Publications 2017

Tripura R, Peto TJ, Veugen CC, Nguon C, Davoeung C, James N, Dhorda M, Maude RJ, Duanguppama J, Patumrat K et al. 2017. Submicroscopic Plasmodium prevalence in relation to malaria incidence in 20 villages in western Cambodia. Malar J, 16 (1), pp. 56. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Cambodia has seen a marked reduction in the incidence of Plasmodium falciparum over the past decade without a corresponding decline in Plasmodium vivax incidence. It is unknown to what extent local transmission is sustained by a chain of clinical and sub-clinical infections or by continued re-introduction via migration. Using an ultrasensitive molecular technique, 20 villages in western Cambodia were surveyed to detect the low season prevalence of P. falciparum and P. vivax and local treatment records were reviewed. METHODS: During March to May 2015 cross-sectional surveys were conducted in 20 villages in Battambang, western Cambodia. Demographic and epidemiological data and venous blood samples were collected from 50 randomly selected adult volunteers in each village. Blood was tested for Plasmodium infections by rapid diagnostic test (RDT), microscopy and high volume (0.5 ml packed red blood cell) quantitative polymerase chain reaction (uPCR). Positive samples were analysed by nested PCR to determine the Plasmodium species. Malaria case records were collected from the Provincial Health Department and village malaria workers to determine incidence and migration status. RESULTS: Among the 1000 participants, 91 (9.1%) were positive for any Plasmodium infection by uPCR, seven (0.7%) by microscopy, and two (0.2%) by RDT. uPCR P. vivax prevalence was 6.6%, P. falciparum 0.7%, and undetermined Plasmodium species 1.8%. Being male (adjusted OR 2.0; 95% CI 1.2-3.4); being a young adult <30 years (aOR 2.1; 95% CI 1.3-3.4); recent forest travel (aOR 2.8; 95% CI 1.6-4.8); and, a history of malaria (aOR 5.2; 95% CI 2.5-10.7) were independent risk factors for parasitaemia. Of the clinical malaria cases diagnosed by village malaria workers, 43.9% (297/634) and 38.4% (201/523) were among migrants in 2013 and in 2014, respectively. Plasmodium vivax prevalence determined by uPCR significantly correlated with vivax malaria incidences in both 2014 and 2015 (p = 0.001 and 0.002, respectively), whereas no relationship was observed in falciparum malaria (p = 0.36 and p = 0.59, respectively). DISCUSSION: There was heterogeneity in the malaria parasite reservoir between villages, and Plasmodium prevalence correlated with subsequent malaria incidence. The association was attributable chiefly to P. vivax infections, which were nine-fold more prevalent than P. falciparum infections. In the absence of a radical cure with 8-aminoquinolines, P. vivax transmission will continue even as P. falciparum prevalence declines. Migration was associated with over a third of incident cases of clinical malaria. Trial registration (NCT01872702). Registered 4 June 2013.

Salter SJ, Turner C, Watthanaworawit W, de Goffau MC, Wagner J, Parkhill J, Bentley SD, Goldblatt D, Nosten F, Turner P. 2017. A longitudinal study of the infant nasopharyngeal microbiota: The effects of age, illness and antibiotic use in a cohort of South East Asian children. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11 (10), pp. e0005975. | Show Abstract | Read more

A longitudinal study was undertaken in infants living in the Maela refugee camp on the Thailand-Myanmar border between 2007 and 2010. Nasopharyngeal swabs were collected monthly, from birth to 24 months of age, with additional swabs taken if the infant was diagnosed with pneumonia according to WHO clinical criteria. At the time of collection, swabs were cultured for Streptococcus pneumoniae and multiple serotype carriage was assessed. The bacterial 16S rRNA gene profiles of 544 swabs from 21 infants were analysed to see how the microbiota changes with age, respiratory infection, antibiotic consumption and pneumococcal acquisition. The nasopharyngeal microbiota is a somewhat homogenous community compared to that of other body sites. In this cohort it is dominated by five taxa: Moraxella, Streptococcus, Haemophilus, Corynebacterium and an uncharacterized Flavobacteriaceae taxon of 93% nucleotide similarity to Ornithobacterium. Infant age correlates with certain changes in the microbiota across the cohort: Staphylococcus and Corynebacterium are associated with the first few months of life while Moraxella and the uncharacterised Flavobacteriaceae increase in proportional abundance with age. Respiratory illness and antibiotic use often coincide with an unpredictable perturbation of the microbiota that differs from infant to infant and in different illness episodes. The previously described interaction between Dolosigranulum and Streptococcus was observed in these data. Monthly sampling demonstrates that the nasopharyngeal microbiota is in flux throughout the first two years of life, and that in this refugee camp population the pool of potential bacterial colonisers may be limited.

Brady OJ, Slater HC, Pemberton-Ross P, Wenger E, Maude RJ, Ghani AC, Penny MA, Gerardin J, White LJ, Chitnis N et al. 2017. Model citizen - Authors' reply. Lancet Glob Health, 5 (10), pp. e974. | Read more

Imwong M, Hien TT, Thuy-Nhien NT, Dondorp AM, White NJ. 2017. Spread of a single multidrug resistant malaria parasite lineage (PfPailin) to Vietnam. Lancet Infect Dis, 17 (10), pp. 1022-1023. | Read more

Bonell A, Lubell Y, Newton PN, Crump JA, Paris DH. 2017. Estimating the burden of scrub typhus: A systematic review. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11 (9), pp. e0005838. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Scrub typhus is a vector-borne zoonotic disease that can be life-threatening. There are no licensed vaccines, or vector control efforts in place. Despite increasing awareness in endemic regions, the public health burden and global distribution of scrub typhus remains poorly known. METHODS: We systematically reviewed all literature from public health records, fever studies and reports available on the Ovid MEDLINE, Embase Classic + Embase and EconLit databases, to estimate the burden of scrub typhus since the year 2000. FINDINGS: In prospective fever studies from Asia, scrub typhus is a leading cause of treatable non-malarial febrile illness. Sero-epidemiological data also suggest that Orientia tsutsugamushi infection is common across Asia, with seroprevalence ranging from 9.3%-27.9% (median 22.2% IQR 18.6-25.7). A substantial apparent rise in minimum disease incidence (median 4.6/100,000/10 years, highest in China with 11.2/100,000/10 years) was reported through passive national surveillance systems in South Korea, Japan, China, and Thailand. Case fatality risks from areas of reduced drug-susceptibility are reported at 12.2% and 13.6% for South India and northern Thailand, respectively. Mortality reports vary widely around a median mortality of 6.0% for untreated and 1.4% for treated scrub typhus. Limited evidence suggests high mortality in complicated scrub typhus with CNS involvement (13.6% mortality), multi-organ dysfunction (24.1%) and high pregnancy miscarriage rates with poor neonatal outcomes. INTERPRETATION: Scrub typhus appears to be a truly neglected tropical disease mainly affecting rural populations, but increasingly also metropolitan areas. Rising minimum incidence rates have been reported over the past 8-10 years from countries with an established surveillance system. A wider distribution of scrub typhus beyond Asia is likely, based on reports from South America and Africa. Unfortunately, the quality and quantity of the available data on scrub typhus epidemiology is currently too limited for any economical, mathematical modeling or mapping approaches.

Dunachie SJ, Jenjaroen K, Reynolds CJ, Quigley KJ, Sergeant R, Sumonwiriya M, Chaichana P, Chumseng S, Ariyaprasert P, Lassaux P et al. 2017. Infection with Burkholderia pseudomallei - immune correlates of survival in acute melioidosis. Sci Rep, 7 (1), pp. 12143. | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis, caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei, is a potentially lethal infection with no licensed vaccine. There is little understanding of why some exposed individuals have no symptoms, while others rapidly progress to sepsis and death, or why diabetes confers increased susceptibility. We prospectively recruited a cohort of 183 acute melioidosis patients and 21 control subjects from Northeast Thailand and studied immune parameters in the context of survival status and the presence or absence of diabetes. HLA-B*46 (one of the commonest HLA class I alleles in SE Asia) and HLA-C*01 were associated with an increased risk of death (odds ratio 2.8 and 3.1 respectively). Transcriptomic analysis during acute infection in diabetics indicated the importance of interplay between immune pathways including those involved in antigen presentation, chemotaxis, innate and adaptive immunity and their regulation. Survival was associated with enhanced T cell immunity to nine of fifteen immunodominant antigens analysed including AhpC (BPSL2096), BopE (BPSS1525), PilO (BPSS1599), ATP binding protein (BPSS1385) and an uncharacterised protein (BPSL2520). T cell immunity to GroEL (BPSL2697) was specifically impaired in diabetic individuals. This characterization of immunity associated with survival during acute infection offers insights into correlates of protection and a foundation for design of an effective multivalent vaccine.

White NJ, Watson J, Ashley EA. 2017. Split dosing of artemisinins does not improve antimalarial therapeutic efficacy. Sci Rep, 7 (1), pp. 12132. | Show Abstract | Read more

It has been suggested recently, based on pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic modelling exercises, that twice daily dosing of artemisinins increases malaria parasite killing and so could "dramatically enhance and restore drug effectiveness" in artemisinin resistant P. falciparum malaria infections. It was recommended that split dosing should be incorporated into all artemisinin combination regimen designs. To explain why parasite clearance rates were not faster with split dose regimens it was concluded that splenic malaria parasite clearance capacity was readily exceeded, resulting in the accumulation of dead parasites in the circulation, that parasite clearance was therefore an unreliable measure of drug efficacy, and instead that human immunity is the primary determinant of clearance rates. To test these various hypotheses we performed a logistic meta-regression analysis of cure rates from all falciparum malaria treatment trials (n = 40) with monotherapy arms containing artemisinin or a derivative (76 arms). There was no evidence that split dosing enhanced cure rates.

Cheong E, Roberts T, Rattanavong S, Riley TV, Newton PN, Dance DAB. 2017. Clostridium difficile infection in the Lao People's Democratic Republic: first isolation and review of the literature. BMC Infect Dis, 17 (1), pp. 635. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Current knowledge of the epidemiology of Clostridium difficile infection in Asia, and in particular the Greater Mekong Subregion, is very limited. Only a few studies from Thailand and Vietnam have been reported from the region with variable testing methods and results, and no studies from Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR). Therefore we investigated the presence of C. difficile in a single centre in the Lao PDR and determined the ribotypes present. METHOD: Seventy unformed stool samples from hospital inpatients at Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, were tested for the presence of C. difficile using selective differential agar and confirmed by latex agglutination. C. difficile isolates were further characterised by ribotyping and toxin gene detection. RESULTS: C. difficile was isolated from five of the 70 patients, and five different ribotypes were identified (014, 017, 020, QX 107 and QX 574). CONCLUSION: This is the first isolation of C. difficile from human stool samples in the Lao PDR. These results will add to the limited amount of data on C. difficile in the region. In addition, we hope this information will alert clinicians to the presence of C. difficile in the country and will help inform future investigations into the epidemiology and diagnosis of C. difficile in Lao PDR.

