Wi Immunologists
Simon Babayan

Much of my work falls under the project title "When host immunity benefits nematode parasites: implications for host-parasite evolution and vaccine development" and is a collaboration with Judi Allen and Andrea Graham.
Parasitic nematodes can alter life history traits in response to their host’s protective immune responses in a way that maximises their fitness. The aim of this project is to determine whether host immune responses generated by vaccination alter transmission of filarial nematodes and to assess whether immunisation strategies must be developed that prevent unexpected negative consequences for the host population.
I analyse nematode transmission as a function of host protective immunity and parasite survival and development. Since L. sigmodontis is the only filarial nematode able to reach patency in immunocompetent laboratory mice, this model will be the primary focus of this project. I design L. sigmodontis infections of primary-infected vs. vaccinated immunocompetent mice, of wild-type vs. transgenic mice that lack all or part of adaptive immunity (il-4, il-5, and rag knock-outs), and of mice treated with depleting antibodies and recombinant cytokines. The fitness of the filariae is assessed through their development, fertility and transmission potential to the vector. Newly defined molecular markers of developmental stage are used in addition to morphological analysis. The study, in addition to addressing fundamental evolutionary questions, will begin to address the mechanistic basis of the interaction between host immunity and parasite development.

Simon Babayan's Web Page