Pegine’s laboratory works on kinetoplastid parasites which cause human disease worldwide; afflicting the poorest of society. The Leishmaniases currently infect 12 million people with 2 million new cases annually. It is the second biggest killer of parasitic diseases and 70% of those infected are under 15yrs old. No vaccine exists, available treatments have toxic side effects and resistance to existing treatments is on the rise.
Research centers on regulators of Leishmania parasite differentiation that enable human leukocyte infection, with emphasis on post-transcriptional control as the primary mode of gene regulation. Leishmania parasites infect distinct host environments and this requires concise and responsive adaptation to survive. Gene regulators and signaling pathways that initiate parasite response to host cells and enable adaptation have yet to be identified and are key to combating the diseases caused by these parasites. Regulatory systems enabling parasite development are characterized using a combination of molecular, biochemical, genetic and bioinformatic techniques, utilising transcriptomic and proteomic approaches to isolate human-infectious stage specific regulators.