Joachim Michael Matz's group will investigate the cell biology of the most dangerous malaria pathogen, Plasmodium falciparum. They are particularly interested in the so-called food vacuole. Here, the parasite digests up to 80 percent of the red blood pigment of its host cells, the red blood cells. In this process, the chemical haem is released, which would be toxic for the parasite, but which it packs into bio-crystals and thus detoxifies.
In order to better understand this survival-important adaptation strategy of the parasite, the new research group combines genetic manipulations with quantitative microscopy and with methods of chemical biology. The aim is to find new starting points for the development of innovative antimalarial drugs.