Cryptosporidium is one of the world's worst and most common causes of diarrhoea and causes death from diarrhoea. In most healthy people, a cryptosporidium infection produces a bout of watery diarrhea and the infection usually goes away within a week or two.
If you have a compromised immune system, a cryptosporidium infection can become life-threatening without proper treatment. A research team at the University of Kent has established the first long-term cultivation system at a laboratory scale for the parasite Cryptosporidium.
‘Cryptosporidium infection is an illness caused by tiny, one-celled cryptosporidium parasites. New research has established the first long-term cultivation system for Cryptosporidium parasites at a laboratory scale.’
Cryptosporidium causes the diarrhoeal disease Cryptosporidiosis, which is usually spread by contaminated water supplies. The important role of Cryptosporidium as a cause of diarrhoea has been established in recent years, and outbreaks feature regularly in news headlines. Cryptosporidium-caused diarrhoea is the second major cause of death from childhood diarrhoea. In addition, individuals with an impaired immune system are at great risk.
There are no treatments for Cryptosporidium and so far, research on it has been limited, because the parasite could not be cultivated at a laboratory scale. Research led by Dr Anastasios Tsaousis and Professor Martin Michaelis of the School of Biosciences has now established the first long-term cultivation system for Cryptosporidium parasites at a laboratory scale.
This new cultivation system will transform research on Cryptosporidium:
It will enable large-scale screening for anti-Cryptosporidium drugs.
It will enable many laboratories all over the world to investigate the parasite.
It will enable the studying of the parasite biology in unprecedented detail.
It enables for the first time the long-term storage of the parasite.
It will dramatically reduce the number of animals needed for the investigation and production of the parasite.
The team has already gained important new insights into the life cycle of the parasite.