Publications 2015

Langford S, Douglas NM, Lampah DA, Simpson JA, Kenangalem E, Sugiarto P, Anstey NM, Poespoprodjo JR, Price RN. 2015. Plasmodium malariae Infection Associated with a High Burden of Anemia: A Hospital-Based Surveillance Study. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (12), pp. e0004195. | Citations: 22 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium malariae is a slow-growing parasite with a wide geographic distribution. Although generally regarded as a benign cause of malaria, it has been associated with nephrotic syndrome, particularly in young children, and can persist in the host for years. Morbidity associated with P. malariae infection has received relatively little attention, and the risk of P. malariae-associated nephrotic syndrome is unknown. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We used data from a very large hospital-based surveillance system incorporating information on clinical diagnoses, blood cell parameters and treatment to describe the demographic distribution, morbidity and mortality associated with P. malariae infection in southern Papua, Indonesia. Between April 2004 and December 2013 there were 1,054,674 patient presentations to Mitra Masyarakat Hospital of which 196,380 (18.6%) were associated with malaria and 5,097 were with P. malariae infection (constituting 2.6% of all malaria cases). The proportion of malaria cases attributable to P. malariae increased with age from 0.9% for patients under one year old to 3.1% for patients older than 15 years. Overall, 8.5% of patients with P. malariae infection required admission to hospital and the median length of stay for these patients was 2.5 days (Interquartile Range: 2.0-4.0 days). Patients with P. malariae infection had a lower mean hemoglobin concentration (9.0 g/dL) than patients with P. falciparum (9.5 g/dL), P. vivax (9.6g/dL) and mixed species infections (9.3g/dL). There were four cases of nephrotic syndrome recorded in patients with P. malariae infection, three of which were in children younger than 5 years old, giving a risk in this age group of 0.47% (95% Confidence Interval; 0.10% to 1.4%). Overall, 2.4% (n = 16) of patients hospitalized with P. malariae infection subsequently died in hospital, similar to the proportions for the other endemic Plasmodium species (range: 0% for P. ovale to 1.6% for P. falciparum). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Plasmodium malariae infection is relatively uncommon in Papua, Indonesia but is associated with significant morbidity from anemia and a similar risk of mortality to patients hospitalized with P. falciparum and P. vivax infection. In our large hospital database, one in 200 children under the age of 5 years with P. malariae infection were recorded as having nephrotic syndrome.

de Haan F, Onyamboko MA, Fanello CI, Woodrow CJ, Lubell Y, Boon WPC, Dondorp AM. 2015. Exploring health practitioners' acceptability of a prospective semi-quantitative pfHRP2 device to define severe malaria in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 503. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: A rapid diagnostic tool is being developed to discern severely ill children with severe malaria from children who are ill with alternative febrile diseases but have coincidental peripheral blood parasitaemia. The device semi-quantitatively measures plasma pfHRP2 and has the potential to reduce mortality in children with severe febrile illnesses by improving diagnosis. The aim of this study is to identify contributing and inhibiting factors that affect healthcare practitioners' acceptability of this prospective diagnostic device in a high malaria transmission setting in the Democratic Republic of Congo. METHODS: Data were collected qualitatively by conducting semi-structured interviews with a purposeful sample of health professionals in Kinshasa, capital of Democratic Republic of Congo. In total, 11 interviews were held with professionals at four different institutes. RESULTS: Four key findings emerged: (1) Congolese practitioners perceive the semi-quantitative pfHRP2 device as a welcome intervention as they recognize the limited reliability of their current diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to severe febrile illnesses; (2) compatibility of the semi-quantitative pfHRP2 device with clinical equipment and competences of Congolese health practitioners is considered to be limited, especially in rural settings; (3) a formal training programme is crucial for correct understanding and application of the semi-quantitative pfHRP2 device; and, (4) provision of evidence to practitioners, and support from health authorities would be important to establish confidence in the semi-quantitative pfHRP2 device. CONCLUSIONS: Congolese practitioners perceive the prospective semi-quantitative pfHRP2 device as a welcome addition to their clinical equipment. The device could improve current diagnostic work-up of severe febrile illness, which might consequently improve treatment choices. However, despite this recognized potential, several hurdles and drivers need to be taken into account when implementing this device in DR Congo.

IMPROV Study Group. 2015. Improving the radical cure of vivax malaria (IMPROV): a study protocol for a multicentre randomised, placebo-controlled comparison of short and long course primaquine regimens. BMC Infect Dis, 15 (1), pp. 558. | Citations: 6 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium vivax malaria is a major cause of morbidity and recognised as an important contributor to mortality in some endemic areas. The current recommended treatment regimen for the radical cure of P. vivax includes a schizontocidal antimalarial, usually chloroquine, combined with a 14 day regimen of primaquine. The long treatment course frequently results in poor adherence and effectiveness. Shorter courses of higher daily doses of primaquine have the potential to improve adherence and thus effectiveness without compromising safety. The proposed multicentre randomised clinical trial aims to provide evidence across a variety of endemic settings on the safety and efficacy of high dose short course primaquine in glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase (G6PD) normal patients. DESIGN: This study is designed as a placebo controlled, double blinded, randomized trial in four countries: Indonesia, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Ethiopia. G6PD normal patients diagnosed with vivax malaria are randomized to receive either 7 or 14 days high dose primaquine or placebo. G6PD deficient (G6PDd) patients are allocated to weekly primaquine doses for 8weeks. All treatment is directly observed and recurrent episodes are treated with the same treatment than allocated at the enrolment episode. Patients are followed daily until completion of treatment, weekly until 8 weeks and then monthly until 1 year after initiation of the treatment. The primary endpoint is the incidence rate (per person year) of symptomatic recurrent P. vivax parasitaemia over 12 months of follow-up, for all individuals, controlling for site, comparing the 7 versus 14-day primaquine treatment arms. Secondary endpoints are other efficacy measures such as incidence risk at different time points. Further endpoints are risks of haemolysis and severe adverse events. DISCUSSION: This study has been approved by relevant institutional ethics committees in the UK and Australia, and all participating countries. Results will be disseminated to inform P. vivax malaria treatment policy through peer-reviewed publications and academic presentations. Findings will contribute to a better understanding of the risks and benefits of primaquine which is crucial in persuading policy makers as well as clinicians of the importance of radical cure of vivax malaria, contributing to decreased transmission and a reduce parasite reservoir. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Identifier: NCT01814683 . Registered March 18, 2013.

White LJ, Lee SJ, Stepniewska K, Simpson JA, Dwell SLM, Arunjerdja R, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F, McGready R. 2015. Correction to 'Estimation of gestational age from fundal height: a solution for resource-poor settings'. J R Soc Interface, 12 (113), pp. 20150978. | Citations: 3 (European Pubmed Central) | Read more

Plewes K, Maude RJ, Ghose A, Dondorp AM. 2015. Severe falciparum malaria complicated by prolonged haemolysis and rhinomaxillary mucormycosis after parasite clearance: a case report. BMC Infect Dis, 15 (1), pp. 555. | Citations: 2 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Severe falciparum malaria may be complicated by prolonged haemolysis and recurrent fever after parasite clearance. However, their respective etiologies are unclear and challenging to diagnose. We report the first case of severe falciparum malaria followed by prolonged haemolytic anaemia and rhinomaxillary mucormycosis in a previously healthy adult male. CASE PRESENTATION: A 30-year old Bangladeshi man was admitted with severe falciparum malaria complicated by hyperlactataemia and haemoglobinuria. Prior to admission he was treated with intravenous quinine and upon admission received intravenous artesunate and empiric ceftriaxone. Thirty hours later the peripheral parasitaemia cleared with resolution of fever and haemoglobinuria. Despite parasite clearance, on day 3 the patient developed recurrent fever and acute haemolytic anaemia requiring seven blood transfusions over six days with no improvement of his haemoglobin or haemoglobinuria. On day 10, he was treated with high-dose dexamethasone and meropenem with discontinuation of the ceftriaxone. Two days later the haemoglobinuria resolved. Ceftriaxone-induced haemolysis was the suspected final diagnosis. On day 16, the patient had progressively worsening right-sided facial pain and swelling; a necrotic ulceration of the hard palate was observed. Rhinomaxillary mucormycosis was diagnosed supported by microscopy findings. The patient initially responded to treatment with urgent surgical debridement, itraconazole, followed by two weeks of amphotericin B deoxycholate, however was subsequently lost to follow up. CONCLUSIONS: This case highlights the range of potential alternative aetiologies of acute, prolonged haemolysis and recurrent fever following parasite clearance in severe falciparum malaria. It emphasizes the importance of a high degree of suspicion for alternative causes of haemolysis in order to avoid unnecessary treatments, including blood transfusion and steroids. It is critical to consider and identify common invasive bacterial and rare opportunistic co-infections as a cause of fever in severe malaria patients remaining febrile after parasite clearance to promote antimicrobial stewardship and prompt emergency care.

Ngamdee W, Tandhavanant S, Wikraiphat C, Reamtong O, Wuthiekanun V, Salje J, Low DA, Peacock SJ, Chantratita N. 2015. Competition between Burkholderia pseudomallei and B. thailandensis. BMC Microbiol, 15 (1), pp. 395. | Citations: 11 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Burkholderia pseudomallei is a Gram-negative bacterium that causes melioidosis, an often fatal disease in tropical countries. Burkholderia thailandensis is a non-virulent but closely related species. Both species are soil saprophytes but are almost never isolated together. RESULTS: We identified two mechanisms by which B. pseudomallei affects the growth of B. thailandensis. First, we found that six different isolates of B. pseudomallei inhibited the growth of B. thailandensis on LB agar plates. Second, our results indicated that 55% of isolated strains of B. pseudomallei produced a secreted compound that inhibited the motility but not the viability of B. thailandensis. Analysis showed that the active compound was a pH-sensitive and heat-labile compound, likely a protein, which may affect flagella processing or facilitate their degradation. Analysis of bacterial sequence types (STs) demonstrated an association between this and motility inhibition. The active compound was produced from B. pseudomallei during the stationary growth phase. CONCLUSION: Taken together, our results indicate that B. pseudomallei inhibits both the growth and motility of its close relative B. thailandensis. The latter phenomenon appears to occur via a previously unreported mechanism involving flagellar processing or degradation.

MacCormick IJC, Maude RJ, Beare NAV, Borooah S, Glover S, Parry D, Leach S, Molyneux ME, Dhillon B, Lewallen S, Harding SP. 2015. Grading fluorescein angiograms in malarial retinopathy. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 367. | Citations: 5 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malarial retinopathy is an important finding in Plasmodium falciparum cerebral malaria, since it strengthens diagnostic accuracy, predicts clinical outcome and appears to parallel cerebral disease processes. Several angiographic features of malarial retinopathy have been described, but observations in different populations can only be reliably compared if consistent methodology is used to capture and grade retinal images. Currently no grading scheme exists for fluorescein angiographic features of malarial retinopathy. METHODS: A grading scheme for fluorescein angiographic images was devised based on consensus opinion of clinicians and researchers experienced in malarial retinopathy in children and adults. Dual grading were performed with adjudication of admission fluorescein images from a large cohort of children with cerebral malaria. RESULTS: A grading scheme is described and standard images are provided to facilitate future grading studies. Inter-grader agreement was >70 % for most variables. Intravascular filling defects are difficult to grade and tended to have lower inter-grader agreement (>57 %) compared to other features. CONCLUSIONS: This grading scheme provides a consistent way to describe retinal vascular damage in paediatric cerebral malaria, and can facilitate comparisons of angiographic features of malarial retinopathy between different patient groups, and analysis against clinical outcomes. Inter-grader agreement is reasonable for the majority of angiographic signs. Dual grading with expert adjudication should be used to maximize accuracy.

Ley B, Luter N, Espino FE, Devine A, Kalnoky M, Lubell Y, Thriemer K, Baird JK, Poirot E, Conan N et al. 2015. The challenges of introducing routine G6PD testing into radical cure: a workshop report. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 377. | Citations: 19 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The only currently available drug that effectively removes malaria hypnozoites from the human host is primaquine. The use of 8-aminoquinolines is hampered by haemolytic side effects in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficient individuals. Recently a number of qualitative and a quantitative rapid diagnostic test (RDT) format have been developed that provide an alternative to the current standard G6PD activity assays. The WHO has recently recommended routine testing of G6PD status prior to primaquine radical cure whenever possible. A workshop was held in the Philippines in early 2015 to discuss key challenges and knowledge gaps that hinder the introduction of routine G6PD testing. Two point-of-care (PoC) test formats for the measurement of G6PD activity are currently available: qualitative tests comparable to malaria RDT as well as biosensors that provide a quantitative reading. Qualitative G6PD PoC tests provide a binomial test result, are easy to use and some products are comparable in price to the widely used fluorescent spot test. Qualitative test results can accurately classify hemizygous males, heterozygous females, but may misclassify females with intermediate G6PD activity. Biosensors provide a more complex quantitative readout and are better suited to identify heterozygous females. While associated with higher costs per sample tested biosensors have the potential for broader use in other scenarios where knowledge of G6PD activity is relevant as well. The introduction of routine G6PD testing is associated with additional costs on top of routine treatment that will vary by setting and will need to be assessed prior to test introduction. Reliable G6PD PoC tests have the potential to play an essential role in future malaria elimination programmes, however require an improved understanding on how to best integrate routine G6PD testing into different health settings.

Slater HC, Ross A, Ouédraogo AL, White LJ, Nguon C, Walker PGT, Ngor P, Aguas R, Silal SP, Dondorp AM et al. 2015. Assessing the impact of next-generation rapid diagnostic tests on Plasmodium falciparum malaria elimination strategies. Nature, 528 (7580), pp. S94-101. | Citations: 61 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Mass-screen-and-treat and targeted mass-drug-administration strategies are being considered as a means to interrupt transmission of Plasmodium falciparum malaria. However, the effectiveness of such strategies will depend on the extent to which current and future diagnostics are able to detect those individuals who are infectious to mosquitoes. We estimate the relationship between parasite density and onward infectivity using sensitive quantitative parasite diagnostics and mosquito feeding assays from Burkina Faso. We find that a diagnostic with a lower detection limit of 200 parasites per microlitre would detect 55% of the infectious reservoir (the combined infectivity to mosquitoes of the whole population weighted by how often each individual is bitten) whereas a test with a limit of 20 parasites per microlitre would detect 83% and 2 parasites per microlitre would detect 95% of the infectious reservoir. Using mathematical models, we show that increasing the diagnostic sensitivity from 200 parasites per microlitre (equivalent to microscopy or current rapid diagnostic tests) to 2 parasites per microlitre would increase the number of regions where transmission could be interrupted with a mass-screen-and-treat programme from an entomological inoculation rate below 1 to one of up to 4. The higher sensitivity diagnostic could reduce the number of treatment rounds required to interrupt transmission in areas of lower prevalence. We predict that mass-screen-and-treat with a highly sensitive diagnostic is less effective than mass drug administration owing to the prophylactic protection provided to uninfected individuals by the latter approach. In low-transmission settings such as those in Southeast Asia, we find that a diagnostic tool with a sensitivity of 20 parasites per microlitre may be sufficient for targeted mass drug administration because this diagnostic is predicted to identify a similar village population prevalence compared with that currently detected using polymerase chain reaction if treatment levels are high and screening is conducted during the dry season. Along with other factors, such as coverage, choice of drug, timing of the intervention, importation of infections, and seasonality, the sensitivity of the diagnostic can play a part in increasing the chance of interrupting transmission.

Hoogendijk AJ, Blok DC, Garcia Laorden MI, Kager LM, Lede IO, Rahman W, Afroz R, Bresser P, van der Zee JS, Ghose A et al. 2015. Soluble and cell-associated triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells-1 and -2 in patients with pulmonary tuberculosis. J Infect, 71 (6), pp. 706-709. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Read more

White NJ, Hien TT, Nosten FH. 2015. A Brief History of Qinghaosu. Trends Parasitol, 31 (12), pp. 607-610. | Citations: 17 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

The 2015 Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology was awarded to William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura for their discovery of avermectins, and to Tu You You for her contribution to the discovery of artemisinin. The discovery and development of qinghaosu (artemisinin) as an antimalarial drug is a remarkable and convoluted tale.

Nguyen TD, Olliaro P, Dondorp AM, Baird JK, Lam HM, Farrar J, Thwaites GE, White NJ, Boni MF. 2015. Optimum population-level use of artemisinin combination therapies: a modelling study. Lancet Glob Health, 3 (12), pp. e758-e766. | Citations: 21 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) are used worldwide as first-line treatment against confirmed or suspected Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Despite the success of ACTs at reducing the global burden of malaria, emerging resistance to artemisinin threatens these gains. Countering onset of resistance might need deliberate tactics aimed at slowing the reduction in ACT effectiveness. We assessed optimum use of ACTs at the population level, specifically focusing on a strategy of multiple first-line therapies (MFT), and comparing it with strategies of cycling or sequential use of single first-line ACTs. METHODS: With an individual-based microsimulation of regional malaria transmission, we looked at how to apply a therapy as widely as possible without accelerating reduction of efficacy by drug resistance. We compared simultaneous distribution of artemether-lumefantrine, artesunate-amodiaquine, and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (ie, MFT) against strategies in which these ACTs would be cycled or used sequentially, either on a fixed schedule or when population-level efficacy reaches the WHO threshold of 10% treatment failure. The main assessment criterion was total number of treatment failures per 100 people per year. Additionally, we analysed the benefits of including a single non-ACT therapy in an MFT strategy, and did sensitivity analyses in which we varied transmission setting, treatment coverage, partner-drug half-life, fitness cost of drug resistance, and the relation between drug concentration and resistance evolution. FINDINGS: Use of MFT was predicted to reduce the long-term number of treatment failures compared with strategies in which a single first-line ACT is recommended. This result was robust to various epidemiological, pharmacological, and evolutionary features of malaria transmission. Inclusion of a single non-ACT therapy in an MFT strategy would have substantial benefits in reduction of pressure on artemisinin resistance evolution, delaying its emergence and slowing its spread. INTERPRETATION: Adjusting national antimalarial treatment guidelines to encourage simultaneous use of MFT is likely to extend the useful therapeutic life of available antimalarial drugs, resulting in long-term beneficial outcomes for patients. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust, UK Medical Research Council, Li Ka Shing Foundation.

Tauran PM, Sennang N, Rusli B, Wiersinga WJ, Dance D, Arif M, Limmathurotsakul D. 2015. Emergence of Melioidosis in Indonesia. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 93 (6), pp. 1160-1163. | Citations: 5 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis is known to be highly endemic in parts of southeast Asia and northern Australia; however, cases are rarely reported in Indonesia. Here we report three cases of melioidosis in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia occurring between 2013 and 2014. Two patients died and the other was lost to follow-up. Burkholderia pseudomallei isolates from all three cases were identified by the VITEK2 Compact installed in the hospital in 2012. None of the three patients reported received antimicrobials recommended for melioidosis because of the delayed recognition of the organism. We reviewed the literature and found only seven reports of melioidosis in Indonesia. Five were reported before 1960. We suggest that melioidosis is endemic throughout Indonesia but currently under-recognized. Training on how to identify B. pseudomallei accurately and safely in all available microbiological facilities should be provided, and consideration should be given to making melioidosis a notifiable disease in Indonesia.

Watthanaworawit W, Turner P, Turner C, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Jintaworn S, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Richards AL, Day NPJ, Blacksell SD, Nosten F. 2015. Diagnostic Accuracy Assessment of Immunochromatographic Tests for the Rapid Detection of Antibodies Against Orientia tsutsugamushi Using Paired Acute and Convalescent Specimens. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 93 (6), pp. 1168-1171. | Citations: 6 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

We assessed the diagnostic accuracy of two immunochromatographic tests (ICTs), the Access Bio CareStart Scrub Typhus test (Somerset, NJ) (IgM), and the SD BIOLINE Tsutsugamushi test (Kyonggi-do, Republic of Korea) (IgG, IgM, or IgA) compared with indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) and real-time PCR results as reference tests using 86 paired acute and convalescent specimens from febrile patients. The sensitivity and specificity of the CareStart test were 23.3% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 11.8-38.6) and 81.4% (95% CI: 66.6-91.6), respectively, for acute specimens and 32.6% (95% CI: 19.1-48.5) and 79.1% (95% CI: 64.0-90.0), respectively, for convalescent specimens. For the SD BIOLINE test, sensitivity and specificity were 20.9% (95% CI: 10.0-36.0) and 74.4% (95% CI: 58.8-86.5), respectively, for acute specimens and 76.7% (95% CI: 61.4-88.2) and 76.7% (95% CI: 61.4-88.2), respectively, for convalescent specimens. The poor sensitivity obtained for both ICTs during this study when performed on acute specimens highlights the difficulties in prompt diagnosis of scrub typhus.

Slesak G, Inthalath S, Dittrich S, Paris DH, Newton PN. 2015. Leeches as further potential vectors for rickettsial infections. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 112 (48), pp. E6593-E6594. | Citations: 5 (Scopus) | Read more

Vivax Working Group. 2015. Targeting vivax malaria in the Asia Pacific: The Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network Vivax Working Group. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 484. | Citations: 9 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

The Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) is a collaboration of 18 country partners committed to eliminating malaria from within their borders. Over the past 5 years, APMEN has helped to build the knowledge, tools and in-country technical expertise required to attain this goal. At its inaugural meeting in Brisbane in 2009, Plasmodium vivax infections were identified across the region as a common threat to this ambitious programme; the APMEN Vivax Working Group was established to tackle specifically this issue. The Working Group developed a four-stage strategy to identify knowledge gaps, build regional consensus on shared priorities, generate evidence and change practice to optimize malaria elimination activities. This case study describes the issues faced and the solutions found in developing this robust strategic partnership between national programmes and research partners within the Working Group. The success of the approach adopted by the group may facilitate similar applications in other regions seeking to deploy evidence-based policy and practice.

Dubot-Pérès A, Sengvilaipaseuth O, Chanthongthip A, Newton PN, de Lamballerie X. 2015. How many patients with anti-JEV IgM in cerebrospinal fluid really have Japanese encephalitis? Lancet Infect Dis, 15 (12), pp. 1376-1377. | Citations: 10 (Web of Science Lite) | Read more

Getachew S, Thriemer K, Auburn S, Abera A, Gadisa E, Aseffa A, Price RN, Petros B. 2015. Chloroquine efficacy for Plasmodium vivax malaria treatment in southern Ethiopia. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 525. | Citations: 12 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Chloroquine (CQ) is the first-line treatment for vivax malaria in Ethiopia, but there is evidence for its declining efficacy. Defining the extent and regional distribution of CQ resistance is critical to ensure optimal treatment guidelines. This study aimed to provide data on the therapeutic efficacy of CQ against Plasmodium vivax malaria in southern Ethiopia. METHODS: Patients with P. vivax mono-infection aged between 8 months and 65 years were enrolled in a clinical efficacy trial. The study was conducted at four sites in southern Ethiopia. Study participants were treated with a supervised course of CQ (25 mg/kg over three consecutive days), followed by weekly blood film examination and clinical assessment for 28 days. CQ blood concentrations were not assessed. The primary endpoint was the risk of failure at 28 days by survival analysis. RESULTS: Between May 2010 and December 2013, 288 patients were enrolled in the study (n = 89 in Shele, n = 52 in Guba, n = 57 in Batu and n = 90 in Shone). Baseline characteristics varied significantly between sites. In total 34 (11.8%) patients were censored during follow up (five with Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia and 29 lost to follow up). Two (0.7%) patients experienced early treatment failure and 23 (8%) late treatment failure. The overall risk of recurrence by day 28 was 9.4% (95% CI 6.4-13.6%) with site-specific estimates of 3.8% (95% CI 1.2-11.3) for Shele, 21.9% (95% CI 12.2-36.1) for Guba, 5.9% (95% CI 1.9-17.3) for Batu and 9.2% (95% CI 4.5-17.6) for Shone. CONCLUSION: There is evidence of reduced CQ efficacy across three of the four study sites, with the degree of resistance severe enough in Guba to suggest that review of treatment policy may be warranted.

Hantrakun V, Chierakul W, Chetchotisakd P, Anunnatsiri S, Currie BJ, Peacock SJ, Day NPJ, Cheah PY, Limmathurotsakul D, Lubell Y. 2015. Cost-effectiveness analysis of parenteral antimicrobials for acute melioidosis in Thailand. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 109 (12), pp. 803. | Citations: 2 (European Pubmed Central) | Read more

Bicanic T, Bottomley C, Loyse A, Brouwer AE, Muzoora C, Taseera K, Jackson A, Phulusa J, Hosseinipour MC, van der Horst C et al. 2015. Toxicity of Amphotericin B Deoxycholate-Based Induction Therapy in Patients with HIV-Associated Cryptococcal Meningitis. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 59 (12), pp. 7224-7231. | Citations: 35 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Amphotericin B deoxycholate (AmBd) is the recommended induction treatment for HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis (CM). Its use is hampered by toxicities that include electrolyte abnormalities, nephrotoxicity, and anemia. Protocols to minimize toxicity are applied inconsistently. In a clinical trial cohort of AmBd-based CM induction treatment, a standardized protocol of preemptive hydration and electrolyte supplementation was applied. Changes in blood counts, electrolyte levels, and creatinine levels over 14 days were analyzed in relation to the AmBd dose, treatment duration (short course of 5 to 7 days or standard course of 14 days), addition of flucytosine (5FC), and outcome. In the 368 patients studied, the hemoglobin levels dropped by a mean of 1.5 g/dl (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.0 to 1.9 g/dl) following 7 days of AmBd and by a mean of 2.3 g/dl (95% CI, 1.1 to 3.6 g/dl) after 14 days. Serum creatinine levels increased by 37 μmol/liter (95% CI, 30 to 45 μmol/liter) by day 7 and by 49 μmol/liter (95% CI, 35 to 64μmol/liter) by day 14 of AmBd treatment. Overall, 33% of patients developed grade III/IV anemia, 5.6% developed grade III hypokalemia, 9.5% had creatinine levels that exceeded 220 μmol, and 6% discontinued AmBd prematurely. The addition of 5FC was associated with a slight increase in anemia but not neutropenia. Laboratory abnormalities stabilized or reversed during the second week in patients on short-course induction. Grade III/IV anemia (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.2; 95% CI, 1.1 to 4.3; P = 0.028) and nephrotoxicity (aOR, 4.5; 95% CI, 1.8 to 11; P = 0.001) were risk factors for 10-week mortality. In summary, routine intravenous saline hydration and preemptive electrolyte replacement during AmBd-based induction regimens for HIV-associated CM minimized the incidence of hypokalemia and nephrotoxicity. Anemia remained a concerning adverse effect. The addition of flucytosine was not associated with increased neutropenia. Shorter AmBd courses were less toxic, with rapid reversibility.

Silal SP, Little F, Barnes KI, White LJ. 2015. Hitting a Moving Target: A Model for Malaria Elimination in the Presence of Population Movement. PLoS One, 10 (12), pp. e0144990. | Citations: 14 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

South Africa is committed to eliminating malaria with a goal of zero local transmission by 2018. Malaria elimination strategies may be unsuccessful if they focus only on vector biology, and ignore the mobility patterns of humans, particularly where the majority of infections are imported. In the first study in Mpumalanga Province in South Africa designed for this purpose, a metapopulation model is developed to assess the impact of their proposed elimination-focused policy interventions. A stochastic, non-linear, ordinary-differential equation model is fitted to malaria data from Mpumalanga and neighbouring Maputo Province in Mozambique. Further scaling-up of vector control is predicted to lead to a minimal reduction in local infections, while mass drug administration and focal screening and treatment at the Mpumalanga-Maputo border are predicted to have only a short-lived impact. Source reduction in Maputo Province is predicted to generate large reductions in local infections through stemming imported infections. The mathematical model predicts malaria elimination to be possible only when imported infections are treated before entry or eliminated at the source suggesting that a regionally focused strategy appears needed, for achieving malaria elimination in Mpumalanga and South Africa.

Turner P, Ngeth P, Turner C, Sao S, Day NPJ, Baker C, Steer AC, Smeesters PR. 2015. Molecular Epidemiology of Group A Streptococcus Infections in Cambodian Children, 2007-2012. Pediatr Infect Dis J, 34 (12), pp. 1414-1415. | Citations: 2 (European Pubmed Central) | Read more

Beane A, Stephens T, De Silva AP, Adikaram M, De Alwis S, Athapattu P, Sigera C, Peiris L, Siriwardana S, Jayasinghe K et al. 2015. A collaborative approach to training ward nurses in acute care skills in resource limited settings: the nursing intensive care skills training (nicts) project. Intensive Care Med Exp, 3 (Suppl 1), pp. A445. | Read more

Stephens T, Beane A, De Silva AP, Welch J, Sigera C, De Alwis S, Athapattu P, Peiris L, Siriwardana S, Jayasinghe K et al. 2015. Capacity building for critical care skills training provision in resource limited settings: the nursing intensive care skills training (nicst) project. Intensive Care Med Exp, 3 (Suppl 1), pp. A444. | Read more

Chung The H, Rabaa MA, Thanh DP, Ruekit S, Wangchuk S, Dorji T, Tshering KP, Nguyen TNT, Vinh PV, Thanh TH et al. 2015. Introduction and establishment of fluoroquinolone-resistant Shigella sonnei into Bhutan. Microb Genom, 1 (6), pp. e000042. | Citations: 2 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Shigella sonnei is a major contributor to the global burden of diarrhoeal disease, generally associated with dysenteric diarrhoea in developed countries but also emerging in developing countries. The reason for the recent success of S. sonnei is unknown, but is likely catalysed by its ability to acquire resistance against multiple antimicrobials. Between 2011 and 2013, S. sonnei exhibiting resistance to fluoroquinolones, the first-line treatment recommended for shigellosis, emerged in Bhutan. Aiming to reconstruct the introduction and establishment of fluoroquinolone-resistant S. sonnei populations in Bhutan, we performed whole-genome sequencing on 71 S. sonnei samples isolated in Bhutan between 2011 and 2013.We found that these strains represented an expansion of a clade within the previously described lineage III, found specifically in Central Asia. Temporal phylogenetic reconstruction demonstrated that all of the sequenced Bhutanese S. sonnei diverged from a single ancestor that was introduced into Bhutan around 2006. Our data additionally predicted that fluoroquinolone resistance, conferred by mutations in gyrA and parC, arose prior to the introduction of the founder strain into Bhutan. Once established in Bhutan, these S. sonnei had access to a broad gene pool, as indicated by the acquisition of extended-spectrum β-lactamase-encoding plasmids and genes encoding type IV pili. The data presented here outline a model for the introduction and maintenance of fluoroquinolone-resistant S. sonnei in a new setting. Given the current circulation of fluoroquinolone-resistant S. sonnei in Asia, we speculate that this pattern of introduction is being recapitulated across the region and beyond.

Imwong M, Jindakhad T, Kunasol C, Sutawong K, Vejakama P, Dondorp AM. 2015. An outbreak of artemisinin resistant falciparum malaria in Eastern Thailand. Sci Rep, 5 (1), pp. 17412. | Citations: 24 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemisinin resistant falciparum malaria is an increasing problem in Southeast Asia, but has not been associated with increased transmission of the disease, yet. During a recent outbreak in 2014 in Ubon Ratchatani, Eastern Thailand, parasites from 101 patients with falciparum malaria were genotyped for antimalarial drug resistance markers. Mutations in the Kelch13 marker for artemisinin resistance were present in 93% of samples, mainly C580Y from 2 major clusters as identified by microsatellite typing. Resistance markers for antifolates and chloroquine were also highly prevalent. Most strains (91%) carried single copy number PfMDR1, suggesting sustained sensitivity to mefloquine, the partner drug in the local first-line artemisinin combination therapy (ACT). The high prevalence of artemisinin resistance in this recent malaria outbreak suggests but does not prove a causative role in increased transmission. Careful monitoring of ACT efficacy and additional genetic epidemiological studies are warranted to guide the public health response to the outbreak.

Reamtong O, Srimuang K, Saralamba N, Sangvanich P, Day NPJ, White NJ, Imwong M. 2015. Protein profiling of mefloquine resistant Plasmodium falciparum using mass spectrometry-based proteomics. Int J Mass Spectrom, 391 pp. 82-92. | Citations: 5 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria is a mosquito borne infectious disease caused by protozoa of genus Plasmodium. There are five species of Plasmodium that are found to infect humans. Plasmodium falciparum can cause severe malaria leading to higher morbidity and mortality of malaria than the other four species. Antimalarial resistance is the major obstacle to control malaria. Mefloquine was used in combination with Artesunate for uncomplicated P. falciparum in South East Asia and it has developed and established mefloquine resistance in this region. Here, gel-enhanced liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (GeLC-MS/MS)-based proteomics and label-free quantification were used to explore the protein profiles of mefloquine-sensitive and -induced resistant P. falciparum. A Thai P. falciparum isolate (S066) was used as a model in this research. Our data revealed for the first time that 69 proteins exhibited at least 2-fold differences in their expression levels between the two parasite lines. Of these, 36 were up-regulated and 33 were down-regulated in the mefloquine-resistant line compared with the mefloquine-sensitive line. These findings are consistent with those of past studies, where the multidrug resistance protein Pgh1 showed an up-regulation pattern consistent with that expected from its average 3-copy pfmdr1 gene number. Pgh1 and eight other up-regulated proteins (i.e., histo-aspartyl protease protein, exportin 1, eukaryotic translation initiation factor 3 subunit 8, peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans isomerase, serine rich protein homologue, exported protein 1, ATP synthase beta chain and phospholipid scramblase 1) were further validated for their expression levels using reverse transcriptase quantitative real-time PCR. The data support the up-regulation status in the mefloquine-resistant parasite line of all the candidate genes referred to above. Therefore, GeLC-MS/MS-based proteomics combined with label-free quantification is a reliable approach for exploring mefloquine resistance biomarkers in P. falciparum. Identification of these proteins leads to better understanding of mefloquine resistant mechanisms in malaria parasites.

Cheah PY. 2015. Crowdfunding not fit for clinical trials. Nature, 527 (7579), pp. 446. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Read more

Fuller C, Savage J, Cookson B, Hayward A, Cooper B, Duckworth G, Michie S, Jeanes A, Teare L, Charlett A, Stone SP. 2015. National observational study to evaluate the "cleanyourhands" campaign (NOSEC): a questionnaire based study of national implementation. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control, 4 (1), pp. 52. | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: The number of national hand-hygiene campaigns has increased recently, following the World Health Organisation's (WHO) "Save Lives: clean your hands" initiative (2009), which offers hospitals a multi-component hand-hygiene intervention. The number of campaigns to be evaluated remains small. Most evaluations focus on consumption of alcohol hand rub (AHR). We are not aware of any evaluation reporting implementation of all campaign components. In a previously published report, we evaluated the effects of the English and Welsh cleanyourhands campaign (2004-8) on procurement of AHR and soap, and on selected healthcare associated infections. We now report on the implementation of each individual campaign component: provision of bedside AHR, ward posters, patient empowerment materials, audit and feedback, and guidance to secure institutional engagement. METHOD: SETTING: all 189 acute National Health Service (NHS) hospitals in England and Wales (December 2005-June 2008). Six postal questionnaires (five voluntary, one mandatory) were distributed to infection control teams six-monthly from 6 to 36 months post roll-out. Selection and attrition bias were measured. RESULTS: Response rates fell from 134 (71 %) at 6 months to 82 (44 %) at 30 months, rising to 167 (90 %) for the final mandatory one (36 months). There was no evidence of attrition or selection bias. Hospitals reported widespread early implementation of bedside AHR and posters and a gradual rise in audit. At 36 months, 90 % of respondents reported the campaign to be a top hospital priority, with implementation of AHR, posters and audit reported by 96 %, 97 % and 91 % respectively. Patient empowerment was less successful. CONCLUSIONS: The study suggests that all campaign components, apart from patient empowerment, were widely implemented and sustained. It supports previous work suggesting that adequate piloting, strong governmental support, refreshment of campaigns, and sufficient time to engage institutions help secure sustained implementation of a campaign's key components. The results should encourage countries wishing to launch coordinated national campaigns for hospitals to participate in the WHO's "Save Lives" initiative, which offers hospitals a similar multi-component intervention.

