Group Leader: Katie Smith

Katie Smith


Katie Smith

Group website:

Phone Number: +27 21 406 6220

Office Address: Room 3.20, Falmouth Bldg

We are interested in how exposure to parasitic worm infections can alter important diseases, such as cancer. The interaction between parasite infection and cancer is particularly important in the developing world, where over 2 billion people are infected with parasitic worms. In these countries, infectious disease contributes to over 1/3 of cancers. It is currently not clear how parasite infection affects cancer cell development.

We are currently studying the impact of parasites and their products on different phases of cancer, including the inflammation underlying colorectal cancer (inflammatory bowel disease), the initiation of cervical cancer by viruses such as human papillomavirus and the growth, invasion and spread of cancer, once it is established. We hope this knowledge will allow the design of novel therapeutics to control and treat disease.


Helminth immune-regulation group

Helminth immune-regulation group



Prof Sharon Prince (UCT), Dr Georgia Shafer (UCT), Prof Awen Gallimore (Cardiff University), Prof Valerie O’Donnell (Cardiff University), A/Prof William Horsnell (UCT, University of Birmingham), Prof Rick Maizels (Glasgow University).


Katherine Smith - Google Scholar


Recent publications:

  1. Jacobs B, Chetty A, Horsnell W, Shafer G, Prince S and Smith KA (2018). Hookworm exposure decreases human papillomavirus uptake and cervical cancer cell migration through systemic regulation of epithelial-mesenchymal transition marker expression. Scientific Reports 8:11547
  2. Godkin A and Smith KA (2017). Chronic infection with viruses or parasites: breaking bad to make good. Immunology 150:389-396
  3. Smith KA, Filbey KJ, Reynolds LA, Hewitson JP, Harcus Y, Boon L, Sparwasser T, Hämmerling G, Maizels RM (2016). Low level regulatory T cell activity is essential for functional type-2 effector immunity to expel gastrointestinal helminths. Mucosal Immunol 9:428-43.
  4. Thawer S, Auret J, Schnoeller C, Chetty A, Smith K et al., (2016). Surfactant Protein-D Is Essential for Immunity to Helminth Infection. PLoS Pathog 12:e1005461.
  5. Smith KA and Maizels RM (2014). IL-6 controls susceptibility to helminth infection by impeding Th2 responsiveness and altering Treg phenotype in vivo. Eur J Immunol 44:150-61.
  6. Reynolds LA, Smith KA, Filbey KJ, Harcus Y, Hewitson JP, Yebra MJ, Maizels RM (2014). Commensal-pathogen interactions in the intestinal tract: Lactobacilli promote infection with, and are promoted by, helminth parasites. Gut Microbes 5:522-32.
  7. Reynolds LA, Harcus Y, Smith KA, Webb LM, Hewitson JP et al., (2014). MyD88 signaling inhibits protective immunity to the gastrointestinal helminth parasite Heligmosomoides polygyrus. J Immunol 193:2984-93.
  8. McSorley HJ, Blair NF, Smith KA, McKenzie ANJ, Maizels RM (2014). Blockade of IL-33 release and suppression of type 2 innate lymphoid cell responses by helminth secreted products in airway allergy. Mucosal Immunol 7:1068-78.
  9. Filbey KJ, Grainger JR, Smith KA, Boon L, Harcus Y, Jenkins S, Hewitson JP, Maizels RM (2014). Innate and adaptive type 2 immune cell responses in genetically controlled resistance to intestinal helminth infection. Immunol and Cell Biol 92:436-48.
  10. Smith KA, Harcus YM, Garbi N, Hammerling GJ, MacDonald AS and Maizels RM (2012). Type 2 innate immunity in helminth infection is induced redundantly and acts autonomously following CD11c(+) cell depletion. Infect Immun 80:3481-9.
  11. Smith KA, Hochweller K, Hammerling G, Boon L, MacDonald A, Maizels RM (2011). Chronic helminth infection promotes immune regulation in vivo through dominance of CD11cloCD103- dendritic cells. J Immunol 186:7098-109.