Dr. Castellanos has 15 years of experience working in molecular parasitology. He is interested in understanding the role of genes in host-parasite relationships focused in the development new and better treatments against parasitic infections. During his postdoctoral training he was focused in the study of genes expressed in human epithelial primary cells (using microarrays) during Cryptosporidium infection at the laboratory of Dr. Clinton White at Baylor College of Medicine. During this period he became interested in using novel RNA interference techniques in Cryptosporidium but unfortunately this parasite lacks the necessary pathway to silence genes. To overcome this he discovered a novel method to silence genes in this parasite. He developed this invention through 2 funded pilot projects and recently received grants from the NIH and Bill and Melinda gates foundation to study gene silencing in Cryptosporidium. In the last 5 years he has also established novel models using in vitro cell culture and mice to test new drugs against Cryptosporidium. Working in collaboration with Dr. Wes Van Voorhis (University of Washington) and Dr. Karen Anderson (Yale University) he has evaluated the potency of several compounds against key enzymes of this parasite.
Dr. Castellanos interest is to use novel molecular tools to develop novel vaccines, drugs and diagnostics kits at point of care (POC) for intestinal infections. The current goals at the lab are:
- Identify and validate druggable targets in Cryptosporidium parasites.
- Developing multiplex diagnostic assays and DNA/extraction methods for detecting intestinal infections at POC.
- Standardize a system for long term-cultivation of human intestinal stem cells that could be used as a model to study Cryptosporidium infection.