Lubell Y, Blacksell SD, Dunachie S, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Althaus T, Watthanaworawit W, Paris DH, Mayxay M, Peto TJ, Dondorp AM et al. 2015. Performance of C-reactive protein and procalcitonin to distinguish viral from bacterial and malarial causes of fever in Southeast Asia. BMC Infect Dis, 15 (1), pp. 511. | Citations: 23 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Poor targeting of antimicrobial drugs contributes to the millions of deaths each year from malaria, pneumonia, and other tropical infectious diseases. While malaria rapid diagnostic tests have improved use of antimalarial drugs, there are no similar tests to guide the use of antibiotics in undifferentiated fevers. In this study we estimate the diagnostic accuracy of two well established biomarkers of bacterial infection, procalcitonin and C-reactive protein (CRP) in discriminating between common viral and bacterial infections in malaria endemic settings of Southeast Asia. METHODS: Serum procalcitonin and CRP levels were measured in stored serum samples from febrile patients enrolled in three prospective studies conducted in Cambodia, Laos and, Thailand. Of the 1372 patients with a microbiologically confirmed diagnosis, 1105 had a single viral, bacterial or malarial infection. Procalcitonin and CRP levels were compared amongst these aetiological groups and their sensitivity and specificity in distinguishing bacterial infections and bacteraemias from viral infections were estimated using standard thresholds. RESULTS: Serum concentrations of both biomarkers were significantly higher in bacterial infections and malaria than in viral infections. The AUROC for CRP in discriminating between bacterial and viral infections was 0.83 (0.81-0.86) compared with 0.74 (0.71-0.77) for procalcitonin (p < 0.0001). This relative advantage was evident in all sites and when stratifying patients by age and admission status. For CRP at a threshold of 10 mg/L, the sensitivity of detecting bacterial infections was 95% with a specificity of 49%. At a threshold of 20 mg/L sensitivity was 86% with a specificity of 67%. For procalcitonin at a low threshold of 0.1 ng/mL the sensitivity was 90% with a specificity of 39%. At a higher threshold of 0.5 ng/ul sensitivity was 60% with a specificity of 76%. CONCLUSION: In samples from febrile patients with mono-infections from rural settings in Southeast Asia, CRP was a highly sensitive and moderately specific biomarker for discriminating between viral and bacterial infections. Use of a CRP rapid test in peripheral health settings could potentially be a simple and affordable measure to better identify patients in need of antibacterial treatment and part of a global strategy to combat the emergence of antibiotic resistance.

Herdman MT, Sriboonvorakul N, Leopold SJ, Douthwaite S, Mohanty S, Hassan MMU, Maude RJ, Kingston HWF, Plewes K, Charunwatthana P et al. 2015. Erratum to: the role of previously unmeasured organic acids in the pathogenesis of severe malaria. Crit Care, 19 (1), pp. 382. | Read more

Otte WM, van Diessen E, van Eijsden P, van der Maas F, Patsalos PN, Newton PN, Alvarenga IC, Braun KP, Sander JW. 2015. Counterfeit antiepileptic drugs threaten community services in Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria. Lancet Neurol, 14 (11), pp. 1075-1076. | Citations: 10 (Scopus) | Read more

Lim C, Blacksell SD, Laongnualpanich A, Kantipong P, Day NPJ, Paris DH, Limmathurotsakul D. 2015. Optimal Cutoff Titers for Indirect Immunofluorescence Assay for Diagnosis of Scrub Typhus. J Clin Microbiol, 53 (11), pp. 3663-3666. | Citations: 15 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

We determined the optimal cutoff titers in admission and convalescent-phase samples for scrub typhus indirect immunofluorescence assay using Bayesian latent class models. Cutoff titers of ≥1:3,200 in an admission sample or of a ≥4-fold rise to ≥1:3,200 in a convalescent-phase sample provided the highest accuracy (sensitivity, 81.6%; specificity, 100%).

Turner P, Turner C, Suy K, Soeng S, Ly S, Miliya T, Goldblatt D, Day NPJ. 2015. Pneumococcal Infection among Children before Introduction of 13-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine, Cambodia. Emerg Infect Dis, 21 (11), pp. 2080-2083. | Citations: 6 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Vaccination of children with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) was initiated in Cambodia in 2015. To determine baseline data, we collected samples from children in 2013 and 2014. PCV13 serotypes accounted for 62.7% of colonizing organisms in outpatients and 88.4% of invasive pneumococci overall; multidrug resistance was common. Thus, effectiveness of vaccination should be high.

Nosten F. 2015. Beriberi in Cambodia. Paediatr Int Child Health, 35 (4), pp. 283-284. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Beriberi had plagued humans for centuries. It was responsible for over 50% of infant deaths in the Philippines in the early 1900s. But since the discovery of its cause and treatment it has become a rarity, or has it?

Satzke C, Dunne EM, Porter BD, Klugman KP, Mulholland EK, PneuCarriage project group. 2015. The PneuCarriage Project: A Multi-Centre Comparative Study to Identify the Best Serotyping Methods for Examining Pneumococcal Carriage in Vaccine Evaluation Studies. PLoS Med, 12 (11), pp. e1001903. | Citations: 32 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The pneumococcus is a diverse pathogen whose primary niche is the nasopharynx. Over 90 different serotypes exist, and nasopharyngeal carriage of multiple serotypes is common. Understanding pneumococcal carriage is essential for evaluating the impact of pneumococcal vaccines. Traditional serotyping methods are cumbersome and insufficient for detecting multiple serotype carriage, and there are few data comparing the new methods that have been developed over the past decade. We established the PneuCarriage project, a large, international multi-centre study dedicated to the identification of the best pneumococcal serotyping methods for carriage studies. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Reference sample sets were distributed to 15 research groups for blinded testing. Twenty pneumococcal serotyping methods were used to test 81 laboratory-prepared (spiked) samples. The five top-performing methods were used to test 260 nasopharyngeal (field) samples collected from children in six high-burden countries. Sensitivity and positive predictive value (PPV) were determined for the test methods and the reference method (traditional serotyping of >100 colonies from each sample). For the alternate serotyping methods, the overall sensitivity ranged from 1% to 99% (reference method 98%), and PPV from 8% to 100% (reference method 100%), when testing the spiked samples. Fifteen methods had ≥70% sensitivity to detect the dominant (major) serotype, whilst only eight methods had ≥70% sensitivity to detect minor serotypes. For the field samples, the overall sensitivity ranged from 74.2% to 95.8% (reference method 93.8%), and PPV from 82.2% to 96.4% (reference method 99.6%). The microarray had the highest sensitivity (95.8%) and high PPV (93.7%). The major limitation of this study is that not all of the available alternative serotyping methods were included. CONCLUSIONS: Most methods were able to detect the dominant serotype in a sample, but many performed poorly in detecting the minor serotype populations. Microarray with a culture amplification step was the top-performing method. Results from this comprehensive evaluation will inform future vaccine evaluation and impact studies, particularly in low-income settings, where pneumococcal disease burden remains high.

Wirjanata G, Handayuni I, Prayoga P, Apriyanti D, Chalfein F, Sebayang BF, Kho S, Noviyanti R, Kenangalem E, Campo B et al. 2015. Quantification of Plasmodium ex vivo drug susceptibility by flow cytometry. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 417. | Citations: 5 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The emergence and spread of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax highlights the need for objective measures of ex vivo drug susceptibility. Flow cytometry (FC) has potential to provide a robust and rapid quantification of ex vivo parasite growth. METHODS: Field isolates from Papua, Indonesia, underwent ex vivo drug susceptibility testing against chloroquine, amodiaquine, piperaquine, mefloquine, and artesunate. A single nucleic acid stain (i.e., hydroethidine (HE) for P. falciparum and SYBR Green I (SG) for P. vivax) was used to quantify infected red blood cells by FC-based signal detection. Data derived by FC were compared to standard quantification by light microscopy (LM). A subset of isolates was used to compare single and double staining techniques. RESULTS: In total, 57 P. falciparum and 23 P. vivax field isolates were collected for ex vivo drug susceptibility testing. Reliable paired data between LM and FC was obtained for 88 % (295/334) of these assays. The median difference of derived IC50 values varied from -5.4 to 6.1 nM, associated with 0.83-1.23 fold change in IC50 values between LM and FC. In 15 assays (5.1 %), the derived difference of IC50 estimates was beyond the 95 % limits of agreement; in eleven assays (3.7 %), this was attributable to low parasite growth (final schizont count < 40 %), and in four assays (1.4 %) due to low initial parasitaemia at the start of assay (<2000 µl(-1)). In a subset of seven samples, LM, single and double staining FC techniques generated similar IC50 values. CONCLUSIONS: A single staining FC-based assay using a portable cytometer provides a simple, fast and versatile platform for field surveillance of ex vivo drug susceptibility in clinical P. falciparum and P. vivax isolates.

Jenjaroen K, Chumseng S, Sumonwiriya M, Ariyaprasert P, Chantratita N, Sunyakumthorn P, Hongsuwan M, Wuthiekanun V, Fletcher HA, Teparrukkul P et al. 2015. T-Cell Responses Are Associated with Survival in Acute Melioidosis Patients. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (10), pp. e0004152. | Citations: 22 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Melioidosis is an increasingly recognised cause of sepsis and death across South East Asia and Northern Australia, caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. Risk factors include diabetes, alcoholism and renal disease, and a vaccine targeting at-risk populations is urgently required. A better understanding of the protective immune response in naturally infected patients is essential for vaccine design. METHODS: We conducted a longitudinal clinical and immunological study of 200 patients with melioidosis on admission, 12 weeks (n = 113) and 52 weeks (n = 65) later. Responses to whole killed B. pseudomallei were measured in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) by interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) ELIspot assay and flow cytometry and compared to those of control subjects in the region with diabetes (n = 45) and without diabetes (n = 43). RESULTS: We demonstrated strong CD4+ and CD8+ responses to B. pseudomallei during acute disease, 12 weeks and 52 weeks later. 28-day mortality was 26% for melioidosis patients, and B. pseudomallei-specific cellular responses in fatal cases (mean 98 IFN-γ cells per million PBMC) were significantly lower than those in the survivors (mean 142 IFN-γ cells per million PBMC) in a multivariable logistic regression model (P = 0.01). A J-shaped curve association between circulating neutrophil count and mortality was seen with an optimal count of 4000 to 8000 neutrophils/μl. Melioidosis patients with known diabetes had poor diabetic control (median glycated haemoglobin HbA1c 10.2%, interquartile range 9.2-13.1) and showed a stunted B. pseudomallei-specific cellular response during acute illness compared to those without diabetes. CONCLUSIONS: The results demonstrate the role of both CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells in protection against melioidosis, and an interaction between diabetes and cellular responses. This supports development of vaccine strategies that induce strong T-cell responses for the control of intracellular pathogens such as B. pseudomallei.

St Laurent B, Miller B, Burton TA, Amaratunga C, Men S, Sovannaroth S, Fay MP, Miotto O, Gwadz RW, Anderson JM, Fairhurst RM. 2015. Artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum clinical isolates can infect diverse mosquito vectors of Southeast Asia and Africa. Nat Commun, 6 (1), pp. 8614. | Citations: 27 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum parasites are rapidly spreading in Southeast Asia, yet nothing is known about their transmission. This knowledge gap and the possibility that these parasites will spread to Africa endanger global efforts to eliminate malaria. Here we produce gametocytes from parasite clinical isolates that displayed artemisinin resistance in patients and in vitro, and use them to infect native and non-native mosquito vectors. We show that contemporary artemisinin-resistant isolates from Cambodia develop and produce sporozoites in two Southeast Asian vectors, Anopheles dirus and Anopheles minimus, and the major African vector, Anopheles coluzzii (formerly Anopheles gambiae M). The ability of artemisinin-resistant parasites to infect such highly diverse Anopheles species, combined with their higher gametocyte prevalence in patients, may explain the rapid expansion of these parasites in Cambodia and neighbouring countries, and further compromise efforts to prevent their global spread.

Getachew S, To S, Trimarsanto H, Thriemer K, Clark TG, Petros B, Aseffa A, Price RN, Auburn S. 2015. Variation in Complexity of Infection and Transmission Stability between Neighbouring Populations of Plasmodium vivax in Southern Ethiopia. PLoS One, 10 (10), pp. e0140780. | Citations: 19 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: P. vivax is an important public health burden in Ethiopia, accounting for almost half of all malaria cases. Owing to heterogeneous transmission across the country, a stronger evidence base on local transmission dynamics is needed to optimise allocation of resources and improve malaria interventions. METHODOLOGY AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In a pilot evaluation of local level P. vivax molecular surveillance in southern Ethiopia, the diversity and population structure of isolates collected between May and November 2013 were investigated. Blood samples were collected from microscopy positive P. vivax patients recruited to clinical and cross-sectional surveys from four sites: Arbaminch, Halaba, Badawacho and Hawassa. Parasite genotyping was undertaken at nine tandem repeat markers. Eight loci were successfully genotyped in 197 samples (between 36 and 59 per site). Heterogeneity was observed in parasite diversity and structure amongst the sites. Badawacho displayed evidence of unstable transmission, with clusters of identical clonal infections. Linkage disequilibrium in Badawacho was higher (IAS = 0.32, P = 0.010) than in the other populations (IAS range = 0.01-0.02) and declined markedly after adjusting for identical infections (IAS = 0.06, P = 0.010). Other than Badawacho (HE = 0.70), population diversity was equivalently high across the sites (HE = 0.83). Polyclonal infections were more frequent in Hawassa (67%) than the other populations (range: 8-44%). Despite the variable diversity, differentiation between the sites was low (FST range: 5 x 10-3-0.03). CONCLUSIONS: Marked variation in parasite population structure likely reflects differing local transmission dynamics. Parasite genotyping in these heterogeneous settings has potential to provide important complementary information with which to optimise malaria control interventions.

Kaji A, Thi SS, Smith T, Charunwatthana P, Nosten FH. 2015. Challenges in tackling tuberculosis on the Thai-Myanmar border: findings from a qualitative study with health professionals. BMC Health Serv Res, 15 (1), pp. 464. | Citations: 6 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Myanmar and Thailand belong to the top 22 high burden countries for tuberculosis (TB). Health care organizations play an essential role in addressing TB control in the two bridging border jurisdictions, Tak province, Thailand and Myawaddy district, Kayin state, Myanmar. However, health professionals face difficulties in TB control effort due to the nature of fluid population movements, resource constraints and ambiguous mechanisms to implement collaboration along the border. The purpose of this study is to identify the challenges to TB control among Myanmar migrants faced by stakeholders, focusing on the area of collaboration and interaction along the border. METHOD: The study conducted in-depth interviews with health policy makers and health care providers responsible for developing and implementing policies and TB programs in Tak province, Thailand and Myawaddy district, Kayin state, Myanmar. The participants included members of government organizations, United Nations agencies, community based organizations, and international NGO. One or two key stakeholders from each organization were approached to participate in the study. We gathered baseline information to identify TB policies and programs available on websites, brochures, and publications. Observations including field notes were made on site. The data transcriptions were coded for qualitative data analysis. Coding also developed categories that led to key themes. RESULTS: A total of 31 respondents (18 in Thailand and 13 in Myanmar) participated in the study. The main theme reported by participants was challenges in limited corroboration and coordination among stakeholders. Unstructured information sharing and lack of communication hindered the stakeholders from engaging in TB control. The respondents stressed that referral mechanisms across the border need to be strengthened. Other challenges were associated with increasing loss to follow up and subsequent MDR cases, constraints of service delivery, shortage of human resources, limited staff capacities within organizations and poor socioeconomic status of patients. CONCLUSIONS: Health professionals face many challenges in effectively addressing TB control. Addressing the insufficient coordination and collaboration by strengthening bi-national collaborative mechanisms among health care organizations is an essential step in reducing the burden of disease. Additional support and resources from governmental and non-governmental agencies will be required to address the challenges.

Parker DM, Carrara VI, Pukrittayakamee S, McGready R, Nosten FH. 2015. Malaria ecology along the Thailand-Myanmar border. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 388. | Citations: 32 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria in Southeast Asia frequently clusters along international borders. For example, while most of Thailand is malaria free, the border region shared with Myanmar continues to have endemic malaria. This spatial pattern is the result of complex interactions between landscape, humans, mosquito vectors, and malaria parasites. An understanding of these complex ecological and socio-cultural interactions is important for designing and implementing malaria elimination efforts in the region. This article offers an ecological perspective on the malaria situation along the Thailand-Myanmar border. DISCUSSION: This border region is long (2000 km), mountainous, and the environment ranges from thick forests to growing urban settlements and wet-rice fields. It is also a biologically diverse region. All five species of malaria known to naturally infect humans are present. At least three mosquito vector species complexes, with widely varying behavioural characteristics, exist in the area. The region is also a hub for ethnic diversity, being home to over ten different ethnolinguistic groups, several of which have been engaged in conflict with the Myanmar government now for over half a century. Given the biological and ethnic diversity, as well as the complex socio-political context, malaria control and elimination in the region is challenging. CONCLUSION: Despite these complexities, multipronged approaches including collaborations with multiple local organizations, quick access to diagnosis and treatment, prevention of mosquito bites, radical cure of parasites, and mass drug administration appear to be drastically decreasing Plasmodium falciparum infections. Such approaches remain crucial as the region moves toward elimination of P. falciparum and potentially Plasmodium vivax.

Kloprogge F, McGready R, Phyo AP, Rijken MJ, Hanpithakpon W, Than HH, Hlaing N, Zin NT, Day NPJ, White NJ et al. 2015. Opposite malaria and pregnancy effect on oral bioavailability of artesunate - a population pharmacokinetic evaluation. Br J Clin Pharmacol, 80 (4), pp. 642-653. | Citations: 15 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

AIM: The aim was to compare the pharmacokinetic properties of artesunate and dihydroartemisinin in the same women: i) pregnant with acute uncomplicated malaria on day 1 and 2, ii) pregnant with convalescent malaria on day 7 and iii) in a healthy state 3 months post-partum on day 1, 2 and 7. METHODS: Non-linear mixed-effects modelling was used to compare plasma concentration-time profiles of artesunate and dihydroartemisinin over 7 days of treatment following oral and intravenous artesunate administration to pregnant women with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria during their second or third trimesters of pregnancy. The same women were restudied 3 months after delivery when fully recovered. Non-compartmental results of the same study have been published previously. RESULTS: Twenty pregnant patients on the Thailand-Myanmar border were studied and 15 volunteered to be restudied 3 months post-partum. Malaria and pregnancy had no effect on the pharmacokinetic properties of artesunate or dihydroartemisinin after intravenous artesunate administration. However, malaria and pregnancy had opposite effects on the absorption of orally administered artesunate. Malaria increased the absolute oral bioavailability of artesunate by 87%, presumably by inhibiting first pass effect, whereas pregnancy decreased oral bioavailability by 23%. CONCLUSIONS: The population pharmacokinetic analysis demonstrated opposite effects of malaria and pregnancy on the bioavailability of orally administered artesunate. Lower drug exposures during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy may contribute to lower cure rates and thus the development of drug resistance. Dose optimization studies are required for artesunate containing artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) in later pregnancy.

White NJ. 2015. Declining Malaria Transmission and Pregnancy Outcomes in Southern Mozambique. N Engl J Med, 373 (17), pp. 1670-1671. | Citations: 11 (Scopus) | Read more


Imwong M, Nguyen TN, Tripura R, Peto TJ, Lee SJ, Lwin KM, Suangkanarat P, Jeeyapant A, Vihokhern B, Wongsaen K et al. 2015. The epidemiology of subclinical malaria infections in South-East Asia: findings from cross-sectional surveys in Thailand-Myanmar border areas, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 381. | Citations: 91 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The importance of the submicroscopic reservoir of Plasmodium infections for malaria elimination depends on its size, which is generally considered small in low transmission settings. The precise estimation of this reservoir requires more sensitive parasite detection methods. The prevalence of asymptomatic, sub-microscopic malaria was assessed by a sensitive, high blood volume quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction method in three countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region. METHODS: Cross-sectional surveys were conducted in three villages in western Cambodia, four villages along the Thailand-Myanmar border and four villages in southwest Vietnam. Malaria parasitaemia was assessed by Plasmodium falciparum/pan malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), microscopy and a high volume ultra-sensitive real-time polymerase chain reaction (HVUSqPCR: limit of detection 22 parasites/mL). All villagers older than 6 months were invited to participate. RESULTS: A census before the surveys identified 7355 residents in the study villages. Parasite prevalence was 224/5008 (4 %) by RDT, 229/5111 (5 %) by microscopy, and 988/4975 (20 %) when assessed by HVUSqPCR. Of these 164 (3 %) were infected with P. falciparum, 357 (7 %) with Plasmodium vivax, 56 (1 %) with a mixed infection, and 411 (8 %) had parasite densities that were too low for species identification. A history of fever, male sex, and age of 15 years or older were independently associated with parasitaemia in a multivariate regression model stratified by site. CONCLUSION: Light microscopy and RDTs identified only a quarter of all parasitaemic participants. The asymptomatic Plasmodium reservoir is considerable, even in low transmission settings. Novel strategies are needed to eliminate this previously under recognized reservoir of malaria transmission.

Drake TL, Kyaw SS, Kyaw MP, Smithuis FM, Day NPJ, White LJ, Lubell Y. 2015. Cost effectiveness and resource allocation of Plasmodium falciparum malaria control in Myanmar: a modelling analysis of bed nets and community health workers. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 376. | Citations: 10 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Funding for malaria control and elimination in Myanmar has increased markedly in recent years. While there are various malaria control tools currently available, two interventions receive the majority of malaria control funding in Myanmar: (1) insecticide-treated bed nets and (2) early diagnosis and treatment through malaria community health workers. This study aims to provide practical recommendations on how to maximize impact from investment in these interventions. METHODS: A simple decision tree is used to model intervention costs and effects in terms of years of life lost. The evaluation is from the perspective of the service provider and costs and effects are calculated in line with standard methodology. Sensitivity and scenario analysis are undertaken to identify key drivers of cost effectiveness. Standard cost effectiveness analysis is then extended via a spatially explicit resource allocation model. FINDINGS: Community health workers have the potential for high impact on malaria, particularly where there are few alternatives to access malaria treatment, but are relatively costly. Insecticide-treated bed nets are comparatively inexpensive and modestly effective in Myanmar, representing a low risk but modest return intervention. Unlike some healthcare interventions, bed nets and community health workers are not mutually exclusive nor are they necessarily at their most efficient when universally applied. Modelled resource allocation scenarios highlight that in this case there is no "one size fits all" cost effectiveness result. Health gains will be maximized by effective targeting of both interventions.

Moreira CM, Abo-Shehada M, Price RN, Drakeley CJ. 2015. A systematic review of sub-microscopic Plasmodium vivax infection. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 360. | Citations: 24 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: An accurate estimate of Plasmodium vivax prevalence is essential for the successful implementation of malaria control and elimination programmes. Prevalence estimates both inform control strategies and are used in their evaluation. Light microscopy is the main method for detecting Plasmodium parasitaemia in the peripheral blood, but compared to molecular diagnostics, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), has limited sensitivity. METHODS: A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to assess the effect of detection method on the prevalence of P. vivax and to quantify the extent to which P. vivax infections are undetected by microscopy. Embase, Medline and the Cochrane Database were searched for studies reporting prevalence by PCR and by microscopy and that contained all of the following key words: vivax, PCR, and malaria. Prevalence estimates and study meta-data were extracted systematically from each publication. Combined microscopy:PCR prevalence ratios were estimated by random effects meta-analysis. Sensitivity and specificity of microscopy were calculated using PCR as the gold standard. RESULTS: Of 874 studies reviewed, 40 met the criteria for inclusion contributing 54 prevalence pairs. The prevalence of P. vivax infection measured by PCR was consistently higher than the prevalence measured by microscopy with sub-patent parasitaemia. The mean prevalence of infection detected by microscopy was 67 % (95 % CI 59-73 %) lower than the prevalence detected by PCR. The detection of sub-patent parasitaemia did not vary according to the microscopy method (thick or, thick and thin smears), the PCR prevalence (as a measure of the true P. vivax prevalence), the type of blood used or DNA extraction method. CONCLUSIONS: Quantifying P. vivax parasitaemia by PCR rather than microscopy consistently increased prevalence estimates by a factor of 2.3. Whilst the sensitivity of microscopy can be improved by better methods, molecular methods have potential to be scaled up to improve the detection of P. vivax transmission reservoirs.

Sinha I, Ekapirat N, Dondorp AM, Woodrow CJ. 2015. Use of a rapid test to assess plasma Plasmodium falciparum HRP2 and guide management of severe febrile illness. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 362. | Citations: 5 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasma Plasmodium falciparum histidine-rich protein-2 (PfHRP2) is the most accurate biomarker for severe malaria, but its measurement by ELISA has been considered too unwieldy to incorporate into clinical management. METHODS: Plasma samples covering a wide range of PfHRP2 concentrations were applied to rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs). RDTs were read by eye and digital capture, and PfHRP2 concentrations were measured via serial dilution with results compared to ELISA readings. RESULTS: The Paracheck (®) brand showed the strongest correlation (r(2) = 0.963) as well as the lowest inter-observer variability (combined kappa across band intensities for three observers = 0.938). Plasma PfHRP2 measurement via serial dilution showed minimal bias compared to ELISA and acceptable limits of agreement. Three different dilutions of a well characterized set of admission samples from uncomplicated and severe malaria patients studied in a low transmission setting gave an area under the receiver operator characteristic curve of 0.844 in terms of identifying severe malaria. CONCLUSIONS: These studies show that plasma PfHRP2 can be assessed via a single RDT, with application of a plasma dilution of 1:5 or 1:10 providing useful diagnostic information to assist in patient management or clinical trial inclusion.

WWARN Parasite Clearance Study Group, Abdulla S, Ashley EA, Bassat Q, Bethell D, Björkman A, Borrmann S, D'Alessandro U, Dahal P, Day NP et al. 2015. Baseline data of parasite clearance in patients with falciparum malaria treated with an artemisinin derivative: an individual patient data meta-analysis. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 359. | Citations: 21 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum manifests as slow parasite clearance but this measure is also influenced by host immunity, initial parasite biomass and partner drug efficacy. This study collated data from clinical trials of artemisinin derivatives in falciparum malaria with frequent parasite counts to provide reference parasite clearance estimates stratified by location, treatment and time, to examine host factors affecting parasite clearance, and to assess the relationships between parasite clearance and risk of recrudescence during follow-up. METHODS: Data from 24 studies, conducted from 1996 to 2013, with frequent parasite counts were pooled. Parasite clearance half-life (PC1/2) was estimated using the WWARN Parasite Clearance Estimator. Random effects regression models accounting for study and site heterogeneity were used to explore factors affecting PC1/2 and risk of recrudescence within areas with reported delayed parasite clearance (western Cambodia, western Thailand after 2000, southern Vietnam, southern Myanmar) and in all other areas where parasite populations are artemisinin sensitive. RESULTS: PC1/2 was estimated in 6975 patients, 3288 of whom also had treatment outcomes evaluate d during 28-63 days follow-up, with 93 (2.8 %) PCR-confirmed recrudescences. In areas with artemisinin-sensitive parasites, the median PC1/2 following three-day artesunate treatment (4 mg/kg/day) ranged from 1.8 to 3.0 h and the proportion of patients with PC1/2 >5 h from 0 to 10 %. Artesunate doses of 4 mg/kg/day decreased PC1/2 by 8.1 % (95 % CI 3.2-12.6) compared to 2 mg/kg/day, except in populations with delayed parasite clearance. PC1/2 was longer in children and in patients with fever or anaemia at enrolment. Long PC1/2 (HR = 2.91, 95 % CI 1.95-4.34 for twofold increase, p < 0.001) and high initial parasitaemia (HR = 2.23, 95 % CI 1.44-3.45 for tenfold increase, p < 0.001) were associated independently with an increased risk of recrudescence. In western Cambodia, the region with the highest prevalence of artemisinin resistance, there was no evidence for increasing PC1/2 since 2007. CONCLUSIONS: Several factors affect PC1/2. As substantial heterogeneity in parasite clearance exists between locations, early detection of artemisinin resistance requires reference PC1/2 data. Studies with frequent parasite count measurements to characterize PC1/2 should be encouraged. In western Cambodia, where PC1/2 values are longest, there is no evidence for recent emergence of higher levels of artemisinin resistance.

WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) Lumefantrine PK/PD Study Group. 2015. Artemether-lumefantrine treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria: a systematic review and meta-analysis of day 7 lumefantrine concentrations and therapeutic response using individual patient data. BMC Med, 13 (1), pp. 227. | Citations: 31 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Achieving adequate antimalarial drug exposure is essential for curing malaria. Day 7 blood or plasma lumefantrine concentrations provide a simple measure of drug exposure that correlates well with artemether-lumefantrine efficacy. However, the 'therapeutic' day 7 lumefantrine concentration threshold needs to be defined better, particularly for important patient and parasite sub-populations. METHODS: The WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) conducted a large pooled analysis of individual pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic data from patients treated with artemether-lumefantrine for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria, to define therapeutic day 7 lumefantrine concentrations and identify patient factors that substantially alter these concentrations. A systematic review of PubMed, Embase, Google Scholar, and conference proceedings identified all relevant studies. Risk of bias in individual studies was evaluated based on study design, methodology and missing data. RESULTS: Of 31 studies identified through a systematic review, 26 studies were shared with WWARN and 21 studies with 2,787 patients were included. Recrudescence was associated with low day 7 lumefantrine concentrations (HR 1.59 (95% CI 1.36 to 1.85) per halving of day 7 concentrations) and high baseline parasitemia (HR 1.87 (95% CI 1.22 to 2.87) per 10-fold increase). Adjusted for mg/kg dose, day 7 concentrations were lowest in very young children (<3 years), among whom underweight-for-age children had 23% (95% CI -1 to 41%) lower concentrations than adequately nourished children of the same age and 53% (95% CI 37 to 65%) lower concentrations than adults. Day 7 lumefantrine concentrations were 44% (95% CI 38 to 49%) lower following unsupervised treatment. The highest risk of recrudescence was observed in areas of emerging artemisinin resistance and very low transmission intensity. For all other populations studied, day 7 concentrations ≥200 ng/ml were associated with >98% cure rates (if parasitemia <135,000/μL). CONCLUSIONS: Current artemether-lumefantrine dosing recommendations achieve day 7 lumefantrine concentrations ≥200 ng/ml and high cure rates in most uncomplicated malaria patients. Three groups are at increased risk of treatment failure: very young children (particularly those underweight-for-age); patients with high parasitemias; and patients in very low transmission intensity areas with emerging parasite resistance. In these groups, adherence and treatment response should be monitored closely. Higher, more frequent, or prolonged dosage regimens should now be evaluated in very young children, particularly if malnourished, and in patients with hyperparasitemia.

Gaillard T, Wurtz N, Houzé S, Sriprawat K, Wangsing C, Hubert V, Lebras J, Nosten F, Briolant S, Pradines B, French National Reference Centre for Imported Malaria Study Group. 2015. Absence of association between Plasmodium falciparum small sub-unit ribosomal RNA gene mutations and in vitro decreased susceptibility to doxycycline. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 348. | Citations: 3 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Doxycycline is an antibiotic used in combination with quinine or artesunate for malaria treatment or alone for malaria chemoprophylaxis. Recently, one prophylactic failure has been reported, and several studies have highlighted in vitro doxycycline decreased susceptibility in Plasmodium falciparum isolates from different areas. The genetic markers that contribute to detecting and monitoring the susceptibility of P. falciparum to doxycycline, the pfmdt and pftetQ genes, have recently been identified. However, these markers are not sufficient to explain in vitro decreased susceptibility of P. falciparum to doxycycline. In this paper, the association between polymorphism of the small sub-unit ribosomal RNA apicoplastic gene pfssrRNA (PFC10_API0057) and in vitro susceptibilities of P. falciparum isolates to doxycycline were investigated. METHODS: Doxycycline IC50 determinations using the hypoxanthine uptake inhibition assay were performed on 178 African and Thai P. falciparum isolates. The polymorphism of pfssrRNA was investigated in these samples by standard PCR followed by sequencing. RESULTS: No point mutations were found in pfssrRNA in the Thai or African isolates, regardless of the determined IC50 values. CONCLUSIONS: The pfssrRNA gene is not associated with in vitro decreased susceptibility of P. falciparum to doxycycline. Identifying new in vitro molecular markers associated with reduced susceptibility is needed, to survey the emergence of doxycycline resistance.

Herdman MT, Sriboonvorakul N, Leopold SJ, Douthwaite S, Mohanty S, Hassan MMU, Maude RJ, Kingston HWF, Plewes K, Charunwatthana P et al. 2015. The role of previously unmeasured organic acids in the pathogenesis of severe malaria. Crit Care, 19 (1), pp. 317. | Citations: 6 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Severe falciparum malaria is commonly complicated by metabolic acidosis. Together with lactic acid (LA), other previously unmeasured acids have been implicated in the pathogenesis of falciparum malaria. METHODS: In this prospective study, we characterised organic acids in adults with severe falciparum malaria in India and Bangladesh. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry was used to measure organic acids in plasma and urine. Patients were followed until recovery or death. RESULTS: Patients with severe malaria (n=138), uncomplicated malaria (n=102), sepsis (n=32) and febrile encephalopathy (n=35) were included. Strong ion gap (mean ± SD) was elevated in severe malaria (8.2 mEq/L ± 4.5) and severe sepsis (8.6 mEq/L ± 7.7) compared with uncomplicated malaria (6.0 mEq/L ± 5.1) and encephalopathy (6.6 mEq/L ± 4.7). Compared with uncomplicated malaria, severe malaria was characterised by elevated plasma LA, hydroxyphenyllactic acid (HPLA), α-hydroxybutyric acid and β-hydroxybutyric acid (all P<0.05). In urine, concentrations of methylmalonic, ethylmalonic and α-ketoglutaric acids were also elevated. Multivariate logistic regression showed that plasma HPLA was a strong independent predictor of death (odds ratio [OR] 3.5, 95 % confidence interval [CI] 1.6-7.5, P=0.001), comparable to LA (OR 3.5, 95 % CI 1.5-7.8, P=0.003) (combined area under the receiver operating characteristic curve 0.81). CONCLUSIONS: Newly identified acids, in addition to LA, are elevated in patients with severe malaria and are highly predictive of fatal outcome. Further characterisation of their sources and metabolic pathways is now needed.

WWARN Artemisinin based Combination Therapy (ACT) Africa Baseline Study Group, Dahal P, d'Alessandro U, Dorsey G, Guerin PJ, Nsanzabana C, Price RN, Sibley CH, Stepniewska K, Talisuna AO. 2015. Clinical determinants of early parasitological response to ACTs in African patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria: a literature review and meta-analysis of individual patient data. BMC Med, 13 (1), pp. 212. | Citations: 23 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum has emerged in the Greater Mekong sub-region and poses a major global public health threat. Slow parasite clearance is a key clinical manifestation of reduced susceptibility to artemisinin. This study was designed to establish the baseline values for clearance in patients from Sub-Saharan African countries with uncomplicated malaria treated with artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). METHODS: A literature review in PubMed was conducted in March 2013 to identify all prospective clinical trials (uncontrolled trials, controlled trials and randomized controlled trials), including ACTs conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa, between 1960 and 2012. Individual patient data from these studies were shared with the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) and pooled using an a priori statistical analytical plan. Factors affecting early parasitological response were investigated using logistic regression with study sites fitted as a random effect. The risk of bias in included studies was evaluated based on study design, methodology and missing data. RESULTS: In total, 29,493 patients from 84 clinical trials were included in the analysis, treated with artemether-lumefantrine (n = 13,664), artesunate-amodiaquine (n = 11,337) and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (n = 4,492). The overall parasite clearance rate was rapid. The parasite positivity rate (PPR) decreased from 59.7 % (95 % CI: 54.5-64.9) on day 1 to 6.7 % (95 % CI: 4.8-8.7) on day 2 and 0.9 % (95 % CI: 0.5-1.2) on day 3. The 95th percentile of observed day 3 PPR was 5.3 %. Independent risk factors predictive of day 3 positivity were: high baseline parasitaemia (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.16 (95 % CI: 1.08-1.25); per 2-fold increase in parasite density, P <0.001); fever (>37.5 °C) (AOR = 1.50 (95 % CI: 1.06-2.13), P = 0.022); severe anaemia (AOR = 2.04 (95 % CI: 1.21-3.44), P = 0.008); areas of low/moderate transmission setting (AOR = 2.71 (95 % CI: 1.38-5.36), P = 0.004); and treatment with the loose formulation of artesunate-amodiaquine (AOR = 2.27 (95 % CI: 1.14-4.51), P = 0.020, compared to dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine). CONCLUSIONS: The three ACTs assessed in this analysis continue to achieve rapid early parasitological clearance across the sites assessed in Sub-Saharan Africa. A threshold of 5 % day 3 parasite positivity from a minimum sample size of 50 patients provides a more sensitive benchmark in Sub-Saharan Africa compared to the current recommended threshold of 10 % to trigger further investigation of artemisinin susceptibility.

