A class of compounds used for malaria treatment also kill the intestinal parasite Cryptosporidium, a leading cause of diarrheal disease and death in children that has no cure, a multi-institution collaboration of researchers found in a new study.
The compounds, called bicyclic azetidines, specifically target an enzyme responsible for protein production within the parasite, the authors report in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
“There’s an urgent need because young children are dying of this diarrheal pathogen, and there’s no effective medicine to treat the infection nor vaccine to prevent the disease,” said the study’s lead author, Sumiti Vinayak, a pathobiology professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “Immunocompromised patients and agricultural animals, especially young calves, are also very susceptible to Cryptosporidium. This is the first time we have had validation of a compound working on a specific target in this parasite.”
The researchers began by performing a broad analytical