Lohy Das J, Dondorp AM, Nosten F, Phyo AP, Hanpithakpong W, Ringwald P, Lim P, White NJ, Karlsson MO, Bergstrand M, Tarning J. 2017. Population Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Modeling of Artemisinin Resistance in Southeast Asia. AAPS J, pp. 1-13. | Show Abstract | Read more

Orally administered artemisinin-based combination therapy is the first-line treatment against uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria worldwide. However, the increasing prevalence of artemisinin resistance is threatening efforts to treat and eliminate malaria in Southeast Asia. This study aimed to characterize the exposure-response relationship of artesunate in patients with artemisinin sensitive and resistant malaria infections. Patients were recruited in Pailin, Cambodia (n = 39), and Wang Pha, Thailand (n = 40), and received either 2 mg/kg/day of artesunate mono-therapy for 7 consecutive days or 4 mg/kg/day of artesunate monotherapy for 3 consecutive days followed by mefloquine 15 and 10 mg/kg for 2 consecutive days. Plasma concentrations of artesunate and its active metabolite, dihydroartemisinin, and microscopy-based parasite densities were measured and evaluated using nonlinear mixed-effects modeling. All treatments were well tolerated with minor and transient adverse reactions. Patients in Cambodia had substantially slower parasite clearance compared to patients in Thailand. The pharmacokinetic properties of artesunate and dihydroartemisinin were well described by transit-compartment absorption followed by one-compartment disposition models. Parasite density was a significant covariate, and higher parasite densities were associated with increased absorption. Dihydroartemisinin-dependent parasite killing was described by a delayed sigmoidal Emax model, and a mixture function was implemented to differentiate between sensitive and resistant infections. This predicted that 84% and 16% of infections in Cambodia and Thailand, respectively, were artemisinin resistant. The final model was used to develop a simple diagnostic nomogram to identify patients with artemisinin-resistant infections. The nomogram showed > 80% specificity and sensitivity, and outperformed the current practice of day 3 positivity testing.

Sumonwiriya M, Paris DH, Sunyakumthorn P, Anantatat T, Jenjaroen K, Chumseng S, Im-Erbsin R, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Jintaworn S, Blacksell SD et al. 2017. Strong interferon-gamma mediated cellular immunity to scrub typhus demonstrated using a novel whole cell antigen ELISpot assay in rhesus macaques and humans. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11 (9), pp. e0005846. | Show Abstract | Read more

Scrub typhus is a febrile infection caused by the obligate intracellular bacterium Orientia tsutsugamushi, which causes significant morbidity and mortality across the Asia-Pacific region. The control of this vector-borne disease is challenging due to humans being dead-end hosts, vertical maintenance of the pathogen in the vector itself, and a potentially large rodent reservoir of unclear significance, coupled with a lack of accurate diagnostic tests. Development of an effective vaccine is highly desirable. This however requires better characterization of the natural immune response of this neglected but important disease. Here we implement a novel IFN-γ ELISpot assay as a tool for studying O. tsutsugamushi induced cellular immune responses in an experimental scrub typhus rhesus macaque model and human populations. Whole cell antigen for O. tsutsugamushi (OT-WCA) was prepared by heat inactivation of Karp-strain bacteria. Rhesus macaques were infected intradermally with O. tsutsugamushi. Freshly isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from infected (n = 10) and uninfected animals (n = 5) were stimulated with OT-WCA, and IFN-γ secreting cells quantitated by ELISpot assay at five time points over 28 days. PBMC were then assayed from people in a scrub typhus-endemic region of Thailand (n = 105) and responses compared to those from a partially exposed population in a non-endemic region (n = 14), and to a naïve population in UK (n = 12). Mean results at Day 0 prior to O. tsutsugamushi infection were 12 (95% CI 0-25) and 15 (2-27) spot-forming cells (SFC)/106 PBMC for infected and control macaques respectively. Strong O. tsutsugamushi-specific IFN-γ responses were seen post infection, with ELISpot responses 20-fold higher than baseline at Day 7 (mean 235, 95% CI 200-270 SFC/106 PBMC), 105-fold higher at Day 14 (mean 1261, 95% CI 1,097-1,425 SFC/106 PBMC), 125-fold higher at Day 21 (mean 1,498, 95% CI 1,496-1,500 SFC/106 PBMC) and 118-fold higher at Day 28 (mean 1,416, 95% CI 1,306-1,527 SFC/106 PBMC). No significant change was found in the control group at any time point compared to baseline. Humans from a scrub typhus endemic region of Thailand had mean responses of 189 (95% CI 88-290) SFC/106 PBMC compared to mean responses of 40 (95% CI 9-71) SFC/106 PBMC in people from a non-endemic region and 3 (95% CI 0-7) SFC/106 PBMC in naïve controls. In summary, this highly sensitive assay will enable field immunogenicity studies and further characterization of the host response to O. tsutsugamushi, and provides a link between human and animal models to accelerate vaccine development.

Soontarawirat I, Andolina C, Paul R, Day NPJ, Nosten F, Woodrow CJ, Imwong M. 2017. Plasmodium vivax genetic diversity and heterozygosity in blood samples and resulting oocysts at the Thai-Myanmar border. Malar J, 16 (1), pp. 355. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Polyclonal blood-stage infections of Plasmodium vivax are frequent even in low transmission settings, allowing meiotic recombination between heterologous parasites. Empirical data on meiotic products are however lacking. This study examined microsatellites in oocysts derived by membrane feeding of mosquitoes from blood-stage P. vivax infections at the Thai-Myanmar border. METHODS: Blood samples from patients presenting with vivax malaria were fed to Anopheles cracens by membrane feeding and individual oocysts from midguts were obtained by dissection after 7 days. DNA was extracted from oocysts and parental blood samples and tested by microsatellite analysis. RESULTS: A focused study of eight microsatellite markers was undertaken for nine blood stage infections from 2013, for which derived oocysts were studied in six cases. One or more alleles were successfully amplified for 131 oocysts, revealing high levels of allelic diversity in both blood and oocyst stages. Based on standard criteria for defining minor alleles, there was evidence of clear deviation from random mating (inbreeding) with relatively few heterozygous oocysts compared to variance across the entire oocyst population (FIT = 0.89). The main explanation appeared to be natural compartmentalisation at mosquito (FSC = 0.27) and human stages (FCT = 0.68). One single human case produced a total of 431 successfully amplified loci (across 70 oocysts) that were homozygous and identical to parental alleles at all markers, indicating clonal infection and transmission. Heterozygous oocyst alleles were found at 15/176 (8.5%) successfully amplified loci in the other five cases. There was apparently reduced oocyst heterozygosity in individual oocysts compared to diversity within individual mosquitoes (FIS = 0.55), but this may simply reflect the difficulty of detecting minor alleles in oocysts, given the high rate of amplification failure. Inclusion of minor allele peaks (irrespective of height) when matching peaks were found in related blood or oocyst samples, added 11 minor alleles for 9 oocysts, increasing the number of heterozygous loci to 26/176 (14.8%; p = 0.096). CONCLUSION: There was an apparently low level of heterozygous oocysts but this can be explained by a combination of factors: relatively low complexity of parental infection, natural compartmentalisation in humans and mosquitoes, and the methodological challenge of detecting minor alleles.

Abdad MY, Abdallah RA, Karkouri KE, Beye M, Stenos J, Owen H, Unsworth N, Robertson I, Blacksell SD, Nguyen TT et al. 2017. Rickettsia gravesii sp. nov.: a novel spotted fever group rickettsia in Western Australian Amblyomma triguttatum triguttatum ticks. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol, 67 (9), pp. 3156-3161. | Show Abstract | Read more

A rickettsial organism harboured by Amblyomma triguttatum ticks on Barrow Island, Western Australia, was discovered after reports of possible rickettsiosis among local workers. Subsequent isolation of this rickettsia (strain BWI-1) in cell culture and analysis of its phylogenetic, genotypic and phenotypic relationships with type strains of Rickettsia species with standing in nomenclature suggested that it was sufficiently divergent to warrant its classification as a new species. Multiple gene comparison of strain BWI-1 revealed degrees of sequence similarity with Rickettsia raoultii, its closest relative, of 99.58, 98.89, 97.03, 96.93 and 95.73 % for the 16S rRNA, citrate synthase, ompA, ompB and sca4 genes, respectively. Serotyping in mice also demonstrated that strain BWI-1T was distinct from Rickettsia raoultii. Thus, we propose the naming of a new species, Rickettsia gravesii sp. nov., based on its novel genotypic and phenotypic characteristics. Strain BWI-1T was deposited in the ATCC, CSUR and ARRL collections under reference numbers VR-1664, CSUR R172 and RGBWI-1, respectively.

Blessborn D, Kaewkhao K, Song L, White NJ, Day NPJ, Tarning J. 2017. Quantification of the antimalarial drug pyronaridine in whole blood using LC-MS/MS - Increased sensitivity resulting from reduced non-specific binding. J Pharm Biomed Anal, 146 pp. 214-219. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria is one of the most important parasitic diseases of man. The development of drug resistance in malaria parasites is an inevitable consequence of their widespread and often unregulated use. There is an urgent need for new and effective drugs. Pyronaridine is a known antimalarial drug that has received renewed interest as a partner drug in artemisinin-based combination therapy. To study its pharmacokinetic properties, particularly in field settings, it is necessary to develop and validate a robust, highly sensitive and accurate bioanalytical method for drug measurements in biological samples. We have developed a sensitive quantification method that covers a wide range of clinically relevant concentrations (1.5ng/mL to 882ng/mL) using a relatively low volume sample of 100μL of whole blood. Total run time is 5min and precision is within ±15% at all concentration levels. Pyronaridine was extracted on a weak cation exchange solid-phase column (SPE) and separated on a HALO RP amide fused-core column using a gradient mobile phase of acetonitrile-ammonium formate and acetonitrile-methanol. Detection was performed using electrospray ionization and tandem mass spectrometry (positive ion mode with selected reaction monitoring). The developed method is suitable for implementation in high-throughput routine drug analysis, and was used to quantify pyronaridine accurately for up to 42days after a single oral dose in a drug-drug interaction study in healthy volunteers.

