From Dreams to Reality – Preventing Epilepsy in Poor, Developing Countries by Vaccination Against a Cestode Parasite
Free Public Lecture
The Craig Auditorium
The Gateway Building (Next to University of Melbourne Sports Centre)
Trinity College, Tin Alley
T: (03) 8344 2071
DC Blood Oration
Diseases caused by parasites such as worms, ticks and protozoa have been remarkably difficult to prevent by vaccination. Indeed, there has never been any vaccine for use in humans against parasitic disease.
Despite these daunting prospects, Professor Lightowler and his team have sought to develop a vaccine to prevent epilepsy in humans caused by Taenia solium, a parasite transmitted to humans by pigs in areas with poor sanitation. This parasitic infection causes more than half the epilepsy cases in areas where it is common, including in communities in India, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. Vaccinating pigs would greatly reduce human infections.
Using genetic engineering techniques, the team were successful in developing an effective vaccine. With support from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, the vaccine has been developed further and is now available as a registered product. In collaboration with groups in Mexico, Peru, Nepal, Tanzania, Uganda and Madagascar and with the backing of World Health Organization. They are now endeavouring to determine the most effective and sustainable program for use of the vaccine.
This lecture is part of the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences' Dean's Lecture Series.
Laureate Professor Marshall Lightowlers, Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, University of Melbourne
Laureate Professor Marshall Lightowlers
Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, University of Melbourne
Principal Research Fellow, National Health and Medical Research Council
Honours 2015 Presidents prize, International Association of Echinococcosis 2012 ʻ10 of the Best’ Award, National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia 2012 Presidents Prize, Australian Veterinary Association 2011 Laureate Professorship, Melbourne University 1998 BancroftMackerras Medal, Australian Society for Parasitology Elected positions Secretary, Australian Society for Parasitology, 1990/91 Council Member, Australian Society for Parasitology 19911994 President, Australian Society for Parasitology, 19956 Fellow, Australian Society for Parasitology 2004 Scientific Contributions and Research Funding Member of the research team which developed the world’s first defined antigen vaccine against a parasitic disease (Nature, 338:585, 1989); recognised as a Milestone in the History of Parasitology (Cox, Parasitology Today 9: 3478; 1993; Maizels, Immunological Reviews 171:125, 1999). Development of highly effective vaccines against other taeniid cestode parasites, including E. granulosus (Parasite Immunology, 18:457, 1996), E. multilocularis (Infection and Immunity 70: 3969, 2002), T. taeniaeformis (Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, 44:43, 1991), T. saginata (Experimental Parasitology, 84:330, 1996) and T. solium (Infection and Immunity 72: 5292, 2004). Coinventor on internationallygranted patents for vaccinerelated technology (US patents 5348740, 5348740, 5192538, 5366728, 5599672, 5618542). Two vaccines registered internationally and in commercial production. Supervision of 23 successfully completed PhD research studentships. Authorship of 230 internationallyrefereed publications. Recipient of more than $25M research funding, including from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Continuous competitive medical research funding support 1989 2019. Invited and sponsored to present plenary or symposium lectures on 95 occasions at international and national scientific congresses, including on 26 occasions in the last 5 years.