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Breakthrough research turns the tide on water-borne pathogen
Date:1/25/2008

. Surprisingly, the researchers also discovered that Cryptosporidium stole a critical gene in this pathway from intestinal bacteria. This unusually large evolutionary divergence between parasite and host proteins provides an unexpected platform for novel drug design.

The stolen bacterial gene encodes a gatekeeper protein, known as IMPDH, which is essential for parasite growth. Hedstrom and her colleagues set out to find compounds that bind to the part of the parasites IMPDH that is most different from human IMPDH. They tested 40,000 compounds using the facilities of the National Screening Laboratory for the Regional Centers of Excellence in BioDefense and Emerging Infectious Disease (NSRB/NERCE) at Harvard Medical School, and identified ten compounds that inhibited the parasite protein, but not the human counterpart. Four of these compounds are effective in stopping Cryptosporidium infection in the laboratory.

The quest to develop drugs to treat this debilitating disease has been almost futile, said Hedstrom. We are still a long way from an actual anticryptosporidial drug, but we are very encouraged by these results.


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Contact: Laura Gardner
gardner@brandeis.edu
781-736-4204
Brandeis University
Source:Eurekalert

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