Nguyen VH, Dubot-Pérès A, Russell FM, Dance DAB, Vilivong K, Phommachan S, Syladeth C, Lai J, Lim R, Morpeth M et al. 2017. Acute respiratory infections in hospitalized children in Vientiane, Lao PDR - the importance of Respiratory Syncytial Virus. Sci Rep, 7 (1), pp. 9318. | Show Abstract | Read more

The Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is one of the most important viral pathogens, causing epidemics of acute respiratory infection (ARI), especially bronchiolitis and pneumonia, in children worldwide. To investigate the RSV burden in Laos, we conducted a one-year study in children <5 years old admitted to Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane Capital, to describe clinical and epidemiological characteristics and predictive factors for severity of RSV-associated ARI. Pooled nasal and throat swabs were tested using multiplex real-time PCR for 33 respiratory pathogens (FTD(®) kit). A total of 383 patients were included, 277 (72.3%) of whom presented with pneumonia. 377 (98.4%) patients were positive for at least one microorganism, of which RSV was the most common virus (41.0%), with a peak observed between June and September, corresponding to the rainy season. Most RSV inpatients had pneumonia (84.1%), of whom 35% had severe pneumonia. Children <3-months old were a high-risk group for severe pneumonia, independently of RSV infection. Our study suggests that RSV infection is frequent in Laos and commonly associated with pneumonia in hospitalized young children. Further investigations are required to provide a better overall view of the Lao nationwide epidemiology and public health burden of RSV infection over time.

Fanello C, Onyamboko M, Lee SJ, Woodrow C, Setaphan S, Chotivanich K, Buffet P, Jauréguiberry S, Rockett K, Stepniewska K et al. 2017. Post-treatment haemolysis in African children with hyperparasitaemic falciparum malaria; a randomized comparison of artesunate and quinine. BMC Infect Dis, 17 (1), pp. 575. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Parenteral artesunate is the treatment of choice for severe malaria. Recently, haemolytic anaemia occurring 1 to 3 weeks after artesunate treatment of falciparum malaria has been reported in returning travellers in temperate countries. METHODS: To assess these potential safety concerns in African children, in whom most deaths from malaria occur, an open-labelled, randomized controlled trial was conducted in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. 217 children aged between 6 months and 14 years with acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria and parasite densities over 100,000/μL were randomly allocated to intravenous artesunate or quinine, hospitalized for 3 days and then followed for 42 days. RESULTS: The immediate reduction in haemoglobin was less with artesunate than with quinine: median (IQR) fall at 72 h 1.4 g/dL (0.90-1.95) vs. 1.7 g/dL (1.10-2.40) (p = 0.009). This was explained by greater pitting then recirculation of once infected erythrocytes. Only 5% of patients (in both groups) had a ≥ 10% reduction in haemoglobin after day 7 (p = 0.1). One artesunate treated patient with suspected concomitant sepsis had a protracted clinical course and required a blood transfusion on day 14. CONCLUSIONS: Clinically significant delayed haemolysis following parenteral artesunate is uncommon in African children hospitalised with acute falciparum malaria and high parasitaemias. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ; Identifier: NCT02092766 (18/03/2014).

Devine A, Harvey R, Min AM, Gilder MET, Paw MK, Kang J, Watts I, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Nosten F, McGready R. 2017. Strategies for the prevention of perinatal hepatitis B transmission in a marginalized population on the Thailand-Myanmar border: a cost-effectiveness analysis. BMC Infect Dis, 17 (1), pp. 552. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Data on the cost effectiveness of hepatitis B virus (HBV) screening and vaccination strategies for prevention of vertical transmission of HBV in resource limited settings is sparse. METHODS: A decision tree model of HBV prevention strategies utilised data from a cohort of 7071 pregnant women on the Thailand-Myanmar border using a provider perspective. All options included universal HBV vaccination for newborns in three strategies: (1) universal vaccination alone; (2) universal vaccination with screening of women during antenatal visits with rapid diagnostic test (RDT) plus HBV immune globulin (HBIG) administration to newborns of HBV surface antigen positive women; and (3) universal vaccination with screening of women during antenatal visits plus HBIG administration to newborns of women testing HBV e antigen positive by confirmatory test. At the time of the study, the HBIG after confirmatory test strategy was used. The costs in United States Dollars (US$), infections averted and incremental cost effectiveness ratios (ICERs) were calculated and sensitivity analyses were conducted. A willingness to pay threshold of US$1200 was used. RESULTS: The universal HBV vaccination was the least costly option at US$4.33 per woman attending the clinic. The HBIG after (RDT) strategy had an ICER of US$716.78 per infection averted. The HBIG after confirmatory test strategy was not cost-effective due to extended dominance. The one-way sensitivity analysis showed that while the transmission parameters and cost of HBIG had the biggest impact on outcomes, the HBIG after confirmatory test only became a cost-effective option when a low test cost was used or a high HBIG cost was used. The probabilistic sensitivity analysis showed that HBIG after RDT had an 87% likelihood of being cost-effective as compared to vaccination only at a willingness to pay threshold of US$1200. CONCLUSIONS: HBIG following confirmatory test is not a cost-effective strategy for preventing vertical transmission of HBV in the Thailand-Myanmar border population. By switching to HBIG following rapid diagnostic test, perinatal infections will be reduced by nearly one third. This strategy may be applicable to similar settings for marginalized populations where the confirmatory test is not logistically possible.

Shabani SH, Zakeri S, Salmanian AH, Amani J, Mehrizi AA, Snounou G, Nosten F, Andolina C, Mourtazavi Y, Djadid ND. 2017. Biological, immunological and functional properties of two novel multi-variant chimeric recombinant proteins of CSP antigens for vaccine development against Plasmodium vivax infection. Mol Immunol, 90 pp. 158-171. | Show Abstract | Read more

The circumsporozoite protein (CSP) of the malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax is a major pre-erythrocyte vaccine candidate. The protein has a central repeat region that belongs to one of repeat families (VK210, VK247, and the P. vivax-like). In the present study, computer modelling was employed to select chimeric proteins, comprising the conserved regions and different arrangements of the repeat elements (VK210 and VK247), whose structure is similar to that of the native counterparts. DNA encoding the selected chimeras (named CS127 and CS712) were synthetically constructed based on E. coli codons, then cloned and expressed. Mouse monoclonal antibodies (mAbs; anti-Pv-210-CDC and -Pv-247-CDC), recognized the chimeric antigens in ELISA, indicating correct conformation and accessibility of the B-cell epitopes. ELISA using IgG from plasma samples collected from 221 Iranian patients with acute P. vivax showed that only 49.32% of the samples reacted to both CS127 and CS712 proteins. The dominant subclass for the two chimeras was IgG1 (48% of the positive responders, OD492=0.777±0.420 for CS127; 48.41% of the positive responders, OD492=0.862±0.423 for CS712, with no statistically significant difference P>0.05; Wilcoxon signed ranks test). Binding assays showed that both chimeric proteins bound to immobilized heparan sulphate and HepG2 hepatocyte cells in a concentration-dependent manner, saturable at 80μg/mL. Additionally, anti-CS127 and -CS712 antibodies raised in mice recognized the native protein on the surface of P. vivax sporozoite with high intensity, confirming the presence of common epitopes between the recombinant forms and the native proteins. In summary, despite structural differences at the molecular level, the expression levels of both chimeras were satisfactory, and their conformational structure retained biological function, thus supporting their potential for use in the development of vivax-based vaccine.

Das S, Jang IK, Barney B, Peck R, Rek JC, Arinaitwe E, Adrama H, Murphy M, Imwong M, Ling CL et al. 2017. Performance of a High-Sensitivity Rapid Diagnostic Test for Plasmodium falciparum Malaria in Asymptomatic Individuals from Uganda and Myanmar and Naive Human Challenge Infections. Am J Trop Med Hyg, | Show Abstract | Read more

Sensitive field-deployable diagnostic tests can assist malaria programs in achieving elimination. The performance of a new Alere™ Malaria Ag P.f Ultra Sensitive rapid diagnostic test (uRDT) was compared with the currently available SD Bioline Malaria Ag P.f RDT in blood specimens from asymptomatic individuals in Nagongera, Uganda, and in a Karen Village, Myanmar, representative of high- and low-transmission areas, respectively, as well as in pretreatment specimens from study participants from four Plasmodium falciparum-induced blood-stage malaria (IBSM) studies. A quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) and a highly sensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test for histidine-rich protein II (HRP2) were used as reference assays. The uRDT showed a greater than 10-fold lower limit of detection for HRP2 compared with the RDT. The sensitivity of the uRDT was 84% and 44% against qRT-PCR in Uganda and Myanmar, respectively, and that of the RDT was 62% and 0% for the same two sites. The specificities of the uRDT were 92% and 99.8% against qRT-PCR for Uganda and Myanmar, respectively, and 99% and 99.8% against the HRP2 reference ELISA. The RDT had specificities of 95% and 100% against qRT-PCR for Uganda and Myanmar, respectively, and 96% and 100% against the HRP2 reference ELISA. The uRDT detected new infections in IBSM study participants 1.5 days sooner than the RDT. The uRDT has the same workflow as currently available RDTs, but improved performance characteristics to identify asymptomatic malaria infections. The uRDT may be a useful tool for malaria elimination strategies.

Zellweger RM, Carrique-Mas J, Limmathurotsakul D, Day NPJ, Thwaites GE, Baker S, Southeast Asia Antimicrobial Resistance Network. 2017. A current perspective on antimicrobial resistance in Southeast Asia. J Antimicrob Chemother, | Show Abstract | Read more

Southeast Asia, a vibrant region that has recently undergone unprecedented economic development, is regarded as a global hotspot for the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Understanding AMR in Southeast Asia is crucial for assessing how to control AMR on an international scale. Here we (i) describe the current AMR situation in Southeast Asia, (ii) explore the mechanisms that make Southeast Asia a focal region for the emergence of AMR, and (iii) propose ways in which Southeast Asia could contribute to a global solution.

