“Cryptosporidium parvum”, a typical protozoa-infection that causes acute, watery, and non-bloody diarrhea in small children in developing countries and immune-compromised patients is becoming a concern for scientists the world over. This infection may also cause anorexia related watery diarrhea in HIV infection. Such an infection will result in to nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
Resistivity property of these protozoa to the water chlorination has caused massive epidemic in the United States. Scientists have also expressed that it has attained a status of a ‘prospective bio-terrorism agent’. There are neither vaccines nor effective drugs available to respond to these multiple threats to human health.
A major breakthrough has been achieved as scientists at the ‘Brandeis University’ and the ‘University of Georgia’ has been successful in identifying the lead compounds that can resist the attacks of this protozoa. In the published details of this research in the journal “Chemistry and Biology”, the scientists hope that their findings will pave the way for further development of an effective antibiotic treatment.
Scientists have identifies ten new compounds. Four of these compounds have enhanced capacities for fighting ‘Cryptosporidium’. This capacity is better than the conventional compound, the antibiotic ‘paromomycin’.
There is no scarcity of drugs that can be used for the treatment of various types of bacterial infections but it is almost impossible to find any specific drug that treats pathogens like ‘Cryptosporidium’.
Scientists have been further let down as there was very limited knowledge related to the ‘Cryptosporidium metabolism’. This situation recently changed dramatically when genome sequencing provided a genetic blueprint of Cryptosporidium.
Scientists have applied this genetic blueprint as an important tool to discover that ‘Cryptosporidium’ has a very simple process producing the building blocks of DNA and RNA. Researchers were surprised to observe that ‘Cryptosporidium’ takes away a critical gene from the intestinal bacteria in the transition phase. This is an unusually large evolutionary variance between parasite and host proteins. It is the point of good hope for the scientists for future drug development.
Scientists are now making serious attempts to discover new compounds that bind to the part of the parasite’s IMPDH that is drastically different from human IMPDH. Findings based on the testing of over 40,000 compounds revealed that there are ten compounds that inhibited the parasite protein. Laboratory tests have confirmed that four of these compounds are effective in stopping Cryptosporidium infection.
Scientists feel that the development of a specific drug to treat this disease is a distant dream. “We are still a long way from an actual anticryptosporidial drug”, said Hedstrom, the lead scientist.
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