Deeny SR, Worby CJ, Tosas Auguet O, Cooper BS, Edgeworth J, Cookson B, Robotham JV. 2015. Impact of mupirocin resistance on the transmission and control of healthcare-associated MRSA. J Antimicrob Chemother, 70 (12), pp. 3366-3378. | Citations: 20 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study were to estimate the relative transmissibility of mupirocin-resistant (MupR) and mupirocin-susceptible (MupS) MRSA strains and evaluate the long-term impact of MupR on MRSA control policies. METHODS: Parameters describing MupR and MupS strains were estimated using Markov chain Monte Carlo methods applied to data from two London teaching hospitals. These estimates parameterized a model used to evaluate the long-term impact of MupR on three mupirocin usage policies: 'clinical cases', 'screen and treat' and 'universal'. Strategies were assessed in terms of colonized and infected patient days and scenario and sensitivity analyses were performed. RESULTS: The transmission probability of a MupS strain was 2.16 (95% CI 1.38-2.94) times that of a MupR strain in the absence of mupirocin usage. The total prevalence of MupR in colonized and infected MRSA patients after 5 years of simulation was 9.1% (95% CI 8.7%-9.6%) with the 'screen and treat' mupirocin policy, increasing to 21.3% (95% CI 20.9%-21.7%) with 'universal' mupirocin use. The prevalence of MupR increased in 50%-75% of simulations with 'universal' usage and >10% of simulations with 'screen and treat' usage in scenarios where MupS had a higher transmission probability than MupR. CONCLUSIONS: Our results provide evidence from a clinical setting of a fitness cost associated with MupR in MRSA strains. This provides a plausible explanation for the low levels of mupirocin resistance seen following 'screen and treat' mupirocin usage. From our simulations, even under conservative estimates of relative transmissibility, we see long-term increases in the prevalence of MupR given 'universal' use.

Chanthavilay P, Mayxay M, Phongsavan K, Marsden DE, White LJ, Moore L, Reinharz D. 2015. Accuracy of Combined Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid and Cervical Cytology Testing as a Primary Screening Tool for Cervical Cancer: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev, 16 (14), pp. 5889-5897. | Citations: 3 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The performance of combined testing visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) and cervical cytology tests might differ from one setting to another. The average estimate of the testing accuracy across studies is informative, but no meta-analysis has been carried out to assess this combined method. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to estimate the average sensitivity and specificity of the combined VIA and cervical cytology tests for the detection of cervical precancerous lesions. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted a systematic review and a meta-analysis, according to the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Review of Diagnostic Test Accuracy. We considered two cases. In the either-positive result case, a positive result implies positivity in at least one of the tests. A negative result implies negativity in both tests. In the both-positive case, a positive result implies having both tests positive. Eligible studies were identified using Pubmed, Embase, Website of Science, CINHAL and COCRANE databases. True positive, false positive, false negative and true negative values were extracted. Estimates of sensitivity and specificity, positive and negative likelihood (LR) and diagnostic odds ratios (DOR) were pooled using a hierarchical random effect model. Hierarchical summary receiver operating characteristics (HSROC) were generated and heterogeneity was verified through covariates potentially influencing the diagnostic odds ratio. FINDINGS: Nine studies fulfilled inclusion criteria and were included in the analysis. Pooled estimates of the sensitivities of the combined tests in either-positive and both-positive cases were 0.87 (95% CI: 0.83-0.90) and 0.38 (95% CI: 0.29-0.48), respectively. Corresponding specificities were 0.79 (95% CI: 0.63-0.89) and 0.98 (95% CI: 0.96-0.99) respectively. The DORs of the combined tests in either-positive or both-positive result cases were 27.7 (95% CI: 12.5-61.5) and 52 (95% CI: 22.1-122.2), respectively. When including only articles without partial verification bias and also a high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia as a threshold of the disease, DOR of combined test in both-positive result cases remained the highest. However, DORs decreased to 12.1 (95% CI: 6.05-24.1) and 13.8 (95% CI: 7.92-23.9) in studies without partial verification bias for the combined tests in the either-positive and both-positive result cases, respectively. The screener, the place of study and the size of the population significantly influenced the DOR of combined tests in the both-positive result case in restriction analyses that considered only articles with CIN2+ as disease threshold. CONCLUSIONS: The combined test in the either-positive result case has a high sensitivity, but a low specificity. These results suggest that the combined test should be considered in developing countries as a primary screening test if facilities exist to confirm, through colposcopy and biopsy, a positive result.

Imwong M, Tun KM, Hlaing TM, Grist EP, Guerin P, Smithuis F, Dondorp AM, Day NP, Nosten F, White N, Woodrow CJ. 2015. Artemisinin resistance in Myanmar--Authors' reply. Lancet Infect Dis, 15 (9), pp. 1002-1003. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Read more

White NJ, Chutasmit K, Jittamala P, Nosten F, Phyo AP, Pukrittayakamee S, Thanh DT, Uthaisin C, Li R, Magnusson B et al. 2015. Efficacy, safety and pharmacokinetics of KAF156 in adult patients with acute, uncomplicated P. falciparum or vivax malaria: a proof-of-concept, open label study TROPICAL MEDICINE & INTERNATIONAL HEALTH, 20 pp. 18-18.

Nguyen TD, Olliaro P, Dondorp A, Baird JK, Lam HM, Farrar J, Thwaites GE, White NJ, Boni MF. 2015. Optimal population-level deployment of artemisinin combination therapies TROPICAL MEDICINE & INTERNATIONAL HEALTH, 20 pp. 182-182.

Hopkins H, Thomas NV, Crump JA, Gonzalez IJ, Guerin PJ, Newton PN, Schellenberg D, Bell D, Reyburn H. 2015. Mapping fever aetiologies in malaria-endemic areas: an interactive, open-access, on-line map TROPICAL MEDICINE & INTERNATIONAL HEALTH, 20 pp. 179-179.

Kyabayinze DJ, Hopkins H, Mayxay M, Phommasone K, Streat E, Bwanika JB, Umlauf R, Kibira SP, Ndawula B, Gonzalez IJ et al. 2015. Prototype positive control wells for malaria rapid diagnostic tests: training effectiveness, impact on RDT use and health worker perceptions in Lao PDR and Uganda TROPICAL MEDICINE & INTERNATIONAL HEALTH, 20 pp. 181-181.

Sadiq MB, Hanpithakpong W, Tarning J, Anal AK. 2015. Screening of phytochemicals and in vitro evaluation of antibacterial and antioxidant activities of leaves, pods and bark extracts of Acacia nilotica (L.) Del. INDUSTRIAL CROPS AND PRODUCTS, 77 pp. 873-882. | Citations: 25 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 Elsevier B.V.. The objective of this study was to determine the phytochemical content, antibacterial activity and antioxidant activity of leaves, bark and pods of Acacia nilotica. The different extracts of acacia were evaluated for total phenolic, flavonoid and protein contents, antibacterial (agar well diffusion and broth dilution methods) and antioxidant (DPPH; 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl assay) activities. The characterization and identification of phenolic compounds was carried out by Liquid Chromatography-tandem Mass Spectrometry analysis. The MS2 fragmentation pattern showed the presence of galloylated catechins and gallocatechin derivatives in tested extracts. The results indicated that all parts of the plant, but especially leaves, were effective in inhibiting the growth of antibiotic resistant strains of Escherichia coli and Salmonella species obtained from clinical and food isolates. The leaves were found to be rich in total phenolic content, proteins and high antioxidant activity as compared to pods and bark. The presence of functional groups of active compounds was confirmed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis of plant extracts. It was concluded that all tested parts of A. nilotica had antibacterial and antioxidant activities. These properties might be due to the presence of high total phenolic content, proteins and/or flavonoids. Hence the extracts of leaves, bark and pods of A. nilotica represent a potential source of antibacterial and antioxidant compounds that may be used in food, agriculture and/or pharmaceutical products.

Commons RJ, Robinson CH, Gawler D, Davis JS, Price RN. 2015. High burden of diabetic foot infections in the top end of Australia: An emerging health crisis (DEFINE study). Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 110 (2), pp. 147-157. | Citations: 9 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: The risk of diabetes mellitus is increasing worldwide, and is particularly high in Indigenous Australians. Complicated foot infection is one of the most common sequelae of diabetes. We describe the incidence and associations of Indigenous and non-Indigenous inpatients with diabetic foot infections at Royal Darwin Hospital. METHODS: All adult Royal Darwin Hospital inpatients with diabetic foot infections were enrolled prospectively from September 2012 to November 2013. Incidence, demographics, microbiology, management and clinical outcomes were analysed by Indigenous status, and association with methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. RESULTS: There were 245 separate hospital admissions in 177 patients with an incidence of 79 admissions per 100,000 person years. Patients occupied a mean of 19.4 hospital beds each day. Compared to the non-Indigenous population, Indigenous patients had a greater incidence of admission (Rate Ratio (RR)=5.1, [95%CI=3.8, 7.0]), were younger (mean difference of 11.1 years; p<0.001), and more likely to undergo major and minor amputations (RR=4.1 [95%CI=1.6, 10.7], and 6.2 [95%CI=3.5, 11.1] respectively). Non-multiresistant methicillin resistant S. aureus was present in 44.7% of wounds from Indigenous patients versus 20.6% of non-Indigenous patients (Odds Ratio (OR)=3.1, [95%CI=1.5, 6.4]), whereas P. aeruginosa presence was significantly lower (15.8% versus 46.0%; OR=0.22; [95%CI=0.11, 0.45]). Methicillin resistant S. aureus or P. aeruginosa infections were associated with longer antibiotic courses and durations of stay. CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights a rising burden of diabetic foot infections in the Top End of Australia, with a four-fold increase in bed days since 2002 and an overrepresentation in the Indigenous population.

Conlan JV, Vongxay K, Khamlome B, Jarman RG, Gibbons RV, Fenwick SG, Thompson RCA, Blacksell SD. 2015. Patterns of Flavivirus Seroprevalence in the Human Population of Northern Laos. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 93 (5), pp. 1010-1013. | Citations: 6 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

A total of 1,136 samples from 289 households in four provinces in northern Laos were subjected to Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) and dengue virus hemagglutination inhibition (DENV HI). Overall, antibodies to JEV were detected by HI in 620 (54.6%) of 1,136 people; of which 217 (19.1%) had HI activity against JEV only. Antibodies to DENV4 were detected by HI in 526 (46.3%) of 1,136 people; of which 124 (10.9%) had HI activity against DENV4 only. Antibodies to DENV1-3 were detected by HI in 296 (26.1%), 274 (24.1%), and 283 (24.9) of 1,136 people, respectively; of which 7, 1, and 0, respectively, had HI activity against DENV1-3 only. JEV was the most prevalent Flavivirus in Oudomxay, Luangprabang, and Huaphan provinces and DENV4 was the most prevalent in Xiengkhouang province. Seroprevalence for JEV increased with increasing age and wealth and was higher in villages where rice was cultivated in paddy fields and highest for people of Lao-Tai ethnicity.

Kingston HWF, Blacksell SD, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Laongnualpanich A, Basnyat B, Day NPJ, Paris DH. 2015. Comparative Accuracy of the InBios Scrub Typhus Detect IgM Rapid Test for the Detection of IgM Antibodies by Using Conventional Serology. Clin Vaccine Immunol, 22 (10), pp. 1130-1132. | Citations: 19 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

This study investigated the comparative accuracy of a recombinant 56-kDa type-specific antigen-based rapid diagnostic test (RDT) for scrub typhus for the detection of IgM antibodies by using conventional serology in well-characterized serum samples from undifferentiated febrile illness patients. The RDT showed high specificity and promising comparative accuracy, with 82% sensitivity and 98% specificity for samples defined positive at an IgM indirect immunofluorescence assay positivity cutoff titer of ≥1:1,600 versus 92% and 95% at ≥1:6,400, respectively.

Lwin KM, Imwong M, Suangkanarat P, Jeeyapant A, Vihokhern B, Wongsaen K, Snounou G, Keereecharoen L, White NJ, Nosten F. 2015. Elimination of Plasmodium falciparum in an area of multi-drug resistance. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 319. | Citations: 28 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Resistance to the artemisinin derivatives in Plasmodium falciparum has emerged in Cambodia and is now spreading throughout South-East Asia. The rapid elimination of P. falciparum seems to be the only viable option to avoid a public health disaster but this is difficult because even in low transmission settings many residents have asymptomatic parasitaemias. METHODS: In response to a large number of malaria cases reported in three remote villages on the Thai-Myanmar border where malaria is endemic and the disease is seasonal, surveys were conducted using an ultra-sensitive qPCR assay (LOD 22 parasites per mL). In one of the villages where it was feasible, mass anti-malarial drug administration was proposed to the population as a potential solution, and this was adopted. RESULTS: In the three villages 204/356 (57.3 %), 212/385 (55.1 %) and 195/286 (68.2 %) of the resident populations were positive by qPCR (approximately one-third P. falciparum and two-thirds P. vivax). Of those positive for P. falciparum 62 % carried single point mutations in the P. falciparum kelch protein (a marker of artemisinin resistance). In one of the villages 217 of 674 inhabitants received at least one dose of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine chemoprevention in June 2012, 155 (71.4 %) received two consecutive months, and 98 (45.2 %) received three treatment doses. The chemoprevention was generally well tolerated. The sub-microscopic reservoir of P. falciparum malaria was eliminated during the six-month follow-up period (prevalence fell from 7 to 0 %); P. vivax malaria persisted (prevalence fell from 35 to 8 %). From June to October 2012 (rainy season) the number of clinical episodes of P. falciparum was six times lower (46), than during the same period in the previous year (290). CONCLUSION: Mass drug administration with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine may be an effective strategy to eliminate P. falciparum rapidly where multi-drug resistance is present.

Woodrow CJ, Wangsing C, Sriprawat K, Christensen PR, Nosten F, Rénia L, Russell B, Malleret B. 2015. Comparison between Flow Cytometry, Microscopy, and Lactate Dehydrogenase-Based Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay for Plasmodium falciparum Drug Susceptibility Testing under Field Conditions. J Clin Microbiol, 53 (10), pp. 3296-3303. | Citations: 5 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Flow cytometry is an objective method for conducting in vitro antimalarial sensitivity assays with increasing potential for application in field sites. We examined in vitro susceptibility to seven anti-malarial drugs for 40 fresh P. falciparum field isolates via a flow cytometry method (FCM), a colorimetric LDH-based ELISA : DELI), and standard microscopic slide analysis of growth. For FCM, 184/280 (66%) assays met analytical acceptance criteria, compared to 166/280 (59%) for DELI. There was good agreement between FCM and microscopy, while DELI tended to produce higher half-maximal inhibition constants (IC50s) than FCM, with an overall bias of 2.2-fold (Bland-Altman comparison). Values for artesunate and dihydroartemisinin were most affected. Paradoxical increases in signal at very high concentrations of mefloquine and related compounds were more marked with the DELI assay, suggesting that off-target effects on LDH production may be responsible. Loss of FCM signal due to reinvasion or slow growth was observed in a small number of samples. These results extend previous work on use of flow cytometry to determine antimalarial susceptibility in terms of the number of samples, range of drugs, and comparison with other methods.

Andolina C, Landier J, Carrara V, Chu CS, Franetich J-F, Roth A, Rénia L, Roucher C, White NJ, Snounou G, Nosten F. 2015. The suitability of laboratory-bred Anopheles cracens for the production of Plasmodium vivax sporozoites. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 312. | Citations: 13 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: A stenogamous colony of Anopheles cracens (A. dirus B) established 20 years ago in a Thai insectary proved susceptible to Plasmodium vivax. However, routine sporozoite production by feeding on field-collected blood samples has not been described. The setting-up of an A. cracens colony in an insectary on the Thai-Myanmar border and the process of using P. vivax field samples for the production of infectious sporozoites are described. METHODS: The colony was started in 2012 from egg batches that were sent from the Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Chiang Mai, to the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU), on wet filter paper in sealed Petri dishes. From May 2013 to December 2014, P. vivax-infected blood samples collected from patients seeking care at SMRU clinics were used for membrane feeding assays and sporozoite production. RESULTS: Mosquitoes were fed on blood samples from 55 patients, and for 38 (69 %) this led to the production sporozoites. The average number of sporozoites obtained per mosquito was 26,112 (range 328-79,310). Gametocytaemia was not correlated with mosquito infectiousness (p = 0.82), or with the number of the sporozoites produced (Spearman's ρ = -0.016, p = 0.905). Infectiousness did not vary with the date of collection or the age of the patient. Mosquito survival was not correlated with sporozoite load (Spearman's ρ = 0.179, p = 0.282). CONCLUSION: Consistent and routine P. vivax sporozoites production confirms that A. cracens is highly susceptible to P. vivax infection. Laboratory-bred colonies of this vector are suitable for experimental transmission protocols and thus constitute a valuable resource.

Kloprogge F, McGready R, Hanpithakpong W, Blessborn D, Day NPJ, White NJ, Nosten F, Tarning J. 2015. Lumefantrine and Desbutyl-Lumefantrine Population Pharmacokinetic-Pharmacodynamic Relationships in Pregnant Women with Uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum Malaria on the Thailand-Myanmar Border. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 59 (10), pp. 6375-6384. | Citations: 10 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemether-lumefantrine is the most widely used antimalarial artemisinin-based combination treatment. Recent studies have suggested that day 7 plasma concentrations of the potent metabolite desbutyl-lumefantrine correlate better with treatment outcomes than those of lumefantrine. Low cure rates have been reported in pregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria treated with artemether-lumefantrine in northwest Thailand. A simultaneous pharmacokinetic drug-metabolite model was developed based on dense venous and sparse capillary lumefantrine and desbutyl-lumefantrine plasma samples from 116 pregnant patients on the Thailand-Myanmar border. The best model was used to evaluate therapeutic outcomes with a time-to-event approach. Lumefantrine and desbutyl-lumefantrine concentrations, implemented in an Emax model, both predicted treatment outcomes, but lumefantrine provided better predictive power. A combined model including both lumefantrine and desbutyl-lumefantrine did not improve the model further. Simulations suggested that cure rates in pregnant women with falciparum malaria could be increased by prolonging the treatment course. (These trials were registered at [ISRCTN 86353884].).

Taylor AJ, Paris DH, Newton PN. 2015. A Systematic Review of Mortality from Untreated Scrub Typhus (Orientia tsutsugamushi). PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (8), pp. e0003971. | Citations: 59 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Scrub typhus, a bacterial infection caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi, is increasingly recognized as an important cause of fever in Asia, with an estimated one million infections occurring each year. Limited access to health care and the disease's non-specific symptoms mean that many patients are undiagnosed and untreated, but the mortality from untreated scrub typhus is unknown. This review systematically summarizes the literature on the untreated mortality from scrub typhus and disease outcomes. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: A literature search was performed to identify patient series containing untreated patients. Patients were included if they were symptomatic and had a clinical or laboratory diagnosis of scrub typhus and excluded if they were treated with antibiotics. The primary outcome was mortality from untreated scrub typhus and secondary outcomes were total days of fever, clinical symptoms, and laboratory results. A total of 76 studies containing 89 patient series and 19,644 patients were included in the final analysis. The median mortality of all patient series was 6.0% with a wide range (min-max) of 0-70%. Many studies used clinical diagnosis alone and had incomplete data on secondary outcomes. Mortality varied by location and increased with age and in patients with myocarditis, delirium, pneumonitis, or signs of hemorrhage, but not according to sex or the presence of an eschar or meningitis. Duration of fever was shown to be long (median 14.4 days Range (9-19)). CONCLUSIONS: Results show that the untreated mortality from scrub typhus appears lower than previously reported estimates. More data are required to clarify mortality according to location and host factors, clinical syndromes including myocarditis and central nervous system disease, and in vulnerable mother-child populations. Increased surveillance and improved access to diagnostic tests are required to accurately estimate the untreated mortality of scrub typhus. This information would facilitate reliable quantification of DALYs and guide empirical treatment strategies.

Phetsouvanh R, Sonthayanon P, Pukrittayakamee S, Paris DH, Newton PN, Feil EJ, Day NPJ. 2015. The Diversity and Geographical Structure of Orientia tsutsugamushi Strains from Scrub Typhus Patients in Laos. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (8), pp. e0004024. | Citations: 6 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Orientia tsutsugamushi is the causative agent of scrub typhus, a disease transmitted by Leptotrombidium mites which is responsible for a severe and under-reported public health burden throughout Southeast Asia. Here we use multilocus sequence typing (MLST) to characterize 74 clinical isolates from three geographic locations in the Lao PDR (Laos), and compare them with isolates described from Udon Thani, northeast Thailand. The data confirm high levels of diversity and recombination within the natural O. tsutsugamushi population, and a rate of mixed infection of ~8%. We compared the relationships and geographical structuring of the strains and populations using allele based approaches (eBURST), phylogenetic approaches, and by calculating F-statistics (FST). These analyses all point towards low levels of population differentiation between isolates from Vientiane and Udon Thani, cities which straddle the Mekong River which defines the Lao/Thai border, but with a very distinct population in Salavan, southern Laos. These data highlight how land use, as well as the movement of hosts and vectors, may impact on the epidemiology of zoonotic infections.

Giengkam S, Blakes A, Utsahajit P, Chaemchuen S, Atwal S, Blacksell SD, Paris DH, Day NPJ, Salje J. 2015. Improved Quantification, Propagation, Purification and Storage of the Obligate Intracellular Human Pathogen Orientia tsutsugamushi. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (8), pp. e0004009. | Citations: 10 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Scrub typhus is a leading cause of serious febrile illness in rural Southeast Asia. The causative agent, Orientia tsutsugamushi, is an obligate intracellular bacterium that is transmitted to humans by the bite of a Leptotrombidium mite. Research into the basic mechanisms of cell biology and pathogenicity of O. tsutsugamushi has lagged behind that of other important human pathogens. One reason for this is that O. tsutsugamushi is an obligate intracellular bacterium that can only be cultured in mammalian cells and that requires specific methodologies for propagation and analysis. Here, we have performed a body of work designed to improve methods for quantification, propagation, purification and long-term storage of this important but neglected human pathogen. These results will be useful to other researchers working on O. tsutsugamushi and also other obligate intracellular pathogens such as those in the Rickettsiales and Chlamydiales families. METHODOLOGY: A clinical isolate of O. tsutsugamushi was grown in cultured mouse embryonic fibroblast (L929) cells. Bacterial growth was measured using an O. tsutsugamushi-specific qPCR assay. Conditions leading to improvements in viability and growth were monitored in terms of the effect on bacterial cell number after growth in cultured mammalian cells. KEY RESULTS: Development of a standardised growth assay to quantify bacterial replication and viability in vitro. Quantitative comparison of different DNA extraction methods. Quantification of the effect on growth of FBS concentration, daunorubicin supplementation, media composition, host cell confluence at infection and frequency of media replacement. Optimisation of bacterial purification including a comparison of host cell lysis methods, purification temperature, bacterial yield calculations and bacterial pelleting at different centrifugation speeds. Quantification of bacterial viability loss after long term storage and freezing under a range of conditions including different freezing buffers and different rates of freezing. CONCLUSIONS: Here we present a standardised method for comparing the viability of O. tsutsugamushi after purification, treatment and propagation under various conditions. Taken together, we present a body of data to support improved techniques for propagation, purification and storage of this organism. This data will be useful both for improving clinical isolation rates as well as performing in vitro cell biology experiments.

Paris DH, Stephan F, Bulder I, Wouters D, van der Poll T, Newton PN, Day NPJ, Zeerleder S. 2015. Increased Nucleosomes and Neutrophil Activation Link to Disease Progression in Patients with Scrub Typhus but Not Murine Typhus in Laos. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (8), pp. e0003990. | Citations: 7 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Cell-mediated immunity is essential in protection against rickettsial illnesses, but the role of neutrophils in these intracellular vasculotropic infections remains unclear. This study analyzed the plasma levels of nucleosomes, FSAP-activation (nucleosome-releasing factor), and neutrophil activation, as evidenced by neutrophil-elastase (ELA) complexes, in sympatric Lao patients with scrub typhus and murine typhus. In acute scrub typhus elevated nucleosome levels correlated with lower GCS scores, raised respiratory rate, jaundice and impaired liver function, whereas neutrophil activation correlated with fibrinolysis and high IL-8 plasma levels, a recently identified predictor of severe disease and mortality. Nucleosome and ELA complex levels were associated with a 4.8-fold and 4-fold increased risk of developing severe scrub typhus, beyond cut off values of 1,040 U/ml for nucleosomes and 275 U/ml for ELA complexes respectively. In murine typhus, nucleosome levels associated with pro-inflammatory cytokines and the duration of illness, while ELA complexes correlated strongly with inflammation markers, jaundice and increased respiratory rates. This study found strong correlations between circulating nucleosomes and neutrophil activation in patients with scrub typhus, but not murine typhus, providing indirect evidence that nucleosomes could originate from neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) degradation. High circulating plasma nucleosomes and ELA complexes represent independent risk factors for developing severe complications in scrub typhus. As nucleosomes and histones exposed on NETs are highly cytotoxic to endothelial cells and are strongly pro-coagulant, neutrophil-derived nucleosomes could contribute to vascular damage, the pro-coagulant state and exacerbation of disease in scrub typhus, thus indicating a detrimental role of neutrophil activation. The data suggest that increased neutrophil activation relates to disease progression and severe complications, and increased plasma levels of nucleosomes and ELA complexes represent independent risk factors for developing severe scrub typhus.

Luangasanatip N, Hongsuwan M, Limmathurotsakul D, Lubell Y, Lee AS, Harbarth S, Day NPJ, Graves N, Cooper BS. 2015. Comparative efficacy of interventions to promote hand hygiene in hospital: systematic review and network meta-analysis. BMJ, 351 pp. h3728. | Citations: 83 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the relative efficacy of the World Health Organization 2005 campaign (WHO-5) and other interventions to promote hand hygiene among healthcare workers in hospital settings and to summarize associated information on use of resources. DESIGN: Systematic review and network meta-analysis. DATA SOURCES: Medline, Embase, CINAHL, NHS Economic Evaluation Database, NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, Cochrane Library, and the EPOC register (December 2009 to February 2014); studies selected by the same search terms in previous systematic reviews (1980-2009). REVIEW METHODS: Included studies were randomised controlled trials, non-randomised trials, controlled before-after trials, and interrupted time series studies implementing an intervention to improve compliance with hand hygiene among healthcare workers in hospital settings and measuring compliance or appropriate proxies that met predefined quality inclusion criteria. When studies had not used appropriate analytical methods, primary data were re-analysed. Random effects and network meta-analyses were performed on studies reporting directly observed compliance with hand hygiene when they were considered sufficiently homogeneous with regard to interventions and participants. Information on resources required for interventions was extracted and graded into three levels. RESULTS: Of 3639 studies retrieved, 41 met the inclusion criteria (six randomised controlled trials, 32 interrupted time series, one non-randomised trial, and two controlled before-after studies). Meta-analysis of two randomised controlled trials showed the addition of goal setting to WHO-5 was associated with improved compliance (pooled odds ratio 1.35, 95% confidence interval 1.04 to 1.76; I(2)=81%). Of 22 pairwise comparisons from interrupted time series, 18 showed stepwise increases in compliance with hand hygiene, and all but four showed a trend for increasing compliance after the intervention. Network meta-analysis indicated considerable uncertainty in the relative effectiveness of interventions, but nonetheless provided evidence that WHO-5 is effective and that compliance can be further improved by adding interventions including goal setting, reward incentives, and accountability. Nineteen studies reported clinical outcomes; data from these were consistent with clinically important reductions in rates of infection resulting from improved hand hygiene for some but not all important hospital pathogens. Reported costs of interventions ranged from $225 to $4669 (£146-£3035; €204-€4229) per 1000 bed days. CONCLUSION: Promotion of hand hygiene with WHO-5 is effective at increasing compliance in healthcare workers. Addition of goal setting, reward incentives, and accountability strategies can lead to further improvements. Reporting of resources required for such interventions remains inadequate.

Tanner M, Greenwood B, Whitty CJM, Ansah EK, Price RN, Dondorp AM, von Seidlein L, Baird JK, Beeson JG, Fowkes FJI et al. 2015. Malaria eradication and elimination: views on how to translate a vision into reality. BMC Med, 13 (1), pp. 167. | Citations: 53 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Although global efforts in the past decade have halved the number of deaths due to malaria, there are still an estimated 219 million cases of malaria a year, causing more than half a million deaths. In this forum article, we asked experts working in malaria research and control to discuss the ways in which malaria might eventually be eradicated. Their collective views highlight the challenges and opportunities, and explain how multi-factorial and integrated processes could eventually make malaria eradication a reality.

Wirjanata G, Sebayang BF, Chalfein F, Prayoga, Handayuni I, Trianty L, Kenangalem E, Noviyanti R, Campo B, Poespoprodjo JR et al. 2015. Potent Ex Vivo Activity of Naphthoquine and Methylene Blue against Drug-Resistant Clinical Isolates of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 59 (10), pp. 6117-6124. | Citations: 10 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

The 4-aminoquinoline naphthoquine (NQ) and the thiazine dye methylene blue (MB) have potent in vitro efficacies against Plasmodium falciparum, but susceptibility data for P. vivax are limited. The species- and stage-specific ex vivo activities of NQ and MB were assessed using a modified schizont maturation assay on clinical field isolates from Papua, Indonesia, where multidrug-resistant P. falciparum and P. vivax are prevalent. Both compounds were highly active against P. falciparum (median [range] 50% inhibitory concentration [IC50]: NQ, 8.0 nM [2.6 to 71.8 nM]; and MB, 1.6 nM [0.2 to 7.0 nM]) and P. vivax (NQ, 7.8 nM [1.5 to 34.2 nM]; and MB, 1.2 nM [0.4 to 4.3 nM]). Stage-specific drug susceptibility assays revealed significantly greater IC50s in parasites exposed at the trophozoite stage than at the ring stage for NQ in P. falciparum (26.5 versus 5.1 nM, P = 0.021) and P. vivax (341.6 versus 6.5 nM, P = 0.021) and for MB in P. vivax (10.1 versus 1.6 nM, P = 0.010). The excellent ex vivo activities of NQ and MB against both P. falciparum and P. vivax highlight their potential utility for the treatment of multidrug-resistant malaria in areas where both species are endemic.

Guyant P, Corbel V, Guérin PJ, Lautissier A, Nosten F, Boyer S, Coosemans M, Dondorp AM, Sinou V, Yeung S, White N. 2015. Past and new challenges for malaria control and elimination: the role of operational research for innovation in designing interventions. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 279. | Citations: 17 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

This meeting report presents the outcomes of a workshop held in Bangkok on December 1st 2014, where the following challenges were discussed: the threat of resistance to artemisinin and artemisinin-based combination therapy in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) and in Africa; access to treatment for most at risk and hard to reach population; insecticide resistance, residual and outdoors transmission. The role of operational research and the interactions between research institutions, National Malaria Control Programmes, Civil Society Organizations, and of financial and technical partners to address those challenges and to accelerate translation of research into policies and programmes were debated. The threat and the emergency of the artemisinin resistance spread and independent emergence in the GMS was intensely debated as it is now close to the border of India. The need for key messages, based on scientific evidence and information available and disseminated without delay, was highlighted as crucial for an effective and urgent response.

Poespoprodjo JR, Fobia W, Kenangalem E, Lampah DA, Sugiarto P, Tjitra E, Anstey NM, Price RN. 2015. Treatment policy change to dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine contributes to the reduction of adverse maternal and pregnancy outcomes. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 272. | Citations: 6 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In Papua, Indonesia, maternal malaria is prevalent, multidrug resistant and associated with adverse outcomes for mother and baby. In March 2006, anti-malarial policy was revised for the second and third trimester of pregnancy to dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHP) for all species of malaria. This study presents the temporal analysis of adverse outcomes in pregnancy and early life following this policy change. METHODS: From April 2004 to May 2010, a standardized questionnaire was used to collect information from all pregnant women admitted to the maternity ward. A physical examination was performed on all live birth newborns. The relative risks (RR) and the associated population attributable risks (PAR) of adverse outcomes in women with a history of malaria treatment to the risk in those without a history of malaria during the current pregnancy were examined to evaluate the temporal trends before and after DHP deployment. RESULTS: Of 6,556 women enrolled with known pregnancy outcome, 1,018 (16%) reported prior anti-malarial treatment during their pregnancy. The proportion of women with malaria reporting treatment with DHP rose from 0% in 2004 to 64% (121/189) in 2010. In those with history of malaria during pregnancy, the increasing use of DHP was associated with a 54% fall in the proportion of maternal malaria at delivery and a 98% decrease in congenital malaria (from 7.1% prior to 0.1% after policy change). Overall policy change to more effective treatment was associated with an absolute 2% reduction of maternal severe anaemia and absolute 4.5% decrease in low birth weight babies. CONCLUSIONS: Introduction of highly effective treatment in pregnancy was associated with a reduction of maternal malaria at delivery and improved neonatal outcomes. Ensuring universal access to arteminisin combination therapy (ACT) in pregnancy in an area of multidrug resistance has potential to impact significantly on maternal and infant health.

Silal SP, Little F, Barnes KI, White LJ. 2015. Predicting the impact of border control on malaria transmission: a simulated focal screen and treat campaign. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 268. | Citations: 9 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: South Africa is one of many countries committed to malaria elimination with a target of 2018 and all malaria-endemic provinces, including Mpumalanga, are increasing efforts towards this ambitious goal. The reduction of imported infections is a vital element of an elimination strategy, particularly if a country is already experiencing high levels of imported infections. Border control of malaria is one tool that may be considered. METHODS: A metapopulation, non-linear stochastic ordinary differential equation model is used to simulate malaria transmission in Mpumalanga and Maputo province, Mozambique (the source of the majority of imported infections) to predict the impact of a focal screen and treat campaign at the Mpumalanga-Maputo border. This campaign is simulated by nesting an individual-based model for the focal screen and treat campaign within the metapopulation transmission model. RESULTS: The model predicts that such a campaign, simulated for different levels of resources, coverage and take-up rates with a variety of screening tools, will not eliminate malaria on its own, but will reduce transmission substantially. Making the campaign mandatory decreases transmission further though sub-patent infections are likely to remain undetected if the diagnostic tool is not adequately sensitive. Replacing screening and treating with mass drug administration results in substantially larger decreases as all (including sub-patent) infections are treated before movement into Mpumalanga. CONCLUSIONS: The reduction of imported cases will be vital to any future malaria control or elimination strategy. This simulation predicts that FSAT at the Mpumalanga-Maputo border will be unable to eliminate local malaria on its own, but may still play a key role in detecting and treating imported infections before they enter the country. Thus FSAT may form part of an integrated elimination strategy where a variety of interventions are employed together to achieve malaria elimination.

de Cassan SC, Shakri AR, Llewellyn D, Elias SC, Cho JS, Goodman AL, Jin J, Douglas AD, Suwanarusk R, Nosten FH et al. 2015. Preclinical Assessment of Viral Vectored and Protein Vaccines Targeting the Duffy-Binding Protein Region II of Plasmodium Vivax. Front Immunol, 6 (JUN), pp. 348. | Citations: 16 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria vaccine development has largely focused on Plasmodium falciparum; however, a reawakening to the importance of Plasmodium vivax has spurred efforts to develop vaccines against this difficult to treat and at times severe form of relapsing malaria, which constitutes a significant proportion of human malaria cases worldwide. The almost complete dependence of P. vivax red blood cell invasion on the interaction of the P. vivax Duffy-binding protein region II (PvDBP_RII) with the human Duffy antigen receptor for chemokines (DARC) makes this antigen an attractive vaccine candidate against blood-stage P. vivax. Here, we generated both preclinical and clinically compatible adenoviral and poxviral vectored vaccine candidates expressing the Salvador I allele of PvDBP_RII - including human adenovirus serotype 5 (HAdV5), chimpanzee adenovirus serotype 63 (ChAd63), and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vectors. We report on the antibody and T cell immunogenicity of these vaccines in mice or rabbits, either used alone in a viral vectored prime-boost regime or in "mixed-modality" adenovirus prime - protein-in--adjuvant boost regimes (using a recombinant PvDBP_RII protein antigen formulated in Montanide(®)ISA720 or Abisco(®)100 adjuvants). Antibodies induced by these regimes were found to bind to native parasite antigen from P. vivax infected Thai patients and were capable of inhibiting the binding of PvDBP_RII to its receptor DARC using an in vitro binding inhibition assay. In recent years, recombinant ChAd63 and MVA vectors have been quickly translated into human clinical trials for numerous antigens from P. falciparum as well as a growing number of other pathogens. The vectors reported here are immunogenic in small animals, elicit antibodies against PvDBP_RII, and have recently entered clinical trials, which will provide the first assessment of the safety and immunogenicity of the PvDBP_RII antigen in humans.

