Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health Science Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Leann Tilley

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Malaria parasite-infected erythrocytes

Every minute, one child in Africa dies from malaria. Around the world, the mosquito-borne parasite kills more than 600,000 people each year, most of them children and pregnant women, while another 225 million people suffer illness as a result of malaria infections.

Carried by the anopheles mosquito, the tiny malaria parasite invades the victim's red blood cells where it starts devouring the red cell haemoglobin and changing the cells so that the infected red blood cells stick to blood vessel walls. This leads to the typical symptoms of fever and headaches, but in severe cases results in coma and death.

Electron tomography image of the malaria parasite a the host red blood cell

Electron tomography of the malaria parasite, P. falciparum. The rendered models show different stages of development of the parasite in its host, a red blood cell.

The Tilley lab is working as part of a global effort to understand and control malaria. We undertake research in the areas of cell biology and drug development related to the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. We are particularly interested in how the parasite alters the erythrocyte surface to cause malaria pathology, as well as the remarkable transformation that turns parasites banana-shaped and allows them to be transmitted from a human host to a mosquito vector. We also investigate the action of and resistance to artemisinin, with a view to designing better antimalarial drugs.

Research areas Techniques Biography Publications Lab personnel
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