My main research interest in the causative agent of human African trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness, the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei.
One area of interest is the transferrin receptor of bloodstream forms of T. brucei which structure is completely different from that of the mammalian transferrin receptor. Especially, I am interested in the interaction between host transferrin and the trypanosomal transferrin receptor. In particular, I want to determine the epitope of host transferrin that is involved in binding to the trypanosomal transferrin receptor. This will be done by crystallography of the ligand-receptor-complex in collaboration with Professor Changjiang Dong. Knowledge of this epitope will provide information for designing peptides that are able to interfere with the binding of host transferrin to the trypanosomal transferrin receptor and could be the starting point for the development of peptidomimetic inhibitors and non-peptide inhibitors as trypanocidal agents.
Another area of interest is the screening of compounds for antimicrobial activity. Especially, I have an interest in the antitrypanosomal activity of cysteine protease, proteasome and topoisomerase inhibitors. Primarily, I am testing natural and synthetic compounds for their trypanocidal and cytotoxic activities using cell culture based assays. These investigations are carried out in collaboration with different partners from all over the world. In addition, I have also an interest in screening compounds for activity against fungal infections (e.g. Candida ssp.).
A third area of interest in the diagnosis of neglected tropical diseases. I am particular interested in the development of PCR based methods for diagnosis of trypanosomatid infections (Trypanosoma ssp. andLeishmania ssp.). I am also interested in the diagnosis of helminth infections (Echinococcus ssp.) using immunological methods.