Wirjanata G, Sebayang BF, Chalfein F, Prayoga, Handayuni I, Noviyanti R, Kenangalem E, Poespoprodjo JR, Burgess SJ, Peyton DH et al. 2015. Contrasting ex vivo efficacies of "reversed chloroquine" compounds in chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax isolates. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 59 (9), pp. 5721-5726. | Citations: 7 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Chloroquine (CQ) has been the mainstay of malaria treatment for more than 60 years. However, the emergence and spread of CQ resistance now restrict its use to only a few areas where malaria is endemic. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether a novel combination of a CQ-like moiety and an imipramine-like pharmacophore can reverse CQ resistance ex vivo. Between March to October 2011 and January to September 2013, two "reversed chloroquine" (RCQ) compounds (PL69 and PL106) were tested against multidrug-resistant field isolates of Plasmodium falciparum (n = 41) and Plasmodium vivax (n = 45) in Papua, Indonesia, using a modified ex vivo schizont maturation assay. The RCQ compounds showed high efficacy against both CQ-resistant P. falciparum and P. vivax field isolates. For P. falciparum, the median 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s) were 23.2 nM for PL69 and 26.6 nM for PL106, compared to 79.4 nM for unmodified CQ (P < 0.001 and P = 0.036, respectively). The corresponding values for P. vivax were 19.0, 60.0, and 60.9 nM (P < 0.001 and P = 0.018, respectively). There was a significant correlation between IC50s of CQ and PL69 (Spearman's rank correlation coefficient [r s] = 0.727, P < 0.001) and PL106 (rs = 0.830, P < 0.001) in P. vivax but not in P. falciparum. Both RCQs were equally active against the ring and trophozoite stages of P. falciparum, but in P. vivax, PL69 and PL106 showed less potent activity against trophozoite stages (median IC50s, 130.2 and 172.5 nM) compared to ring stages (median IC50s, 17.6 and 91.3 nM). RCQ compounds have enhanced ex vivo activity against CQ-resistant clinical isolates of P. falciparum and P. vivax, suggesting the potential use of reversal agents in antimalarial drug development. Interspecies differences in RCQ compound activity may indicate differences in CQ pharmacokinetics between the two Plasmodium species.

Mayxay M, Sengvilaipaseuth O, Chanthongthip A, Dubot-Pérès A, Rolain J-M, Parola P, Craig SB, Tulsiani S, Burns M-A, Khanthavong M et al. 2015. Causes of Fever in Rural Southern Laos. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 93 (3), pp. 517-520. | Citations: 18 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The etiology of fever in rural Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos) has remained obscure until recently owing to the lack of laboratory facilities. We conducted a study to determine the causes of fever among 229 patients without malaria in Savannakhet Province, southern Laos; 52% had evidence of at least one diagnosis (45% with single and 7% with apparent multiple infections). Among patients with only one diagnosis, dengue (30.1%) was the most common, followed by leptospirosis (7.0%), Japanese encephalitis virus infection (3.5%), scrub typhus (2.6%), spotted fever group infection (0.9%), unspecified flavivirus infection (0.9%), and murine typhus (0.4%). We discuss the empirical treatment of fever in relation to these findings.

Parry CM, Thieu NTV, Dolecek C, Karkey A, Gupta R, Turner P, Dance D, Maude RR, Ha V, Tran CN et al. 2015. Erratum for Parry et al., Clinically and microbiologically derived azithromycin susceptibility breakpoints for Salmonella enterica serovars Typhi and Paratyphi A. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 59 (7), pp. 4364. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Read more

Ringwald P, Dondorp AM. 2015. Severe Malaria Not Responsive to Artemisinin Derivatives in Man Returning from Angola to Vietnam. Emerg Infect Dis, 21 (7), pp. 1264-1265. | Citations: 4 (Scopus) | Read more

Dittrich S, Phuklia W, Turner GDH, Rattanavong S, Chansamouth V, Dumler SJ, Ferguson DJP, Paris DH, Newton PN. 2015. Neorickettsia sennetsu as a Neglected Cause of Fever in South-East Asia. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (7), pp. e0003908. | Citations: 9 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Neorickettsia sennetsu infection is rarely recognized, with less than 100 globally reported patients over the last 50 years. The disease is thought to be contracted by eating raw fish, a staple of many South-East Asian cuisines. In 2009, the first patient with sennetsu was identified in the Lao PDR (Laos), raising the question as to how common this organism and related species are in patients presenting with fever. We investigated the frequency of N. sennetsu infection at hospitals in diverse areas of Laos. Consenting febrile hospital inpatients from central (Vientiane: n = 1,013), northern (Luang Namtha: n = 453) and southern (Salavan: n = 171) Laos were screened by PCR for N. sennetsu, if no previous positive direct diagnostic test was available. A PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism assay was developed to differentiate between N. sennetsu, Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Anaplasma phagocytophilum. To allow more detailed studies of N. sennetsu, culture was successfully established using a reference strain (ATCC VR-367), identifying a canine-macrophage cell line (DH82) to be most suitable to visually identify infection. After screening, N. sennetsu was identified and sequence confirmed in four (4/1,637; 0.2%) Lao patients. Despite the previously identified high seroprevalence of N. sennetsu antibodies in the Lao population (~17%), acute N. sennetsu infection with sufficient clinical signs to prompt hospitalization appears to be rare. The reservoir, zoonotic cycle and pathogenicity of N. sennetsu remain unclear and require further investigations.

Bull S, Cheah PY, Denny S, Jao I, Marsh V, Merson L, Shah More N, Nhan LNT, Osrin D, Tangseefa D et al. 2015. Best Practices for Ethical Sharing of Individual-Level Health Research Data From Low- and Middle-Income Settings. J Empir Res Hum Res Ethics, 10 (3), pp. 302-313. | Citations: 25 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Sharing individual-level data from clinical and public health research is increasingly being seen as a core requirement for effective and efficient biomedical research. This article discusses the results of a systematic review and multisite qualitative study of key stakeholders' perspectives on best practices in ethical data sharing in low- and middle-income settings. Our research suggests that for data sharing to be effective and sustainable, multiple social and ethical requirements need to be met. An effective model of data sharing will be one in which considered judgments will need to be made about how best to achieve scientific progress, minimize risks of harm, promote fairness and reciprocity, and build and sustain trust.

Cheah PY, Tangseefa D, Somsaman A, Chunsuttiwat T, Nosten F, Day NPJ, Bull S, Parker M. 2015. Perceived Benefits, Harms, and Views About How to Share Data Responsibly: A Qualitative Study of Experiences With and Attitudes Toward Data Sharing Among Research Staff and Community Representatives in Thailand. J Empir Res Hum Res Ethics, 10 (3), pp. 278-289. | Citations: 19 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

The Thailand Major Overseas Programme coordinates large multi-center studies in tropical medicine and generates vast amounts of data. As the data sharing movement gains momentum, we wanted to understand attitudes and experiences of relevant stakeholders about what constitutes good data sharing practice. We conducted 15 interviews and three focus groups discussions involving 25 participants and found that they generally saw data sharing as something positive. Data sharing was viewed as a means to contribute to scientific progress and lead to better quality analysis, better use of resources, greater accountability, and more outputs. However, there were also important reservations including potential harms to research participants, their communities, and the researchers themselves. Given these concerns, several areas for discussion were identified: data standardization, appropriate consent models, and governance.

Dorigatti I, Aguas R, Donnelly CA, Guy B, Coudeville L, Jackson N, Saville M, Ferguson NM. 2015. Modelling the immunological response to a tetravalent dengue vaccine from multiple phase-2 trials in Latin America and South East Asia. Vaccine, 33 (31), pp. 3746-3751. | Citations: 24 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The most advanced dengue vaccine candidate is a live-attenuated recombinant vaccine containing the four dengue viruses on the yellow fever vaccine backbone (CYD-TDV) developed by Sanofi Pasteur. Several analyses have been published on the safety and immunogenicity of the CYD-TDV vaccine from single trials but none modelled the heterogeneity observed in the antibody responses elicited by the vaccine. METHODS: We analyse the immunogenicity data collected in five phase-2 trials of the CYD-TDV vaccine. We provide a descriptive analysis of the aggregated datasets and fit the observed post-vaccination PRNT50 titres against the four dengue (DENV) serotypes using multivariate regression models. RESULTS: We find that the responses to CYD-TDV are principally predicted by the baseline immunological status against DENV, but the trial is also a significant predictor. We find that the CYD-TDV vaccine generates similar titres against all serotypes following the third dose, though DENV4 is immunodominant after the first dose. CONCLUSIONS: This study contributes to a better understanding of the immunological responses elicited by CYD-TDV. The recent availability of phase-3 data is a unique opportunity to further investigate the immunogenicity and efficacy of the CYD-TDV vaccine, especially in subjects with different levels of pre-existing immunity against DENV. Modelling multiple immunological outcomes with a single multivariate model offers advantages over traditional approaches, capturing correlations between response variables, and the statistical method adopted in this study can be applied to a variety of infections with interacting strains.

Chang CC, Cheng AC, Maude RJ, Slavin M. 2015. Antiviral prophylaxis for varicella zoster in immunocompromised patients (excluding haematological malignancies) Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2015 (7), | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 The Cochrane Collaboration. This is the protocol for a review and there is no abstract. The objectives are as follows: To evaluate the effectiveness of antiviral agents as prophylaxis against VZV reactivation in immunosuppressed patients.

Suttisunhakul V, Chantratita N, Wikraiphat C, Wuthiekanun V, Douglas Z, Day NPJ, Limmathurotsakul D, Brett PJ, Burtnick MN. 2015. Evaluation of Polysaccharide-Based Latex Agglutination Assays for the Rapid Detection of Antibodies to Burkholderia pseudomallei. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 93 (3), pp. 542-546. | Citations: 13 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis is a severe disease caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. Diagnosis of melioidosis currently relies on the isolation of B. pseudomallei from clinical samples, which can take several days. An indirect hemagglutination assay (IHA) is widely used for serodiagnosis, but it has a short shelf life, is poorly standardized, and requires a viable bacteria culture performed in a biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory. To improve the diagnostic methods, we have developed two rapid latex agglutination tests based on purified B. pseudomallei O-polysaccharide (OPS) and capsular polysaccharide (CPS) antigens. The immunodiagnostic potential of these tests was evaluated using serum from culture-confirmed melioidosis patients (N = 143) and healthy donors from either endemic (N = 199) or non-endemic areas (N = 90). The sensitivity of the OPS-based latex agglutination assay (OPS-latex; 84.4%) was significantly higher than both the CPS-latex (69.5%) (P < 0.001) and IHA (69.5%) (P = 0.001). When evaluated with Thai donor serum, the OPS-latex had comparable specificity (56.9%) to the CPS-latex (63.8%) (P = 0.053), but was significantly lower than the IHA (67.6%) (P = 0.002). In contrast, all tests with U.S. donor serum were highly specific (≥ 97.8%). These results suggest that polysaccharide-based latex agglutination assays may be useful for serodiagnosis of melioidosis in non-endemic areas.

Caillet C, Sichanh C, Syhakhang L, Delpierre C, Manithip C, Mayxay M, Lapeyre-Mestre M, Newton PN, Roussin A. 2015. Population awareness of risks related to medicinal product use in Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR: a cross-sectional study for public health improvement in low and middle income countries. BMC Public Health, 15 (1), pp. 590. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: While essential medicines have been made more available in all but the most remote areas in low and middle income countries (L/MICs) over the past years, inappropriate and incorrect use of good quality medicines remains a key impediment for public health. In addition, as medicines have a potential to cause harm (medicine risks), adequate awareness by medicine users of the risks of adverse reactions is essential, especially as self-medication is common in L/MICs. This study aimed to investigate the awareness of Lao residents regarding medicine risks in Vientiane Capital, Lao People's Democratic Republic. METHODS: Face-to-face interviews using structured questionnaires of 144 residents older than 16 years were carried out in 12 randomly selected villages out of the 146 villages of Vientiane Capital with at least one health facility. RESULTS: The respondents were mainly (85.0 %) the heads of households or their husband/spouse . The majority of the respondents were unaware (61.8 %) of medicine risks. Compared to residents living in the urban district of Xaysetha, living in peri-urban and even more in rural areas were identified as factors associated with being unaware of medicine risks [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) =3.3, 95 % Confidence Interval (CI) = 1.1-9.4]) and aOR =7.5 (95 % CI = 2.3-24.2), respectively]. In addition, more than half of the respondents had never heard of poor quality medicines, with a higher rate in rural/peri-urban compared to urban districts (55.6 % vs 38.9 %, respectively, p = 0.02). Finally, approximately one third of all respondents thought that traditional medicines could not cause harm. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, these results suggest a lack of awareness about medicinal product risks. Differences according to the place of residence are apparent and could be partly explained by a lower level of training of healthcare providers in contact with the population in the rural districts in particular. Communication on medicinal product risks to patients through well-trained healthcare providers could probably make a valuable contribution towards the appropriate use of medicines in L/MICs.

Moore KA, Simpson JA, Thomas KH, Rijken MJ, White LJ, Dwell SLM, Paw MK, Wiladphaingern J, Pukrittayakamee S, Nosten F et al. 2015. Estimating Gestational Age in Late Presenters to Antenatal Care in a Resource-Limited Setting on the Thai-Myanmar Border. PLoS One, 10 (6), pp. e0131025. | Citations: 21 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Estimating gestational age in resource-limited settings is prone to considerable inaccuracy because crown-rump length measured by ultrasound before 14 weeks gestation, the recommended method for estimating gestational age, is often unavailable. Judgements regarding provision of appropriate obstetric and neonatal care are dependent on accurate estimation of gestational age. We determined the accuracy of the Dubowitz Gestational Age Assessment, a population-specific symphysis-fundal height formula, and ultrasound biometry performed between 16 and 40 weeks gestation in estimating gestational age using pre-existing data from antenatal clinics of the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit on the Thai-Myanmar border, where malaria is endemic. Two cohorts of women who gave birth to live singletons were analysed: 1) 250 women who attended antenatal care between July 2001 and May 2006 and had both ultrasound crown-rump length (reference) and a Dubowitz Gestational Age Assessment; 2) 975 women attending antenatal care between April 2007 and October 2010 who had ultrasound crown-rump length, symphysis-fundal measurements, and an additional study ultrasound (biparietal diameter and head circumference) randomly scheduled between 16 and 40 weeks gestation. Mean difference in estimated newborn gestational age between methods and 95% limits of agreement (LOA) were determined from linear mixed-effects models. The Dubowitz method and the symphysis-fundal height formula performed well in term newborns, but overestimated gestational age of preterms by 2.57 weeks (95% LOA: 0.49, 4.65) and 3.94 weeks (95% LOA: 2.50, 5.38), respectively. Biparietal diameter overestimated gestational age by 0.83 weeks (95% LOA: -0.93, 2.58). Head circumference underestimated gestational age by 0.39 weeks (95% LOA: -2.60, 1.82), especially if measured after 24 weeks gestation. The results of this study can be used to quantify biases associated with alternative methods for estimating gestational age in the absence of ultrasound crown-rump length to inform critical clinical judgements in this population, and as a point of reference elsewhere.

Holt KE, Wertheim H, Zadoks RN, Baker S, Whitehouse CA, Dance D, Jenney A, Connor TR, Hsu LY, Severin J et al. 2015. Genomic analysis of diversity, population structure, virulence, and antimicrobial resistance in Klebsiella pneumoniae, an urgent threat to public health. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 112 (27), pp. E3574-E3581. | Citations: 225 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Klebsiella pneumoniae is now recognized as an urgent threat to human health because of the emergence of multidrug-resistant strains associated with hospital outbreaks and hypervirulent strains associated with severe community-acquired infections. K. pneumoniae is ubiquitous in the environment and can colonize and infect both plants and animals. However, little is known about the population structure of K. pneumoniae, so it is difficult to recognize or understand the emergence of clinically important clones within this highly genetically diverse species. Here we present a detailed genomic framework for K. pneumoniae based on whole-genome sequencing of more than 300 human and animal isolates spanning four continents. Our data provide genome-wide support for the splitting of K. pneumoniae into three distinct species, KpI (K. pneumoniae), KpII (K. quasipneumoniae), and KpIII (K. variicola). Further, for K. pneumoniae (KpI), the entity most frequently associated with human infection, we show the existence of >150 deeply branching lineages including numerous multidrug-resistant or hypervirulent clones. We show K. pneumoniae has a large accessory genome approaching 30,000 protein-coding genes, including a number of virulence functions that are significantly associated with invasive community-acquired disease in humans. In our dataset, antimicrobial resistance genes were common among human carriage isolates and hospital-acquired infections, which generally lacked the genes associated with invasive disease. The convergence of virulence and resistance genes potentially could lead to the emergence of untreatable invasive K. pneumoniae infections; our data provide the whole-genome framework against which to track the emergence of such threats.

Garcia-Laorden MI, Blok DC, Kager LM, Hoogendijk AJ, van Mierlo GJ, Lede IO, Rahman W, Afroz R, Ghose A, Visser CE et al. 2015. Increased intra- and extracellular granzyme expression in patients with tuberculosis. Tuberculosis (Edinb), 95 (5), pp. 575-580. | Citations: 6 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Tuberculosis (TB) is an important cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Granzymes (gzms) are proteases mainly found in cytotoxic lymphocytes, but also extracellularly. While the role of gzms in target cell death has been widely characterized, considerable evidence points towards broader roles related to infectious and inflammatory responses. To investigate the expression of the gzms in TB, intracellular gzms A, B and K were measured by flow cytometry in lymphocyte populations from peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 18 TB patients and 12 healthy donors from Bangladesh, and extracellular levels of gzmA and B were measured in serum from 58 TB patients and 31 healthy controls. TB patients showed increased expression of gzmA in CD8(+) T, CD4(+) T and CD56(+) T, but not NK, cells, and of gzmB in CD8(+) T cells, when compared to controls. GzmK expression was not altered in TB patients in any lymphocyte subset. The extracellular levels of gzmA and, to a lesser extent, of gzmB, were increased in TB patients, but did not correlate with intracellular gzm expression in lymphocyte subsets. Our results reveal enhanced intra- and extracellular expression of gzmA and B in patients with pulmonary TB, suggesting that gzms are part of the host response to tuberculosis.

Nosten F, McGready R. 2015. Intermittent presumptive treatment in pregnancy with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine: a counter perspective. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 248. | Citations: 5 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria continues to cause devastation during pregnancy. Unfortunately, there is still no clear strategy to effectively protect pregnant women and countless mothers living in malaria endemic countries are dying every year. The effective prevention of malaria during pregnancy will take much more than the so-called "Global Call for Action" for an intervention (IPTp-SP) that cannot succeed. A new and truly "global" strategy is urgently needed.

Maude RR, de Jong HK, Wijedoru L, Fukushima M, Ghose A, Samad R, Hossain MA, Karim MR, Faiz MA, Parry CM, CMCH Typhoid Study Group. 2015. The diagnostic accuracy of three rapid diagnostic tests for typhoid fever at Chittagong Medical College Hospital, Chittagong, Bangladesh. Trop Med Int Health, 20 (10), pp. 1376-1384. | Citations: 7 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To determine the diagnostic accuracy of three rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for typhoid fever in febrile hospitalised patients in Bangladesh. METHODS: Febrile adults and children admitted to Chittagong Medical College Hospital, Bangladesh, were investigated with Bact/Alert(®) blood cultures and real-time PCR to detect Salmonella enterica Typhi and Paratyphi A and assays for Rickettsia, leptospirosis and dengue fever. Acute serum samples were examined with the LifeAssay (LA) Test-it™ Typhoid IgM lateral flow assay detecting IgM antibodies against S. Typhi O antigen, CTKBiotech Onsite Typhoid IgG/IgM Combo Rapid-test cassette lateral flow assay detecting IgG and IgM antibodies against S. Typhi O and H antigens and SD Bioline line assay for IgG and IgM antibodies against S. Typhi proteins. RESULTS: In 300 malaria smear-negative febrile patients [median (IQR) age of 13.5 (5-31) years], 34 (11.3%) had confirmed typhoid fever: 19 positive by blood culture for S. Typhi (three blood PCR positive) and 15 blood culture negative but PCR positive for S. Typhi in blood. The respective sensitivity and specificity of the three RDTs in patients using a composite reference standard of blood culture and/or PCR-confirmed typhoid fever were 59% and 61% for LifeAssay, 59% and 74% for the CTK IgM and/or IgG, and 24% and 96% for the SD Bioline RDT IgM and/or IgG. The LifeAssay RDT had a sensitivity of 63% and a specificity of 91% when modified with a positive cut-off of ≥2+ and analysed using a Bayesian latent class model. CONCLUSIONS: These typhoid RDTs demonstrated moderate diagnostic accuracies, and better tests are needed.

Baragaña B, Hallyburton I, Lee MCS, Norcross NR, Grimaldi R, Otto TD, Proto WR, Blagborough AM, Meister S, Wirjanata G et al. 2015. A novel multiple-stage antimalarial agent that inhibits protein synthesis. Nature, 522 (7556), pp. 315-320. | Citations: 142 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

There is an urgent need for new drugs to treat malaria, with broad therapeutic potential and novel modes of action, to widen the scope of treatment and to overcome emerging drug resistance. Here we describe the discovery of DDD107498, a compound with a potent and novel spectrum of antimalarial activity against multiple life-cycle stages of the Plasmodium parasite, with good pharmacokinetic properties and an acceptable safety profile. DDD107498 demonstrates potential to address a variety of clinical needs, including single-dose treatment, transmission blocking and chemoprotection. DDD107498 was developed from a screening programme against blood-stage malaria parasites; its molecular target has been identified as translation elongation factor 2 (eEF2), which is responsible for the GTP-dependent translocation of the ribosome along messenger RNA, and is essential for protein synthesis. This discovery of eEF2 as a viable antimalarial drug target opens up new possibilities for drug discovery.

Plewes K, Haider MS, Kingston HWF, Yeo TW, Ghose A, Hossain MA, Dondorp AM, Turner GDH, Anstey NM. 2015. Severe falciparum malaria treated with artesunate complicated by delayed onset haemolysis and acute kidney injury. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 246. | Citations: 14 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Severe falciparum malaria may be complicated by haemolysis after parasite clearance, however the mechanisms remain unclear. Recent reports describe a pattern of delayed onset haemolysis among non-immune travellers with hyperparasitaemia treated with intravenous artesunate, termed post-artesunate delayed haemolysis (PADH). The occurrence and clinical impact of PADH following severe malaria infections in areas of unstable transmission are unknown. CASE: A 45-year-old Bangladeshi male was initially admitted to a local hospital with severe falciparum malaria complicated by hyperparasitaemia and treated with intravenous artesunate. Twenty days from his first presentation he was readmitted with delayed onset haemolytic anaemia and acute kidney injury. Multiple blood transfusions and haemodialysis were required. Renal biopsy revealed acute tubular injury and haem pigment nephropathy. His haemoglobin and renal function recovered to baseline after 62 days from his second admission. DISCUSSION: This case highlights the differential diagnosis of post-malaria delayed onset haemolysis, including the recently described syndrome of post-artemisinin delayed haemolysis. The pathophysiology contributing to acute kidney injury in this patient and the limited treatment options are discussed. CONCLUSIONS: This report describes PADH complicated by acute kidney injury in an adult patient living in a malaria hypoendemic region who subsequently required blood transfusions and haemodialysis. This case emphasizes the importance of routine follow up of haemoglobin and renal function in artesunate-treated patients who have recovered from severe malaria.

Numminen E, Chewapreecha C, Turner C, Goldblatt D, Nosten F, Bentley SD, Turner P, Corander J. 2015. Climate induces seasonality in pneumococcal transmission. Sci Rep, 5 (1), pp. 11344. | Citations: 14 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Streptococcus pneumoniae is a significant human pathogen and a leading cause of infant mortality in developing countries. Considerable global variation in the pneumococcal carriage prevalence has been observed and the ecological factors contributing to it are not yet fully understood. We use data from a cohort of infants in Asia to study the effects of climatic conditions on both acquisition and clearance rates of the bacterium, finding significantly higher transmissibility during the cooler and drier months. Conversely, the length of a colonization period is unaffected by the season. Independent carriage data from studies conducted on the African and North American continents suggest similar effects of the climate on the prevalence of this bacterium, which further validates the obtained results. Further studies could be important to replicate the findings and explain the mechanistic role of cooler and dry air in the physiological response to nasopharyngeal acquisition of the pneumococcus.

Dittrich S, Sunyakumthorn P, Rattanavong S, Phetsouvanh R, Panyanivong P, Sengduangphachanh A, Phouminh P, Anantatat T, Chanthongthip A, Lee SJ et al. 2015. Blood-Brain Barrier Function and Biomarkers of Central Nervous System Injury in Rickettsial Versus Other Neurological Infections in Laos. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 93 (2), pp. 232-237. | Citations: 7 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Blood-brain barrier (BBB) function and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers were measured in patients admitted to hospital with severe neurological infections in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (N = 66), including bacterial meningitis (BM; N = 9) or tuberculosis meningitis (TBM; N = 11), Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV; N = 25), and rickettsial infections (N = 21) including murine and scrub typhus patients. The albumin index (AI) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) levels were significantly higher in BM and TBM than other diseases but were also raised in individual rickettsial patients. Total tau protein was significantly raised in the CSF of JEV patients. No differences were found between clinical or neurological symptoms, AI, or biomarker levels that allowed distinction between severe neurological involvement by Orientia tsutsugamushi compared with Rickettsia species.

Wuthiekanun V, Amornchai P, Langla S, White NJ, Day NPJ, Limmathurotsakul D, Peacock SJ. 2015. Antimicrobial Disk Susceptibility Testing of Leptospira spp. Using Leptospira Vanaporn Wuthiekanun (LVW) Agar. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 93 (2), pp. 241-243. | Citations: 7 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Leptospira Vanaporn Wuthiekanun (LVW) agar was used to develop a disk diffusion assay for Leptospira spp. Ten pathogenic Leptospira isolates were tested, all of which were susceptible to 17 antimicrobial agents (amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, amoxicillin, azithromycin, cefoxitin, ceftazidime, ceftriaxone, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, clindamycin, doripenem, doxycycline, gentamicin, linezolid, nitrofurantoin, penicillin, piperacillin/tazobactam, and tetracycline). All 10 isolates had no zone of growth inhibition for four antimicrobials (fosfomycin, nalidixic acid, rifampicin, and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole). Of the ten Leptospira, seven had a growth inhibition zone of ≤ 21 mm for aztreonam, the zone diameter susceptibility break point for Enterobacteriaceae. This assay could find utility as a simple screening method during the epidemiological surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in Leptospira spp.

Gaillard T, Sriprawat K, Briolant S, Wangsing C, Wurtz N, Baragatti M, Lavina M, Pascual A, Nosten F, Pradines B. 2015. Molecular Markers and In Vitro Susceptibility to Doxycycline in Plasmodium falciparum Isolates from Thailand. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 59 (8), pp. 5080-5083. | Citations: 5 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Determinations of doxycycline 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50) for 620 isolates from northwest Thailand were performed via the isotopic method, and the data were analyzed by the Bayesian method and distributed into two populations (mean IC50s of 13.15 μM and 31.60 μM). There was no significant difference between the group with low IC50s versus the group with high IC50s with regard to copy numbers of the Plasmodium falciparum tetQ (pftetQ) gene (P = 0.11) or pfmdt gene (P = 0.87) or the number of PfTetQ KYNNNN repeats (P = 0.72).

Price RN, von Seidlein L, Valecha N, Nosten F, Baird JK, White NJ. 2015. Global extent of chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium vivax - Authors' reply. Lancet Infect Dis, 15 (6), pp. 630-631. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Read more

Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) AL Dose Impact Study Group. 2015. The effect of dose on the antimalarial efficacy of artemether-lumefantrine: a systematic review and pooled analysis of individual patient data. Lancet Infect Dis, 15 (6), pp. 692-702. | Citations: 43 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemether-lumefantrine is the most widely used artemisinin-based combination therapy for malaria, although treatment failures occur in some regions. We investigated the effect of dosing strategy on efficacy in a pooled analysis from trials done in a wide range of malaria-endemic settings. METHODS: We searched PubMed for clinical trials that enrolled and treated patients with artemether-lumefantrine and were published from 1960 to December, 2012. We merged individual patient data from these trials by use of standardised methods. The primary endpoint was the PCR-adjusted risk of Plasmodium falciparum recrudescence by day 28. Secondary endpoints consisted of the PCR-adjusted risk of P falciparum recurrence by day 42, PCR-unadjusted risk of P falciparum recurrence by day 42, early parasite clearance, and gametocyte carriage. Risk factors for PCR-adjusted recrudescence were identified using Cox's regression model with frailty shared across the study sites. FINDINGS: We included 61 studies done between January, 1998, and December, 2012, and included 14,327 patients in our analyses. The PCR-adjusted therapeutic efficacy was 97·6% (95% CI 97·4-97·9) at day 28 and 96·0% (95·6-96·5) at day 42. After controlling for age and parasitaemia, patients prescribed a higher dose of artemether had a lower risk of having parasitaemia on day 1 (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0·92, 95% CI 0·86-0·99 for every 1 mg/kg increase in daily artemether dose; p=0·024), but not on day 2 (p=0·69) or day 3 (0·087). In Asia, children weighing 10-15 kg who received a total lumefantrine dose less than 60 mg/kg had the lowest PCR-adjusted efficacy (91·7%, 95% CI 86·5-96·9). In Africa, the risk of treatment failure was greatest in malnourished children aged 1-3 years (PCR-adjusted efficacy 94·3%, 95% CI 92·3-96·3). A higher artemether dose was associated with a lower gametocyte presence within 14 days of treatment (adjusted OR 0·92, 95% CI 0·85-0·99; p=0·037 for every 1 mg/kg increase in total artemether dose). INTERPRETATION: The recommended dose of artemether-lumefantrine provides reliable efficacy in most patients with uncomplicated malaria. However, therapeutic efficacy was lowest in young children from Asia and young underweight children from Africa; a higher dose regimen should be assessed in these groups. FUNDING: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Limmathurotsakul D, Funnell SGP, Torres AG, Morici LA, Brett PJ, Dunachie S, Atkins T, Altmann DM, Bancroft G, Peacock SJ, Steering Group on Melioidosis Vaccine Development. 2015. Consensus on the development of vaccines against naturally acquired melioidosis. Emerg Infect Dis, 21 (6), pp. e1-e7. | Citations: 24 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Several candidates for a vaccine against Burkholderia pseudomallei, the causal bacterium of melioidosis, have been developed, and a rational approach is now needed to select and advance candidates for testing in relevant nonhuman primate models and in human clinical trials. Development of such a vaccine was the topic of a meeting in the United Kingdom in March 2014 attended by international candidate vaccine developers, researchers, and government health officials. The focus of the meeting was advancement of vaccines for prevention of natural infection, rather than for protection from the organism's known potential for use as a biological weapon. A direct comparison of candidate vaccines in well-characterized mouse models was proposed. Knowledge gaps requiring further research were identified. Recommendations were made to accelerate the development of an effective vaccine against melioidosis.

Vaughan AM, Pinapati RS, Cheeseman IH, Camargo N, Fishbaugher M, Checkley LA, Nair S, Hutyra CA, Nosten FH, Anderson TJC et al. 2015. Plasmodium falciparum genetic crosses in a humanized mouse model. Nat Methods, 12 (7), pp. 631-633. | Citations: 28 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Genetic crosses of phenotypically distinct strains of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum are a powerful tool for identifying genes controlling drug resistance and other key phenotypes. Previous studies relied on the isolation of recombinant parasites from splenectomized chimpanzees, a research avenue that is no longer available. Here we demonstrate that human-liver chimeric mice support recovery of recombinant progeny for the identification of genetic determinants of parasite traits and adaptations.

Kho S, Marfurt J, Noviyanti R, Kusuma A, Piera KA, Burdam FH, Kenangalem E, Lampah DA, Engwerda CR, Poespoprodjo JR et al. 2015. Preserved dendritic cell HLA-DR expression and reduced regulatory T cell activation in asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax infection. Infect Immun, 83 (8), pp. 3224-3232. | Citations: 18 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Clinical illness with Plasmodium falciparum or Plasmodium vivax compromises the function of dendritic cells (DC) and expands regulatory T (Treg) cells. Individuals with asymptomatic parasitemia have clinical immunity, restricting parasite expansion and preventing clinical disease. The role of DC and Treg cells during asymptomatic Plasmodium infection is unclear. During a cross-sectional household survey in Papua, Indonesia, we examined the number and activation of blood plasmacytoid DC (pDC), CD141(+), and CD1c(+) myeloid DC (mDC) subsets and Treg cells using flow cytometry in 168 afebrile children (of whom 15 had P. falciparum and 36 had P. vivax infections) and 162 afebrile adults (of whom 20 had P. falciparum and 20 had P. vivax infections), alongside samples from 16 patients hospitalized with uncomplicated malaria. Unlike DC from malaria patients, DC from children and adults with asymptomatic, microscopy-positive P. vivax or P. falciparum infection increased or retained HLA-DR expression. Treg cells in asymptomatic adults and children exhibited reduced activation, suggesting increased immune responsiveness. The pDC and mDC subsets varied according to clinical immunity (asymptomatic or symptomatic Plasmodium infection) and, in asymptomatic infection, according to host age and parasite species. In conclusion, active control of asymptomatic infection was associated with and likely contingent upon functional DC and reduced Treg cell activation.

Birnie E, Wiersinga WJ, Limmathurotsakul D, Grobusch MP. 2015. Corrigendum Future Microbiology, 10 (6), pp. 1101-1101. | Read more

Taylor AJ, Paris DH, Newton PN. 2015. A Systematic Review of the Mortality from Untreated Leptospirosis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (6), pp. e0003866. | Citations: 36 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Leptospirosis occurs worldwide, but the global incidence of human disease and its mortality are not well understood. Many patients are undiagnosed and untreated due to its non-specific symptoms and a lack of access to diagnostics. This study systematically reviews the literature to clarify the mortality from untreated leptospirosis. Results will help quantify the global burden of disease and guide health policies. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: A comprehensive literature search was performed to identify untreated patient series. Included patients were symptomatic, but asymptomatic patients and those who had received antibiotics, dialysis or who were treated on Intensive Care Units were excluded. Included patients had a confirmed laboratory diagnosis by culture, PCR, or serological tests. Data was extracted and individual patient series were assessed for bias. Thirty-five studies, comprising 41 patient series and 3,390 patients, were included in the study. A high degree of bias within studies was shown due to limitations in study design, diagnostic tests and missing data. Median series mortality was 2.2% (Range 0.0-39.7%), but mortality was high in jaundiced patients (19.1%) (Range 0.0-39.7%), those with renal failure 12.1% (Range 0-25.0%) and in patients aged over 60 (60%) (Range 33.3-60%), but low in anicteric patients (0%) (Range 0-1.7%). CONCLUSIONS: This systematic review contributes to our understanding of the mortality of untreated leptospirosis and provides data for the estimation of DALYs attributable to this disease. We show that mortality is significantly higher in older patients with icteric disease or renal failure but is lower in younger, anicteric patients. Increased surveillance and accurate point-of-care diagnostics are required to better understand the incidence and improve diagnosis of disease. Empirical treatment strategies should prioritize early treatment to improve outcomes from leptospirosis.

Cheah PY, Parker M. 2015. Are Children Always Vulnerable Research Participants? Asian Bioethics Review, 7 (2), pp. 151-163. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 The Author. International guidelines stipulate that in order for children to participate in research, consent must be obtained from their parents or guardians. This is because researchers and ethics committee members have historically viewed children as vulnerable subjects. We, the authors of this article, think that in terms of decision-making for participation in medical research, children are not always vulnerable. Vulnerability is context- and study-specific. In this article, we argue that the blanket categorisation of children as vulnerable research subjects is ethically problematic. Significant numbers of mature minors, particularly in low-income settings, are currently being ruled out of research participation because their parents are unavailable or refuse to provide consent, despite the possibility that they might wish to do so and that such research has the potential to be of real benefit. Consequently, older children are under-represented in all types of clinical research. We here have illustrated our arguments using two case studies. In cases where research is important; meets international scientific and ethical standards and has been approved by relevant ethics committees; where the research team is trained to take consent; and where the information is presented in a way that is accessible to children, then children should sometimes be allowed to consent for themselves, rather than always being dependent on an adult. If children are able to provide valid consent to medical research in their own right, they should be allowed to do so, regardless of their age. The requirements for valid consent that we propose are competence, voluntariness, maturity, independence and contextual appropriateness.

