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Cinzia Cantacessi

Gastrointestinal helminths, host-parasite interactions, high-throughput sequencing technologies

Our current research focus is the application of next-generation sequencing technologies and bioinformatics to the study of the molecular interactions occurring at the host-parasite interface, with a particular emphasis on gastrointestinal, soil-transmitted helminths of humans (e.g. hookworms, whipworms, roundworms).

This includes studies of the sequences, structural features and transcription profiles of parasites molecules with unknown function, as well as of the relationships between gastrointestinal parasites and the gut commensal flora, in order to elucidate their involvement in the cascade of biological events leading to the invasion of, and the establishment in, the vertebrate host(s), as well as to the modulation of the host immune response.

Our research interests also include the development of new bioinformatic pipelines for nucleic acid sequence analyses, including software for the identification of putative rational targets for the development of novel treatment and control strategies against parasitic diseases.

Key Publications

Google Scholar - list of all publications 

Gastropod-borne helminths: a look at the snail-parasite interplay. Cantacessi C., Giannelli A., Colella V., Dantas-Torres F., Otranto D., 2016:  Trends in Parasitology, in press. 

Carcinogenic liver fluke secretes extracellular vesicles that promote cholangiocytes to adopt a tumorigenic phenotype. Chaiyadet S., Sotillo J., Smout M., Cantacessi C., Jones M.K., Johnson M.S., Turnbull L., Whitchurch C.B., Potriquet J., Laohaviroj M., Mulvenna J., Brindley P., Bethony J.M., Laha T., Sripa B., Loukas A., 2015:  Journal of Infectious Diseases, 212: 1636-45. 

The role of wild canids and felids in spreading parasites to dogs and cats in Europe. Part I: Protozoa. Otranto D., Cantacessi C., Pfeffer M., Dantas-Torres F., Brianti E., Deplazes P., Genchi C., Guberti V., Capelli G., 2015:Veterinary Parasitology, 213: 12-23. []

The role of wild canids and felids in spreading parasites to dogs and cats in Europe. Part II: Helminths and arthropods.  Otranto D., Cantacessi C., Dantas-Torres F., Brianti E., Pfeffer M., Genchi C., Guberti V., Capelli G., Deplazes P., 2015:  Veterinary Parasitology, 213: 24-37. 

Experimental hookworm infection and escalating gluten challenges are associated with increased microbial richness in celiac subjects. Giacomin P., Zakrzewski M., Croese J., Su X., Sotillo J., McCann L., Navarro S., Mitreva M., Krause L., Loukas A., Cantacessi C., 2015:  Scientific Reports, 5: 13797. 

Cinzia Cantacessi 

Dr Cinzia Cantacessi

Senior Lecturer in Parasitology

Group members: Dr Laura Peachey, Ms Xiaopei Su, Mr Timothy Jenkins

    Plain English

    Gastrointestinal parasites exact an enormous toll on the health and welfare of human populations in developing countries while, in developed countries, deliberate infections by parasites are being explored as an alternative therapeutic strategy against a range of chronic inflammatory disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease, coeliac disease and multiple sclerosis. Understanding the intimate molecular mechanisms that govern the relationships between parasites and their vertebrate hosts is of paramount importance to identify pathogens' 'Achille's heels' to test as targets for novel interventions, as well as to gain a thorough understanding of the ability of parasites to suppress exacerbated immune responses.


    The Wellcome Trust/ Isaac Newton Trust/ University of Cambridge

    The Royal Society


    Cinzia is currently accepting PhD student applications