Pol S, Fox-Lewis S, Cheah PY, Turner C. 2017. "Know your audience": A hospital community engagement programme in a non-profit paediatric hospital in Cambodia. PLoS One, 12 (8), pp. e0182573. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this evaluation is to explore the impact of the new hospital community engagement programme (comprised of a Young Persons Advisory Group and a Science Café) on community members and other stakeholders, with regard to their attitudes, skills and degree of engagement in a paediatric hospital in Cambodia. DESIGN: Data collection included feedback questionnaires and reflections produced after each YPAG and Science Café event. Further questionnaires and reflective interviews were conducted to gather the views of key stakeholders. Data were analysed by thematic content analysis and numerical data were expressed using descriptive statistics. RESULTS: The vast majority of participants expressed their enjoyment and satisfaction of the hospital community engagement programme. Delivering the programme in the right manner for the target audiences, by prioritising their needs was key to this. Participants valued the programmes in terms of the knowledge delivered around good health practices, the skills developed such as confidence and responsibility for their health, and the provision of opportunities to voice their opinions. All stakeholders recognised the importance of the programme in improving the quality of the healthcare service provided at the hospital. CONCLUSIONS: In order to have a successful hospital community engagement programme, understanding the target audience is essential. The engagement programme must be delivered in the right way to meet the needs of community members, including right communication, right setting, right people and right timing. This will ultimately result in a meaningful programme that is able to empower community members, potentially resulting in lasting change in healthcare practices. In conclusion, the gap between hospitals and the community could narrow, allowing everyone to interact and learn from each other.

Rutledge GG, Marr I, Huang GKL, Auburn S, Marfurt J, Sanders M, White NJ, Berriman M, Newbold CI, Anstey NM et al. 2017. Genomic Characterization of Recrudescent Plasmodium malariae after Treatment with Artemether/Lumefantrine. Emerg Infect Dis, 23 (8), pp. 1300-1307. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium malariae is the only human malaria parasite species with a 72-hour intraerythrocytic cycle and the ability to persist in the host for life. We present a case of a P. malariae infection with clinical recrudescence after directly observed administration of artemether/lumefantrine. By using whole-genome sequencing, we show that the initial infection was polyclonal and the recrudescent isolate was a single clone present at low density in the initial infection. Haplotypic analysis of the clones in the initial infection revealed that they were all closely related and were presumably recombinant progeny originating from the same infective mosquito bite. We review possible explanations for the P. malariae treatment failure and conclude that a 3-day artemether/lumefantrine regimen is suboptimal for this species because of its long asexual life cycle.

Lees JA, Croucher NJ, Goldblatt D, Nosten F, Parkhill J, Turner C, Turner P, Bentley SD. 2017. Genome-wide identification of lineage and locus specific variation associated with pneumococcal carriage duration. Elife, 6 | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Streptococcus pneumoniae is a leading cause of invasive disease in infants, especially in low-income settings. Asymptomatic carriage in the nasopharynx is a prerequisite for disease, but variability in its duration is currently only understood at the serotype level. Here we developed a model to calculate the duration of carriage episodes from longitudinal swab data, and combined these results with whole genome sequence data. We estimated that pneumococcal genomic variation accounted for 63% of the phenotype variation, whereas the host traits considered here (age and previous carriage) accounted for less than 5%. We further partitioned this heritability into both lineage and locus effects, and quantified the amount attributable to the largest sources of variation in carriage duration: serotype (17%), drug-resistance (9%) and other significant locus effects (7%). A pan-genome-wide association study identified prophage sequences as being associated with decreased carriage duration independent of serotype, potentially by disruption of the competence mechanism. These findings support theoretical models of pneumococcal competition and antibiotic resistance.

Rueangweerayut R, Bancone G, Harrell EJ, Beelen AP, Kongpatanakul S, Möhrle JJ, Rousell V, Mohamed K, Qureshi A, Narayan S et al. 2017. Hemolytic Potential of Tafenoquine in Female Volunteers Heterozygous for Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) Deficiency (G6PD Mahidol Variant) versus G6PD-Normal Volunteers. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 97 (3), pp. 702-711. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tafenoquine is an 8-aminoquinoline under investigation for the prevention of relapse in Plasmodium vivax malaria. This open-label, dose-escalation study assessed quantitatively the hemolytic risk with tafenoquine in female healthy volunteers heterozygous for the Mahidol(487A) glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD)-deficient variant versus G6PD-normal females, and with reference to primaquine. Six G6PD-heterozygous subjects (G6PD enzyme activity 40-60% of normal) and six G6PD-normal subjects per treatment group received single-dose tafenoquine (100, 200, or 300 mg) or primaquine (15 mg × 14 days). All participants had pretreatment hemoglobin levels ≥ 12.0 g/dL. Tafenoquine dose escalation stopped when hemoglobin decreased by ≥ 2.5 g/dL (or hematocrit decline ≥ 7.5%) versus pretreatment values in ≥ 3/6 subjects. A dose-response was evident in G6PD-heterozygous subjects (N = 15) receiving tafenoquine for the maximum decrease in hemoglobin versus pretreatment values. Hemoglobin declines were similar for tafenoquine 300 mg (-2.65 to -2.95 g/dL [N = 3]) and primaquine (-1.25 to -3.0 g/dL [N = 5]). Two further cohorts of G6PD-heterozygous subjects with G6PD enzyme levels 61-80% (N = 2) and > 80% (N = 5) of the site median normal received tafenoquine 200 mg; hemolysis was less pronounced at higher G6PD enzyme activities. Tafenoquine hemolytic potential was dose dependent, and hemolysis was greater in G6PD-heterozygous females with lower G6PD enzyme activity levels. Single-dose tafenoquine 300 mg did not appear to increase the severity of hemolysis versus primaquine 15 mg × 14 days.

Sadiq MB, Tharaphan P, Chotivanich K, Tarning J, Anal AK. 2017. In vitro antioxidant and antimalarial activities of leaves, pods and bark extracts of Acacia nilotica (L.) Del. BMC Complement Altern Med, 17 (1), pp. 372. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The emergence of drug resistant malaria is threatening our ability to treat and control malaria in the Southeast Asian region. There is an urgent need to develop novel and chemically diverse antimalarial drugs. This study aimed at evaluating the antimalarial and antioxidant potentials of Acacia nilotica plant extracts. METHODS: The antioxidant activities of leaves, pods and bark extracts were determined by standard antioxidant assays; reducing power capacity, % lipid peroxidation inhibition and ferric reducing antioxidant power assay. The antimalarial activities of plant extracts against Plasmodium falciparum parasites were determined by the 48 h schizont maturation inhibition assay. Further confirmation of schizonticide activity of extracts was made by extending the incubation period up to 96 h after removing the plant extract residues from parasites culture. Inhibition assays were analyzed by dose-response modelling. RESULTS: In all antioxidant assays, leaves of A. nilotica showed higher antioxidant activity than pods and bark. Antimalarial IC50 values of leaves, pods and bark extracts were 1.29, 4.16 and 4.28 μg/ml respectively, in the 48 h maturation assay. The IC50 values determined for leaves, pods and bark extracts were 3.72, 5.41 and 5.32 μg/ml respectively, after 96 h of incubation. All extracts inhibited the development of mature schizont, indicating schizonticide activity against P. falciparum. CONCLUSION: A. nilotica extracts showed promising antimalarial and antioxidant effects. However, further investigation is needed to isolate and identify the active components responsible for the antimalarial and antioxidant effects.

White NJ. 2017. Identifying Malaria Hot Spots. J Infect Dis, | Read more

Chotsiri P, Wattanakul T, Hoglund RM, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Pukrittayakamee S, Blessborn D, Jittamala P, White NJ, Day NPJ, Tarning J. 2017. Population pharmacokinetics and electrocardiographic effects of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine in healthy volunteers. Br J Clin Pharmacol, | Show Abstract | Read more

AIMS: The aims of the present study were to evaluate the pharmacokinetic properties of dihydroartemisinin (DHA) and piperaquine, potential drug-drug interactions with concomitant primaquine treatment, and piperaquine effects on the electrocardiogram in healthy volunteers. METHODS: The population pharmacokinetic properties of DHA and piperaquine were assessed in 16 healthy Thai adults using an open-label, randomized, crossover study. Drug concentration-time data and electrocardiographic measurements were evaluated with nonlinear mixed-effects modelling. RESULTS: The developed models described DHA and piperaquine population pharmacokinetics accurately. Concomitant treatment with primaquine did not affect the pharmacokinetic properties of DHA or piperaquine. A linear pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic model described satisfactorily the relationship between the individually corrected QT intervals and piperaquine concentrations; the population mean QT interval increased by 4.17 ms per 100 ng ml(-1) increase in piperaquine plasma concentration. Simulations from the final model showed that monthly and bimonthly mass drug administration in healthy subjects would result in median maximum QT interval prolongations of 18.9 ms and 16.8 ms, respectively, and would be very unlikely to result in prolongation of more than 50 ms. A single low dose of primaquine can be added safely to the existing DHA-piperaquine treatment in areas of multiresistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria. CONCLUSIONS: Pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic modelling and simulation in healthy adult volunteers suggested that therapeutic doses of DHA-piperaquine in the prevention or treatment of P. falciparum malaria are unlikely to be associated with dangerous QT prolongation.

Kosaisavee V, Suwanarusk R, Chua ACY, Kyle DE, Malleret B, Zhang R, Imwong M, Imerbsin R, Ubalee R, Sámano-Sánchez H et al. 2017. Strict tropism for CD71(+)/CD234(+) human reticulocytes limits the zoonotic potential of Plasmodium cynomolgi. Blood, 130 (11), pp. 1357-1363. | Show Abstract | Read more

Two malaria parasites of Southeast Asian macaques, Plasmodium knowlesi and P cynomolgi, can infect humans experimentally. In Malaysia, where both species are common, zoonotic knowlesi malaria has recently become dominant, and cases are recorded throughout the region. By contrast, to date, only a single case of naturally acquired P cynomolgi has been found in humans. In this study, we show that whereas P cynomolgi merozoites invade monkey red blood cells indiscriminately in vitro, in humans, they are restricted to reticulocytes expressing both transferrin receptor 1 (Trf1 or CD71) and the Duffy antigen/chemokine receptor (DARC or CD234). This likely contributes to the paucity of detectable zoonotic cynomolgi malaria. We further describe postinvasion morphologic and rheologic alterations in P cynomolgi-infected human reticulocytes that are strikingly similar to those observed for P vivax These observations stress the value of P cynomolgi as a model in the development of blood stage vaccines against vivax malaria.