Lim C, Paris DH, Blacksell SD, Laongnualpanich A, Kantipong P, Chierakul W, Wuthiekanun V, Day NPJ, Cooper BS, Limmathurotsakul D. 2015. How to Determine the Accuracy of an Alternative Diagnostic Test when It Is Actually Better than the Reference Tests: A Re-Evaluation of Diagnostic Tests for Scrub Typhus Using Bayesian LCMs. PLoS One, 10 (5), pp. e0114930. | Citations: 25 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) is considered a reference test for scrub typhus. Recently, the Scrub Typhus Infection Criteria (STIC; a combination of culture, PCR assays and IFA IgM) were proposed as a reference standard for evaluating alternative diagnostic tests. Here, we use Bayesian latent class models (LCMs) to estimate the true accuracy of each diagnostic test, and of STIC, for diagnosing scrub typhus. METHODS/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Data from 161 patients with undifferentiated fever were re-evaluated using Bayesian LCMs. Every patient was evaluated for the presence of an eschar, and tested with blood culture for Orientia tsutsugamushi, three different PCR assays, IFA IgM, and the Panbio IgM immunochromatographic test (ICT). True sensitivity and specificity of culture (24.4% and 100%), 56kDa PCR assay (56.8% and 98.4%), 47kDa PCR assay (63.2% and 96.1%), groEL PCR assay (71.4% and 93.0%), IFA IgM (70.0% and 83.8%), PanBio IgM ICT (72.8% and 96.8%), presence of eschar (42.7% and 98.9%) and STIC (90.5% and 82.5%) estimated by Bayesian LCM were considerably different from those obtained when using STIC as a reference standard. The IgM ICT had comparable sensitivity and significantly higher specificity compared to IFA (p=0.34 and p<0.001, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: The low specificity of STIC was caused by the low specificity of IFA IgM. Neither STIC nor IFA IgM can be used as reference standards against which to evaluate alternative diagnostic tests. Further evaluation of new diagnostic tests should be done with a carefully selected set of diagnostic tests and appropriate statistical models.

Saunderson RB, Gouliouris T, Nickerson EK, Cartwright EJP, Kidney A, Aliyu SH, Brown NM, Limmathurotsakul D, Peacock SJ, Török ME. 2015. Impact of routine bedside infectious disease consultation on clinical management and outcome of Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia in adults. Clin Microbiol Infect, 21 (8), pp. 779-785. | Citations: 25 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (SAB) is a common, serious infection that is associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality. Evidence suggests that infectious disease consultation (IDC) improves clinical management in patients with SAB. We examined whether the introduction of a routine bedside IDC service for adults with SAB improved clinical management and outcomes compared to telephone consultation. We conducted an observational cohort study of 571 adults with SAB at a teaching hospital in the United Kingdom between July 2006 and December 2012. A telephone consultation was provided on the day of positive blood culture in all cases, but an additional bedside IDC was provided after November 2009 (routine IDC group). Compared to patients in the pre-IDC group, those in the routine IDC group were more likely to have a removable focus of infection identified, echocardiography performed and follow-up blood cultures performed. They also received longer courses of antimicrobial therapy, were more likely to receive combination antimicrobial therapy and were more likely to have SAB recorded in the hospital discharge summary. There was a trend towards lower mortality at 30 days in the routine IDC group compared to the pre-IDC group (12% vs. 22%, p 0.07). Our findings suggest that routine bedside IDC should become the standard of care for adults with SAB.

Laochan N, Zaloumis SG, Imwong M, Lek-Uthai U, Brockman A, Sriprawat K, Wiladphaingern J, White NJ, Nosten F, McGready R. 2015. Intervals to Plasmodium falciparum recurrence after anti-malarial treatment in pregnancy: a longitudinal prospective cohort. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 221. | Citations: 8 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum infections adversely affect pregnancy. Anti-malarial treatment failure is common. The objective of this study was to examine the duration of persistent parasite carriage following anti-malarial treatment in pregnancy. METHODS: The data presented here are a collation from previous studies carried out since 1994 in the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) on the Thailand-Myanmar border and performed using the same unique methodology detailed in the Materials and Methods section. Screening for malaria by microscopy is a routine part of weekly antenatal care (ANC) visits and therapeutic responses to anti-malarials were assessed in P. falciparum malaria cases. Women with microscopy confirmed P. falciparum malaria had a PCR blood spot from a finger-prick sample collected. Parasite DNA was extracted from the blood-spot samples using saponin lysis/Chelex extraction method and genotyped using polymorphic segments of MSP1, MSP2 and GLURP. Recurrent infections were classified by genotyping as novel, recrudescent or indeterminate. Factors associated with time to microscopy-detected recrudescence were analysed using multivariable regression techniques. RESULTS: From December 1994 to November 2009, 700 women were treated for P. falciparum and there were 909 recurrent episodes (481 novel and 428 recrudescent) confirmed by PCR genotyping. Most of the recurrences, 85% (770/909), occurred after treatment with quinine monotherapy, artesunate monotherapy or artesunate-clindamycin. The geometric mean number of days to recurrence was significantly shorter in women with recrudescent infection, 24.5 (95%: 23.4-25.8), compared to re-infection, 49.7 (95%: 46.9-52.7), P<0.001. The proportion of recrudescent P. falciparum infections that occurred after days 28, 42 and 63 from the start of treatment was 29.1% (124/428), 13.3% (57/428) and 5.6% (24/428). Recrudescent infections≥100 days after treatment occurred with quinine and mefloquine monotherapy, and quinine+clindamycin and artesunate+atovaquone-proguanil combination therapy. Treatments containing an artemisinin derivative or an intercalated Plasmodium vivax infection increased the geometric mean interval to recrudescence by 1.28-fold (95% CI: 1.09-1.51) and 2.19-fold (1.77-2.72), respectively. Intervals to recrudescence were decreased 0.83-fold (0.73-0.95) if treatment was not fully supervised (suggesting incomplete adherence) and 0.98-fold (0.96-0.99) for each doubling in baseline parasitaemia. CONCLUSIONS: Prolonged time to recrudescence may occur in pregnancy, regardless of anti-malarial treatment. Long intervals to recrudescence are more likely with the use of artemisinin-containing treatments and also observed with intercalated P. vivax infections treated with chloroquine. Accurate determination of drug efficacy in pregnancy requires longer duration of follow-up, preferably until delivery or day 63, whichever occurs last.

Hanson J, Lee SJ, Hossain MA, Anstey NM, Charunwatthana P, Maude RJ, Kingston HWF, Mishra SK, Mohanty S, Plewes K et al. 2015. Microvascular obstruction and endothelial activation are independently associated with the clinical manifestations of severe falciparum malaria in adults: an observational study. BMC Med, 13 (1), pp. 122. | Citations: 27 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Microvascular obstruction and endothelial dysfunction have both been linked to tissue hypoperfusion in falciparum malaria, but their relative contributions to the disease's pathogenesis and outcome are unknown. METHODS: Microvascular blood flow was quantified in adults with severe falciparum malaria on their admission to hospital; plasma biomarkers of endothelial function were measured simultaneously. The relationship between these indices and the patients' clinical findings and in-hospital course was examined. RESULTS: Microvascular obstruction was observed in 119/142 (84 %) patients; a median (interquartile range (IQR)) of 14.9 % (6.6-34.9 %) of capillaries were obstructed in patients that died versus 8.3 % (1.7-26.6 %) in survivors (P = 0.039). The proportion of obstructed capillaries correlated with the estimated parasite biomass (rs = 0.25, P = 0.004) and with plasma lactate (rs = 0.38, P <0.0001), the strongest predictor of death in the series. Plasma angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2) concentrations were markedly elevated suggesting widespread endothelial activation; the median (IQR) Ang-2 concentration was 21.9 ng/mL (13.4-29.4 ng/mL) in patients that died versus 14.9 ng/mL (9.8-29.3 ng/mL) in survivors (P = 0.035). Ang-2 concentrations correlated with estimated parasite biomass (rs = 0.35, P <0.001) and plasma lactate (rs = 0.37, P <0.0001). Microvascular obstruction and Ang-2 concentrations were not significantly correlated with each other (rs = 0.17, P = 0.06), but were independently associated with plasma lactate (P <0.001 and P = 0.002, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Microvascular obstruction and systemic endothelial activation are independently associated with plasma lactate, the strongest predictor of death in adults with falciparum malaria. This supports the hypothesis that the two processes make an independent contribution to the pathogenesis and clinical manifestations of the disease.

Leang R, Taylor WRJ, Bouth DM, Song L, Tarning J, Char MC, Kim S, Witkowski B, Duru V, Domergue A et al. 2015. Evidence of Plasmodium falciparum Malaria Multidrug Resistance to Artemisinin and Piperaquine in Western Cambodia: Dihydroartemisinin-Piperaquine Open-Label Multicenter Clinical Assessment. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 59 (8), pp. 4719-4726. | Citations: 115 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Western Cambodia is recognized as the epicenter of Plasmodium falciparum multidrug resistance. Recent reports of the efficacy of dihydroartemisinin (DHA)-piperaquine (PP), the latest of the artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) recommended by the WHO, have prompted further investigations. The clinical efficacy of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine in uncomplicated falciparum malaria was assessed in western and eastern Cambodia over 42 days. Day 7 plasma piperaquine concentrations were measured and day 0 isolates tested for in vitro susceptibilities to piperaquine and mefloquine, polymorphisms in the K13 gene, and the copy number of the Pfmdr-1 gene. A total of 425 patients were recruited in 2011 to 2013. The proportion of patients with recrudescent infections was significantly higher in western (15.4%) than in eastern (2.5%) Cambodia (P <10(-3)). Day 7 plasma PP concentrations and median 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50) of PP were independent of treatment outcomes, in contrast to median mefloquine IC50, which were found to be lower for isolates from patients with recrudescent infections (18.7 versus 39.7 nM; P = 0.005). The most significant risk factor associated with DHA-PP treatment failure was infection by parasites carrying the K13 mutant allele (odds ratio [OR], 17.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1 to 308; P = 0.04). Our data show evidence of P. falciparum resistance to PP in western Cambodia, an area of widespread artemisinin resistance. New therapeutic strategies, such as the use of triple ACTs, are urgently needed and must be tested. (This study has been registered at the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry under registration no. ACTRN12614000344695.).

Hantrakun V, Chierakul W, Chetchotisakd P, Anunnatsiri S, Currie BJ, Peacock SJ, Day NPJ, Cheah PY, Limmathurotsakul D, Lubell Y. 2015. Cost-effectiveness analysis of parenteral antimicrobials for acute melioidosis in Thailand. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 109 (6), pp. 416-418. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Melioidosis is a common community-acquired infectious disease in northeast Thailand associated with overall mortality of approximately 40% in hospitalized patients, and over 70% in severe cases. Ceftazidime is recommended for parenteral treatment in patients with suspected melioidosis. Meropenem is increasingly used but evidence to support this is lacking. METHODS: A decision tree was used to estimate the cost-effectiveness of treating non-severe and severe suspected acute melioidosis cases with either ceftazidime or meropenem. RESULTS: Empirical treatment with meropenem is likely to be cost-effective providing meropenem reduces mortality in severe cases by at least 9% and the proportion with subsequent culture-confirmed melioidosis is over 20%. CONCLUSIONS: In this context, treatment of severe cases with meropenem is likely to be cost-effective, while the evidence to support the use of meropenem in non-severe suspected melioidosis is not yet available.

Nasner-Posso KM, Cruz-Calderón S, Montúfar-Andrade FE, Dance DAB, Rodriguez-Morales AJ. 2015. Human melioidosis reported by ProMED. Int J Infect Dis, 35 pp. 103-106. | Citations: 7 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: There are limited sources describing the global burden of emerging diseases. A review of human melioidosis reported by ProMED was performed and the reliability of the data retrieved assessed in comparison to published reports. The effectiveness of ProMED was evaluated as a source of epidemiological data by focusing on melioidosis. METHODS: Using the keyword 'melioidosis' in the ProMED search engine, all of the information from the reports and collected data was reviewed using a structured form, including the year, country, gender, occupation, number of infected individuals, and number of fatal cases. RESULTS: One hundred and twenty-four entries reported between January 1995 and October 2014 were identified. A total of 4630 cases were reported, with death reported in 505 cases, suggesting a misleadingly low overall case fatality rate (CFR) of 11%. Of 20 cases for which the gender was reported, 12 (60%) were male. Most of the cases were reported from Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and Malaysia, with sporadic reports from other countries. CONCLUSIONS: Internet-based reporting systems such as ProMED are useful to gather information and synthesize knowledge on emerging infections. Although certain areas need to be improved, ProMED provided good information about melioidosis.

Phommasone K, Sengvilaipaseuth O, de Lamballerie X, Vongsouvath M, Phonemixay O, Blacksell SD, Newton PN, Dubot-Pérès A. 2015. Temperature and the field stability of a dengue rapid diagnostic test in the tropics. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 93 (1), pp. 33-39. | Citations: 5 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The global incidence of dengue has increased significantly in recent decades, resulting in a large public health burden in tropical and subtropical countries. Dengue rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) can provide accurate, rapid accessible diagnosis for patient management and may be easily used by health workers in rural areas. However, in dengue-endemic areas, ambient temperatures are often higher than manufacturer's recommendation. We therefore evaluated the effect of high temperature over time on the performance of one commonly used dengue RDT, the Standard Diagnostics Bioline Dengue Duo. RDTs were kept in five different conditions (at 4°C, 35°C, 45°C, 60°C, and at fluctuant ambient temperatures in a free-standing hut) for between 2 days and 2 years in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR). RDTs were tested with four control sera (negative, dengue nonstructural protein 1 [NS1], anti-dengue immunoglobulin [Ig] M, and anti-dengue IgG positive). The RDTs had 100% consistency over the 2-year study, despite high temperatures, including in the hut in which temperatures exceeded the manufacturer's recommendations for 29% of time points. These data suggest that the diagnostic accuracy of the SD Bioline Dengue Duo RDT remains stable even after long-term storage at high temperatures. Therefore, use at such ambient temperatures in tropical areas should not jeopardize the dengue diagnostic outcome.

Chalmers L, Cross J, Chu CS, Phyo AP, Trip M, Ling C, Carrara V, Watthanaworawit W, Keereecharoen L, Hanboonkunupakarn B et al. 2015. The role of point-of-care tests in antibiotic stewardship for urinary tract infections in a resource-limited setting on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Trop Med Int Health, 20 (10), pp. 1281-1289. | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: Published literature from resource-limited settings is infrequent, although urinary tract infections (UTI) are a common cause of outpatient presentation and antibiotic use. Point-of-care test (POCT) interpretation relates to antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance. We aimed to assess the diagnostic accuracy of POCT and their role in UTI antibiotic stewardship. METHODS: One-year retrospective analysis in three clinics on the Thailand-Myanmar border of non-pregnant adults presenting with urinary symptoms. POCT (urine dipstick and microscopy) were compared to culture with significant growth classified as pure growth of a single organism >10(5)  CFU/ml. RESULTS: In 247 patients, 82.6% female, the most common symptoms were dysuria (81.2%), suprapubic pain (67.8%) and urinary frequency (53.7%). After excluding contaminated samples, UTI was diagnosed in 52.4% (97/185); 71.1% (69/97) had a significant growth on culture, and >80% of these were Escherichia coli (20.9% produced extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)). Positive urine dipstick (leucocyte esterase ≥1 and/or nitrate positive) compared against positive microscopy (white blood cell >10/HPF, bacteria ≥1/HPF, epithelial cells <5/HPF) had a higher sensitivity (99% vs. 57%) but a lower specificity (47% vs. 89%), respectively. Combined POCT resulted in the best sensitivity (98%) and specificity (81%). Nearly one in ten patients received an antimicrobial to which the organism was not fully sensitive. CONCLUSION: One rapid, cost-effective POCT was too inaccurate to be used alone by healthcare workers, impeding antibiotic stewardship in a high ESBL setting. Appropriate prescribing is improved with concurrent use and concordant results of urine dipstick and microscopy.

Wong VK, Baker S, Pickard DJ, Parkhill J, Page AJ, Feasey NA, Kingsley RA, Thomson NR, Keane JA, Weill F-X et al. 2015. Phylogeographical analysis of the dominant multidrug-resistant H58 clade of Salmonella Typhi identifies inter- and intracontinental transmission events. Nat Genet, 47 (6), pp. 632-639. | Citations: 143 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) typhoid is a major global health threat affecting many countries where the disease is endemic. Here whole-genome sequence analysis of 1,832 Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi) identifies a single dominant MDR lineage, H58, that has emerged and spread throughout Asia and Africa over the last 30 years. Our analysis identifies numerous transmissions of H58, including multiple transfers from Asia to Africa and an ongoing, unrecognized MDR epidemic within Africa itself. Notably, our analysis indicates that H58 lineages are displacing antibiotic-sensitive isolates, transforming the global population structure of this pathogen. H58 isolates can harbor a complex MDR element residing either on transmissible IncHI1 plasmids or within multiple chromosomal integration sites. We also identify new mutations that define the H58 lineage. This phylogeographical analysis provides a framework to facilitate global management of MDR typhoid and is applicable to similar MDR lineages emerging in other bacterial species.

Moore CE, Nget P, Saroeun M, Kuong S, Chanthou S, Kumar V, Bousfield R, Nader J, Bailey JW, Beeching NJ et al. 2015. Intestinal parasite infections in symptomatic children attending hospital in Siem Reap, Cambodia. PLoS One, 10 (5), pp. e0123719. | Citations: 9 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Infections with helminths and other intestinal parasites are an important but neglected problem in children in developing countries. Accurate surveys of intestinal parasites in children inform empirical treatment regimens and can assess the impact of school based drug treatment programmes. There is limited information on this topic in Cambodia. METHODS: In a prospective study of intestinal parasites in symptomatic children attending Angkor Hospital for Children, Siem Reap, Cambodia, April-June 2012, samples were examined by microscopy of a direct and concentrated fecal sample. Two culture methods for hookworm and Strongyloides stercoralis were employed when sufficient sample was received. Demographic, clinical and epidemiological data were collected. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We studied 970 samples from 865 children. The median (inter-quartile range) age of the children was 5.4 (1.9-9.2) years, 54% were male. The proportion of children with abdominal pain was 66.8%, diarrhea 34.9%, anemia 12.7% and malnutrition 7.4%. 458 parasitic infections were detected in 340 (39.3%) children. The most common parasites using all methods of detection were hookworm (14.3%), Strongyloides stercoralis (11.6%) and Giardia lamblia (11.2%). Giardia lamblia was most common in children aged 1-5 years, hookworm and Strongyloides stercoralis were more common with increasing age. Hookworm, Strongloides stercoralis and Giardia lamblia were more common in children living outside of Siem Reap town. In a multivariate logistic regression increasing age was associated with all three infections, defecating in the forest for hookworm infection, the presence of cattle for S. stercoralis and not using soap for handwashing for G. lamblia. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This study confirms the importance of intestinal parasitic infections in symptomatic Cambodian children and the need for adequate facilities for laboratory diagnosis together with education to improve personal hygiene and sanitation.

Battle KE, Cameron E, Guerra CA, Golding N, Duda KA, Howes RE, Elyazar IRF, Price RN, Baird JK, Reiner RC et al. 2015. Defining the relationship between Plasmodium vivax parasite rate and clinical disease. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 191. | Citations: 5 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Though essential to the development and evaluation of national malaria control programmes, precise enumeration of the clinical illness burden of malaria in endemic countries remains challenging where local surveillance systems are incomplete. Strategies to infer annual incidence rates from parasite prevalence survey compilations have proven effective in the specific case of Plasmodium falciparum, but have yet to be developed for Plasmodium vivax. Moreover, defining the relationship between P. vivax prevalence and clinical incidence may also allow levels of endemicity to be inferred for areas where the information balance is reversed, that is, incident case numbers are more widely gathered than parasite surveys; both applications ultimately facilitating cartographic estimates of P. vivax transmission intensity and its ensuring disease burden. METHODS: A search for active case detection surveys was conducted and the recorded incidence values were matched to local, contemporary parasite rate measures and classified to geographic zones of differing relapse phenotypes. A hierarchical Bayesian model was fitted to these data to quantify the relationship between prevalence and incidence while accounting for variation among relapse zones. RESULTS: The model, fitted with 176 concurrently measured P. vivax incidence and prevalence records, was a linear regression of the logarithm of incidence against the logarithm of age-standardized prevalence. Specific relationships for the six relapse zones where data were available were drawn, as well as a pooled overall relationship. The slope of the curves varied among relapse zones; zones with short predicted time to relapse had steeper slopes than those observed to contain long-latency relapse phenotypes. CONCLUSIONS: The fitted relationships, along with appropriate uncertainty metrics, allow for estimates of clinical incidence of known confidence to be made from wherever P. vivax prevalence data are available. This is a prerequisite for cartographic-based inferences about the global burden of morbidity due to P. vivax, which will be used to inform control efforts.

Karl S, Li Wai Suen CSN, Unger HW, Ome-Kaius M, Mola G, White L, Wangnapi RA, Rogerson SJ, Mueller I. 2015. Preterm or not--an evaluation of estimates of gestational age in a cohort of women from Rural Papua New Guinea. PLoS One, 10 (5), pp. e0124286. | Citations: 14 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Knowledge of accurate gestational age is required for comprehensive pregnancy care and is an essential component of research evaluating causes of preterm birth. In industrialised countries gestational age is determined with the help of fetal biometry in early pregnancy. Lack of ultrasound and late presentation to antenatal clinic limits this practice in low-resource settings. Instead, clinical estimators of gestational age are used, but their accuracy remains a matter of debate. METHODS: In a cohort of 688 singleton pregnancies from rural Papua New Guinea, delivery gestational age was calculated from Ballard score, last menstrual period, symphysis-pubis fundal height at first visit and quickening as well as mid- and late pregnancy fetal biometry. Published models using sequential fundal height measurements and corrected last menstrual period to estimate gestational age were also tested. Novel linear models that combined clinical measurements for gestational age estimation were developed. Predictions were compared with the reference early pregnancy ultrasound (<25 gestational weeks) using correlation, regression and Bland-Altman analyses and ranked for their capability to predict preterm birth using the harmonic mean of recall and precision (F-measure). RESULTS: Average bias between reference ultrasound and clinical methods ranged from 0-11 days (95% confidence levels: 14-42 days). Preterm birth was best predicted by mid-pregnancy ultrasound (F-measure: 0.72), and neuromuscular Ballard score provided the least reliable preterm birth prediction (F-measure: 0.17). The best clinical methods to predict gestational age and preterm birth were last menstrual period and fundal height (F-measures 0.35). A linear model combining both measures improved prediction of preterm birth (F-measure: 0.58). CONCLUSIONS: Estimation of gestational age without ultrasound is prone to significant error. In the absence of ultrasound facilities, last menstrual period and fundal height are among the more reliable clinical measures. This study underlines the importance of strengthening ultrasound facilities and developing novel ways to estimate gestational age.

Noviyanti R, Coutrier F, Utami RAS, Trimarsanto H, Tirta YK, Trianty L, Kusuma A, Sutanto I, Kosasih A, Kusriastuti R et al. 2015. Contrasting Transmission Dynamics of Co-endemic Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum: Implications for Malaria Control and Elimination. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (5), pp. e0003739. | Citations: 33 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Outside of Africa, P. falciparum and P. vivax usually coexist. In such co-endemic regions, successful malaria control programs have a greater impact on reducing falciparum malaria, resulting in P. vivax becoming the predominant species of infection. Adding to the challenges of elimination, the dormant liver stage complicates efforts to monitor the impact of ongoing interventions against P. vivax. We investigated molecular approaches to inform the respective transmission dynamics of P. falciparum and P. vivax and how these could help to prioritize public health interventions. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Genotype data generated at 8 and 9 microsatellite loci were analysed in 168 P. falciparum and 166 P. vivax isolates, respectively, from four co-endemic sites in Indonesia (Bangka, Kalimantan, Sumba and West Timor). Measures of diversity, linkage disequilibrium (LD) and population structure were used to gauge the transmission dynamics of each species in each setting. Marked differences were observed in the diversity and population structure of P. vivax versus P. falciparum. In Bangka, Kalimantan and Timor, P. falciparum diversity was low, and LD patterns were consistent with unstable, epidemic transmission, amenable to targeted intervention. In contrast, P. vivax diversity was higher and transmission appeared more stable. Population differentiation was lower in P. vivax versus P. falciparum, suggesting that the hypnozoite reservoir might play an important role in sustaining local transmission and facilitating the spread of P. vivax infections in different endemic settings. P. vivax polyclonality varied with local endemicity, demonstrating potential utility in informing on transmission intensity in this species. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Molecular approaches can provide important information on malaria transmission that is not readily available from traditional epidemiological measures. Elucidation of the transmission dynamics circulating in a given setting will have a major role in prioritising malaria control strategies, particularly against the relatively neglected non-falciparum species.

Blacksell SD, Kantipong P, Watthanaworawit W, Turner C, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Jintawon S, Laongnuanutit A, Nosten FH, Day NPJ, Paris DH, Richards AL. 2015. Underrecognized arthropod-borne and zoonotic pathogens in northern and northwestern Thailand: serological evidence and opportunities for awareness. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis, 15 (5), pp. 285-290. | Citations: 16 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Although scrub typhus and murine typhus are well-described tropical rickettsial illnesses, especially in Southeast Asia, only limited evidence is available for rickettsia-like pathogens contributing to the burden of undifferentiated febrile illness. Using commercially available kits, this study measured immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody seroprevalence for Coxiella burnetii, Ehrlichia chaffeensis, Bartonella henselae, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and spotted fever group rickettsiae (SFGR) in 375 patients enrolled in undifferentiated febrile illness studies at Chiangrai (northern Thailand) and Mae Sot (Thai-Myanmar border). Ehrlichia and SFGR were the most common causes of IgG seropositivity. A distinct relationship between age and seropositivity was found in Chiangrai with acquisition of IgG titers against Ehrlichia, Bartonella, Anaplasma, and SFGR in young adulthood, suggesting cumulative exposure to these pathogens. At Mae Sot, high early IgG titers against Ehrlichia and SFGR were common, whereas Anaplasma and Bartonella IgG titers increased at 50-60 years. Q fever associated with low IgG positivity at both study sites, with significantly higher prevalence at 30 years of age in Chiangrai. These data suggest that other rickettsial illnesses could contribute to the burden of febrile illness in Thailand and possibly adjacent regions. Improved diagnostics and better understanding of antibody longevity and cross-reactivity will improve identification and management of these easily treatable infectious diseases.

Meeyai A, Praditsitthikorn N, Kotirum S, Kulpeng W, Putthasri W, Cooper BS, Teerawattananon Y. 2015. Seasonal influenza vaccination for children in Thailand: a cost-effectiveness analysis. PLoS Med, 12 (5), pp. e1001829. | Citations: 17 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Seasonal influenza is a major cause of mortality worldwide. Routine immunization of children has the potential to reduce this mortality through both direct and indirect protection, but has not been adopted by any low- or middle-income countries. We developed a framework to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of influenza vaccination policies in developing countries and used it to consider annual vaccination of school- and preschool-aged children with either trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV) or trivalent live-attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) in Thailand. We also compared these approaches with a policy of expanding TIV coverage in the elderly. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We developed an age-structured model to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of eight vaccination policies parameterized using country-level data from Thailand. For policies using LAIV, we considered five different age groups of children to vaccinate. We adopted a Bayesian evidence-synthesis framework, expressing uncertainty in parameters through probability distributions derived by fitting the model to prospectively collected laboratory-confirmed influenza data from 2005-2009, by meta-analysis of clinical trial data, and by using prior probability distributions derived from literature review and elicitation of expert opinion. We performed sensitivity analyses using alternative assumptions about prior immunity, contact patterns between age groups, the proportion of infections that are symptomatic, cost per unit vaccine, and vaccine effectiveness. Vaccination of children with LAIV was found to be highly cost-effective, with incremental cost-effectiveness ratios between about 2,000 and 5,000 international dollars per disability-adjusted life year averted, and was consistently preferred to TIV-based policies. These findings were robust to extensive sensitivity analyses. The optimal age group to vaccinate with LAIV, however, was sensitive both to the willingness to pay for health benefits and to assumptions about contact patterns between age groups. CONCLUSIONS: Vaccinating school-aged children with LAIV is likely to be cost-effective in Thailand in the short term, though the long-term consequences of such a policy cannot be reliably predicted given current knowledge of influenza epidemiology and immunology. Our work provides a coherent framework that can be used for similar analyses in other low- and middle-income countries.

Zongo I, Milligan P, Compaore YD, Some AF, Greenwood B, Tarning J, Rosenthal PJ, Sutherland C, Nosten F, Ouedraogo J-B. 2015. Randomized Noninferiority Trial of Dihydroartemisinin-Piperaquine Compared with Sulfadoxine-Pyrimethamine plus Amodiaquine for Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention in Burkina Faso. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 59 (8), pp. 4387-4396. | Citations: 17 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

The WHO recommends that children living in areas of highly seasonal malaria transmission in the Sahel subregion should receive seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine plus amodiaquine (SPAQ). We evaluated the use of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHAPQ) as an alternative drug that could be used if SPAQ starts to lose efficacy. A total of 1,499 children 3 to 59 months old were randomized to receive SMC with SPAQ or DHAPQ over 3 months. The primary outcome measure was the risk of clinical malaria (fever or a history of fever with a parasite density of at least 3,000/μl). A cohort of 250 children outside the trial was followed up as a control group. Molecular markers of drug resistance were assessed. The risk of a malaria attack was 0.19 in the DHAPQ group and 0.15 in the SPAQ group, an odds ratio of 1.33 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02 to 1.72). Efficacy of SMC compared to the control group was 77% (67% to 84%) for DHAPQ and 83% (74% to 89%) for SPAQ. pfdhfr and pfdhps mutations associated with antifolate resistance were more prevalent in parasites from children who received SPAQ than in children who received DHAPQ. Both regimens were highly efficacious and well tolerated. DHAPQ is a potential alternative drug for SMC. (This trial is registered at under registration no. NCT00941785.).

Hanson J, Phu NH, Hasan MU, Charunwatthana P, Plewes K, Maude RJ, Prapansilp P, Kingston HWF, Mishra SK, Mohanty S et al. 2015. The clinical implications of thrombocytopenia in adults with severe falciparum malaria: a retrospective analysis. BMC Med, 13 (1), pp. 97. | Citations: 9 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Thrombocytopenia is a common finding in adults with severe falciparum malaria, but its clinical and prognostic utility is incompletely defined. METHODS: Clinical and laboratory data from 647 adults with severe falciparum malaria were analysed retrospectively to determine the relationship between a patient's platelet count on admission to hospital and their subsequent clinical course. RESULTS: On admission, 614 patients (94.9%) were thrombocytopenic (platelet count <150 × 10(9)/L) and 328 (50.7%) had a platelet count <50 × 10(9)/L. The admission platelet count was inversely correlated with parasite biomass (estimated from plasma PfHRP2 concentrations, rs = -0.28, P = 0.003), the degree of microvascular sequestration (measured with orthogonal polarizing spectral imaging, rs = -0.31, P = 0.001) and disease severity (the number of World Health Organization severity criteria satisfied by the patient, rs = -0.21, P <0.001). Platelet counts were lower on admission in the patients who died (median: 30 (interquartile range 22 to 52) × 10(9)/L versus 50 (34 to 78) × 10(9)/L in survivors; P <0.001), but did not predict outcome independently from other established laboratory and clinical prognostic indices. The 39 patients (6%) with profound thrombocytopenia (platelet count <20 × 10(9)/L) were more likely to die (odds ratio: 5.00, 95% confidence interval: 2.56 to 9.75) than patients with higher platelet counts, but these high-risk patients could be identified more rapidly with simple bedside clinical assessment. The admission platelet count did not reliably identify the 50 patients (7.7%) with major bleeding during the study. CONCLUSIONS: Thrombocytopenia is a marker of disease severity in adults with falciparum malaria, but has limited utility in prognostication, triage and management.

Deen J, Dondorp AM, White NJ. 2015. Treatment of Ebola. N Engl J Med, 372 (17), pp. 1673-1674. | Citations: 4 (Web of Science Lite) | Read more

Stoesser N, Sheppard AE, Moore CE, Golubchik T, Parry CM, Nget P, Saroeun M, Day NPJ, Giess A, Johnson JR et al. 2015. Extensive Within-Host Diversity in Fecally Carried Extended-Spectrum-Beta-Lactamase-Producing Escherichia coli Isolates: Implications for Transmission Analyses. J Clin Microbiol, 53 (7), pp. 2122-2131. | Citations: 26 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Studies of the transmission epidemiology of antimicrobial-resistant Escherichia coli, such as strains harboring extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) genes, frequently use selective culture of rectal surveillance swabs to identify isolates for molecular epidemiological investigation. Typically, only single colonies are evaluated, which risks underestimating species diversity and transmission events. We sequenced the genomes of 16 E. coli colonies from each of eight fecal samples (n = 127 genomes; one failure), taken from different individuals in Cambodia, a region of high ESBL-producing E. coli prevalence. Sequence data were used to characterize both the core chromosomal diversity of E. coli isolates and their resistance/virulence gene content as a proxy measure of accessory genome diversity. The 127 E. coli genomes represented 31 distinct sequence types (STs). Seven (88%) of eight subjects carried ESBL-positive isolates, all containing blaCTX-M variants. Diversity was substantial, with a median of four STs/individual (range, 1 to 10) and wide genetic divergence at the nucleotide level within some STs. In 2/8 (25%) individuals, the same blaCTX-M variant occurred in different clones, and/or different blaCTX-M variants occurred in the same clone. Patterns of other resistance genes and common virulence factors, representing differences in the accessory genome, were also diverse within and between clones. The substantial diversity among intestinally carried ESBL-positive E. coli bacteria suggests that fecal surveillance, particularly if based on single-colony subcultures, will likely underestimate transmission events, especially in high-prevalence settings.

Cooper BS, Kotirum S, Kulpeng W, Praditsitthikorn N, Chittaganpitch M, Limmathurotsakul D, Day NPJ, Coker R, Teerawattananon Y, Meeyai A. 2015. Mortality attributable to seasonal influenza A and B infections in Thailand, 2005-2009: a longitudinal study. Am J Epidemiol, 181 (11), pp. 898-907. | Citations: 11 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Influenza epidemiology differs substantially in tropical and temperate zones, but estimates of seasonal influenza mortality in developing countries in the tropics are lacking. We aimed to quantify mortality due to seasonal influenza in Thailand, a tropical middle-income country. Time series of polymerase chain reaction-confirmed influenza infections between 2005 and 2009 were constructed from a sentinel surveillance network. These were combined with influenza-like illness data to derive measures of influenza activity and relationships to mortality by using a Bayesian regression framework. We estimated 6.1 (95% credible interval: 0.5, 12.4) annual deaths per 100,000 population attributable to influenza A and B, predominantly in those aged ≥60 years, with the largest contribution from influenza A(H1N1) in 3 out of 4 years. For A(H3N2), the relationship between influenza activity and mortality varied over time. Influenza was associated with increases in deaths classified as resulting from respiratory disease (posterior probability of positive association, 99.8%), cancer (98.6%), renal disease (98.0%), and liver disease (99.2%). No association with circulatory disease mortality was found. Seasonal influenza infections are associated with substantial mortality in Thailand, but evidence for the strong relationship between influenza activity and circulatory disease mortality reported in temperate countries is lacking.

Yong YL, Plançon A, Lau YH, Hostetler DM, Fernández FM, Green MD, Sounvoravong S, Nara S, Boravann M, Dumrong T et al. 2015. Collaborative health and enforcement operations on the quality of antimalarials and antibiotics in southeast Asia. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 92 (6 Suppl), pp. 105-112. | Citations: 11 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Counterfeit (or falsified) and substandard medicines pose a major public health risk. We describe the findings of Operation Storm I and II conducted in 2008-2009 to combat counterfeit medicines through partnership between national customs, Drug Regulatory Agencies (DRAs), and police in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Samples were obtained from seizures and market surveillance by national DRAs. Laboratory analysis using spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques and examination of packaging were performed. Ninety-three suspect antibiotics and 95 antimalarial samples were collected. Of the 93 antibiotics, 29 (31%) had % active pharmaceutical ingredient content (%API) < 85% or > 115% (including one counterfeit). Of the 95 antimalarials, 30 (32%) had %API < 85 > 115% API (including one counterfeit). A significant minority of samples, antimalarials (13%) and antibiotics (15%), were collected in plastic bags with minimal or no labeling. Of 20 ampicillin samples, 13 (65%) contained < 85% API (with one counterfeit containing additional amoxicillin). Of 34 oral artesunate samples, 7 (21%) contained %API out of the 85-115% range. Coordinated and synergistic partnership adopted by the participating countries, International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), World Health Organization (WHO), and laboratories facilitated a platform for discussions and intelligence sharing, helping to improve each participating country's capacity to combat poor-quality medicines.

