Researchers from Virginia, USA have revealed the genome of Cryptosporidium hominis, a water-borne parasite that causes diarrhoea.
The researchers have uncovered a sequence that highlights a number of proteins that might be targeted with drugs against the disease.
Currently no therapy exists for prevention or treatment of infection with Cryptosporidium hominis.
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.
|Cryptosporidiosis strikes all over the world, and can kill those with weak immunity|
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.
Dr Buck commented, "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."