Rabbit as an Animal Model of Pediatric Cryptosporidiosis
Xun Suo of China Agricultural University in China will develop a rabbit model of cryptosporidiosis that mimics the human disease, which presents as severe diarrhea particularly in young children, to help identify new treatments. Current animal models of infection by the parasite Cryptosporidium are suboptimal: mice are not naturally infected, while pigs and calves can be infected but are expensive and more difficult to manage, and none show the same symptoms as humans. Rabbits are naturally infected by Cryptosporidium and display human-related symptoms. They are also practical to handle and breed, and are relatively inexpensive. They will isolate infective oocysts from diseased rabbits in the wild, and establish the infection in the laboratory. They will also devise protocols to evaluate the disease such as scoring the severity of symptoms, and sequencing the parasite strains. The value of their model as a screening platform for identifying new drugs will also be tested.