His research has revealed significant detail about how the P. falciparum malaria parasite invades and remodels human red blood cells to multiply and establish infection while escaping the immune responses deployed against it. Collectively, this knowledge is being used to identify vaccine and drug candidates against malaria.
Professor Cowman and his colleagues have received funding from PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) to progress a 'multi-component subunit' vaccine into clinical development; the vaccine is made up of three proteins they identified as being critical for the function of the parasite. The research has also led Professor Cowman and his colleagues to develop the first potential malaria vaccine that uses a whole, genetically modified malaria parasite to protect against infection. The malaria vaccine began human Phase I trials in 2010, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and in collaboration with the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
Professor Doug Hilton, director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, said he was pleased to see Professor Cowman's contribution to the field of malaria recognised by the society. "Professor Cowman has developed tools and knowledge that have greatly increased understanding of the malaria parasite and how it causes disease in humans. We are now at the stage of seeing those critical discoveries pave the way for new vaccines and treatments for the prevention of malaria, which could have an enormous impact on the three billion people at-risk of contracting malaria across the globe," he said.
Fellow Australians Professor Ian Frazer, Professor Mark Randolph and Dr Patrick Tam were also honoured with a Royal Society Fellowship this year. The Royal
|Contact: Liz Williams|
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute