Jan R. Mead, PhD

Professor

Pediatrics

ARTDTP Research Discipline

The Mead laboratory studies Cryptosporidium parvum, a protozoan parasite that can cause diarrheal illness in both humans and animals. Infections in immunocompromised individuals, such as those with AIDS, often develop into chronic, severe cryptosporidiosis that can become life threatening. Currently, no vaccine to prevent or FDA-approved drug to treat cryptosporidiosis is available for immunocompromised patients, although nitazoxanide is approved for use in immunocompetent patients. Efforts by the Mead laboratory are directed towards identifying therapeutic agents or development of a vaccine. They study IL-18 as a potential modulator in suppressing or ultimately resolving cryptosporidial infections by using attenuated salmonella or probiotic vectors. They also are developing probiotic vaccines using yeast and lactobacillus vectors that target the Peyer’s patch. With respect to drug development, the group works in collaboration to identify efficacious compounds that target IMP dehydrogenase, which catalyzes a key step in guanine nucleotide biosynthesis. The Mead group has worked for several years to identify efficacious compounds for the target IMP dehydrogenase. This enzyme catalyzes a key step in guanine nucleotide biosynthesis. Cryptosporidium has a very streamlined purine salvage pathway that relies on the uptake of adenosine. Guanine nucleotides are obtained by the conversion of AMP to IMP, which is oxidized to XMP and then converted to GMP. The majority of the compounds being screened are currently or previously marketed drugs. Lastly, the laboratory is screening compounds of existing or abandoned drugs for anti-C. parvum activity in vitro and in vivo. 

ARTDTP Faculty Collaborators

Tracey Lamb, PhD

Raymond F. Schinazi, PhD