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Infectious disease

We're investigating the role of the immune system in infectious diseases such as influenza, hepatitis B and parasitic infection to find new opportunities for treatments and cures.


Understanding how infectious agents, whether virus, bacteria or parasite, influence and modulate the human immune system to avoid detection and expulsion from the body is a key area of research at the Malaghan Institute. Not only is it helping shape new avenues for treating infectious diseases, but it is creating opportunities for targeting and treating overreactive immune conditions such as asthma and allergy, and has applications in cancer research.


Current research


The Malaghan Institute is progressing work on a number of second generation COVID-19 vaccines and undertaking post-roll out effectiveness studies on the Pfizer vaccine, with a particular focus on the New Zealand population.

Parasitic infection and disease

Parasitic worms show a remarkable ability to selectively modulate the human immune system to avoid detection and expulsion without disrupting the rest of the immune system, offering a unique insight on how we might use them to improve human health. Additionally, by better understanding how these worms achieve this, we’re investigating ways to prevent chronic worm infections in humans in those situations where the level of parasite infection can be harmful.

Hepatitis B

The breakthrough application of novel natural killer T-cell activating agents to drive targeted vaccines by the Cancer Immunotherapy team has moved into the next phase of development through Avalia Immunotherapies, investigating when it might prove useful in preventing chronic hepatitis B in humans.


A trans-Tasman collaboration between the Ferrier Research Institute, the University of Melbourne, Avalia Immunotherapies and the Malaghan Institute have laid the groundwork for developing a novel malaria vaccine. Still in exploratory development, the project aims to utilise Avalia Immunotherapies unique vaccine technology to  stimulate T-cells in the liver against the malaria parasite, preventing a crucial stage of its development.