CIHR Grant for biochemistry research into Apicomplexa

UVic biochemist Martin Boulanger is recieiving a five-year $825,000 project grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to continue research into how Apicomplexa—the group of single-celled parasites that cause toxoplasmosis and severe malaria—invade host cells.

Both of these illnesses are devastating to human health around the globe. Toxoplasmosis can cause food-borne illness, eye disease and death in patients with compromised immune systems. If transmitted to a fetus, toxoplasmosis is known to cause neonatal abnormalities or death.

Nearly 3.4 billion people live in at-risk zones for malaria, resulting in more than 200 million clinical cases and half a million deaths per year, 85 per cent of which are young children.

Boulanger will build on previous research in which his team mapped out how these parasites build a doorway into host cells. The CIHR funding will allow him to understand on a molecular level how the parasites use a unique motor-based mechanism to propel themselves through that doorway into host cells.

“Once we better understand how they enter a cell, we can leverage that information to find new therapies that inhibit their progress,” says Boulanger.

For more information on CIHR funding at UVic read The Ring