Helminths and the immune system: regulation, regulators and immunity


  • Prof Richard Maizels

    University of Edinburgh

Project summary

Helminths are intestinal and tissue parasites which have evolved sophisticated means of blocking the host immune system. Even today they infect over two billion people around the globe, but as yet no vaccines are available. Helminths are also associated with down-regulating 'bystander' reactions such as allergies, and other inflammatory diseases associated with modern lifestyles. By taking a molecular approach, Professor Maizels is identifying individual products from helminths which are able to suppress these inflammatory diseases, as potential new 'drugs from bugs'. Such defined molecules may offer the immuno-regulatory benefits of helminths while causing none of the harm of live infections. This research will also design new ways of building host immunity against infection, using these same molecules as targets for vaccines, and defining how to stimulate key types of immune-system cells to eliminate the parasites.