Blackman lab Malaria Biochemistry Laboratory

Clusters of malaria parasites growing inside human red blood cells.

We are studying the malaria parasite to understand how it develops and replicates to improve treatment for the disease.

Malaria is a devastating disease that kills around half a million people across the world every year, creating a huge health and economic burden for many developing countries. Right now there is no vaccine against the parasite that causes malaria, and resistance to the most common antimalarial drugs is increasing.

The malaria parasite infects and multiplies within red blood cells. These eventually burst to release more parasites that invade other host cells to continue the infection process. We know that invasion depends on a complex set of proteins that help the malaria parasite enter red blood cells. And we also know that a group of enzymes called kinases and proteases control the release of parasites from red blood cells.

We want to better understand how these enzymes work by studying their three-dimensional structure and molecular functions in great detail. Our knowledge is helping to inform the development, design and targeting of new vaccines and anti-malaria drugs, which we hope will help to treat and control this disease, reducing its global impact and saving lives.