Renschler JP, Walters KM, Newton PN, Laxminarayan R. 2015. Estimated under-five deaths associated with poor-quality antimalarials in sub-Saharan Africa. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 92 (6 Suppl), pp. 119-126. | Citations: 34 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Many antimalarials sold in sub-Saharan Africa are poor-quality (falsified, substandard, or degraded), and the burden of disease caused by this problem is inadequately quantified. In this article, we estimate the number of under-five deaths caused by ineffective treatment of malaria associated with consumption of poor-quality antimalarials in 39 sub-Saharan countries. Using Latin hypercube sampling our estimates were calculated as the product of the number of private sector antimalarials consumed by malaria-positive children in 2013; the proportion of private sector antimalarials consumed that were of poor-quality; and the case fatality rate (CFR) of under-five malaria-positive children who did not receive appropriate treatment. An estimated 122,350 (interquartile range [IQR]: 91,577-154,736) under-five malaria deaths were associated with consumption of poor-quality antimalarials, representing 3.75% (IQR: 2.81-4.75%) of all under-five deaths in our sample of 39 countries. There is considerable uncertainty surrounding our results because of gaps in data on case fatality rates and prevalence of poor-quality antimalarials. Our analysis highlights the need for further investigation into the distribution of poor-quality antimalarials and the need for stronger surveillance and regulatory efforts to prevent the sale of poor-quality antimalarials.

Green MD, Hostetler DM, Nettey H, Swamidoss I, Ranieri N, Newton PN. 2015. Integration of novel low-cost colorimetric, laser photometric, and visual fluorescent techniques for rapid identification of falsified medicines in resource-poor areas: application to artemether-lumefantrine. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 92 (6 Suppl), pp. 8-16. | Citations: 11 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The availability of falsified antimalarial drugs can be reduced with effective drug regulatory agencies and proper enforcement. Fundamental to these agencies taking action, rapid identification must be made as soon as they appear in the market place. Since falsified antimalarials occur mostly in developing countries, performing drug analysis presents itself with unique challenges. A fundamental factor in choosing a useful technique is affordability and simplicity. Therefore, we suggest a three-tiered drug evaluation strategy for identifying a falsified drug in resource-poor areas. Tier I is a simple comparison of a tablet's weight and dimensions with official specifications. Tier II uses inexpensive photometric devices (laser and fluorescence) to evaluate a tablet. Suspicious samples from Tier I and II assessments are then subjected to a colorimetric assay for active ingredients identification and quantification. In this article, we evaluate a novel colorimetric assay for the simultaneous assessment of both lumefantrine and artemether in co-formulated Coartem™ tablets, and integrate the method with two novel, low-cost, fluorescence and laser photometric devices. Image analysis software is used for the assessments. Although artemether-lumefantrine is used as an example, the strategy may be adapted to other medicines.

Tabernero P, Mayxay M, Culzoni MJ, Dwivedi P, Swamidoss I, Allan EL, Khanthavong M, Phonlavong C, Vilayhong C, Yeuchaixiong S et al. 2015. A Repeat Random Survey of the Prevalence of Falsified and Substandard Antimalarials in the Lao PDR: A Change for the Better. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 92 (6 Suppl), pp. 95-104. | Citations: 17 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

In 2003, a stratified random sample survey was conducted in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos) to study the availability and quality of antimalarials in the private sector. In 2012, this survey was repeated to allow a statistically valid analysis of change through time. The counterfeit detection device 3 (CD-3) was used to assess packaging quality in the field and HPLC and mass spectroscopy analysis chemical analysis performed. The availability of oral artesunate monotherapies had significantly decreased from 22.9% (22) of 96 outlets in southern Laos in 2003 to 4.8% (7) of 144 outlets in 2012 (P < 0.0001). All the samples collected in the 2012 survey contained the correct active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in contrast to the 21 (84%) falsified artesunate samples found in the 2003 survey. Although none of the medicines found in 2012 survey had evidence for falsification, 25.4% (37) of the samples were outside the 90-110% pharmacopeial limits of the label claim, suggesting that they were substandard or degraded. Results obtained from this survey show that patients are still exposed to poorly manufactured drugs or to ineffective medicines such as chloroquine. The quality of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) used in Laos needs to be monitored, since falsified ACTs would have devastating consequences in public health.

Nayyar GML, Attaran A, Clark JP, Culzoni MJ, Fernandez FM, Herrington JE, Kendall M, Newton PN, Breman JG. 2015. Responding to the pandemic of falsified medicines. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 92 (6 Suppl), pp. 113-118. | Citations: 18 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Over the past decade, the number of countries reporting falsified (fake, spurious/falsely labeled/counterfeit) medicines and the types and quantities of fraudulent drugs being distributed have increased greatly. The obstacles in combatting falsified pharmaceuticals include 1) lack of consensus on definitions, 2) paucity of reliable and scalable technology to detect fakes before they reach patients, 3) poor global and national leadership and accountability systems for combating this scourge, and 4) deficient manufacturing and regulatory challenges, especially in China and India where fake products often originate. The major needs to improve the quality of the world's medicines fall into three main areas: 1) research to develop and compare accurate and affordable tools to identify high-quality drugs at all levels of distribution; 2) an international convention and national legislation to facilitate production and utilization of high-quality drugs and protect all countries from the criminal and the negligent who make, distribute, and sell life-threatening products; and 3) a highly qualified, well-supported international science and public health organization that will establish standards, drug-quality surveillance, and training programs like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Such leadership would give authoritative guidance for countries in cooperation with national medical regulatory agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and international agencies, all of which have an urgent interest and investment in ensuring that patients throughout the world have access to good quality medicines. The organization would also advocate strongly for including targets for achieving good quality medicines in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals.

Mbengue A, Bhattacharjee S, Pandharkar T, Liu H, Estiu G, Stahelin RV, Rizk SS, Njimoh DL, Ryan Y, Chotivanich K et al. 2015. A molecular mechanism of artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Nature, 520 (7549), pp. 683-687. | Citations: 215 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemisinins are the cornerstone of anti-malarial drugs. Emergence and spread of resistance to them raises risk of wiping out recent gains achieved in reducing worldwide malaria burden and threatens future malaria control and elimination on a global level. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have revealed parasite genetic loci associated with artemisinin resistance. However, there is no consensus on biochemical targets of artemisinin. Whether and how these targets interact with genes identified by GWAS, remains unknown. Here we provide biochemical and cellular evidence that artemisinins are potent inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PfPI3K), revealing an unexpected mechanism of action. In resistant clinical strains, increased PfPI3K was associated with the C580Y mutation in P. falciparum Kelch13 (PfKelch13), a primary marker of artemisinin resistance. Polyubiquitination of PfPI3K and its binding to PfKelch13 were reduced by the PfKelch13 mutation, which limited proteolysis of PfPI3K and thus increased levels of the kinase, as well as its lipid product phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate (PI3P). We find PI3P levels to be predictive of artemisinin resistance in both clinical and engineered laboratory parasites as well as across non-isogenic strains. Elevated PI3P induced artemisinin resistance in absence of PfKelch13 mutations, but remained responsive to regulation by PfKelch13. Evidence is presented for PI3P-dependent signalling in which transgenic expression of an additional kinase confers resistance. Together these data present PI3P as the key mediator of artemisinin resistance and the sole PfPI3K as an important target for malaria elimination.

Fellmeth G, Plugge E, Paw MK, Charunwatthana P, Nosten F, McGready R. 2015. Pregnant migrant and refugee women's perceptions of mental illness on the Thai-Myanmar border: a qualitative study. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 15 (1), pp. 93. | Citations: 6 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Mental illness is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease, with prevalence highest in low- and middle-income countries. Rates are high in women of childbearing age, especially during pregnancy and the first year post-partum. Migrant and refugee populations are at risk of developing mental illness due to the multiple stressors associated with migration. The Thai-Myanmar border area is home to large populations of migrants and refugees as a result of long-standing conflict, poverty and unemployment in Myanmar. This study aims to explore perceptions of mental illness among pregnant migrants and refugees and antenatal clinic staff living and working along the Thai-Myanmar border. METHODS: Thirteen focus group discussions were conducted with pregnant migrants, pregnant refugees and antenatal clinic staff. Focus groups were held in one large refugee camp and two migrant health clinics along the Thai-Myanmar border. Thematic analysis was used to identify and code themes emerging from the data. RESULTS: A total of 92 pregnant women and 24 antenatal clinic staff participated. Discussions centered around five main themes: symptoms of mental illness; causes of mental illness; suicide; mental illness during pregnancy and the post-partum period; and managing mental illness. Symptoms of mental illness included emotional disturbances, somatic symptoms and socially inappropriate behavior. The main causes were described as current economic and family-related difficulties. Suicide was frequently attributed to shame. Mental illness was thought to be more common during and following pregnancy due to a lack of family support and worries about the future. Talking to family and friends, medication and hospitalization were suggested as means of helping those suffering from mental illness. CONCLUSIONS: Mental illness was recognized as a concept by the majority of participants and there was a general willingness to discuss various aspects of it. More formal and systematic training including the development of assessment tools in the local languages would enable better ascertainment and treatment of mental illness in this population.

Stanley L, Min TH, Than HH, Stolbrink M, McGregor K, Chu C, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2015. A tool to improve competence in the management of emergency patients by rural clinic health workers: a pilot assessment on the Thai-Myanmar border. Confl Health, 9 (1), pp. 11. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Shoklo Malaria Research Unit has been providing health care in remote clinics on the Thai-Myanmar border to refugee and migrant populations since 1986 and 1995, respectively. Clinics are staffed by local health workers with a variety of training and experience. The need for a tool to improve the competence of local health workers in basic emergency assessment and management was recognised by medical faculty after observing the case mix seen at the clinic and reviewing the teaching programme that had been delivered in the past year (Jan-13 to March-14). AIMS: To pilot the development and evaluation of a simple teaching tool to improve competence in the assessment and management of acutely unwell patients by local health workers that can be delivered onsite with minimal resources. METHODS: A structured approach to common emergencies presenting to rural clinics and utilizing equipment available in the clinics was developed. A prospective repeated-measures observed structured clinical examination (OSCE) assessment design was used to score participants in their competence to assess and manage a scenario based 'emergency patient' at baseline, immediately post-course, and 8 weeks after the delivery of the teaching course. The assessment was conducted at 3 clinic sites and staff participation was voluntary. Participants filled out questionnaires on their confidence with different scenario based emergency patients. RESULTS: All staff who underwent the baseline assessment failed to carry out the essential steps in initial emergency assessment and management of an unconscious patient scenario. Following delivery of the teaching session, all groups showed improved competence in both objective assessment and subjective confidence levels. CONCLUSIONS: Structured and practical teaching and learning with minimal theory in this resource limited setting had a positive short-term effect on the competence of individual staff to carry out an initial assessment and manage an acutely unwell patient. Health-worker confidence likewise improved. Workplace assessments are needed to determine if this type of skills training impacts upon mortality or near miss mortality patients at the clinic.

Nosten F. 2015. Beriberi in Cambodia. Paediatr Int Child Health, 35 (4), pp. 2046905515Y0000000015. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Beriberi had plagued humans for centuries. It was responsible for over 50% of infant deaths in the Philippines in the early 1900s. But since the discovery of its cause and treatment it has become a rarity, or has it?

von Seidlein L, Dondorp A. 2015. Fighting fire with fire: mass antimalarial drug administrations in an era of antimalarial resistance. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther, 13 (6), pp. 715-730. | Citations: 42 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

The emergence and spread of antimalarial resistance has been a major liability for malaria control. The spread of chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum strains had catastrophic consequences for people in malaria-endemic regions, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The recent emergence of artemisinin-resistant P. falciparum strains is of highest concern. Current efforts to contain artemisinin resistance have yet to show success. In the absence of more promising plans, it has been suggested to eliminate falciparum malaria from foci of artemisinin resistance using a multipronged approach, including mass drug administrations. The use of mass drug administrations is controversial as it increases drug pressure. Based on current knowledge it is difficult to conceptualize how targeted malaria elimination could contribute to artemisinin resistance, provided a full treatment course is ensured.

Vongphoumy I, Dance DAB, Dittrich S, Logan J, Davong V, Rattanavong S, Blessmann J. 2015. Case report: Actinomycetoma caused by Nocardia aobensis from Lao PDR with favourable outcome after short-term antibiotic treatment. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (4), pp. e0003729. | Citations: 4 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Mycetoma is a neglected, chronic, localized, progressively destructive, granulomatous infection caused either by fungi (eumycetoma) or by aerobic actinomycetes (actinomycetoma). It is characterized by a triad of painless subcutaneous mass, multiple sinuses and discharge containing grains. Mycetoma commonly affects young men aged between 20 and 40 years with low socioeconomic status, particularly farmers and herdsmen. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: A 30 year-old male farmer from an ethnic minority in Phin District, Savannakhet Province, Lao PDR (Laos) developed a painless swelling with multiple draining sinuses of his right foot over a period of approximately 3 years. X-ray of the right foot showed osteolysis of tarsals and metatarsals. Aerobic culture of sinus discharge yielded large numbers of Staphylococcus aureus and a slow growing Gram-positive rod. The organism was subsequently identified as Nocardia aobensis by 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing. The patient received antimicrobial treatment with amikacin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole according to consensus treatment guidelines. Although slight improvement was noted the patient left the hospital after 14 days and did not take any more antibiotics. Over the following 22 weeks the swelling of his foot subsequently diminished together with healing of discharging sinuses. CONCLUSION: This is the first published case of Actinomycetoma caused by Nocardia aobensis and the second case of Actinomycetoma from Laos. A treatment course of only 14 days with amikacin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole was apparently sufficient to cure the infection, although long-term treatment up to one year is currently recommended. Treatment trials or prospective descriptions of outcome for actinomycetoma should investigate treatment efficacy for the different members of Actinomycetales, particularly Nocardia spp., with short-term and long-term treatment courses.

Cooper BS, Boni MF, Pan-ngum W, Day NPJ, Horby PW, Olliaro P, Lang T, White NJ, White LJ, Whitehead J. 2015. Evaluating clinical trial designs for investigational treatments of Ebola virus disease. PLoS Med, 12 (4), pp. e1001815. | Citations: 39 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Experimental treatments for Ebola virus disease (EVD) might reduce EVD mortality. There is uncertainty about the ability of different clinical trial designs to identify effective treatments, and about the feasibility of implementing individually randomised controlled trials during an Ebola epidemic. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A treatment evaluation programme for use in EVD was devised using a multi-stage approach (MSA) with two or three stages, including both non-randomised and randomised elements. The probabilities of rightly or wrongly recommending the experimental treatment, the required sample size, and the consequences for epidemic outcomes over 100 d under two epidemic scenarios were compared for the MSA, a sequential randomised controlled trial (SRCT) with up to 20 interim analyses, and, as a reference case, a conventional randomised controlled trial (RCT) without interim analyses. Assuming 50% 14-d survival in the population treated with the current standard of supportive care, all designs had similar probabilities of identifying effective treatments correctly, while the MSA was less likely to recommend treatments that were ineffective. The MSA led to a smaller number of cases receiving ineffective treatments and faster roll-out of highly effective treatments. For less effective treatments, the MSA had a high probability of including an RCT component, leading to a somewhat longer time to roll-out or rejection. Assuming 100 new EVD cases per day, the MSA led to between 6% and 15% greater reductions in epidemic mortality over the first 100 d for highly effective treatments compared to the SRCT. Both the MSA and SRCT led to substantially fewer deaths than a conventional RCT if the tested interventions were either highly effective or harmful. In the proposed MSA, the major threat to the validity of the results of the non-randomised components is that referral patterns, standard of care, or the virus itself may change during the study period in ways that affect mortality. Adverse events are also harder to quantify without a concurrent control group. CONCLUSIONS: The MSA discards ineffective treatments quickly, while reliably providing evidence concerning effective treatments. The MSA is appropriate for the clinical evaluation of EVD treatments.

White LJ, Flegg JA, Phyo AP, Wiladpai-ngern JH, Bethell D, Plowe C, Anderson T, Nkhoma S, Nair S, Tripura R et al. 2015. Defining the in vivo phenotype of artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria: a modelling approach. PLoS Med, 12 (4), pp. e1001823. | Citations: 17 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria has emerged in Southeast Asia, posing a major threat to malaria control. It is characterised by delayed asexual-stage parasite clearance, which is the reference comparator for the molecular marker 'Kelch 13' and in vitro sensitivity tests. However, current cut-off values denoting slow clearance based on the proportion of individuals remaining parasitaemic on the third day of treatment ('day-3'), or on peripheral blood parasite half-life, are not well supported. We here explore the parasite clearance distributions in an area of artemisinin resistance with the aim refining the in vivo phenotypic definitions. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Data from 1,518 patients on the Thai-Myanmar and Thai-Cambodian borders with parasite half-life assessments after artesunate treatment were analysed. Half-lives followed a bimodal distribution. A statistical approach was developed to infer the characteristics of the component distributions and their relative contribution to the composite mixture. A model representing two parasite subpopulations with geometric mean (IQR) parasite half-lives of 3.0 (2.4-3.9) hours and 6.50 (5.7-7.4) hours was consistent with the data. For individual patients, the parasite half-life provided a predicted likelihood of an artemisinin-resistant infection which depends on the population prevalence of resistance in that area. Consequently, a half-life where the probability is 0.5 varied between 3.5 and 5.5 hours. Using this model, the current 'day-3' cut-off value of 10% predicts the potential presence of artemisinin-resistant infections in most but not all scenarios. These findings are relevant to the low-transmission setting of Southeast Asia. Generalisation to a high transmission setting as in regions of Sub-Saharan Africa will need additional evaluation. CONCLUSIONS: Characterisation of overlapping distributions of parasite half-lives provides quantitative insight into the relationship between parasite clearance and artemisinin resistance, as well as the predictive value of the 10% cut-off in 'day-3' parasitaemia. The findings are important for the interpretation of in vitro sensitivity tests and molecular markers for artemisinin resistance and for contextualising the 'day 3' threshold to account for initial parasitaemia and sample size.

Dogovski C, Xie SC, Burgio G, Bridgford J, Mok S, McCaw JM, Chotivanich K, Kenny S, Gnädig N, Straimer J et al. 2015. Targeting the cell stress response of Plasmodium falciparum to overcome artemisinin resistance. PLoS Biol, 13 (4), pp. e1002132. | Citations: 100 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Successful control of falciparum malaria depends greatly on treatment with artemisinin combination therapies. Thus, reports that resistance to artemisinins (ARTs) has emerged, and that the prevalence of this resistance is increasing, are alarming. ART resistance has recently been linked to mutations in the K13 propeller protein. We undertook a detailed kinetic analysis of the drug responses of K13 wild-type and mutant isolates of Plasmodium falciparum sourced from a region in Cambodia (Pailin). We demonstrate that ART treatment induces growth retardation and an accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins, indicative of a cellular stress response that engages the ubiquitin/proteasome system. We show that resistant parasites exhibit lower levels of ubiquitinated proteins and delayed onset of cell death, indicating an enhanced cell stress response. We found that the stress response can be targeted by inhibiting the proteasome. Accordingly, clinically used proteasome inhibitors strongly synergize ART activity against both sensitive and resistant parasites, including isogenic lines expressing mutant or wild-type K13. Synergy is also observed against Plasmodium berghei in vivo. We developed a detailed model of parasite responses that enables us to infer, for the first time, in vivo parasite clearance profiles from in vitro assessments of ART sensitivity. We provide evidence that the clinical marker of resistance (delayed parasite clearance) is an indirect measure of drug efficacy because of the persistence of unviable parasites with unchanged morphology in the circulation, and we suggest alternative approaches for the direct measurement of viability. Our model predicts that extending current three-day ART treatment courses to four days, or splitting the doses, will efficiently clear resistant parasite infections. This work provides a rationale for improving the detection of ART resistance in the field and for treatment strategies that can be employed in areas with ART resistance.

Quet F, Vlieghe E, Leyer C, Buisson Y, Newton PN, Naphayvong P, Keoluangkhot V, Chomarat M, Longuet C, Steenkeste N, Jacobs J. 2015. Antibiotic prescription behaviours in Lao People's Democratic Republic: a knowledge, attitude and practice survey. Bull World Health Organ, 93 (4), pp. 219-227. | Citations: 14 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To assess the antibiotic prescribing practices of doctors working in the Lao People's Democratic Republic and their knowledge of local antibiotic resistance patterns. METHODS: Doctors attending morning meetings in 25 public hospitals in four provinces were asked to complete a knowledge, attitude and practice survey. The questionnaire contained 43 multiple choice questions that the doctor answered at the time of the meeting. FINDINGS: The response rate was 83.4% (386/463). Two hundred and seventy doctors (59.8%) declared that they had insufficient information about antibiotics. Only 14.0% (54/386) recognized the possibility of cephalosporin cross-resistance in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Most participants had no information about local antibiotic resistance for Salmonella Typhi (211/385, 54.8%) and hospital-acquired pneumonia (253/384, 65.9%). Unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions were considered as harmless by 115 participants and 148 considered locally-available generic antibiotics to be of poor quality. Nearly three-quarters (280/386) of participants agreed that it was difficult to select the correct antibiotics. Most participants (373/386) welcomed educational programmes on antibiotic prescribing and 65.0% (249/383) preferred local over international antibiotic guidelines. CONCLUSION: Doctors in the Lao People's Democratic Republic seem to favour antibiotic prescribing interventions. Health authorities should consider a capacity building programme that incorporates antibiotic prescribing and hospital infection control.

WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) AS-AQ Study Group, Adjuik MA, Allan R, Anvikar AR, Ashley EA, Ba MS, Barennes H, Barnes KI, Bassat Q, Baudin E et al. 2015. The effect of dosing strategies on the therapeutic efficacy of artesunate-amodiaquine for uncomplicated malaria: a meta-analysis of individual patient data. BMC Med, 13 (1), pp. 66. | Citations: 18 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artesunate-amodiaquine (AS-AQ) is one of the most widely used artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) to treat uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Africa. We investigated the impact of different dosing strategies on the efficacy of this combination for the treatment of falciparum malaria. METHODS: Individual patient data from AS-AQ clinical trials were pooled using the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) standardised methodology. Risk factors for treatment failure were identified using a Cox regression model with shared frailty across study sites. RESULTS: Forty-three studies representing 9,106 treatments from 1999-2012 were included in the analysis; 4,138 (45.4%) treatments were with a fixed dose combination with an AQ target dose of 30 mg/kg (FDC), 1,293 (14.2%) with a non-fixed dose combination with an AQ target dose of 25 mg/kg (loose NFDC-25), 2,418 (26.6%) with a non-fixed dose combination with an AQ target dose of 30 mg/kg (loose NFDC-30), and the remaining 1,257 (13.8%) with a co-blistered non-fixed dose combination with an AQ target dose of 30 mg/kg (co-blistered NFDC). The median dose of AQ administered was 32.1 mg/kg [IQR: 25.9-38.2], the highest dose being administered to patients treated with co-blistered NFDC (median = 35.3 mg/kg [IQR: 30.6-43.7]) and the lowest to those treated with loose NFDC-25 (median = 25.0 mg/kg [IQR: 22.7-25.0]). Patients treated with FDC received a median dose of 32.4 mg/kg [IQR: 27-39.0]. After adjusting for reinfections, the corrected antimalarial efficacy on day 28 after treatment was similar for co-blistered NFDC (97.9% [95% confidence interval (CI): 97.0-98.8%]) and FDC (98.1% [95% CI: 97.6%-98.5%]; P = 0.799), but significantly lower for the loose NFDC-25 (93.4% [95% CI: 91.9%-94.9%]), and loose NFDC-30 (95.0% [95% CI: 94.1%-95.9%]) (P < 0.001 for all comparisons). After controlling for age, AQ dose, baseline parasitemia and region; treatment with loose NFDC-25 was associated with a 3.5-fold greater risk of recrudescence by day 28 (adjusted hazard ratio, AHR = 3.51 [95% CI: 2.02-6.12], P < 0.001) compared to FDC, and treatment with loose NFDC-30 was associated with a higher risk of recrudescence at only three sites. CONCLUSIONS: There was substantial variation in the total dose of amodiaquine administered in different AS-AQ combination regimens. Fixed dose AS-AQ combinations ensure optimal dosing and provide higher antimalarial treatment efficacy than the loose individual tablets in all age categories.

Knappik M, Dance DAB, Rattanavong S, Pierret A, Ribolzi O, Davong V, Silisouk J, Vongsouvath M, Newton PN, Dittrich S. 2015. Evaluation of Molecular Methods To Improve the Detection of Burkholderia pseudomallei in Soil and Water Samples from Laos. Appl Environ Microbiol, 81 (11), pp. 3722-3727. | Citations: 12 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Burkholderia pseudomallei is the cause of melioidosis, a severe and potentially fatal disease of humans and animals. It is endemic in northern Australia and Southeast Asia and is found in soil and surface water. The environmental distribution of B. pseudomallei worldwide and within countries where it is endemic, such as the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos), remains unclear. However, this knowledge is important to our understanding of the ecology and epidemiology of B. pseudomallei and to facilitate public health interventions. Sensitive and specific methods to detect B. pseudomallei in environmental samples are therefore needed. The aim of this study was to compare molecular and culture-based methods for the detection of B. pseudomallei in soil and surface water in order to identify the optimal approach for future environmental studies in Laos. Molecular detection by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) was attempted after DNA extraction directly from soil or water samples or after an overnight enrichment step. The positivity rates obtained by qPCR were compared to those obtained by different culture techniques. The rate of detection from soil samples by qPCR following culture enrichment was significantly higher (84/100) than that by individual culture methods and all culture methods combined (44/100; P < 0.001). Similarly, qPCR following enrichment was the most sensitive method for filtered river water compared with the sensitivity of the individual methods and all individual methods combined. In conclusion, molecular detection following an enrichment step has proven to be a sensitive and reliable approach for B. pseudomallei detection in Lao environmental samples and is recommended as the preferred method for future surveys.

Chansrichavala P, Wongsuwan N, Suddee S, Malasit M, Hongsuwan M, Wannapinij P, Kitphati R, Day NPJ, Michie S, Peacock SJ, Limmathurotsakul D. 2015. Public awareness of melioidosis in Thailand and potential use of video clips as educational tools. PLoS One, 10 (3), pp. e0121311. | Citations: 10 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Melioidosis causes more than 1,000 deaths in Thailand each year. Infection occurs via inoculation, ingestion or inhalation of the causative organism (Burkholderia pseuodmallei) present in soil and water. Here, we evaluated public awareness of melioidosis using a combination of population-based questionnaire, a public engagement campaign to obtain video clips made by the public, and viewpoints on these video clips as potential educational tools about the disease and its prevention. METHODS: A questionnaire was developed to evaluate public awareness of melioidosis, and knowledge about its prevention. From 1 March to 31 April 2012, the questionnaire was delivered to five randomly selected adults in each of 928 districts in Thailand. A video clip contest entitled "Melioidosis, an infectious disease that Thais must know" was run between May and October 2012. The best 12 video clips judged by a contest committee were shown to 71 people at risk from melioidosis (diabetics). Focus group interviews were used to evaluate their perceptions of the video clips. RESULTS: Of 4,203 Thais who completed our study questionnaire, 74% had never heard of melioidosis, and 19% had heard of the disease but had no further knowledge. Most participants in all focus group sessions felt that video clips were beneficial and could positively influence them to increase adherence to recommended preventive behaviours, including drinking boiled water and wearing protective gear if in contact with soil or environmental water. Participants suggested that video clips should be presented in the local dialect with simple words rather than medical terms, in a serious manner, with a doctor as the one presenting the facts, and having detailed pictures of each recommended prevention method. CONCLUSIONS: In summary, public awareness of melioidosis in Thailand is very low, and video clips could serve as a useful medium to educate people and promote disease prevention. PRESENTED IN PART: World Melioidosis Congress 2013, Bangkok, Thailand, 18-20 September 2013 (abstract OS VII-04).

Beeson JG, Chu CS, Richards JS, Nosten F, Fowkes FJI. 2015. Plasmodium vivax malaria: challenges in diagnosis, treatment and elimination. Pediatr Infect Dis J, 34 (5), pp. 529-531. | Citations: 6 (Scopus) | Read more

Okello AL, Burniston S, Conlan JV, Inthavong P, Khamlome B, Welburn SC, Gilbert J, Allen J, Blacksell SD. 2015. Prevalence of Endemic Pig-Associated Zoonoses in Southeast Asia: A Review of Findings from the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 92 (5), pp. 1059-1066. | Citations: 8 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The increasing intensification of pork production in southeast Asia necessitates an urgent requirement to better understand the dual impact of pig-associated zoonotic disease on both pig production and human health in the region. Sharing porous borders with five countries and representing many regional ethnicities and agricultural practices, the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) appears well placed to gauge the levels of pig-associated zoonoses circulating in the wider region. Despite this, little is known about the true impact of zoonotic pathogens such as leptospirosis, Trichinella, hepatitis E virus (HEV), Japanese encephalitis (JE), and Taenia solium on human health and livestock production in the country. A comprehensive review of the published prevalences of these five pig-associated zoonoses in Lao PDR has demonstrated that although suspicion remains high of their existence in pig reservoirs across the country, epidemiological data are scarce; only 31 epidemiological studies have been undertaken on these diseases in the past 25 years. A greater understanding of the zoonoses prevalence and subsequent risks associated with pork production in the southeast Asian region could help focus public health and food safety interventions at key points along the value chain, benefiting both livestock producers and the broader animal and human health systems in the region.

Ferguson NM, Kien DTH, Clapham H, Aguas R, Trung VT, Chau TNB, Popovici J, Ryan PA, O'Neill SL, McGraw EA et al. 2015. Modeling the impact on virus transmission of Wolbachia-mediated blocking of dengue virus infection of Aedes aegypti. Sci Transl Med, 7 (279), pp. 279ra37. | Citations: 81 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Dengue is the most common arboviral infection of humans and is a public health burden in more than 100 countries. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes stably infected with strains of the intracellular bacterium Wolbachia are resistant to dengue virus (DENV) infection and are being tested in field trials. To mimic field conditions, we experimentally assessed the vector competence of A. aegypti carrying the Wolbachia strains wMel and wMelPop after challenge with viremic blood from dengue patients. We found that wMelPop conferred strong resistance to DENV infection of mosquito abdomen tissue and largely prevented disseminated infection. wMel conferred less resistance to infection of mosquito abdomen tissue, but it did reduce the prevalence of mosquitoes with infectious saliva. A mathematical model of DENV transmission incorporating the dynamics of viral infection in humans and mosquitoes was fitted to the data collected. Model predictions suggested that wMel would reduce the basic reproduction number, R0, of DENV transmission by 66 to 75%. Our results suggest that establishment of wMelPop-infected A. aegypti at a high frequency in a dengue-endemic setting would result in the complete abatement of DENV transmission. Establishment of wMel-infected A. aegypti is also predicted to have a substantial effect on transmission that would be sufficient to eliminate dengue in low or moderate transmission settings but may be insufficient to achieve complete control in settings where R0 is high. These findings develop a framework for selecting Wolbachia strains for field releases and for calculating their likely impact.

Suwanpakdee S, Kaewkungwal J, White LJ, Asensio N, Ratanakorn P, Singhasivanon P, Day NPJ, Pan-Ngum W. 2015. Spatio-temporal patterns of leptospirosis in Thailand: is flooding a risk factor? Epidemiol Infect, 143 (10), pp. 2106-2115. | Citations: 8 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

We studied the temporal and spatial patterns of leptospirosis, its association with flooding and animal census data in Thailand. Flood data from 2010 to 2012 were extracted from spatial information taken from satellite images. The incidence rate ratio (IRR) was used to determine the relationship between spatio-temporal flooding patterns and the number of human leptospirosis cases. In addition, the area of flood coverage, duration of waterlogging, time lags between flood events, and a number of potential animal reservoirs were considered in a sub-analysis. There was no significant temporal trend of leptospirosis over the study period. Statistical analysis showed an inconsistent relationship between IRR and flooding across years and regions. Spatially, leptospirosis occurred repeatedly and predominantly in northeastern Thailand. Our findings suggest that flooding is less influential in leptospirosis transmission than previously assumed. High incidence of the disease in the northeastern region is explained by the fact that agriculture and animal farming are important economic activities in this area. The periodic rise and fall of reported leptospirosis cases over time might be explained by seasonal exposure from rice farming activities performed during the rainy season when flood events often occur. We conclude that leptospirosis remains an occupational disease in Thailand.

Nic Fhogartaigh C, Dance DAB, Davong V, Tann P, Phetsouvanh R, Turner P, Dittrich S, Newton PN. 2015. A novel technique for detecting antibiotic-resistant typhoid from rapid diagnostic tests. J Clin Microbiol, 53 (5), pp. 1758-1760. | Citations: 3 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Fluoroquinolone-resistant typhoid is increasing. An antigen-detecting rapid diagnostic test (RDT) can rapidly diagnose typhoid from blood cultures. A simple, inexpensive molecular technique performed with DNA from positive RDTs accurately identified gyrA mutations consistent with phenotypic susceptibility testing results. Field diagnosis combined with centralized molecular resistance testing could improve typhoid management and surveillance in low-resource settings.

Ngamdee W, Tandhavanant S, Wikraiphat C, Reamtong O, Wuthiekanun V, Salje J, Low DA, Peacock SJ, Chantratita N. 2015. Competition between Burkholderia pseudomallei and B. thailandensis. BMC Microbiol, 15 pp. 56. | Citations: 10 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Burkholderia pseudomallei is a Gram-negative bacterium that causes melioidosis, an often fatal disease in tropical countries. Burkholderia thailandensis is a non-virulent but closely related species. Both species are soil saprophytes but are almost never isolated together. RESULTS: We identified two mechanisms by which B. pseudomallei affects the growth of B. thailandensis. First, we found that six different isolates of B. pseudomallei inhibited the growth of B. thailandensis on LB agar plates. Second, our results indicated that 55% of isolated strains of B. pseudomallei produced a secreted compound that inhibited the motility but not the viability of B. thailandensis. Analysis showed that the active compound was a pH-sensitive and heat-labile compound, likely a protein, which may affect flagella processing or facilitate their degradation. Analysis of bacterial sequence types (STs) demonstrated an association between this and motility inhibition. The active compound was produced from B. pseudomallei during the stationary growth phase. CONCLUSION: Taken together, our results indicate that B. pseudomallei inhibits both the growth and motility of its close relative B. thailandensis. The latter phenomenon appears to occur via a previously unreported mechanism involving flagellar processing or degradation.

Parry CM, Thieu NTV, Dolecek C, Karkey A, Gupta R, Turner P, Dance D, Maude RR, Ha V, Tran CN et al. 2015. Clinically and microbiologically derived azithromycin susceptibility breakpoints for Salmonella enterica serovars Typhi and Paratyphi A. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 59 (5), pp. 2756-2764. | Citations: 19 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Azithromycin is an effective treatment for uncomplicated infections with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi and serovar Paratyphi A (enteric fever), but there are no clinically validated MIC and disk zone size interpretative guidelines. We studied individual patient data from three randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of antimicrobial treatment in enteric fever in Vietnam, with azithromycin used in one treatment arm, to determine the relationship between azithromycin treatment response and the azithromycin MIC of the infecting isolate. We additionally compared the azithromycin MIC and the disk susceptibility zone sizes of 1,640 S. Typhi and S. Paratyphi A clinical isolates collected from seven Asian countries. In the RCTs, 214 patients who were treated with azithromycin at a dose of 10 to 20 mg/ml for 5 to 7 days were analyzed. Treatment was successful in 195 of 214 (91%) patients, with no significant difference in response (cure rate, fever clearance time) with MICs ranging from 4 to 16 μg/ml. The proportion of Asian enteric fever isolates with an MIC of ≤ 16 μg/ml was 1,452/1,460 (99.5%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 98.9 to 99.7) for S. Typhi and 207/240 (86.3%; 95% CI, 81.2 to 90.3) (P < 0.001) for S. Paratyphi A. A zone size of ≥ 13 mm to a 5-μg azithromycin disk identified S. Typhi isolates with an MIC of ≤ 16 μg/ml with a sensitivity of 99.7%. An azithromycin MIC of ≤ 16 μg/ml or disk inhibition zone size of ≥ 13 mm enabled the detection of susceptible S. Typhi isolates that respond to azithromycin treatment. Further work is needed to define the response to treatment in S. Typhi isolates with an azithromycin MIC of >16 μg/ml and to determine MIC and disk breakpoints for S. Paratyphi A.

