Novel treatment strategies and drugs in development for cryptosporidiosis

Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2018 Aug;16(8):655-661. doi: 10.1080/14787210.2018.1500457. Epub 2018 Jul 17.


Cryptosporidium is a protozoan pathogen that can cause diarrheal disease in healthy and immunosuppressed individuals, worldwide. Recent studies have highlighted the impact of cryptosporidiosis on children in resource-limited countries. Nitazoxanide is the only Food and Drug Administration approved treatment, but it is not consistently effective therapy for cryptosporidiosis in the most vulnerable populations. Areas covered: This review focused on recent published studies evaluating novel drugs and new compounds for the treatment of cryptosporidiosis. Expert commentary: Combinations of approved drugs have demonstrated some activity. Broad screens have demonstrated activity against Cryptosporidium for a number of available drugs, including statins and clofazimine, and the latter has advanced into clinical trials. Cryptosporidium calcium-dependent protein kinase 1 (CDPK1) has been identified as an attractive target for treatment, and bumped kinase inhibitors have been developed which inhibit CDPK1 and are active against Cryptosporidium growth both in vitro and in vivo. Inhibition of Plasmodium lipid kinase PI(4)K8 of Cryptosporidium by KDU731 greatly reduced oocyst shedding and improved diarrhea in calves with limited effects on the human PI(4)K. Another novel potent inhibitor MMV665917 was efficacious in mouse models with cidal activity against Cryptosporidium. Additional compounds have proved active in vitro. So far, only clofazimine has entered human trials.

Keywords: Cryptosporidium; anticryptosporidial; compound; cryptosporidiosis; drugs; treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / pharmacology
  • Clofazimine / therapeutic use
  • Cryptosporidiosis / drug therapy*
  • Cryptosporidiosis / epidemiology
  • Cryptosporidiosis / parasitology
  • Diarrhea / drug therapy
  • Diarrhea / epidemiology
  • Diarrhea / parasitology
  • Drug Development*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Mice
  • Nitro Compounds
  • Thiazoles / therapeutic use


  • Antiprotozoal Agents
  • Nitro Compounds
  • Thiazoles
  • Clofazimine
  • nitazoxanide