Kobylinski KC, Ubalee R, Ponlawat A, Nitatsukprasert C, Phasomkulsolsil S, Wattanakul T, Tarning J, Na-Bangchang K, McCardle PW, Davidson SA, Richardson JH. 2017. Ivermectin susceptibility and sporontocidal effect in Greater Mekong Subregion Anopheles. Malar J, 16 (1), pp. 280. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Novel vector control methods that can directly target outdoor malaria transmission are urgently needed in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) to accelerate malaria elimination and artemisinin resistance containment efforts. Ivermectin mass drug administration (MDA) to humans has been shown to effectively kill wild Anopheles and suppress malaria transmission in West Africa. Preliminary laboratory investigations were performed to determine ivermectin susceptibility and sporontocidal effect in GMS Anopheles malaria vectors coupled with pharmacokinetic models of ivermectin at escalating doses. METHODS: A population-based pharmacokinetic model of ivermectin was developed using pre-existing data from a clinical trial conducted in Thai volunteers at the 200 µg/kg dose. To assess ivermectin susceptibility, various concentrations of ivermectin compound were mixed in human blood meals and blood-fed to Anopheles dirus, Anopheles minimus, Anopheles sawadwongporni, and Anopheles campestris. Mosquito survival was monitored daily for 7 days and a non-linear mixed effects model with probit analyses was used to calculate concentrations of ivermectin that killed 50% (LC50) of mosquitoes for each species. Blood samples were collected from Plasmodium vivax positive patients and offered to mosquitoes with or without ivermectin at the ivermectin LC25 or LC5 for An. dirus and An. minimus. RESULTS: The GMS Anopheles displayed a range of susceptibility to ivermectin with species listed from most to least susceptible being An. minimus (LC50 = 16.3 ng/ml) > An. campestris (LC50 = 26.4 ng/ml) = An. sawadwongporni (LC50 = 26.9 ng/ml) > An. dirus (LC50 = 55.6 ng/ml). Mosquito survivorship results, the pharmacokinetic model, and extensive safety data indicated that ivermectin 400 µg/kg is the ideal minimal dose for MDA in the GMS for malaria parasite transmission control. Ivermectin compound was sporontocidal to P. vivax in both An. dirus and An. minimus at the LC25 and LC5 concentrations. CONCLUSIONS: Ivermectin is lethal to dominant GMS Anopheles malaria vectors and inhibits sporogony of P. vivax at safe human relevant concentrations. The data suggest that ivermectin MDA has potential in the GMS as a vector and transmission blocking control tool to aid malaria elimination efforts.

Shi T, McAllister DA, O'Brien KL, Simoes EAF, Madhi SA, Gessner BD, Polack FP, Balsells E, Acacio S, Aguayo C et al. 2017. Global, regional, and national disease burden estimates of acute lower respiratory infections due to respiratory syncytial virus in young children in 2015: a systematic review and modelling study. Lancet, 390 (10098), pp. 946-958. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: We have previously estimated that respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) was associated with 22% of all episodes of (severe) acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) resulting in 55 000 to 199 000 deaths in children younger than 5 years in 2005. In the past 5 years, major research activity on RSV has yielded substantial new data from developing countries. With a considerably expanded dataset from a large international collaboration, we aimed to estimate the global incidence, hospital admission rate, and mortality from RSV-ALRI episodes in young children in 2015. METHODS: We estimated the incidence and hospital admission rate of RSV-associated ALRI (RSV-ALRI) in children younger than 5 years stratified by age and World Bank income regions from a systematic review of studies published between Jan 1, 1995, and Dec 31, 2016, and unpublished data from 76 high quality population-based studies. We estimated the RSV-ALRI incidence for 132 developing countries using a risk factor-based model and 2015 population estimates. We estimated the in-hospital RSV-ALRI mortality by combining in-hospital case fatality ratios with hospital admission estimates from hospital-based (published and unpublished) studies. We also estimated overall RSV-ALRI mortality by identifying studies reporting monthly data for ALRI mortality in the community and RSV activity. FINDINGS: We estimated that globally in 2015, 33·1 million (uncertainty range [UR] 21·6-50·3) episodes of RSV-ALRI, resulted in about 3·2 million (2·7-3·8) hospital admissions, and 59 600 (48 000-74 500) in-hospital deaths in children younger than 5 years. In children younger than 6 months, 1·4 million (UR 1·2-1·7) hospital admissions, and 27 300 (UR 20 700-36 200) in-hospital deaths were due to RSV-ALRI. We also estimated that the overall RSV-ALRI mortality could be as high as 118 200 (UR 94 600-149 400). Incidence and mortality varied substantially from year to year in any given population. INTERPRETATION: Globally, RSV is a common cause of childhood ALRI and a major cause of hospital admissions in young children, resulting in a substantial burden on health-care services. About 45% of hospital admissions and in-hospital deaths due to RSV-ALRI occur in children younger than 6 months. An effective maternal RSV vaccine or monoclonal antibody could have a substantial effect on disease burden in this age group. FUNDING: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Mataradchakul T, Uthaipibull C, Nosten F, Vega-Rodriguez J, Jacobs-Lorena M, Lek-Uthai U. 2017. Plasmodium vivax rhomboid-like protease 1 gene diversity in Thailand. Exp Parasitol, 181 pp. 1-6. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium vivax infection remains a major public health problem, especially along the Thailand border regions. We examined the genetic diversity of this parasite by analyzing single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the P. vivax rhomboid-like protease 1 gene (Pvrom1) in parasites collected from western (Tak province, Thai-Myanmar border) and eastern (Chanthaburi province, Thai-Cambodia border) regions. METHODS: Data were collected by a cross-sectional survey, consisting of 47 and 45 P. vivax-infected filter paper-spotted blood samples from the western and eastern regions of Thailand, respectively during September 2013 to May 2014. Extracted DNA was examined for presence of P. vivax using Plasmodium species-specific nested PCR. Pvrom1 gene was PCR amplified, sequenced and the SNP diversity was analyzed using F-STAT, DnaSP, MEGA and LIAN programs. RESULTS: Comparison of sequences of the 92 Pvrom1 831-base open reading frames with that of a reference sequence (GenBank acc. no. XM001615211) revealed 17 samples with a total of 8 polymorphic sites, consisting of singleton (exon 3, nt 645) and parsimony informative (exon 1, nt 22 and 39; exon 3, nt 336, 537 and 656; and exon 4, nt 719 and 748) sites, which resulted in six different deduced Pvrom1 variants. Non-synonymous to synonymous substitutions ratio estimated by the DnaSP program was 1.65 indicating positive selection, but the Z-tests of selection showed no significant deviations from neutrality for Pvrom1 samples from western region of Thailand. In addition McDonald Kreitman test (MK) showed not significant, and Fst values are not different between the two regions and the regions combined. Interestingly, only Pvrom1 exon 2 was the most conserved sequences among the four exons. CONCLUSIONS: The relatively high degree of Pvrom1 polymorphism suggests that the protein is important for parasite survival in face of changes in both insect vector and human populations. These polymorphisms could serve as a sensitive marker for studying plasmodial genetic diversity. The significance of Pvrom1 conserved exon 2 sequence remains to be investigated.

Thi SS, Parker DM, Swe LL, Pukrittayakamee S, Ling CL, Amornpaisarnloet K, Vincenti-Delmas M, Nosten FH. 2017. Migration histories of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis patients from the Thailand-Myanmar border, 2012-2014. Int J Tuberc Lung Dis, 21 (7), pp. 753-758. | Show Abstract | Read more

SETTING: Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a growing public health threat in South-East Asia. TB is typically a disease of poverty and can be spread by infectious humans who migrate from one region to another. DESIGN: We interviewed 20 MDR-TB patients on the Thailand-Myanmar border with regard to their migration histories. Migration origins and destinations were mapped. RESULTS: All but one participant had a history of migration, and maps of migration ranges revealed wide geographic dispersal. Most described living and work conditions that could contribute to the spread of drug-resistant TB, including numerous contacts and crowded living quarters. CONCLUSION: Our results show that at least some migrant workers in the region carry MDR-TB, and indicate that this subgroup of the population is important with regard to the transmission of MDR-TB throughout the region. Migrants in this region come into contact with high numbers of people and may be able to spread the disease across wide geographic ranges. Access to diagnosis and treatment and socio-economic development are at least as important as any TB control measures, meaning that innovative and bold approaches that extend across international borders are needed to address these problems.

Moore KA, Simpson JA, Wiladphaingern J, Min AM, Pimanpanarak M, Paw MK, Raksuansak J, Pukrittayakamee S, Fowkes FJI, White NJ et al. 2017. Influence of the number and timing of malaria episodes during pregnancy on prematurity and small-for-gestational-age in an area of low transmission. BMC Med, 15 (1), pp. 117. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Most evidence on the association between malaria in pregnancy and adverse pregnancy outcomes focuses on falciparum malaria detected at birth. We assessed the association between the number and timing of falciparum and vivax malaria episodes during pregnancy on small-for-gestational-age (SGA) and preterm birth. METHODS: We analysed observational data collected from antenatal clinics on the Thailand-Myanmar border (1986-2015). We assessed the effects of the total number of malaria episodes in pregnancy on SGA and the effects of malaria in pregnancy on SGA, very preterm birth, and late preterm birth, by the gestational age at malaria detection and treatment using logistic regression models with time-dependent malaria variables (monthly intervals). World Health Organisation definitions of very preterm birth (≥28 and <32 weeks) and late preterm birth (≥32 and <37 weeks) and international SGA standards were used. RESULTS: Of 50,060 pregnant women followed, 8221 (16%) had malaria during their pregnancy. Of the 50,060 newborns, 10,005 (21%) were SGA, 540 (1%) were very preterm, and 4331 (9%) were late preterm. The rates of falciparum and vivax malaria were highest at 6 and 5 weeks' gestation, respectively. The odds of SGA increased linearly by 1.13-fold (95% confidence interval: 1.09, 1.17) and 1.27-fold (1.21, 1.33) per episode of falciparum and vivax malaria, respectively. Falciparum malaria at any gestation period after 12-16 weeks and vivax malaria after 20-24 weeks were associated with SGA (falciparum odds ratio, OR range: 1.15-1.63 [p range: <0.001-0.094]; vivax OR range: 1.12-1.54 [p range: <0.001-0.138]). Falciparum malaria at any gestation period after 24-28 weeks was associated with either very or late preterm birth (OR range: 1.44-2.53; p range: <0.001-0.001). Vivax malaria at 24-28 weeks was associated with very preterm birth (OR: 1.79 [1.11, 2.90]), and vivax malaria at 28-32 weeks was associated with late preterm birth (OR: 1.23 [1.01, 1.50]). Many of these associations held for asymptomatic malaria. CONCLUSIONS: Protection against malaria should be started as early as possible in pregnancy. Malaria control and elimination efforts in the general population can avert the adverse consequences associated with treated asymptomatic malaria in pregnancy.

Manivanh L, Pierret A, Rattanavong S, Kounnavongsa O, Buisson Y, Elliott I, Maeght J, Xayyathip K, Silisouk J, Vongsouvath M et al. 2017. Burkholderia pseudomallei in a lowland rice paddy: seasonal changes and influence of soil depth and physico-chemical properties. Sci Rep, 7 (1), pp. 3031. | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis, a severe infection with the environmental bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, is being recognised increasingly frequently. What determines its uneven distribution within endemic areas is poorly understood. We cultured soil from a rice field in Laos for B. pseudomallei at different depths on 4 occasions over a 13-month period. We also measured physical and chemical parameters in order to identify associated characteristics. Overall, 195 of 653 samples (29.7%) yielded B. pseudomallei. A higher prevalence of B. pseudomallei was found at soil depths greater than the 30 cm currently recommended for B. pseudomallei environmental sampling. B. pseudomallei was associated with a high soil water content and low total nitrogen, carbon and organic matter content. Our results suggested that a sampling grid of 25 five metre square quadrats (i.e. 25 × 25 m) should be sufficient to detect B. pseudomallei at a given location if samples are taken at a soil depth of at least 60 cm. However, culture of B. pseudomallei in environmental samples is difficult and liable to variation. Future studies should both rely on molecular approaches and address the micro-heterogeneity of soil when investigating physico-chemical associations with the presence of B. pseudomallei.

Mostowy RJ, Croucher NJ, De Maio N, Chewapreecha C, Salter SJ, Turner P, Aanensen DM, Bentley SD, Didelot X, Fraser C. 2017. Pneumococcal Capsule Synthesis Locus cps as Evolutionary Hotspot with Potential to Generate Novel Serotypes by Recombination. Mol Biol Evol, 34 (10), pp. 2537-2554. | Show Abstract | Read more

Diversity of the polysaccharide capsule in Streptococcus pneumoniae-main surface antigen and the target of the currently used pneumococcal vaccines-constitutes a major obstacle in eliminating pneumococcal disease. Such diversity is genetically encoded by almost 100 variants of the capsule biosynthesis locus, cps. However, the evolutionary dynamics of the capsule remains not fully understood. Here, using genetic data from 4,519 bacterial isolates, we found cps to be an evolutionary hotspot with elevated substitution and recombination rates. These rates were a consequence of relaxed purifying selection and positive, diversifying selection acting at this locus, supporting the hypothesis that the capsule has an increased potential to generate novel diversity compared with the rest of the genome. Diversifying selection was particularly evident in the region of wzd/wze genes, which are known to regulate capsule expression and hence the bacterium's ability to cause disease. Using a novel, capsule-centered approach, we analyzed the evolutionary history of 12 major serogroups. Such analysis revealed their complex diversification scenarios, which were principally driven by recombination with other serogroups and other streptococci. Patterns of recombinational exchanges between serogroups could not be explained by serotype frequency alone, thus pointing to nonrandom associations between co-colonizing serotypes. Finally, we discovered a previously unobserved mosaic serotype 39X, which was confirmed to carry a viable and structurally novel capsule. Adding to previous discoveries of other mosaic capsules in densely sampled collections, these results emphasize the strong adaptive potential of the bacterium by its ability to generate novel antigenic diversity by recombination.

Bancone G, Malleret B, Suwanarusk R, Chowwiwat N, Chu CS, McGready R, Rénia L, Nosten F, Russell B. 2017. Asian G6PD-Mahidol Reticulocytes Sustain Normal Plasmodium Vivax Development. J Infect Dis, 216 (2), pp. 263-266. | Show Abstract | Read more

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is the most common enzymatic disorder in humans and appears to be protective against falciparum severe malaria. Controversially, it is also thought that Plasmodium vivax has driven the recent selection of G6PD alleles. We use an experimental approach to determine whether G6PD-MahidolG487A variant, a widespread cause of severe G6PD deficiency in Southeast Asia, provides a barrier against vivax malaria. Our results show that the immature reticulocytes (CD71+) targeted by P. vivax invasion are enzymatically normal, even in hemizygous G6PD-Mahidol G487A mutants; thus, allowing the normal growth, development, and high parasite density in severely deficient samples.

Thu AM, Phyo AP, Landier J, Parker DM, Nosten FH. 2017. Combating multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria. FEBS J, 284 (16), pp. 2569-2578. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Over the past 50 years, Plasmodium falciparum has developed resistance against all antimalarial drugs used against it: chloroquine, sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine, quinine, piperaquine and mefloquine. More recently, resistance to the artemisinin derivatives and the resulting failure of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) are threatening all major gains made in malaria control. Each time resistance has developed progressively, with delayed clearance of parasites first emerging only in a few regions, increasing in prevalence and geographic range, and then ultimately resulting in the complete failure of that antimalarial. Drawing from this repeated historical chain of events, this article presents context-specific approaches for combating drug-resistant P. falciparum malaria. The approaches begin with a context of drug-sensitive parasites and focus on the prevention of the emergence of drug resistance. Next, the approaches address a scenario in which resistance has emerged and is increasing in prevalence and geographic extent, with interventions focused on disrupting transmission through vector control, early diagnosis and treatment, and the use of new combination therapies. Elimination is also presented as an approach for addressing the imminent failure of all available antimalarials. The final drug resistance context presented is one in which all available antimalarials have failed; leaving only personal protection and the use of new antimalarials (or new combinations of antimalarials) as a viable strategy for dealing with complete resistance. All effective strategies and contexts require a multipronged, holistic approach.

Boonyuen U, Chamchoy K, Swangsri T, Junkree T, Day NPJ, White NJ, Imwong M. 2017. A trade off between catalytic activity and protein stability determines the clinical manifestations of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. Int J Biol Macromol, 104 (Pt A), pp. 145-156. | Show Abstract | Read more

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is the most common polymorphism and enzymopathy in humans, affecting approximately 400 million people worldwide. It is responsible for various clinical manifestations, including favism, hemolytic anemia, chronic non-spherocytic hemolytic anemia, spontaneous abortion, and neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the severity of G6PD deficiency is of great importance but that of many G6PD variants are still unknown. In this study, we report the construction, expression, purification, and biochemical characterization in terms of kinetic properties and stability of five clinical G6PD variants-G6PD Bangkok, G6PD Bangkok noi, G6PD Songklanagarind, G6PD Canton+Bangkok noi, and G6PD Union+Viangchan. G6PD Bangkok and G6PD Canton+Bangkok noi showed a complete loss of catalytic activity and moderate reduction in thermal stability when compared with the native G6PD. G6PD Bangkok noi and G6PD Union+Viangchan showed a significant reduction in catalytic efficiency, whereas G6PD Songklanagarind showed a catalytic activity comparable to the wild-type enzyme. The Union+Viangchan mutation showed a remarkable effect on the global stability of the enzyme. In addition, our results indicate that the location of mutations in G6PD variants affects their catalytic activity, stability, and structure. Hence, our results provide a molecular explanation for clinical manifestations observed in individuals with G6PD deficiency.

McGregor K, Myat Min A, Karunkonkowit N, Keereechareon S, Tyrosvoutis ME, Tun NW, Rijken MJ, Hoogenboom G, Boel M, Chotivanich K et al. 2017. Obstetric ultrasound aids prompt referral of gestational trophoblastic disease in marginalized populations on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Glob Health Action, 10 (1), pp. 1296727. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The use of obstetric ultrasound in the diagnosis of gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) in high-income settings is well established, leading to prompt management and high survival rates. Evidence from low-income settings suggests ultrasound is essential in identifying complicated pregnancies, but with limited studies reviewing specific conditions including GTD. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to review the role of ultrasound in diagnosis and management of GTD in a marginalized population on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Antenatal ultrasound became available in this rural setting in 2001 and care for women with GTD has been provided by Thailand public hospitals for 20 years. DESIGN: Retrospective record review. RESULTS: The incidence of GTD was 103 of 57,004 pregnancies in Karen and Burmese women on the Thailand-Myanmar border from 1993-2013. This equates to a rate of 1.8 (95% CI 1.5-2.2) per 1000 or 1 in 553 pregnancies. Of the 102 women with known outcomes, one (1.0%) died of haemorrhage at home. The median number of days between first antenatal clinic attendance and referral to hospital was reduced from 20 (IQR 5-35; range 1-155) to 2 (IQR 2-6; range 1-179) days (p = 0.002) after the introduction of ultrasound. The proportion of severe outcomes (death and total abdominal hysterectomy) was 25% (3/12) before ultrasound compared to 8.9% (8/90) with ultrasound (p = 0.119). A recurrence rate of 2.5% (2/80) was observed in the assessable population. The presence of malaria parasites in maternal blood was not associated with GTD. CONCLUSIONS: The rate of GTD in pregnancy in this population is comparable to rates previously reported within South-East Asia. Referral time for uterine evacuation was significantly shorter for those women who had an ultrasound. Ultrasound is an effective method to improve diagnosis of GTD in low-income settings and an effort to increase availability in marginalized populations is required.

Douangngeun B, Theppangna W, Phommachanh P, Chomdara K, Phiphakhavong S, Khounsy S, Mukaka M, Dance DAB, Blacksell SD. 2017. Rabies surveillance in dogs in Lao PDR from 2010-2016. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11 (6), pp. e0005609. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Rabies is a fatal viral disease that continues to threaten both human and animal health in endemic countries. The Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is a rabies-endemic country in which dogs are the main reservoir and continue to present health risks for both human and animals throughout the country. METHODS: Passive, laboratory-based rabies surveillance was performed for suspected cases of dog rabies in Vientiane Capital during 2010-2016 and eight additional provinces between 2015-2016 using the Direct Fluorescent Antibody Test (DFAT). RESULTS: There were 284 rabies positive cases from 415 dog samples submitted for diagnosis. 257 cases were from Vientiane Capital (2010-2016) and the remaining 27 cases were submitted during 2015-2016 from Champassak (16 cases), Vientiane Province (4 cases), Xieng Kuang (3 cases), Luang Prabang (2 cases), Saravan (1 case), Saisomboun (1 case) and Bokeo (1 case). There was a significant increase in rabies cases during the dry season (p = 0.004) (November to April; i.e., <100mm of rainfall per month). No significant differences were noted between age, sex, locality of rabies cases. CONCLUSION: The use of laboratory-based rabies surveillance is a useful method of monitoring rabies in Lao PDR and should be expanded to other provincial centers, particularly where there are active rabies control programs.

Yeap AD, Woods K, Dance DAB, Pichon B, Rattanavong S, Davong V, Phetsouvanh R, Newton PN, Shetty N, Kearns AM. 2017. Molecular Epidemiology of Staphylococcus aureus Skin and Soft Tissue Infections in the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 97 (2), pp. 423-428. | Show Abstract | Read more

This is the first report of the molecular epidemiology of Staphylococcus aureus from skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI) in Laos. We selected a random sample of 96 S. aureus SSTI isolates received by the Microbiology Laboratory, Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, between July 2012 and June 2014, including representation from seven referral hospitals. Isolates underwent susceptibility testing by Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute methods, spa typing and DNA microarray analysis, with whole genome sequencing for rare lineages. Median patient age was 19.5 years (interquartile range 2-48.5 years); 52% (50) were female. Forty-three spa types, representing 17 lineages, were identified. Fifty-eight percent (56) of all isolates encoded Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL), representing six lineages: half of these patients had abscesses and three had positive blood cultures. The dominant lineage was CC121 (39; 41%); all but one isolate encoded PVL and 49% (19) were from children under five. Staphyococcus argenteus was identified in six (6%) patients; mostly adults > 50 years and with diabetes. Six isolates (6%) belonged to rare lineage ST2885; two possibly indicate cross-infection in a neonatal unit. One isolate from a previously undescribed lineage, ST1541, was identified. Antibiotic resistance was uncommon except for penicillin (93; 97%) and tetracycline (48; 50%). Seven (7%) isolates were methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), belonging to ST239-MRSA-III, CC59-MRSA-V(T) Taiwan Clone, ST2250-MRSA-IV, ST2885-MRSA-V and CC398-MRSA-V. Globally widespread CC5 and CC30 were absent. There are parallels in S. aureus molecular epidemiology between Laos and neighboring countries and these data highlight the prominence of PVL and suggest infiltration of MRSA clones of epidemic potential from surrounding countries.

Brady OJ, Slater HC, Pemberton-Ross P, Wenger E, Maude RJ, Ghani AC, Penny MA, Gerardin J, White LJ, Chitnis N et al. 2017. Role of mass drug administration in elimination of Plasmodium falciparum malaria: a consensus modelling study. Lancet Glob Health, 5 (7), pp. e680-e687. | Citations: 4 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Mass drug administration for elimination of Plasmodium falciparum malaria is recommended by WHO in some settings. We used consensus modelling to understand how to optimise the effects of mass drug administration in areas with low malaria transmission. METHODS: We collaborated with researchers doing field trials to establish a standard intervention scenario and standard transmission setting, and we input these parameters into four previously published models. We then varied the number of rounds of mass drug administration, coverage, duration, timing, importation of infection, and pre-administration transmission levels. The outcome of interest was the percentage reduction in annual mean prevalence of P falciparum parasite rate as measured by PCR in the third year after the final round of mass drug administration. FINDINGS: The models predicted differing magnitude of the effects of mass drug administration, but consensus answers were reached for several factors. Mass drug administration was predicted to reduce transmission over a longer timescale than accounted for by the prophylactic effect alone. Percentage reduction in transmission was predicted to be higher and last longer at lower baseline transmission levels. Reduction in transmission resulting from mass drug administration was predicted to be temporary, and in the absence of scale-up of other interventions, such as vector control, transmission would return to pre-administration levels. The proportion of the population treated in a year was a key determinant of simulated effectiveness, irrespective of whether people are treated through high coverage in a single round or new individuals are reached by implementation of several rounds. Mass drug administration was predicted to be more effective if continued over 2 years rather than 1 year, and if done at the time of year when transmission is lowest. INTERPRETATION: Mass drug administration has the potential to reduce transmission for a limited time, but is not an effective replacement for existing vector control. Unless elimination is achieved, mass drug administration has to be repeated regularly for sustained effect. FUNDING: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

ACTwatch Group, Newton PN, Hanson K, Goodman C. 2017. Do anti-malarials in Africa meet quality standards? The market penetration of non quality-assured artemisinin combination therapy in eight African countries. Malar J, 16 (1), pp. 204. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Quality of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) is important for ensuring malaria parasite clearance and protecting the efficacy of artemisinin-based therapies. The extent to which non quality-assured ACT (non-QAACT), or those not granted global regulatory approval, are available and used to treat malaria in endemic countries is poorly documented. This paper uses national and sub-national medicine outlet surveys conducted in eight study countries (Benin, Kinshasa and Kantanga [Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC], Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia) between 2009 and 2015 to describe the non-QAACT market and to document trends in availability and distribution of non-QAACT in the public and private sector. RESULTS: In 2014/15, non-QAACT were most commonly available in Kinshasa (83%), followed by Katanga (53%), Nigeria (48%), Kenya (42%), and Uganda (33%). Non-QAACT accounted for 20% of the market share in the private sector in Kenya, followed by Benin and Uganda (19%), Nigeria (12%) and Zambia (8%); this figure was 27% in Katanga and 40% in Kinshasa. Public sector non-QAACT availability and distribution was much lower, with the exception of Zambia (availability, 85%; market share, 32%). Diverse generics and formulations were available, but non-QAACT were most commonly artemether-lumefantrine (AL) or dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHA PPQ), in tablet formulation, imported, and distributed in urban areas at either pharmacies or drug stores. The number of unique manufacturers supplying non-QAACT to each country ranged from 9 in Uganda to 92 in Nigeria. CONCLUSIONS: Addressing the availability and distribution of non-QAACT will require effective private sector engagement and evidence-based strategies to address provider and consumer demand for these products. Given the variation in non-QAACT markets observed across the eight study countries, active efforts to limit registration, importation and distribution of non-QAACT must be tailored to the country context, and will involve addressing complex and challenging aspects of medicine registration, private sector pharmaceutical regulation, local manufacturing and drug importation. These efforts may be critical not only to patient health and safety, but also to effective malaria control and protection of artemisinin drug efficacy in the face of spreading resistance.

Devine A, Parmiter M, Chu CS, Bancone G, Nosten F, Price RN, Lubell Y, Yeung S. 2017. Using G6PD tests to enable the safe treatment of Plasmodium vivax infections with primaquine on the Thailand-Myanmar border: A cost-effectiveness analysis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11 (5), pp. e0005602. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Primaquine is the only licensed antimalarial for the radical cure of Plasmodium vivax infections. Many countries, however, do not administer primaquine due to fear of hemolysis in those with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. In other settings, primaquine is given without G6PD testing, putting patients at risk of hemolysis. New rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) offer the opportunity to screen for G6PD deficiency prior to treatment with primaquine. Here we assessed the cost-effectiveness of using G6PD RDTs on the Thailand-Myanmar border and provide the model as an online tool for use in other settings. METHODS/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Decision tree models for the management of P. vivax malaria evaluated the costs and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) associated with recurrences and primaquine-induced hemolysis from a health care provider perspective. Screening with G6PD RDTs before primaquine use was compared to (1) giving chloroquine alone and (2) giving primaquine without screening. Data were taken from a recent study on the impact of primaquine on P. vivax recurrences and a literature review. Compared to the use of chloroquine alone, the screening strategy had similar costs while averting 0.026 and 0.024 DALYs per primary infection in males and females respectively. Compared to primaquine administered without screening, the screening strategy provided modest cost savings while averting 0.011 and 0.004 DALYs in males and females respectively. The probabilistic sensitivity analyses resulted in a greater than 75% certainty that the screening strategy was cost-effective at a willingness to pay threshold of US$500, which is well below the common benchmark of per capita gross domestic product for Myanmar. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: In this setting G6PD RDTs could avert DALYs by reducing recurrences and reducing hemolytic risk in G6PD deficient patients at low costs or cost savings. The model results are limited by the paucity of data available in the literature for some parameter values, including the mortality rates for both primaquine-induced hemolysis and P. vivax. The online model provides an opportunity to use different parameter estimates to examine the validity of these findings in other settings.

Dembele L, Ang X, Chavchich M, Bonamy GMC, Selva JJ, Lim MY, Bodenreider C, Yeung BKS, Nosten F, Russell BM et al. 2017. The Plasmodium PI(4)K inhibitor KDU691 selectively inhibits dihydroartemisinin-pretreated Plasmodium falciparum ring-stage parasites. Sci Rep, 7 (1), pp. 2325. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria control and elimination are threatened by the emergence and spread of resistance to artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). Experimental evidence suggests that when an artemisinin (ART)-sensitive (K13 wild-type) Plasmodium falciparum strain is exposed to ART derivatives such as dihydroartemisinin (DHA), a small population of the early ring-stage parasites can survive drug treatment by entering cell cycle arrest or dormancy. After drug removal, these parasites can resume growth. Dormancy has been hypothesized to be an adaptive physiological mechanism that has been linked to recrudescence of parasites after monotherapy with ART and, possibly contributes to ART resistance. Here, we evaluate the in vitro drug sensitivity profile of normally-developing P. falciparum ring stages and DHA-pretreated dormant rings (DP-rings) using a panel of antimalarial drugs, including the Plasmodium phosphatidylinositol-4-OH kinase (PI4K)-specific inhibitor KDU691. We report that while KDU691 shows no activity against rings, it is highly inhibitory against DP-rings; a drug effect opposite to that of ART. Moreover, we provide evidence that KDU691 also kills DP-rings of P. falciparum ART-resistant strains expressing mutant K13.

