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Adv Parasitol. 2011;77:141-73. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-391429-3.00007-1.

Cryptic parasite revealed improved prospects for treatment and control of human cryptosporidiosis through advanced technologies.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Science, The University of Melbourne, Werribee, Victoria, Australia.


Cryptosporidium is an important genus of parasitic protozoa of humans and other vertebrates and is a major cause of intestinal disease globally. Unlike many common causes of infectious enteritis, there are no widely available, effective vaccine or drug-based intervention strategies for Cryptosporidium, and control is focused mainly on prevention. This approach is particularly deficient for infections of severely immunocompromised and/or suppressed, the elderly or malnourished people. However, cryptosporidiosis also presents a significant burden on immunocompetent individuals, and can, for example have lasting effects on the physical and mental development of children infected at an early age. In the last few decades, our understanding of Cryptosporidium has expanded significantly in numerous areas, including the parasite life-cycle, the processes of excystation, cellular invasion and reproduction, and the interplay between parasite and host. Nonetheless, despite extensive research, many aspects of the biology of Cryptosporidium remain unknown, and treatment and control are challenging. Here, we review the current state of knowledge of Cryptosporidium, with a focus on major advances arising from the recently completed genome sequences of the two species of greatest relevance in humans, namely Cryptosporidium hominis and Cryptosporidium parvum. In addition, we discuss the potential of next-generation sequencing technologies, new advances in in silico analyses and progress in in vitro culturing systems to bridge these gaps and to lead toward effective treatment and control of cryptosporidiosis.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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