NIH funding for Richard Bartfai and Henk Stunnenberg

Bartfai, Richard

Dr Richard Bartfai and Prof Henk Stunnenberg (Department of Molecular Biology) have been awarded a 375K USD NIH-supported grant (EuPathDB Driving Biological Project) for their proposal "Placing the Plasmodium falciparum epigenome on the map".  

Plasmodium falciparum is a protozoan parasite that causes the most dangerous form of human malaria, and puts social and economical burden on developing countries worldwide. Emerging resistance against medicines and lack of vaccination emphasize the need for the identification of novel drug targets. Enzymes involved in epigenetic regulation are prime drug targets, as epigenetic changes can readily be reversed and epidrugs are among the successful compounds used for the treatment of cancer. However, our current knowledge on the epigenetic regulatory processes that shape the Plasmodium epigenome is very scarce, but an absolute prerequisite for efficient drug design.

The aim of this project is to generate a comprehensive and integrated set of genome-wide data, combining in vivo localisation maps for numerous epigenetic features (e.g histone post-translational modifications, histone variants) throughout parasite asexual and sexual development. This will provide a great resource for those studying gene regulation, antigenic variation, genome rearrangement or other related biological processes in eukaryotic parasites. These comprehensive maps will also provide the foundation to further research  and likely uncover new avenues for therapeutic intervention that will be vital in the fight against malaria.

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