Our research program focuses upon two major areas dealing with the molecular mechanism of chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy (CCC) development in response to acute infection with Trypanosoma cruzi, and the development of vaccination approaches for control of T. cruzi. In our first program, we use in situ expression systems to identify and investigate (i) the parasite molecules that might be essential for growth, development and survival of T. cruzi, and (ii) the mechanism of changes in gene regulation and signaling cascade activities in host in response to acute infection that contribute to the aberration of heart cytoskeleton and mitochondrial dysfunction leading to the development of CCC.
Our second program focuses upon screening the T. cruzi genome and identification of vaccine candidates. In previous studies, we have shown the usefulness of T. cruzi secretory and GPI-anchored proteins in elicitation of protective immune responses and partial protection from challenge infection. We are now exploiting the computational and molecular approaches for the entification of the secretory and membrane-associated proteins of T. cruzi. The usefulness of these genes as vaccine candidates will be tested in collaboration with other laboratories. The goal of these studies is to develop optimal vaccine cocktail that provides maximal protective immunity to T. cruzi in a variety of host strains.