Research

Research at the department of parasitology

The Department of Parasitology conducts pioneering research on parasitic infections of humans. In particular, in order to participate in the global fight against poverty-related and neglected diseases we are working to develop vaccines against malaria and helminth infections. We are also conducting research on parasite-derived immune modulatory molecules, based on fundamental knowledge of parasite-host interactions, to combat rampant hyper-inflammatory diseases including asthma and type 2 diabetes. In addition, our activities to advance diagnostic methods in parasitology continue to help patient care in and outside the LUMC.

In order to achieve these goals the Department of Parasitology consists of an interdisciplinary group of basic and clinical scientists. The Department actively looks to translate fundamental pre-clinical research into treatments that can contribute to population health and the sustainable development goals. Strong collaborative links to field sites and research institutes in helminth- and malaria- endemic countries support these studies. Furthermore we employ controlled human infection models in human volunteers in order to rapidly develop new and cheaper vaccines and medicines. The research structure of the Department is integrated such that the different research lines are highly interlinked (see Scheme below)


Vaccines

In the Department of Parasitology, pre-clinical and clinical vaccine research is conducted aiming at the development of vaccines against malaria, schistosomiasis, and hookworm infections. 

For each of these parasitic infections controlled human infection models  with human volunteers have been developed that allow rapid safety and efficacy testing of new vaccines. 

Our pre-clinical vaccine research is aimed at understanding host-parasite interactions and protective immune mechanisms in malaria and schistosomiasis, and the identification of novel vaccine targets by studies in human populations and in experimental animal models.

Specific links for more information on our vaccine research activities:

Malaria

In the Department of Parasitology, pre-clinical and clinical research is conducted on malaria.
Specific links for more information on our malaria research activities:

Helminth infections

Helminths are parasitic worms that infect billions of people worldwide. These multicellular macroscopic parasites are the cause of debilitating and devastating diseases with a huge socioeconomic impact, requiring fundamental and translational research into developing therapeutics and diagnostics for their control. We focus in particular on schistosomiasis, the helminth infection with the highest overall impact on human health. In addition, helminth infections strongly influence the immune system of their host by the induction of immunomodulatory and -regulatory networks that can dampen or prevent the development of inflammatory diseases rampant in the worm-free world. Therefore we also aim to unravel immunomodulatory activities of helminths at the molecular level for the development of novel immune modulatory drugs.
Specific links for more information on our helminth research activities: