Corporate entry Immunoparasitology Unit (1981 - 1996)
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
- Medical Research
The Immunoparasitology Unit was formed in 1981/82 from the Laboratory of Immunoparasitology (formally part of the Experimental Pathology Unit) and the Molecular Parasitology Laboratory. In 1985 the MacArthur Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology was added to the Unit with a major grant from the John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chicago. The laboratories of the Immunoparasitology Unit were also collectively known as the Parasitology Program from 1983/84 to 1985/86 and as the Molecular Parasitology Unit in 1986/87. Over the next ten years the Unit underwent major changes (see below) and in 1996/97 was renamed the Infection and Immunity Division.
In 1986 the Immunoparasitology Unit was subdivided into the MacArthur Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology, the Malaria Laboratory and the Leishmania Laboratory, which in 1991/92 was renamed the Immunoparasitology Laboratory. The Unit underwent further reorganisation in 1994/95 and was split into six laboratories: the Malaria Cell Biology, Malaria, Immunoparasitology, Molecular Parasitology, Mammalian Genetics and Malaria Immunology.
Throughout all these changes, research in the Unit remained focused on the development of new diagnostic tests and vaccines for the detection and control of parasites in humans and domestic animals. They also examined the relationships between hosts and parasites including infectivity and pathogenicity. Specific objectives were to define and isolate parasite antigens using cDNA libraries and protein structural analysis. With the Molecular Biology Unit they aimed to determine the molecular biology of the parasitic protozoa Plasmodium spp., Babesia bovis and Leishmania spp.
From 1990/91 the Unit concentrated on the molecules involved in immunity and drug-resistance of parasites that cause cerebral malaria and Leishmania major. They later broadened their scope to include Toxoplasma gondii, an important pathogen in AIDS patients. In 1992 the Unit moved into mapping the malarial genome and identifying genes connected with susceptibility to malaria and leishmania. The first safety and immunogenicity trials of a Saramane (malarial) antigen commenced in Basel, Switzerland, in 1991/92. This trial was a collaboration between Saramane Pty Ltd (a consortium made up of the Hall Institute, the QLD Institute of Medical Research, the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, Biotechnology Australia and the Australian Government) and Hoffman-La Roche. In 1995/96 the Unit was involved with a malarial vaccine program in Papua New Guinea, testing a triple antigen combination for safety and immunogenicity in adults.
Emily Geraghty & Annette Alafaci
Created: 17 November 2004, Last modified: 10 October 2019