Sambol NC, Yan L, Creek DJ, McCormack SA, Arinaitwe E, Bigira V, Wanzira H, Kakuru A, Tappero JW, Lindegardh N et al. 2015. Population Pharmacokinetics of Piperaquine in Young Ugandan Children Treated With Dihydroartemisinin-Piperaquine for Uncomplicated Malaria. Clin Pharmacol Ther, 98 (1), pp. 87-95. | Citations: 8 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

This prospective trial investigated the population pharmacokinetics of piperaquine given with dihydroartemisinin to treat uncomplicated malaria in 107 Ugandan children 6 months to 2 years old, an age group previously unstudied. Current weight-based dosing does not adequately address physiological changes in early childhood. Patients were administered standard 3-day oral doses and provided 1,282 capillary plasma concentrations from 218 malaria episodes. Less than 30% of treatments achieved 57 ng/mL on day 7. A three-compartment model with first-order absorption described the data well. Age had a statistically significant effect (P < 0.005) on clearance/bioavailability in a model that accounts for allometric scaling. Simulations demonstrated that higher doses in all children, but especially in those with lower weight for age, are required for adequate piperaquine exposure, although safety and tolerance will need to be established. These findings support other evidence that both weight- and age-specific guidelines for piperaquine dosing in children are urgently needed.

Burniston S, Okello AL, Khamlome B, Inthavong P, Gilbert J, Blacksell SD, Allen J, Welburn SC. 2015. Cultural drivers and health-seeking behaviours that impact on the transmission of pig-associated zoonoses in Lao People's Democratic Republic. Infect Dis Poverty, 4 (1), pp. 11. | Citations: 10 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Pig rearing is an important income source in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR), with many smallholder farmers using traditional free-range pig production systems. Despite the potentially significant health risks posed by pig production regarding pig-associated zoonoses, information on the sociocultural drivers of these zoonoses is significantly lacking. This review summarises the existing sociocultural knowledge on eight pig-associated zoonoses suspected to be endemic in Southeast Asia: brucellosis, Q fever (Coxiella burnetii), trichinellosis, hepatitis E virus, leptospirosis, Japanese encephalitis, Streptococcus suis and Taenia solium taeniasis-cysticercosis. It summarises current knowledge on these diseases grouped according to their clinical manifestations in humans to highlight the propensity for underreporting. A literature search was conducted across multiple databases for publications from 1990 to the present day related to the eight pig-associated zoonoses and the risk and impact connected with them, with Lao PDR as a case study. Many of these pig-associated zoonoses have similar presentations and are often diagnosed as clinical syndromes. Misdiagnosis and underreporting are, therefore, substantial and emphasise the need for more robust diagnostics and appropriate surveillance systems. While some reports exist in other countries in the region, information is significantly lacking in Lao PDR with existing information coming mainly from the capital, Vientiane. The disease burden imposed by these zoonoses is not only characterised by morbidity and mortality, but directly impacts on livelihoods through income reduction and production losses, and indirectly through treatment costs and lost work opportunities. Other factors crucial to understanding and controlling these diseases are the influence of ethnicity and culture on food-consumption practices, pig rearing and slaughter practices, hygiene and sanitation, health-seeking behaviours and, therefore, risk factors for disease transmission. Published information on the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of people regarding pig zoonoses and their risk factors is also extremely limited in Lao PDR and the broader Southeast Asian region. The need for more transdisciplinary research, using a One Health approach, in order to understand the underlining social determinants of health and their impacts on health-seeking behaviours, disease transmission and, ultimately, disease reporting, cannot be more emphasized.

Yeo TW, Lampah DA, Kenangalem E, Tjitra E, Price RN, Weinberg JB, Hyland K, Granger DL, Anstey NM. 2015. Impaired systemic tetrahydrobiopterin bioavailability and increased dihydrobiopterin in adult falciparum malaria: association with disease severity, impaired microvascular function and increased endothelial activation. PLoS Pathog, 11 (3), pp. e1004667. | Citations: 16 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Tetrahydrobiopterin (BH₄) is a co-factor required for catalytic activity of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and amino acid-monooxygenases, including phenylalanine hydroxylase. BH4 is unstable: during oxidative stress it is non-enzymatically oxidized to dihydrobiopterin (BH₂), which inhibits NOS. Depending on BH₄ availability, NOS oscillates between NO synthase and NADPH oxidase: as the BH₄/BH₂ ratio decreases, NO production falls and is replaced by superoxide. In African children and Asian adults with severe malaria, NO bioavailability decreases and plasma phenylalanine increases, together suggesting possible BH₄ deficiency. The primary three biopterin metabolites (BH₄, BH₂ and B₀ [biopterin]) and their association with disease severity have not been assessed in falciparum malaria. We measured pterin metabolites in urine of adults with severe falciparum malaria (SM; n=12), moderately-severe malaria (MSM, n=17), severe sepsis (SS; n=5) and healthy subjects (HC; n=20) as controls. In SM, urinary BH₄ was decreased (median 0.16 ¼mol/mmol creatinine) compared to MSM (median 0.27), SS (median 0.54), and HC (median 0.34)]; p<0.001. Conversely, BH₂ was increased in SM (median 0.91 ¼mol/mmol creatinine), compared to MSM (median 0.67), SS (median 0.39), and HC (median 0.52); p<0.001, suggesting increased oxidative stress and insufficient recycling of BH2 back to BH4 in severe malaria. Overall, the median BH₄/BH₂ ratio was lowest in SM [0.18 (IQR: 0.04-0.32)] compared to MSM (0.45, IQR 0.27-61), SS (1.03; IQR 0.54-2.38) and controls (0.66; IQR 0.43-1.07); p<0.001. In malaria, a lower BH₄/BH₂ ratio correlated with decreased microvascular reactivity (r=0.41; p=0.03) and increased ICAM-1 (r=-0.52; p=0.005). Decreased BH4 and increased BH₂ in severe malaria (but not in severe sepsis) uncouples NOS, leading to impaired NO bioavailability and potentially increased oxidative stress. Adjunctive therapy to regenerate BH4 may have a role in improving NO bioavailability and microvascular perfusion in severe falciparum malaria.

Adekunle AI, Pinkevych M, McGready R, Luxemburger C, White LJ, Nosten F, Cromer D, Davenport MP. 2015. Modeling the dynamics of Plasmodium vivax infection and hypnozoite reactivation in vivo. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (3), pp. e0003595. | Citations: 23 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The dynamics of Plasmodium vivax infection is characterized by reactivation of hypnozoites at varying time intervals. The relative contribution of new P. vivax infection and reactivation of dormant liver stage hypnozoites to initiation of blood stage infection is unclear. In this study, we investigate the contribution of new inoculations of P. vivax sporozoites to primary infection versus reactivation of hypnozoites by modeling the dynamics of P. vivax infection in Thailand in patients receiving treatment for either blood stage infection alone (chloroquine), or the blood and liver stages of infection (chloroquine + primaquine). In addition, we also analysed rates of infection in a study in Papua New Guinea (PNG) where patients were treated with either artesunate, or artesunate + primaquine. Our results show that up to 96% of the P. vivax infection is due to hypnozoite reactivation in individuals living in endemic areas in Thailand. Similar analysis revealed the around 70% of infections in the PNG cohort were due to hypnozoite reactivation. We show how the age of the cohort, primaquine drug failure, and seasonality may affect estimates of the ratio of primary P. vivax infection to hypnozoite reactivation. Modeling of P. vivax primary infection and hypnozoite reactivation provides important insights into infection dynamics, and suggests that 90-96% of blood stage infections arise from hypnozoite reactivation. Major differences in infection kinetics between Thailand and PNG suggest the likelihood of drug failure in PNG.

Lee AS, Pan A, Harbarth S, Patroni A, Chalfine A, Daikos GL, Garilli S, Martínez JA, Cooper BS, MOSAR-04 Study Team. 2015. Variable performance of models for predicting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus carriage in European surgical wards. BMC Infect Dis, 15 (1), pp. 105. | Citations: 3 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Predictive models to identify unknown methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) carriage on admission may optimise targeted MRSA screening and efficient use of resources. However, common approaches to model selection can result in overconfident estimates and poor predictive performance. We aimed to compare the performance of various models to predict previously unknown MRSA carriage on admission to surgical wards. METHODS: The study analysed data collected during a prospective cohort study which enrolled consecutive adult patients admitted to 13 surgical wards in 4 European hospitals. The participating hospitals were located in Athens (Greece), Barcelona (Spain), Cremona (Italy) and Paris (France). Universal admission MRSA screening was performed in the surgical wards. Data regarding demographic characteristics and potential risk factors for MRSA carriage were prospectively collected during the study period. Four logistic regression models were used to predict probabilities of unknown MRSA carriage using risk factor data: "Stepwise" (variables selected by backward elimination); "Best BMA" (model with highest posterior probability using Bayesian model averaging which accounts for uncertainty in model choice); "BMA" (average of all models selected with BMA); and "Simple" (model including variables selected >50% of the time by both Stepwise and BMA approaches applied to repeated random sub-samples of 50% of the data). To assess model performance, cross-validation against data not used for model fitting was conducted and net reclassification improvement (NRI) was calculated. RESULTS: Of 2,901 patients enrolled, 111 (3.8%) were newly identified MRSA carriers. Recent hospitalisation and presence of a wound/ulcer were significantly associated with MRSA carriage in all models. While all models demonstrated limited predictive ability (mean c-statistics <0.7) the Simple model consistently detected more MRSA-positive individuals despite screening fewer patients than the Stepwise model. Moreover, the Simple model improved reclassification of patients into appropriate risk strata compared with the Stepwise model (NRI 6.6%, P = .07). CONCLUSIONS: Though commonly used, models developed using stepwise variable selection can have relatively poor predictive value. When developing MRSA risk indices, simpler models, which account for uncertainty in model selection, may better stratify patients' risk of unknown MRSA carriage.

Blok DC, Kager LM, Hoogendijk AJ, Lede IO, Rahman W, Afroz R, Bresser P, van der Zee JS, Ghose A, Visser CE et al. 2015. Expression of inhibitory regulators of innate immunity in patients with active tuberculosis. BMC Infect Dis, 15 (1), pp. 98. | Citations: 6 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis (TB) is an important cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Toll-like-receptors (TLRs) are important for the recognition of the causative agent Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Negative regulation of TLRs is necessary to control deleterious inflammatory damage, but could provide a means of immune evasion by M. tuberculosis as well. METHODS: To obtain insight in the extent of expression of inhibitory regulators of immunity in patients with active TB, peripheral-blood-mononuclear-cells (PBMCs) and plasma were obtained from 54 TB patients and 29 healthy blood donors from Chittagong, Bangladesh. Bilateral alveolar macrophages were obtained from an infected versus a contralateral normal lung segment of 9 patients. Statistical analyses were performed using Mann-Whitney U and Wilcoxon matched pairs testing. Correlations were calculated using the Spearman rho test. RESULTS: PBMCs harvested from TB patients demonstrated increased mRNA expression of IL-1-receptor-associated-kinase-M, suppressor-of-cytokine-signalling-3 and Toll-interacting-protein. Flow cytometry revealed enhanced expression of IL-1-receptor-like-1 (ST2) on lymphocytes. Plasma soluble ST2 was elevated in patients with TB and correlated with established TB biomarkers, most strongly with soluble interleukin-2 receptor subunit α and interleukin-8. Alveolar macrophage mRNA expression of negative TLR regulators did not differ between the infected and contralateral lung side. CONCLUSION: These results show enhanced expression of distinct negative regulators of innate immunity in PBMCs of patients with TB and identify plasma soluble ST2 as a potential novel biomarker for TB disease activity.

Newton PN, Schellenberg D, Ashley EA, Ravinetto R, Green MD, ter Kuile FO, Tabernero P, White NJ, Guerin PJ. 2015. Quality assurance of drugs used in clinical trials: proposal for adapting guidelines. BMJ, 350 (feb25 10), pp. h602. | Citations: 12 (Scopus) | Read more

Tun KM, Imwong M, Lwin KM, Win AA, Hlaing TM, Hlaing T, Lin K, Kyaw MP, Plewes K, Faiz MA et al. 2015. Spread of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Myanmar: a cross-sectional survey of the K13 molecular marker. Lancet Infect Dis, 15 (4), pp. 415-421. | Citations: 219 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Emergence of artemisinin resistance in southeast Asia poses a serious threat to the global control of Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Discovery of the K13 marker has transformed approaches to the monitoring of artemisinin resistance, allowing introduction of molecular surveillance in remote areas through analysis of DNA. We aimed to assess the spread of artemisinin-resistant P falciparum in Myanmar by determining the relative prevalence of P falciparum parasites carrying K13-propeller mutations. METHODS: We did this cross-sectional survey at malaria treatment centres at 55 sites in ten administrative regions in Myanmar, and in relevant border regions in Thailand and Bangladesh, between January, 2013, and September, 2014. K13 sequences from P falciparum infections were obtained mainly by passive case detection. We entered data into two geostatistical models to produce predictive maps of the estimated prevalence of mutations of the K13 propeller region across Myanmar. FINDINGS: Overall, 371 (39%) of 940 samples carried a K13-propeller mutation. We recorded 26 different mutations, including nine mutations not described previously in southeast Asia. In seven (70%) of the ten administrative regions of Myanmar, the combined K13-mutation prevalence was more than 20%. Geospatial mapping showed that the overall prevalence of K13 mutations exceeded 10% in much of the east and north of the country. In Homalin, Sagaing Region, 25 km from the Indian border, 21 (47%) of 45 parasite samples carried K13-propeller mutations. INTERPRETATION: Artemisinin resistance extends across much of Myanmar. We recorded P falciparum parasites carrying K13-propeller mutations at high prevalence next to the northwestern border with India. Appropriate therapeutic regimens should be tested urgently and implemented comprehensively if spread of artemisinin resistance to other regions is to be avoided. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust-Mahidol University-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Programme and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Mishra N, Prajapati SK, Kaitholia K, Bharti RS, Srivastava B, Phookan S, Anvikar AR, Dev V, Sonal GS, Dhariwal AC et al. 2015. Surveillance of artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum in India using the kelch13 molecular marker. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 59 (5), pp. 2548-2553. | Citations: 24 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria treatment in Southeast Asia is threatened with the emergence of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum. Genome association studies have strongly linked a locus on P. falciparum chromosome 13 to artemisinin resistance, and recently, mutations in the kelch13 propeller region (Pfk-13) were strongly linked to resistance. To date, this information has not been shown in Indian samples. Pfk-13 mutations were assessed in samples from efficacy studies of artemisinin combination treatments in India. Samples were PCR amplified and sequenced from codon 427 to 727. Out of 384 samples, nonsynonymous mutations in the propeller region were found in four patients from the northeastern states, but their presence did not correlate with ACT treatment failures. This is the first report of Pfk-13 point mutations from India. Further phenotyping and genotyping studies are required to assess the status of artemisinin resistance in this region.

Saiprom N, Amornchai P, Wuthiekanun V, Day NPJ, Limmathurotsakul D, Peacock SJ, Chantratita N. 2015. Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole resistance in clinical isolates of Burkholderia pseudomallei from Thailand. Int J Antimicrob Agents, 45 (5), pp. 557-559. | Citations: 13 (Scopus) | Read more

Stoesser N, Xayaheuang S, Vongsouvath M, Phommasone K, Elliott I, Del Ojo Elias C, Crook DW, Newton PN, Buisson Y, Lee SJ, Dance DAB. 2015. Colonization with Enterobacteriaceae producing ESBLs in children attending pre-school childcare facilities in the Lao People's Democratic Republic. J Antimicrob Chemother, 70 (6), pp. 1893-1897. | Citations: 21 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: Intestinal carriage constitutes an important reservoir of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, with some of the highest rates reported from Asia. Antibiotic resistance has been little studied in Laos, where some antibiotics are available without restriction, but others such as carbapenems are not available. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We collected stools from 397 healthy children in 12 randomly selected pre-school childcare facilities in and around Vientiane. Colonization with ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBLE) and carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) was detected using a disc diffusion screening test and ESBLE were characterized using WGS. Risk factor data were collected by questionnaire. RESULTS: Ninety-two children (23%) were colonized with ESBLE, mainly Escherichia coli carrying blaCTX-M and Klebsiella pneumoniae carrying blaSHV or blaCTX-M, which were frequently resistant to multiple antibiotic classes. Although residence in Vientiane Capital, foreign travel, higher maternal level of education, antibiotic use in the preceding 3 months and attending a childcare facility with a 'good' level of hygiene were all associated with ESBLE colonization on univariable analysis, a significant association remained only for antibiotic use when a stepwise approach was used with a multivariate random-effects model. WGS analysis suggested transmission in both childcare facilities and community settings. CONCLUSIONS: The high prevalence of paediatric colonization with ESBLE in Laos, one of the highest reported in Asia, is probably the result of inappropriate antibiotic use. Paediatric colonization with CPE was not identified in this study, but it is important to continue to monitor the spread of antibiotic-resistant Enterobacteriaceae in Laos.

Derde LPG, Cooper BS, Brun-Buisson C. 2015. Contact precautions for patients with multidrug-resistant pathogens. JAMA, 313 (6), pp. 629-630. | Read more

Thompson CN, Blacksell SD, Paris DH, Arjyal A, Karkey A, Dongol S, Giri A, Dolecek C, Day N, Baker S et al. 2015. Undifferentiated febrile illness in Kathmandu, Nepal. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 92 (4), pp. 875-878. | Citations: 26 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Undifferentiated febrile illnesses (UFIs) are common in low- and middle-income countries. We prospectively investigated the causes of UFIs in 627 patients presenting to a tertiary referral hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal. Patients with microbiologically confirmed enteric fever (218 of 627; 34.8%) randomized to gatifloxacin or ofloxacin treatment were previously reported. We randomly selected 125 of 627 (20%) of these UFI patients, consisting of 96 of 409 (23%) cases with sterile blood cultures and 29 of 218 (13%) cases with enteric fever, for additional diagnostic investigations. We found serological evidence of acute murine typhus in 21 of 125 (17%) patients, with 12 of 21 (57%) patients polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-positive for Rickettsia typhi. Three UFI cases were quantitative PCR-positive for Rickettsia spp., two UFI cases were seropositive for Hantavirus, and one UFI case was seropositive for Q fever. Fever clearance time (FCT) for rickettsial infection was 44.5 hours (interquartile range = 26-66 hours), and there was no difference in FCT between ofloxacin or gatifloxacin. Murine typhus represents an important cause of predominantly urban UFIs in Nepal, and fluoroquinolones seem to be an effective empirical treatment.

Hoogenboom G, Thwin MM, Velink K, Baaijens M, Charrunwatthana P, Nosten F, McGready R. 2015. Quality of intrapartum care by skilled birth attendants in a refugee clinic on the Thai-Myanmar border: a survey using WHO Safe Motherhood Needs Assessment. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 15 (1), pp. 17. | Citations: 12 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Increasing the number of women birthing with skilled birth attendants (SBAs) as one of the strategies to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity must be partnered with a minimum standard of care. This manuscript describes the quality of intrapartum care provided by SBAs in Mae La camp, a low resource, protracted refugee context on the Thai-Myanmar border. METHODS: In the obstetric department of Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) the standardized WHO Safe Motherhood Needs Assessment tool was adapted to the setting and used: to assess the facility; interview SBAs; collect data from maternal records during a one year period (August 2007 - 2008); and observe practice during labour and childbirth. RESULTS: The facility assessment recorded no 'out of stock' or 'out of date' drugs and supplies, equipment was in operating order and necessary infrastructure e.g. a stand-by emergency car, was present. Syphilis testing was not available. SBA interviews established that danger signs and symptoms were recognized except for sepsis and endometritis. All SBAs acknowledged receiving theoretical and 'hands-on' training and regularly attended deliveries. Scores for the essential elements of antenatal care from maternal records were high (>90%) e.g. providing supplements, recording risk factors as well as regular and correct partogram use. Observed good clinical practice included: presence of a support person; active management of third stage; post-partum monitoring; and immediate and correct neonatal care. Observed incorrect practice included: improper controlled cord traction; inadequate hand washing; an episiotomy rate in nulliparous women 49% (34/70) and low rates 30% (6/20) of newborn monitoring in the first hours following birth. Overall observed complications during labour and birth were low with post-partum haemorrhage being the most common in which case the SBAs followed the protocol but were slow to recognize severity and take action. CONCLUSIONS: In the clinic of SMRU in Mae La refugee camp, SBAs were able to comply with evidence-based guidelines but support to improve quality of care in specific areas is required. The structure of the WHO Safe Motherhood Needs Assessment allowed significant insights into the quality of intrapartum care particularly through direct observation, identifying a clear pathway for quality improvement.

Lim YT, Jobichen C, Wong J, Limmathurotsakul D, Li S, Chen Y, Raida M, Srinivasan N, MacAry PA, Sivaraman J, Gan Y-H. 2015. Extended loop region of Hcp1 is critical for the assembly and function of type VI secretion system in Burkholderia pseudomallei. Sci Rep, 5 (1), pp. 8235. | Citations: 15 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The Type VI Secretion System cluster 1 (T6SS1) is essential for the pathogenesis of Burkholderia pseudomallei, the causative agent of melioidosis, a disease endemic in the tropics. Inside host cells, B. pseudomallei escapes into the cytosol and through T6SS1, induces multinucleated giant cell (MNGC) formation that is thought to be important for bacterial cell to cell spread. The hemolysin-coregulated protein (Hcp) is both a T6SS substrate, as well as postulated to form part of the T6SS secretion tube. Our structural study reveals that Hcp1 forms hexameric rings similar to the other Hcp homologs but has an extended loop (Asp40-Arg56) that deviates significantly in position compared to other Hcp structures and may act as a key contact point between adjacent hexameric rings. When two residues within the loop were mutated, the mutant proteins were unable to stack as dodecamers, suggesting defective tube assembly. Moreover, infection with a bacterial mutant containing in situ substitution of these hcp1 residues abolishes Hcp1 secretion inside infected cells and MNGC formation. We further show that Hcp has the ability to preferentially bind to the surface of antigen-presenting cells, which may contribute to its immunogenicity in inducing high titers of antibodies seen in melioidosis patients.

Bancone G, Chu CS, Chowwiwat N, Somsakchaicharoen R, Wilaisrisak P, Charunwatthana P, Bansil P, McGray S, Domingo GJ, Nosten FH. 2015. Suitability of capillary blood for quantitative assessment of G6PD activity and performances of G6PD point-of-care tests. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 92 (4), pp. 818-824. | Citations: 26 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

The use of primaquine and other 8-aminoquinolines for malaria elimination is hampered by, among other factors, the limited availability of point-of-care tests for the diagnosis of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. Historically, the most used source of blood for G6PD analyses is venous blood, whereas diagnostic devices used in the field require the use of capillary blood; data have shown that the two sources of blood often differ with respect to hemoglobin concentration and number of red blood cells. Therefore, we have analyzed, in both capillary and venous blood drawn from the same healthy donors, the correlation of G6PD activity assessed by two qualitative tests (the Fluorescent Spot test and the CareStart test) with the gold standard quantitative spectrophotometric assay. Results obtained on 150 subjects with normal, intermediate, and deficient G6PD phenotypes show that, although differences exist between the aforementioned characteristics in capillary and venous blood, these do not impact on the quantitative assessment of G6PD activity after corrected for hemoglobin concentration or red blood cell count. Furthermore, we have assessed the sensitivity and specificity of the two qualitative tests against the gold standard spectrophotometric assay at different activity thresholds of residual enzymatic activity in both blood sources.

Li C, Barnes E, Newton PN, Fu Y, Vongsouvath M, Klenerman P, Okamoto H, Abe K, Pybus OG, Lu L. 2015. An expanded taxonomy of hepatitis C virus genotype 6: Characterization of 22 new full-length viral genomes. Virology, 476 pp. 355-363. | Citations: 15 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

We characterized the full-length genomes of 22 hepatitis C virus genotype 6 (HCV-6) isolates: 10 from Vietnam (classified into subtypes 6e, 6h, 6p, 6r, 6s, and 6u), one from China (confirmed as a new subtype 6xd), and 11 from the Lao PDR (representing a new subtype 6xe plus eight novel variants). With these 22 new genomes, HCV-6 now has a diverse and extended taxonomic structure, comprised of 28 assigned subtypes (denoted 6a-6xe) and 27 unassigned lineages, all of which have been represented by full-length genomes. Our phylogenetic analyses also included many partially-sequenced novel variants of HCV-6 from Lao PDR. This revealed that Lao HCV isolates are genetically very diverse and are phylogenetically distributed in multiple lineages within genotype 6. Our results suggest that HCV-6 has been maintained in Laos, a landlocked country, since the common ancestor of genotype 6 and indicates historical dispersal of HCV-6 across Southeast Asia.

Dittrich S, Rattanavong S, Lee SJ, Panyanivong P, Craig SB, Tulsiani SM, Blacksell SD, Dance DAB, Dubot-Pérès A, Sengduangphachanh A et al. 2015. Orientia, rickettsia, and leptospira pathogens as causes of CNS infections in Laos: a prospective study. Lancet Glob Health, 3 (2), pp. e104-e112. | Citations: 47 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Scrub typhus (caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi), murine typhus (caused by Rickettsia typhi), and leptospirosis are common causes of febrile illness in Asia; meningitis and meningoencephalitis are severe complications. However, scarce data exist for the burden of these pathogens in patients with CNS disease in endemic countries. Laos is representative of vast economically poor rural areas in Asia with little medical information to guide public health policy. We assessed whether these pathogens are important causes of CNS infections in Laos. METHODS: Between Jan 10, 2003, and Nov 25, 2011, we enrolled 1112 consecutive patients of all ages admitted with CNS symptoms or signs requiring a lumbar puncture at Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, Laos. Microbiological examinations (culture, PCR, and serology) targeted so-called conventional bacterial infections (Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae, S suis) and O tsutsugamushi, Rickettsia typhi/Rickettsia spp, and Leptospira spp infections in blood or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). We analysed and compared causes and clinical and CSF characteristics between patient groups. FINDINGS: 1051 (95%) of 1112 patients who presented had CSF available for analysis, of whom 254 (24%) had a CNS infection attributable to a bacterial or fungal pathogen. 90 (35%) of these 254 infections were caused by O tsutsugamushi, R typhi/Rickettsia spp, or Leptospira spp. These pathogens were significantly more frequent than conventional bacterial infections (90/1051 [9%] vs 42/1051 [4%]; p<0·0001) by use of conservative diagnostic definitions. CNS infections had a high mortality (236/876 [27%]), with 18% (13/71) for R typhi/Rickettsia spp, O tsutsugamushi, and Leptospira spp combined, and 33% (13/39) for conventional bacterial infections (p=0·076). INTERPRETATION: Our data suggest that R typhi/Rickettsia spp, O tsutsugamushi, and Leptospira spp infections are important causes of CNS infections in Laos. Antibiotics, such as tetracyclines, needed for the treatment of murine typhus and scrub typhus, are not routinely advised for empirical treatment of CNS infections. These severely neglected infections represent a potentially large proportion of treatable CNS disease burden across vast endemic areas and need more attention. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust UK.

Hoffmaster AR, AuCoin D, Baccam P, Baggett HC, Baird R, Bhengsri S, Blaney DD, Brett PJ, Brooks TJG, Brown KA et al. 2015. Melioidosis diagnostic workshop, 2013. Emerg Infect Dis, 21 (2), pp. 1-9. | Citations: 43 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis is a severe disease that can be difficult to diagnose because of its diverse clinical manifestations and a lack of adequate diagnostic capabilities for suspected cases. There is broad interest in improving detection and diagnosis of this disease not only in melioidosis-endemic regions but also outside these regions because melioidosis may be underreported and poses a potential bioterrorism challenge for public health authorities. Therefore, a workshop of academic, government, and private sector personnel from around the world was convened to discuss the current state of melioidosis diagnostics, diagnostic needs, and future directions.

Birnie E, Wiersinga WJ, Limmathurotsakul D, Grobusch MP. 2015. Melioidosis in Africa: should we be looking more closely? Future Microbiol, 10 (2), pp. 273-281. | Citations: 12 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis is a life-threatening infection caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, mainly found in Southeast Asia. Recently, African foci have been identified, although reports remain mostly anecdotal. In Africa, multiple febrile diseases have been erroneously attributed to malaria in the past, and many cases of fever remain mis- or undiagnosed. Vigilance for previously under-recognized pathogens may enhance our understanding of disease epidemiology and facilitate improvement of patient care. Melioidosis may be such a condition. We summarize data on melioidosis in Africa and discuss the future directions for epidemiological, clinical and bacteriological studies. We conclude that searching for old bugs in new places is no academic treasure hunt but a clinically relevant activity to pursue.

Keita AK, Dubot-Pérès A, Phommasone K, Sibounheuang B, Vongsouvath M, Mayxay M, Raoult D, Newton PN, Fenollar F. 2015. High prevalence of Tropheryma whipplei in Lao kindergarten children. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (2), pp. e0003538. | Citations: 10 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Tropheryma whipplei is a bacterium commonly found in feces of young children in Africa, but with no data from Asia. We estimated the prevalence of T. whipplei carriage in feces of children in Lao PDR (Laos). METHODS/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Using specific quantitative real-time PCR, followed by genotyping for each positive specimen, we estimated the prevalence of T. whipplei in 113 feces from 106 children in Vientiane, the Lao PDR (Laos). T. whipplei was detected in 48% (51/106) of children. Those aged ≤ 4 years were significantly less frequently positive (17/52, 33%) than older children (34/54, 63%; p< 0.001). Positive samples were genotyped. Eight genotypes were detected including 7 specific to Laos. Genotype 2, previously detected in Europe, was circulating (21% of positive children) in 2 kindergartens (Chompet and Akad). Genotypes 136 and 138 were specific to Chompet (21% and 15.8%, respectively) whereas genotype 139 was specific to Akad (10.55%). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: T. whipplei is a widely distributed bacterium, highly prevalent in feces of healthy children in Laos. Further research is needed to identify the public health significance of this finding.

Carter MJ, Emary KR, Moore CE, Parry CM, Sona S, Putchhat H, Reaksmey S, Chanpheaktra N, Stoesser N, Dobson ADM et al. 2015. Rapid diagnostic tests for dengue virus infection in febrile Cambodian children: diagnostic accuracy and incorporation into diagnostic algorithms. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (2), pp. e0003424. | Citations: 7 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Dengue virus (DENV) infection is prevalent across tropical regions and may cause severe disease. Early diagnosis may improve supportive care. We prospectively assessed the Standard Diagnostics (Korea) BIOLINE Dengue Duo DENV rapid diagnostic test (RDT) to NS1 antigen and anti-DENV IgM (NS1 and IgM) in children in Cambodia, with the aim of improving the diagnosis of DENV infection. METHODOLOGY AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We enrolled children admitted to hospital with non-localised febrile illnesses during the 5-month DENV transmission season. Clinical and laboratory variables, and DENV RDT results were recorded at admission. Children had blood culture and serological and molecular tests for common local pathogens, including reference laboratory DENV NS1 antigen and IgM assays. 337 children were admitted with non-localised febrile illness over 5 months. 71 (21%) had DENV infection (reference assay positive). Sensitivity was 58%, and specificity 85% for RDT NS1 and IgM combined. Conditional inference framework analysis showed the additional value of platelet and white cell counts for diagnosis of DENV infection. Variables associated with diagnosis of DENV infection were not associated with critical care admission (70 children, 21%) or mortality (19 children, 6%). Known causes of mortality were melioidosis (4), other sepsis (5), and malignancy (1). 22 (27%) children with a positive DENV RDT had a treatable other infection. CONCLUSIONS: The DENV RDT had low sensitivity for the diagnosis of DENV infection. The high co-prevalence of infections in our cohort indicates the need for a broad microbiological assessment of non-localised febrile illness in these children.

Paris DH, Chattopadhyay S, Jiang J, Nawtaisong P, Lee JS, Tan E, Dela Cruz E, Burgos J, Abalos R, Blacksell SD et al. 2015. A nonhuman primate scrub typhus model: protective immune responses induced by pKarp47 DNA vaccination in cynomolgus macaques. J Immunol, 194 (4), pp. 1702-1716. | Citations: 16 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

We developed an intradermal (ID) challenge cynomolgus macaque (Macaca fascicularis) model of scrub typhus, the leading cause of treatable undifferentiated febrile illness in tropical Asia, caused by the obligate intracellular bacterium, Orientia tsutsugamushi. A well-characterized animal model is required for the development of clinically relevant diagnostic assays and evaluation of therapeutic agents and candidate vaccines. We investigated scrub typhus disease pathophysiology and evaluated two O. tsutsugamushi 47-kDa, Ag-based candidate vaccines, a DNA plasmid vaccine (pKarp47), and a virus-vectored vaccine (Kp47/47-Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicon particle) for safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy against homologous ID challenge with O. tsutsugamushi Karp. Control cynomolgus macaques developed fever, classic eschars, lymphadenopathy, bacteremia, altered liver function, increased WBC counts, pathogen-specific Ab (IgM and IgG), and cell-mediated immune responses. Vaccinated macaques receiving the DNA plasmid pKarp47 vaccine had significantly increased O. tsutsugamushi-specific, IFN-γ-producing PBMCs (p = 0.04), reduced eschar frequency and bacteremia duration (p ≤ 0.01), delayed bacteremia onset (p < 0.05), reduced circulating bacterial biomass (p = 0.01), and greater reduction of liver transaminase levels (p < 0.03) than controls. This study demonstrates a vaccine-induced immune response capable of conferring sterile immunity against high-dose homologous ID challenge of O. tsutsugamushi in a nonhuman primate model, and it provides insight into cell-mediated immune control of O. tsutsugamushi and dissemination dynamics, highlights the importance of bacteremia indices for evaluation of both natural and vaccine-induced immune responses, and importantly, to our knowledge, has determined the first phenotypic correlates of immune protection in scrub typhus. We conclude that this model is suitable for detailed investigations into vaccine-induced immune responses and correlates of immunity for scrub typhus.

Miotto O, Amato R, Ashley EA, MacInnis B, Almagro-Garcia J, Amaratunga C, Lim P, Mead D, Oyola SO, Dhorda M et al. 2015. Genetic architecture of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum. Nat Genet, 47 (3), pp. 226-234. | Citations: 212 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

We report a large multicenter genome-wide association study of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinin, the frontline antimalarial drug. Across 15 locations in Southeast Asia, we identified at least 20 mutations in kelch13 (PF3D7_1343700) affecting the encoded propeller and BTB/POZ domains, which were associated with a slow parasite clearance rate after treatment with artemisinin derivatives. Nonsynonymous polymorphisms in fd (ferredoxin), arps10 (apicoplast ribosomal protein S10), mdr2 (multidrug resistance protein 2) and crt (chloroquine resistance transporter) also showed strong associations with artemisinin resistance. Analysis of the fine structure of the parasite population showed that the fd, arps10, mdr2 and crt polymorphisms are markers of a genetic background on which kelch13 mutations are particularly likely to arise and that they correlate with the contemporary geographical boundaries and population frequencies of artemisinin resistance. These findings indicate that the risk of new resistance-causing mutations emerging is determined by specific predisposing genetic factors in the underlying parasite population.

Herbert J, Thomas S, Brookes C, Turner C, Turner P, Nosten F, Le Doare K, Hudson M, Heath PT, Gorringe A, Taylor S. 2015. Antibody-mediated complement C3b/iC3b binding to group B Streptococcus in paired mother and baby serum samples in a refugee population on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Clin Vaccine Immunol, 22 (3), pp. 319-326. | Citations: 4 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococcus [GBS]) is the leading cause of neonatal sepsis and meningitis. In this study, we determined antibody-mediated deposition of complement C3b/iC3b onto the bacterial cell surface of GBS serotypes Ia, Ib, II, III, and V. This was determined for 520 mother and umbilical cord serum sample pairs obtained at the time of birth from a population on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Antibody-mediated deposition of complement C3b/iC3b was detected to at least one serotype in 91% of mothers, despite a known carriage rate in this population of only 12%. Antibody-mediated C3b/iC3b deposition corresponded to known carriage rates, with the highest levels of complement deposition observed onto the most prevalent serotype (serotype II) followed by serotypes Ia, III, V, and Ib. Finally, neonates born to mothers carrying serotype II GBS at the time of birth showed higher antibody-mediated C3b/iC3b deposition against serotype II GBS than neonates born to mothers with no serotype II carriage. Assessment of antibody-mediated C3b/iC3b deposition against GBS may provide insights into the seroepidemiology of anti-GBS antibodies in mothers and infants in different populations.

