Grants awarded

Defining oocyst wall biogenesis and function in Cryptosporidium transmission

Grantholder:

Dr Mattie Pawlowic

University of Dundee

United Kingdom

Diarrhoeal disease is responsible for 10% of the deaths of children under five years old worldwide and Cryptosporidium is the second leading cause. There is no vaccine and the only therapy available provides no benefit to those with the highest risk of disease – young children and patients with a compromised immune system. We need a better understanding of Cryptosporidium to enable the discovery of drugs that could target the parasite.

I will use a biochemical and genetic approach to investigate transmission and identify potential therapeutic targets. Cryptosporidium are water-borne parasites that are transmitted in a hardy ‘oocyst’ shell. This shell renders them resistant to chlorination which is a common, low-cost water treatment. I have developed genetic tools that will allow us to study how Cryptosporidium builds its protective shell. By manipulating parasite genes, we can understand their role in oocyst formation and transmission.

Understanding Cryptosporidium transmission may illuminate new targets for desperately needed therapeutics.