice. Blood. 128: 1290-301
- Smith CM, Jerkovic A, Puy H, ... McMorran BJ, Foote SJ. (2015) Red cells from ferrochelatase-deficient erythropoietic protoporphyria patients are resistant to growth of malarial parasites. Blood 125(3): 534-41.
- Lelliott PM, McMorran BJ, Foote SJ, Burgio G. (2015) The influence of host genetics on erythrocytes and malaria infection: is there therapeutic potential? Malaria Journal. 14:289
- Brizuela M, Huang HM, Smith C, Burgio G, Foote SJ, McMorran BJ. (2014) Treatment of erythrocytes with the 2-Cys peroxiredoxin inhibitor, Conoidin A, prevents the growth of P. falciparum and enhances parasite sensitivity to chloroquine. PLOS One 9(4): e92411