Barber BE, William T, Grigg MJ, Parameswaran U, Piera KA, Price RN, Yeo TW, Anstey NM. 2015. Parasite biomass-related inflammation, endothelial activation, microvascular dysfunction and disease severity in vivax malaria. PLoS Pathog, 11 (1), pp. e1004558. | Citations: 48 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium vivax can cause severe malaria, however its pathogenesis is poorly understood. In contrast to P. falciparum, circulating vivax parasitemia is low, with minimal apparent sequestration in endothelium-lined microvasculature, and pathogenesis thought unrelated to parasite biomass. However, the relationships between vivax disease-severity and total parasite biomass, endothelial autocrine activation and microvascular dysfunction are unknown. We measured circulating parasitemia and markers of total parasite biomass (plasma parasite lactate dehydrogenase [pLDH] and PvLDH) in adults with severe (n = 9) and non-severe (n = 53) vivax malaria, and examined relationships with disease-severity, endothelial activation, and microvascular function. Healthy controls and adults with non-severe and severe falciparum malaria were enrolled for comparison. Median peripheral parasitemia, PvLDH and pLDH were 2.4-fold, 3.7-fold and 6.9-fold higher in severe compared to non-severe vivax malaria (p = 0.02, p = 0.02 and p = 0.015, respectively), suggesting that, as in falciparum malaria, peripheral P. vivax parasitemia underestimates total parasite biomass, particularly in severe disease. P. vivax schizonts were under-represented in peripheral blood. Severe vivax malaria was associated with increased angiopoietin-2 and impaired microvascular reactivity. Peripheral vivax parasitemia correlated with endothelial activation (angiopoietin-2, von-Willebrand-Factor [VWF], E-selectin), whereas markers of total vivax biomass correlated only with systemic inflammation (IL-6, IL-10). Activity of the VWF-cleaving-protease, ADAMTS13, was deficient in proportion to endothelial activation, IL-6, thrombocytopenia and vivax disease-severity, and associated with impaired microvascular reactivity in severe disease. Impaired microvascular reactivity correlated with lactate in severe vivax malaria. Findings suggest that tissue accumulation of P. vivax may occur, with the hidden biomass greatest in severe disease and capable of mediating systemic inflammatory pathology. The lack of association between total parasite biomass and endothelial activation is consistent with accumulation in parts of the circulation devoid of endothelium. Endothelial activation, associated with circulating parasites, and systemic inflammation may contribute to pathology in vivax malaria, with microvascular dysfunction likely contributing to impaired tissue perfusion.

Thaipadungpanit J, Amornchai P, Nickerson EK, Wongsuvan G, Wuthiekanun V, Limmathurotsakul D, Peacock SJ. 2015. Clinical and molecular epidemiology of Staphylococcus argenteus infections in Thailand. J Clin Microbiol, 53 (3), pp. 1005-1008. | Citations: 29 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Molecular typing of 246 Staphylococcus aureus isolates from unselected patients in Thailand showed that 10 (4.1%) were actually Staphylococcus argenteus. Contrary to the suggestion that S. argenteus is less virulent than S. aureus, we demonstrated comparable rates of morbidity, death, and health care-associated infection in patients infected with either of these two species.

Wiersinga WJ, Birnie E, Weehuizen TAF, Alabi AS, Huson MAM, Huis in 't Veld RAG, Mabala HK, Adzoda GK, Raczynski-Henk Y, Esen M et al. 2015. Clinical, environmental, and serologic surveillance studies of melioidosis in Gabon, 2012-2013. Emerg Infect Dis, 21 (1), pp. 40-47. | Citations: 16 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Burkholderia pseudomallei, an environmental gram-negative bacillus, is the causative agent of melioidosis and a bio-threat agent. Reports of B. pseudomallei isolation from soil and animals in East and West Africa suggest that melioidosis might be more widely distributed than previously thought. Because it has been found in equatorial areas with tropical climates, we hypothesized that B. pseudomallei could exist in Gabon. During 2012-2013, we conducted a seroprevalance study in which we set up microbiology facilities at a large clinical referral center and prospectively screened all febrile patients by conducting blood cultures and testing for B. pseudomallei and related species; we also determined whether B. pseudomallei could be isolated from soil. We discovered a novel B. pseudomallei sequence type that caused lethal septic shock and identified B. pseudomallei and B. thailandensis in the environment. Our data suggest that melioidosis is emerging in Central Africa but is unrecognized because of the lack of diagnostic microbiology facilities.

Vellinga NAR, Boerma EC, Koopmans M, Donati A, Dubin A, Shapiro NI, Pearse RM, Machado FR, Fries M, Akarsu-Ayazoglu T et al. 2015. International study on microcirculatory shock occurrence in acutely ill patients. Crit Care Med, 43 (1), pp. 48-56. | Citations: 50 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: Microcirculatory alterations are associated with adverse outcome in subsets of critically ill patients. The prevalence and significance of microcirculatory alterations in the general ICU population are unknown. We studied the prevalence of microcirculatory alterations in a heterogeneous ICU population and its predictive value in an integrative model of macro- and microcirculatory variables. DESIGN: Multicenter observational point prevalence study. SETTING: The Microcirculatory Shock Occurrence in Acutely ill Patients study was conducted in 36 ICUs worldwide. PATIENTS: A heterogeneous ICU population consisting of 501 patients. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Demographic, hemodynamic, and laboratory data were collected in all ICU patients who were 18 years old or older. Sublingual Sidestream Dark Field imaging was performed to determine the prevalence of an abnormal capillary microvascular flow index (< 2.6) and its additional value in predicting hospital mortality. In 501 patients with a median Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score of 15 (10-21), a Sequential Organ Failure Assessment score of 5 (2-8), and a hospital mortality of 28.4%, 17% exhibited an abnormal capillary microvascular flow index. Tachycardia (heart rate > 90 beats/min) (odds ratio, 2.71; 95% CI, 1.67-4.39; p < 0.001), mean arterial pressure (odds ratio, 0.979; 95% CI, 0.963-0.996; p = 0.013), vasopressor use (odds ratio, 1.84; 95% CI, 1.11-3.07; p = 0.019), and lactate level more than 1.5 mEq/L (odds ratio, 2.15; 95% CI, 1.28-3.62; p = 0.004) were independent risk factors for hospital mortality, but not abnormal microvascular flow index. In reference to microvascular flow index, a significant interaction was observed with tachycardia. In patients with tachycardia, the presence of an abnormal microvascular flow index was an independent, additive predictor for in-hospital mortality (odds ratio, 3.24; 95% CI, 1.30-8.06; p = 0.011). This was not true for nontachycardic patients nor for the total group of patients. CONCLUSIONS: In a heterogeneous ICU population, an abnormal microvascular flow index was present in 17% of patients. This was not associated with mortality. However, in patients with tachycardia, an abnormal microvascular flow index was independently associated with an increased risk of hospital death.

Hearn P, Miliya T, Hor S, Sar V, Turner P. 2015. Necrotizing fasciitis complicating snakebite in Cambodia. IDCases, 2 (3), pp. 86-87. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Read more

Luangasanatip N, Hongsuwan M, Lubell Y, Limmathurotsakul D, Srisamang P, Day NPJ, Graves N, Cooper BS. 2015. Cost-effectiveness of hand hygiene promotion for MRSA blood stream infection in ICU settings. Antimicrobial resistance and infection control, 4 (Suppl 1), pp. O50-O50. | Read more

Birnie E, Wiersinga WJ, Limmathurotsakul D, Grobusch MP. 2015. Melioidosis in Africa: should we be looking more closely? (vol 10, pg 273, 2015) FUTURE MICROBIOLOGY, 10 (6), pp. 1101-1101.

Cheeseman IH, McDew-White M, Phyo AP, Sriprawat K, Nosten F, Anderson TJC. 2015. Pooled sequencing and rare variant association tests for identifying the determinants of emerging drug resistance in malaria parasites. Mol Biol Evol, 32 (4), pp. 1080-1090. | Citations: 17 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

We explored the potential of pooled sequencing to swiftly and economically identify selective sweeps due to emerging artemisinin (ART) resistance in a South-East Asian malaria parasite population. ART resistance is defined by slow parasite clearance from the blood of ART-treated patients and mutations in the kelch gene (chr. 13) have been strongly implicated to play a role. We constructed triplicate pools of 70 slow-clearing (resistant) and 70 fast-clearing (sensitive) infections collected from the Thai-Myanmar border and sequenced these to high (∼ 150-fold) read depth. Allele frequency estimates from pools showed almost perfect correlation (Lin's concordance = 0.98) with allele frequencies at 93 single nucleotide polymorphisms measured directly from individual infections, giving us confidence in the accuracy of this approach. By mapping genome-wide divergence (FST) between pools of drug-resistant and drug-sensitive parasites, we identified two large (>150 kb) regions (on chrs. 13 and 14) and 17 smaller candidate genome regions. To identify individual genes within these genome regions, we resequenced an additional 38 parasite genomes (16 slow and 22 fast-clearing) and performed rare variant association tests. These confirmed kelch as a major molecular marker for ART resistance (P = 6.03 × 10(-6)). This two-tier approach is powerful because pooled sequencing rapidly narrows down genome regions of interest, while targeted rare variant association testing within these regions can pinpoint the genetic basis of resistance. We show that our approach is robust to recurrent mutation and the generation of soft selective sweeps, which are predicted to be common in pathogen populations with large effective population sizes, and may confound more traditional gene mapping approaches.

Brown TS, Jacob CG, Silva JC, Takala-Harrison S, Djimdé A, Dondorp AM, Fukuda M, Noedl H, Nyunt MM, Kyaw MP et al. 2015. Plasmodium falciparum field isolates from areas of repeated emergence of drug resistant malaria show no evidence of hypermutator phenotype. Infect Genet Evol, 30 pp. 318-322. | Citations: 13 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Multiple transcontinental waves of drug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum have originated in Southeast Asia before spreading westward, first into the rest of Asia and then to sub-Saharan Africa. In vitro studies have suggested that hypermutator P. falciparum parasites may exist in Southeast Asia and that an increased rate of acquisition of new mutations in these parasites may explain the repeated emergence of drug resistance in Southeast Asia. This study is the first to test the hypermutator hypothesis using field isolates. Using genome-wide SNP data from human P. falciparum infections in Southeast Asia and West Africa and a test for relative rate differences we found no evidence of increased relative substitution rates in P. falciparum isolates from Southeast Asia. Instead, we found significantly increased substitution rates in Mali and Bangladesh populations relative to those in populations from Southeast Asia. Additionally we found no association between increased relative substitution rates and parasite clearance following treatment with artemisinin derivatives.

Mok S, Ashley EA, Ferreira PE, Zhu L, Lin Z, Yeo T, Chotivanich K, Imwong M, Pukrittayakamee S, Dhorda M et al. 2015. Drug resistance. Population transcriptomics of human malaria parasites reveals the mechanism of artemisinin resistance. Science, 347 (6220), pp. 431-435. | Citations: 149 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum threatens global efforts to control and eliminate malaria. Polymorphisms in the kelch domain-carrying protein K13 are associated with artemisinin resistance, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are unknown. We analyzed the in vivo transcriptomes of 1043 P. falciparum isolates from patients with acute malaria and found that artemisinin resistance is associated with increased expression of unfolded protein response (UPR) pathways involving the major PROSC and TRiC chaperone complexes. Artemisinin-resistant parasites also exhibit decelerated progression through the first part of the asexual intraerythrocytic development cycle. These findings suggest that artemisinin-resistant parasites remain in a state of decelerated development at the young ring stage, whereas their up-regulated UPR pathways mitigate protein damage caused by artemisinin. The expression profiles of UPR-related genes also associate with the geographical origin of parasite isolates, further suggesting their role in emerging artemisinin resistance in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Lam PK, Trieu HT, Lubis IND, Loan HT, Thuy TTD, Wills B, Parry CM, Day NPJ, Qui PT, Yen LM, Thwaites CL. 2015. Prognosis of neonatal tetanus in the modern management era: an observational study in 107 Vietnamese infants. Int J Infect Dis, 33 pp. 7-11. | Citations: 7 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: Most data regarding the prognosis in neonatal tetanus originate from regions where limited resources have historically impeded management. It is not known whether recent improvements in critical care facilities in many low- and middle-income countries have affected indicators of a poor prognosis in neonatal tetanus. We aimed to determine the factors associated with worse outcomes in a Vietnamese hospital with neonatal intensive care facilities. METHODS: Data were collected from 107 cases of neonatal tetanus. Clinical features on admission were analyzed against mortality and a combined endpoint of 'death or prolonged hospital stay'. RESULTS: Multivariable analysis showed that only younger age (odds ratio (OR) for mortality 0.69, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.48-0.98) and lower weight (OR for mortality 0.06, 95% CI 0.01-0.54) were significantly associated with both the combined endpoint and death. A shorter period of onset (OR 0.94, 95% CI 0.88-0.99), raised white cell count (OR 1.17, 95% CI 1.02-1.35), and time between first symptom and admission (OR 3.77, 95% CI 1.14-12.51) were also indicators of mortality. CONCLUSIONS: Risk factors for a poor outcome in neonatal tetanus in a setting with critical care facilities include younger age, lower weight, delay in admission, and leukocytosis.

Tong SYC, Holden MTG, Nickerson EK, Cooper BS, Köser CU, Cori A, Jombart T, Cauchemez S, Fraser C, Wuthiekanun V et al. 2015. Genome sequencing defines phylogeny and spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in a high transmission setting. Genome Res, 25 (1), pp. 111-118. | Citations: 50 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a major cause of nosocomial infection. Whole-genome sequencing of MRSA has been used to define phylogeny and transmission in well-resourced healthcare settings, yet the greatest burden of nosocomial infection occurs in resource-restricted settings where barriers to transmission are lower. Here, we study the flux and genetic diversity of MRSA on ward and individual patient levels in a hospital where transmission was common. We repeatedly screened all patients on two intensive care units for MRSA carriage over a 3-mo period. All MRSA belonged to multilocus sequence type 239 (ST 239). We defined the population structure and charted the spread of MRSA by sequencing 79 isolates from 46 patients and five members of staff, including the first MRSA-positive screen isolates and up to two repeat isolates where available. Phylogenetic analysis identified a flux of distinct ST 239 clades over time in each intensive care unit. In total, five main clades were identified, which varied in the carriage of plasmids encoding antiseptic and antimicrobial resistance determinants. Sequence data confirmed intra- and interwards transmission events and identified individual patients who were colonized by more than one clade. One patient on each unit was the source of numerous transmission events, and deep sampling of one of these cases demonstrated colonization with a "cloud" of related MRSA variants. The application of whole-genome sequencing and analysis provides novel insights into the transmission of MRSA in under-resourced healthcare settings and has relevance to wider global health.

Cheah PY, Parker M. 2015. Research consent from young people in resource-poor settings. Arch Dis Child, 100 (5), pp. 438-440. | Citations: 4 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Authoritative international guidelines stipulate that for minors to participate in research, consent must be obtained from their parents or guardians. Significant numbers of mature minors, particularly in low-income settings, are currently being ruled out of research participation because their parents are unavailable or refuse to provide consent despite the possibility that they might wish to do so and that such research has the potential to be of real benefit. These populations are under-represented in all types of clinical research. We propose that, for research with a prospect of direct benefit that has been approved by relevant ethics committees, the default position should be that minors who are able to provide valid consent and meet the following criteria should be able to consent for themselves regardless of age and whether they have reached majority: the minor must be competent and mature relative to the decision; their consent must be voluntary and they must be relatively independent and used to decision making of comparable complexity. In addition, the context must be appropriate, the information related to the research must be provided in a manner accessible to the minor and the consent must be obtained by a trained consent taker in surroundings conducive for decision making by the minor. In this paper, we have argued that consent by mature minors to research participation is acceptable in some situations and should be allowed.

Mirabel M, Rattanavong S, Frichitthavong K, Chu V, Kesone P, Thongsith P, Jouven X, Fournier P-E, Dance DAB, Newton PN. 2015. Infective endocarditis in the Lao PDR: clinical characteristics and outcomes in a developing country. Int J Cardiol, 180 pp. 270-273. | Citations: 13 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Data on infective endocarditis (IE) in Southeast Asia are scarce. OBJECTIVES: To describe the clinical epidemiology of IE in Lao PDR, a lower middle-income country. METHODS: A single centre retrospective study at Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane. Patients aged over 1year of age admitted 2006-2012 to Mahosot Hospital with definite or possible IE by modified Duke criteria were included. RESULTS: Thirty-six patients fulfilled the inclusion criteria; 33 (91.7%) had left-sided IE. Eleven (30.6%) had definite IE and 25 (69.4%) possible left-sided IE. Median age was 25years old [IQR 18-42]. Fifteen patients (41.7%) were males. Underlying heart diseases included: rheumatic valve disease in 12 (33.3%), congenital heart disease in 7 (19.4%), degenerative valve disease in 3 (8.3%), and of unknown origin in 14 (38.9%) patients. Native valve IE was present in 30 patients (83.3%), and prosthetic valve IE in 6 patients (16.7%). The most frequent pathogens were Streptococcus spp. in 7 (19.4%). Blood cultures were negative in 22 patients (61.1%). Complications included: heart failure in 11 (30.6%), severe valve regurgitation in 7 (19.4%); neurological event in 7 (19.4%); septic shock or severe sepsis in 5 (13.9%); and cardiogenic shock in 3 patients (8.3%). No patient underwent heart surgery. Fourteen (38.9%) had died by follow-up after a median of 2.1years [IQR 1-3.2]; and 3 (8.3%) were lost to follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: Infective endocarditis, a disease especially of young adults and mainly caused by Streptococcus spp., was associated with rheumatic heart disease and had high mortality in Laos.

Malmquist NA, Sundriyal S, Caron J, Chen P, Witkowski B, Menard D, Suwanarusk R, Renia L, Nosten F, Jiménez-Díaz MB et al. 2015. Histone methyltransferase inhibitors are orally bioavailable, fast-acting molecules with activity against different species causing malaria in humans. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 59 (2), pp. 950-959. | Citations: 18 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Current antimalarials are under continuous threat due to the relentless development of drug resistance by malaria parasites. We previously reported promising in vitro parasite-killing activity with the histone methyltransferase inhibitor BIX-01294 and its analogue TM2-115. Here, we further characterize these diaminoquinazolines for in vitro and in vivo efficacy and pharmacokinetic properties to prioritize and direct compound development. BIX-01294 and TM2-115 displayed potent in vitro activity, with 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s) of <50 nM against drug-sensitive laboratory strains and multidrug-resistant field isolates, including artemisinin-refractory Plasmodium falciparum isolates. Activities against ex vivo clinical isolates of both P. falciparum and Plasmodium vivax were similar, with potencies of 300 to 400 nM. Sexual-stage gametocyte inhibition occurs at micromolar levels; however, mature gametocyte progression to gamete formation is inhibited at submicromolar concentrations. Parasite reduction ratio analysis confirms a high asexual-stage rate of killing. Both compounds examined displayed oral efficacy in in vivo mouse models of Plasmodium berghei and P. falciparum infection. The discovery of a rapid and broadly acting antimalarial compound class targeting blood stage infection, including transmission stage parasites, and effective against multiple malaria-causing species reveals the diaminoquinazoline scaffold to be a very promising lead for development into greatly needed novel therapies to control malaria.

Boonyuen U, Promnares K, Junkree S, Day NPJ, Imwong M. 2015. Efficient in vitro refolding and functional characterization of recombinant human liver carboxylesterase (CES1) expressed in E. coli. Protein Expr Purif, 107 pp. 68-75. | Citations: 8 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Human liver carboxylesterase 1 (CES1) plays a critical role in the hydrolysis of various ester- and amide-containing molecules, including active metabolites, drugs and prodrugs. However, it has been problematic to express recombinant CES1 in bacterial expression systems due to low solubility, with the CES1 protein being mainly expressed in inclusion bodies, accompanied by insufficient purity issues. In this study, we report an efficient in vitro method for refolding recombinant CES1 from inclusion bodies. A one-step purification with an immobilized-metal affinity column was utilized to purify His-tagged recombinant CES1. Conveniently, both denaturant and imidazole can be removed while the enzyme is refolded via buffer exchange, a dilution method. We show that the refolding of recombinant CES1 was successful in Tris-HCl at pH 7.5 containing a combination of 1% glycerol and 2 mM β-mercaptoethanol, whereas a mixture of other additives (trehalose, sorbitol and sucrose) and β-mercaptoethanol failed to recover a functional protein. His-tagged recombinant CES1 retains its biological activity after refolding and can be used directly without removing the fusion tag. Altogether, our results provide an alternative method for obtaining a substantial amount of functionally active protein, which is advantageous for further investigations such as structural and functional studies.

Malleret B, Li A, Zhang R, Tan KSW, Suwanarusk R, Claser C, Cho JS, Koh EGL, Chu CS, Pukrittayakamee S et al. 2015. Plasmodium vivax: restricted tropism and rapid remodeling of CD71-positive reticulocytes. Blood, 125 (8), pp. 1314-1324. | Citations: 68 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium vivax merozoites only invade reticulocytes, a minor though heterogeneous population of red blood cell precursors that can be graded by levels of transferrin receptor (CD71) expression. The development of a protocol that allows sorting reticulocytes into defined developmental stages and a robust ex vivo P vivax invasion assay has made it possible for the first time to investigate the fine-scale invasion preference of P vivax merozoites. Surprisingly, it was the immature reticulocytes (CD71(+)) that are generally restricted to the bone marrow that were preferentially invaded, whereas older reticulocytes (CD71(-)), principally found in the peripheral blood, were rarely invaded. Invasion assays based on the CD71(+) reticulocyte fraction revealed substantial postinvasion modification. Thus, 3 to 6 hours after invasion, the initially biomechanically rigid CD71(+) reticulocytes convert into a highly deformable CD71(-) infected red blood cell devoid of host reticular matter, a process that normally spans 24 hours for uninfected reticulocytes. Concurrent with these changes, clathrin pits disappear by 3 hours postinvasion, replaced by distinctive caveolae nanostructures. These 2 hitherto unsuspected features of P vivax invasion, a narrow preference for immature reticulocytes and a rapid remodeling of the host cell, provide important insights pertinent to the pathobiology of the P vivax infection.

Jittamala P, Pukrittayakamee S, Ashley EA, Nosten F, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Lee SJ, Thana P, Chairat K, Blessborn D, Panapipat S et al. 2015. Pharmacokinetic interactions between primaquine and pyronaridine-artesunate in healthy adult Thai subjects. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 59 (1), pp. 505-513. | Citations: 17 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Pyronaridine-artesunate is a newly introduced artemisinin-based combination treatment which may be deployed together with primaquine. A single-dose, randomized, three-sequence crossover study was conducted in healthy Thai volunteers to characterize potential pharmacokinetic interactions between these drugs. Seventeen healthy adults received a single oral dose of primaquine alone (30 mg base) and were then randomized to receive pyronaridine-artesunate alone (540-180 mg) or pyronaridine-artesunate plus primaquine in combination, with intervening washout periods between all treatments. The pharmacokinetic properties of primaquine, its metabolite carboxyprimaquine, artesunate, its metabolite dihydroartemisinin, and pyronaridine were assessed in 15 subjects using a noncompartmental approach followed by a bioequivalence evaluation. All drugs were well tolerated. The single oral dose of primaquine did not result in any clinically relevant pharmacokinetic alterations to pyronaridine, artesunate, or dihydroartemisinin exposures. There were significantly higher primaquine maximum plasma drug concentrations (geometric mean ratio, 30%; 90% confidence interval [CI], 17% to 46%) and total exposures (15%; 6.4% to 24%) during coadministration with pyronaridine-artesunate than when primaquine was given alone. Pyronaridine, like chloroquine and piperaquine, increases plasma primaquine concentrations. (This study has been registered at under registration no. NCT01552330.).

Kager LM, Blok DC, Lede IO, Rahman W, Afroz R, Bresser P, van der Zee JS, Ghose A, Visser CE, de Jong MD et al. 2015. Pulmonary tuberculosis induces a systemic hypercoagulable state. J Infect, 70 (4), pp. 324-334. | Citations: 17 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: Human tuberculosis (TB) remains an important cause of death globally. Bangladesh is one of the most affected countries. We aimed to investigate the impact of pulmonary TB on pro- and anticoagulant mechanisms. METHODS: This prospective study was conducted in Chittagong, Bangladesh. We performed an in-depth analysis of coagulation activation and inhibition in plasma obtained from 64 patients with primary lung TB and 11 patients with recurrent lung TB and compared these with 37 healthy controls. Additionally, in nine patients coagulation activation was studied in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) harvested from the site of infection and compared with BALF from a contralateral unaffected lung subsegment. RESULTS: Relative to uninfected controls, primary and recurrent TB were associated with a systemic net procoagulant state, as indicated by enhanced activation of coagulation (elevated plasma levels of thrombin-antithrombin complexes, D-dimer and fibrinogen) together with impaired anticoagulant mechanisms (reduced plasma levels of antithrombin, protein C activity, free protein S, and protein C inhibitor). Activation of coagulation did not correlate with plasma concentrations of established TB biomarkers. Coagulation activation could not be detected at the primary site of infection in a subset of TB patients. CONCLUSIONS: Pulmonary TB is associated with a systemic hypercoagulable state.

Imwong M, Woodrow CJ, Hendriksen ICE, Veenemans J, Verhoef H, Faiz MA, Mohanty S, Mishra S, Mtove G, Gesase S et al. 2015. Plasma concentration of parasite DNA as a measure of disease severity in falciparum malaria. J Infect Dis, 211 (7), pp. 1128-1133. | Citations: 11 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

In malaria-endemic areas, Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia is common in apparently healthy children and severe malaria is commonly misdiagnosed in patients with incidental parasitemia. We assessed whether the plasma Plasmodium falciparum DNA concentration is a useful datum for distinguishing uncomplicated from severe malaria in African children and Asian adults. P. falciparum DNA concentrations were measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 224 African children (111 with uncomplicated malaria and 113 with severe malaria) and 211 Asian adults (100 with uncomplicated malaria and 111 with severe malaria) presenting with acute falciparum malaria. The diagnostic accuracy of plasma P. falciparum DNA concentrations in identifying severe malaria was 0.834 for children and 0.788 for adults, similar to that of plasma P. falciparum HRP2 levels and substantially superior to that of parasite densities (P < .0001). The diagnostic accuracy of plasma P. falciparum DNA concentrations plus plasma P. falciparum HRP2 concentrations was significantly greater than that of plasma P. falciparum HRP2 concentrations alone (0.904 for children [P = .004] and 0.847 for adults [P = .003]). Quantitative real-time PCR measurement of parasite DNA in plasma is a useful method for diagnosing severe falciparum malaria on fresh or archived plasma samples.

Emary KRW, Carter MJ, Pol S, Sona S, Kumar V, Day NPJ, Parry CM, Moore CE. 2015. Urinary antibiotic activity in paediatric patients attending an outpatient department in north-western Cambodia. Trop Med Int Health, 20 (1), pp. 24-28. | Citations: 8 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: Antibiotic resistance is a prominent public and global health concern. We investigated antibiotic use in children by determining the proportion of unselected children with antibacterial activity in their urine attending a paediatric outpatient department in Siem Reap, Cambodia. METHODS: Caregiver reports of medication history and presence of possible infection symptoms were collected in addition to urine samples. Urine antibiotic activity was estimated by exposing bacteria to urine specimens, including assessment against multiresistant bacteria previously isolated from patients in the hospital (a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a multiresistant Salmonella typhi and an extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Escherichia coli isolate). RESULTS: Medication information and urine were collected from 775 children. Caregivers reported medication use in 69.0% of children in the preceding 48 h. 31.7% samples showed antibacterial activity; 16.3% showed activity against a local multiresistant organism. No specimens demonstrated activity against an ESBL-producing E. coli. CONCLUSIONS: Antibiotics are widely used in the community setting in Cambodia. Parents are often ill-informed about drugs given to treat their children. Increasing the regulation and training of private pharmacies in Cambodia may be necessary. Regional surveillance of antibiotic use and resistance is also essential in devising preventive strategies against further development of antibiotic resistance, which would have both local and global consequences.

Hoglund RM, Byakika-Kibwika P, Lamorde M, Merry C, Ashton M, Hanpithakpong W, Day NPJ, White NJ, Äbelö A, Tarning J. 2015. Artemether-lumefantrine co-administration with antiretrovirals: population pharmacokinetics and dosing implications. Br J Clin Pharmacol, 79 (4), pp. 636-649. | Citations: 28 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

AIM: Drug-drug interactions between antimalarial and antiretroviral drugs may influence antimalarial treatment outcomes. The aim of this study was to investigate the potential drug-drug interactions between the antimalarial drugs, lumefantrine, artemether and their respective metabolites desbutyl-lumefantrine and dihydroartemisinin, and the HIV drugs efavirenz, nevirapine and lopinavir/ritonavir. METHOD: Data from two clinical studies, investigating the influence of the HIV drugs efavirenz, nevirapine and lopinavir/ritonavir on the pharmacokinetics of the antimalarial drugs lumefantrine, artemether and their respective metabolites, in HIV infected patients were pooled and analyzed using a non-linear mixed effects modelling approach. RESULTS: Efavirenz and nevirapine significantly decreased the terminal exposure to lumefantrine (decrease of 69.9% and 25.2%, respectively) while lopinavir/ritonavir substantially increased the exposure (increase of 439%). All antiretroviral drugs decreased the total exposure to dihydroartemisinin (decrease of 71.7%, 41.3% and 59.7% for efavirenz, nevirapine and ritonavir/lopinavir, respectively). Simulations suggest that a substantially increased artemether-lumefantrine dose is required to achieve equivalent exposures when co-administered with efavirenz (250% increase) and nevirapine (75% increase). When co-administered with lopinavir/ritonavir it is unclear if the increased lumefantrine exposure compensates adequately for the reduced dihydroartemisinin exposure and thus whether dose adjustment is required. CONCLUSION: There are substantial drug interactions between artemether-lumefantrine and efavirenz, nevirapine and ritonavir/lopinavir. Given the readily saturable absorption of lumefantrine, the dose adjustments predicted to be necessary will need to be evaluated prospectively in malaria-HIV co-infected patients.

Dance DAB. 2015. Editorial commentary: melioidosis in Puerto Rico: the iceberg slowly emerges. Clin Infect Dis, 60 (2), pp. 251-253. | Citations: 20 (European Pubmed Central) | Read more

Takala-Harrison S, Jacob CG, Arze C, Cummings MP, Silva JC, Dondorp AM, Fukuda MM, Hien TT, Mayxay M, Noedl H et al. 2015. Independent emergence of artemisinin resistance mutations among Plasmodium falciparum in Southeast Asia. J Infect Dis, 211 (5), pp. 670-679. | Citations: 192 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The emergence of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Southeast Asia threatens malaria treatment efficacy. Mutations in a kelch protein encoded on P. falciparum chromosome 13 (K13) have been associated with resistance in vitro and in field samples from Cambodia. METHODS: P. falciparum infections from artesunate efficacy trials in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam were genotyped at 33 716 genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Linear mixed models were used to test associations between parasite genotypes and parasite clearance half-lives following artesunate treatment. K13 mutations were tested for association with artemisinin resistance, and extended haplotypes on chromosome 13 were examined to determine whether mutations arose focally and spread or whether they emerged independently. RESULTS: The presence of nonreference K13 alleles was associated with prolonged parasite clearance half-life (P = 1.97 × 10(-12)). Parasites with a mutation in any of the K13 kelch domains displayed longer parasite clearance half-lives than parasites with wild-type alleles. Haplotype analysis revealed both population-specific emergence of mutations and independent emergence of the same mutation in different geographic areas. CONCLUSIONS: K13 appears to be a major determinant of artemisinin resistance throughout Southeast Asia. While we found some evidence of spreading resistance, there was no evidence of resistance moving westward from Cambodia into Myanmar.

Lampah DA, Yeo TW, Malloy M, Kenangalem E, Douglas NM, Ronaldo D, Sugiarto P, Simpson JA, Poespoprodjo JR, Anstey NM, Price RN. 2015. Severe malarial thrombocytopenia: a risk factor for mortality in Papua, Indonesia. J Infect Dis, 211 (4), pp. 623-634. | Citations: 20 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The significance of thrombocytopenia to the morbidity and mortality of malaria is poorly defined. We compared the platelet counts and clinical correlates of patients with and those without malaria in southern Papua, Indonesia. METHODS: Data were collated on patients presenting to a referral hospital between April 2004 and December 2012. RESULTS: Platelet measurements were available in 215 479 patients (23.4%), 66 421 (30.8%) of whom had clinical malaria. Patients with Plasmodium falciparum monoinfection had the lowest platelet counts and greatest risk of severe thrombocytopenia (platelet count, <50,000 platelets/µL), compared with those without malaria (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 6.03; 95% confidence interval [CI], 5.77-6.30]). The corresponding risks were 5.4 (95% CI, 5.02-5.80) for mixed infections, 3.73 (95% CI, 3.51-3.97) for Plasmodium vivax infection, and 2.16 (95% CI, 1.78-2.63) for Plasmodium malariae infection (P<.001). In total, 1.3% of patients (2701 of 215 479) died. Patients with severe malarial anemia alone (hemoglobin level, <5 g/dL) had an adjusted OR for death of 4.93 (95% CI, 3.79-6.42), those with severe malarial thrombocytopenia alone had an adjusted OR of 2.77 (95% CI, 2.20-3.48), and those with both risk factors had an adjusted OR of 13.76 (95% CI, 10.22-18.54; P<.001). CONCLUSIONS: Severe thrombocytopenia identifies both children and adults at increased risk of death from falciparum or vivax malaria, particularly in those with concurrent severe anemia.

Suwanarusk R, Russell B, Ong A, Sriprawat K, Chu CS, PyaePhyo A, Malleret B, Nosten F, Renia L. 2015. Methylene blue inhibits the asexual development of vivax malaria parasites from a region of increasing chloroquine resistance. J Antimicrob Chemother, 70 (1), pp. 124-129. | Citations: 13 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: Methylene blue, once discarded due to its unsettling yet mild side effects, has now found a renewed place in the pharmacopoeia of modern medicine. The continued spread of drug-resistant Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum has also led to a recent re-examination of methylene blue's potent antimalarial properties. Here we examine the ex vivo susceptibility profile of Plasmodium spp. isolates to methylene blue; the isolates were from a region on the Thai-Myanmar border where there are increasing rates of failure when treating vivax malaria with chloroquine. METHODS: To do this we used a newly developed ex vivo susceptibility assay utilizing flow cytometry and a portable flow cytometer with a near-UV laser. RESULTS: P. vivax (median methylene blue IC50 3.1 nM, IQR 1.7-4.3 nM) and P. falciparum (median methylene blue IC50 1.8 nM, IQR 1.6-2.3 nM) are susceptible to methylene blue treatment at physiologically relevant levels. Unfortunately, the addition of chloroquine to combination treatments with methylene blue significantly reduces the ex vivo effectiveness of this molecule. CONCLUSIONS: Our data support further efforts to employ methylene blue as a safe, low-cost antimalarial to treat drug-resistant malaria.

Pratt B, Lwin KM, Zion D, Nosten F, Loff B, Cheah PY. 2015. Exploitation and community engagement: can community advisory boards successfully assume a role minimising exploitation in international research? Dev World Bioeth, 15 (1), pp. 18-26. | Citations: 16 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

It has been suggested that community advisory boards (CABs) can play a role in minimising exploitation in international research. To get a better idea of what this requires and whether it might be achievable, the paper first describes core elements that we suggest must be in place for a CAB to reduce the potential for exploitation. The paper then examines a CAB established by the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit under conditions common in resource-poor settings - namely, where individuals join with a very limited understanding of disease and medical research and where an existing organisational structure is not relied upon to serve as the CAB. Using the Tak Province Border Community Ethics Advisory Board (T-CAB) as a case study, we assess the extent to which it might be able to take on a role minimising exploitation were it to decide to do so. We investigate whether, after two years in operation, T-CAB is capable of assessing clinical trials for exploitative features and addressing those found to have them. The findings show that, although T-CAB members have gained knowledge and developed capacities that are foundational for one-day taking on a role to reduce exploitation, their ability to critically evaluate studies for the presence of exploitative elements has not yet been strongly demonstrated. In light of this example, we argue that CABs may not be able to perform such a role for a number of years after initial formation, making it an unsuitable responsibility for many short-term CABs.

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