May 3, 2019
By Damian Oyong
The latest project of my PhD revolves around understanding and identifying cellular immune responses that mediate induction of protective functional antibody against malaria. This project is led by my supervisor, Dr. Michelle Boyle at QIMR-Berghofer and in collaboration with Dr. Jo-Anne Chan at Burnet Institute.
Recently, we have successfully characterised cellular responses (T-follicular helper cells and B-cells) that are induced in individuals with malaria infection. Our next aim is to measure antibody levels with different protective functional mechanisms in those individuals. The ACREME travel grant has allowed me to achieve this goal by sponsoring my visit to Prof. James Beeson’s laboratory at Burnet Institute in Melbourne. The Beeson laboratory has expertise in performing a number of novel antibody assays which assess antibody function. From the collaborative visit, we managed to determine levels of functional antibodies in malaria-infected individuals including antibody-mediated complement deposition, antibody Fc receptor affinity, and antibody-mediated opsonic phagocytosis. Next step for the project is to identify cellular immune responses that correlate with functional antibody levels. Outcomes from this project will increase our understanding of naturally acquired immune response to malaria, with the long-term goal of contributing to vaccine research.
During my trip, I also had the opportunity to present my recent findings at a meeting in Burnet Institute as well as at Lorne’s Infection and Immunity conference. The presentation sessions allowed me to receive constructive inputs from other experts and have exciting discussions about infectious diseases and immunology.
I am very grateful to ACREME for providing me with this travel opportunity where I get to visit Burnet Institute and developed my skills in performing functional antibody assays. I would like to thank Prof. James Beeson, Dr. Jo-Anne Chan, and the team for providing excellent training and generous hospitality.