The 28 Oct 2004 issue of Nature (Vol. 431, No. 7012) reveals the genome of Cryptosporidium hominis, a common water-borne parasite that triggers diarrhoea and is sometimes fatal (pp. 1107-1112). The sequence highlights a number of proteins that might be targeted with drugs against the disease, for which no therapy currently exists.
Within C. hominis’ 9.2 million base pairs, Gregory Buck and his colleagues found that the organism's genes are remarkably suited to its lifestyle. It has, for example, different sets of metabolic genes that allow it to survive successfully in either oxygen-rich contaminated water or in the oxygen-deficient but nutrient-rich cells of the human gut.
The authors suggest that one of these metabolic pathways could be crippled with drugs - or that one of its proteins might form the basis for a future vaccine. Cryptosporidiosis strikes all over the world, and can kill those with weak immunity; one notable waterborne outbreak in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1993 affected more than 400,000 people.
Gregory Buck (Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA)
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(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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