Generous support of health and medical research at Flinders is helping researchers tackle the ‘world’s most successful parasite’ – Toxoplasma – a cause of eye damage and vision loss.
Flinders University researcher Professor Justine Smith has been awarded a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant to help her ongoing work into the clinical disease that results from Toxoplasma, termed toxoplasmosis.
Ocular toxoplasmosis – based in the retina – is the most common form of the infection, with recurrent attacks progressively damaging the retina, and vision loss occurring in over 50 per cent of affected eyes.
At present there are no approved vaccines to protect against Toxoplasma infection, and there are no drugs to clear Toxoplasma from the body.
“Ocular toxoplasmosis is a neglected global public health issue…Toxoplasma is often called the world’s most successful parasite,” Professor Smith says.
“It infects approximately one-third of the world population and up to 66 per cent of Australians.
“Our ultimate role is to limit retinal destruction in ocular toxoplasmosis by targeting key inflammatory proteins.
“We have developed a new human model of ocular toxoplasmosis using retinal organoids, and in this project, we’re aiming to develop methods for evaluating destructive inflammation using this model.”
Research category: Eye Health
Project title: Human Retinal Organoid Model for Studying New Treatments of Ocular Toxoplasmosis
Lead researcher: Professor Justine Smith
Flinders Foundation acknowledges the Kaurna people as the traditional custodians of the land on which the Flinders precinct was established. We acknowledge the Kaurna people’s deep and ongoing connection to land, waters and community, and pay our respect to their Elders, past and present.