Intestinal Pathogens Research
The Intestinal Pathogens Research lab seeks to define mechanisms of intestinal defense and repair in infectious enteritis and identify rational approaches to nutritional and pharmacologic enhancement of epithelial repair. Toward this end, our laboratory is focused on the study of two enteric protozoal pathogens; Cryptosporidium parvum and Tritrichomonas foetus as well as the role of enteric bacteria in both inflammatory bowel disease and necrotizing enterocolitis.
Cryptosporidium parvum infects the single columnar epithelial lining of the small intestine. This epithelium is the first line of defense against translocation of luminal bacteria, antigens, or endotoxin into the body while also being responsible for selective absorption of the majority of nutrients, electrolytes and water required for life. Infection with C. parvum is a leading cause of diarrhea in infants worldwide and in adults with HIV. Contamination of municipal water supplies with C. parvum oocysts has resulted in the largest outbreaks of waterborne diarrhea in U.S. history. Despite intensive effort, a consistently effective antimicrobial therapy for C. parvum infection or means for decontamination of cysts shed into the environment has yet to be identified. Resistance, infectivity and potential for widespread morbidity have ranked C. parvum as a priority pathogen for biodefense research.
Our Lab in the News
- Feline diarrhea could it be T. foetus? – “Chew on This” News from the Maddie’s Institute August 2013
- Feline Excellence in Feline Research Award – AVMA/Winn 2011
- Pesky Parasite Proves Problematic
- Morris Animal Foundation News 2011
Our research isn’t possible without the support of our sponsors. Thanks to the following agencies and foundations for their support:
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
- Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease at UNC-Chapel Hill
- North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute
- Morris Animal Foundation
- Winn Feline Foundation
- Waltham Foundation