Emerging treatment options for cryptosporidiosis

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2021 Oct 1;34(5):455-462. doi: 10.1097/QCO.0000000000000761.


Purpose of review: Substantial progress has been made recently on the development of new therapeutics for cryptosporidiosis, an infection by the protozoan parasite Cryptosporidium that is associated with diarrhea, malnutrition, growth stunting, cognitive deficits, and oral vaccine failure in children living in low-resource settings.

Recent findings: Various drug discovery approaches have generated promising lead candidates. The repurposed antimycobacterial drug clofazimine was tested in Malawian HIV patients with cryptosporidiosis but was ineffective. Target-based screens identified inhibitors of lysyl-tRNA synthetase, phenylalanyl-tRNA synthetase, methionyl-tRNA synthetase, and calcium-dependent protein kinase 1. Phenotypic screens led to discovery of a phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase inhibitor, the piperazine MMV665917, and the benzoxaborole AN7973. The relationship between pharmacokinetic properties and in-vivo efficacy is gradually emerging. A pathway to clinical trials, regulatory approval, and introduction has been proposed but additional work is needed to strengthen the route.

Summary: Several lead compounds with potent activity in animal models and a favorable safety profile have been identified. A sustained effort will be required to advance at least one to clinical proof-of-concept studies. The demonstrated risk of resistance indicates multiple candidates should be advanced as potential components of a combination therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiprotozoal Agents* / pharmacology
  • Antiprotozoal Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Cryptosporidiosis* / drug therapy
  • Cryptosporidium*
  • Diarrhea / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections*
  • Humans


  • Antiprotozoal Agents