Caillet C, Sichanh C, Assemat G, Malet-Martino M, Sommet A, Bagheri H, Sengxeu N, Mongkhonmath N, Mayxay M, Syhakhang L et al. 2017. Role of Medicines of Unknown Identity in Adverse Drug Reaction-Related Hospitalizations in Developing Countries: Evidence from a Cross-Sectional Study in a Teaching Hospital in the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Drug Saf, 40 (9), pp. 809-821. | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: The health dangers of medicines of unknown identity (MUIs) [loose pharmaceutical units repackaged in individual bags without labelling of their identity] have been suspected in L/MICs. Using visual and analytical tools to identify MUIs, we investigated the frequency of, and factors associated with, adverse drug reaction (ADR)-related hospitalizations in a central hospital in Vientiane Capital, Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR). METHODS: All unplanned admissions, except for acute trauma and intentional overdose, were prospectively recorded during a 7-week period in 2013, leading to include 453 adults hospitalized for ≥24 h. The patients or their relatives were interviewed to complete the study questionnaire. MUIs suspected of being involved in ADR(s) were identified through comparison of visual characteristics of tablets/capsules with that of reference medicines (photograph tool), and by proton nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry analyses. Factors associated with ADRs were identified by multivariate logistic regression. RESULTS: The frequency of hospitalizations related to an ADR was 5.1% (23/453, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.1-7.1). Forty-eight (12.8%) patients used MUI(s) in the last 2 weeks preceding hospitalization. They were more likely to be hospitalized because of an ADR (adjusted odds ratio 4.5, 95% CI 1.7-11.5) than patients using medicines of known identity. MUIs were mainly involved in bleeding gastroduodenal ulcers. The photograph tool led to the misidentifications because of look-alike pharmaceutical units in the medicines photograph collection. CONCLUSION: According to the results of this study, there is a need to ensure appropriate labelling of medicines at dispensing and to provide well-suited tools to identify MUIs in clinical settings to improve drug safety and patients' care in developing countries with limited capacities for drug analysis.

Atwal S, Giengkam S, Chaemchuen S, Dorling J, Kosaisawe N, VanNieuwenhze M, Sampattavanich S, Schumann P, Salje J. 2017. Evidence for a peptidoglycan-like structure in Orientia tsutsugamushi. Mol Microbiol, 105 (3), pp. 440-452. | Show Abstract | Read more

Bacterial cell walls are composed of the large cross-linked macromolecule peptidoglycan, which maintains cell shape and is responsible for resisting osmotic stresses. This is a highly conserved structure and the target of numerous antibiotics. Obligate intracellular bacteria are an unusual group of organisms that have evolved to replicate exclusively within the cytoplasm or vacuole of a eukaryotic cell. They tend to have reduced amounts of peptidoglycan, likely due to the fact that their growth and division takes place within an osmotically protected environment, and also due to a drive to reduce activation of the host immune response. Of the two major groups of obligate intracellular bacteria, the cell wall has been much more extensively studied in the Chlamydiales than the Rickettsiales. Here, we present the first detailed analysis of the cell envelope of an important but neglected member of the Rickettsiales, Orientia tsutsugamushi. This bacterium was previously reported to completely lack peptidoglycan, but here we present evidence supporting the existence of a peptidoglycan-like structure in Orientia, as well as an outer membrane containing a network of cross-linked proteins, which together confer cell envelope stability. We find striking similarities to the unrelated Chlamydiales, suggesting convergent adaptation to an obligate intracellular lifestyle.

Manzoni G, Marinach C, Topçu S, Briquet S, Grand M, Tolle M, Gransagne M, Lescar J, Andolina C, Franetich JF et al. 2017. Plasmodium P36 determines host cell receptor usage during sporozoite invasion. Elife, 6 | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium sporozoites, the mosquito-transmitted forms of the malaria parasite, first infect the liver for an initial round of replication before the emergence of pathogenic blood stages. Sporozoites represent attractive targets for antimalarial preventive strategies, yet the mechanisms of parasite entry into hepatocytes remain poorly understood. Here we show that the two main species causing malaria in humans, Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, rely on two distinct host cell surface proteins, CD81 and the Scavenger Receptor BI (SR-BI), respectively, to infect hepatocytes. By contrast, CD81 and SR-BI fulfil redundant functions during infection by the rodent parasite P. berghei. Genetic analysis of sporozoite factors reveals the 6-cysteine domain protein P36 as a major parasite determinant of host cell receptor usage. Our data provide molecular insights into the invasion pathways used by different malaria parasites to infect hepatocytes, and establish a functional link between a sporozoite putative ligand and host cell receptors.

Mukherjee A, Bopp S, Magistrado P, Wong W, Daniels R, Demas A, Schaffner S, Amaratunga C, Lim P, Dhorda M et al. 2017. Artemisinin resistance without pfkelch13 mutations in Plasmodium falciparum isolates from Cambodia. Malar J, 16 (1), pp. 195. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin resistance is associated with delayed parasite clearance half-life in vivo and correlates with ring-stage survival under dihydroartemisinin in vitro. Both phenotypes are associated with mutations in the PF3D7_1343700 pfkelch13 gene. Recent spread of artemisinin resistance and emerging piperaquine resistance in Southeast Asia show that artemisinin combination therapy, such as dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine, are losing clinical effectiveness, prompting investigation of drug resistance mechanisms and development of strategies to surmount emerging anti-malarial resistance. METHODS: Sixty-eight parasites isolates with in vivo clearance data were obtained from two Tracking Resistance to Artemisinin Collaboration study sites in Cambodia, culture-adapted, and genotyped for pfkelch13 and other mutations including pfmdr1 copy number; and the RSA0-3h survival rates and response to antimalarial drugs in vitro were measured for 36 of these isolates. RESULTS: Among these 36 parasites one isolate demonstrated increased ring-stage survival for a PfKelch13 mutation (D584V, RSA0-3h = 8%), previously associated with slow clearance but not yet tested in vitro. Several parasites exhibited increased ring-stage survival, yet lack pfkelch13 mutations, and one isolate showed evidence for piperaquine resistance. CONCLUSIONS: This study of 68 culture-adapted Plasmodium falciparum clinical isolates from Cambodia with known clearance values, associated the D584V PfKelch13 mutation with increased ring-stage survival and identified parasites that lack pfkelch13 mutations yet exhibit increased ring-stage survival. These data suggest mutations other than those found in pfkelch13 may be involved in conferring artemisinin resistance in P. falciparum. Piperaquine resistance was also detected among the same Cambodian samples, consistent with reports of emerging piperaquine resistance in the field. These culture-adapted parasites permit further investigation of mechanisms of both artemisinin and piperaquine resistance and development of strategies to prevent or overcome anti-malarial resistance.

Beane A, Padeniya A, De Silva AP, Stephens T, De Alwis S, Mahipala PG, Sigera PC, Munasinghe S, Weeratunga P, Ranasinghe D et al. 2017. Closing the theory to practice gap for newly qualified doctors: evaluation of a peer-delivered practical skills training course for newly qualified doctors in preparation for clinical practice. Postgrad Med J, 93 (1104), pp. 592-596. | Show Abstract | Read more

PURPOSE: The Good Intern Programme (GIP) in Sri Lanka has been implemented to bridge the 'theory to practice gap' of doctors preparing for their internship. This paper evaluates the impact of a 2-day peer-delivered Acute Care Skills Training (ACST) course as part of the GIP. STUDY DESIGN: The ACST course was developed by an interprofessional faculty, including newly graduated doctors awaiting internship (pre-intern), focusing on the recognition and management of common medical and surgical emergencies. Course delivery was entirely by pre-intern doctors to their peers. Knowledge was evaluated by a pre- and post-course multiple choice test. Participants' confidence (post-course) and 12 acute care skills (pre- and post-course) were assessed using Likert scale-based questions. A subset of participants provided feedback on the peer learning experience. RESULTS: Seventeen courses were delivered by a faculty consisting of eight peer trainers over 4 months, training 320 participants. The mean (SD) multiple choice questionnaire score was 71.03 (13.19) pre-course compared with 77.98 (7.7) post-course (p<0.05). Increased overall confidence in managing ward emergencies was reported by 97.2% (n=283) of respondents. Participants rated their post-course skills to be significantly higher (p<0.05) than pre-course in all 12 assessed skills. Extended feedback on the peer learning experience was overwhelmingly positive and 96.5% would recommend the course to a colleague. CONCLUSIONS: A peer-delivered ACST course was extremely well received and can improve newly qualified medical graduates' knowledge, skills and confidence in managing medical and surgical emergencies. This peer-based model may have utility beyond pre-interns and beyond Sri Lanka.

Carrara VI, Stuetz W, Lee SJ, Sriprawat K, Po B, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2017. Longer exposure to a new refugee food ration is associated with reduced prevalence of small for gestational age: results from 2 cross-sectional surveys on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Am J Clin Nutr, 105 (6), pp. 1382-1390. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Despite the high risk of compromised nutrition, evidence of the effect of refugee rations on fetal growth is limited. A new ration containing micronutrient-fortified flour without increased caloric content of the general food basket was introduced to the Maela refugee camp in Thailand, July 2004.Objective: The effect of the length of gestational exposure of the new ration on fetal growth was compared with birth outcomes [small for gestational age (SGA), preterm birth (PTB)].Design: In an observational study in 987 newborns from 1048 prospectively followed antenatal clinic (ANC) attendees enrolled in 2 cross-sectional surveys, exposure was categorized in 2004 according to gestation at the time of commencing the new ration and in 2006 as comprehensive (preconception and pregnancy). In both surveys, the pregnancy-specific ration and vitamin supplements were routine.Results: In 2004, the proportions of SGA decreased with longer exposure to the new ration: no exposure during pregnancy (27.7%; n = 13 of 47) and exposure in the third (27.6%; n = 37 of 134), second (18.6%; n = 35 of 188), and first (19.4%; n = 6 of 31) trimesters, respectively (adjusted P-trend = 0.046). In 2006, the new ration was available to all women and there was no significant additional impact of the pregnancy-specific ration and vitamin supplements. Between 2004 and 2006, SGA decreased from 28.9% (13 of 45) to 17.3% (69 of 398) (adjusted P = 0.050), a reduction of 40.1% (95% CI: 34.7%, 45.9%); there was also a decrease in the percentage of underweight women on admission to the ANC (38.2%; 95% CI: 31.4%, 45.5%). PTB rates were low and not significantly different with exposure to the new ration.Conclusions: In 2004, the earlier in gestation in which the new ration was available the greater the effect on fetal growth as shown by a reduced prevalence of SGA. In 2006, additional benefits to fetal growth from the pregnancy-specific ration and vitamin supplements beyond those of the preconception ration were not observed. Good nutrition in pregnancy remains an important challenge for refugee populations. This trial was registered at as DRKS00007736.

Moore KA, Fowkes FJI, Wiladphaingern J, Wai NS, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M, Carrara VI, Raksuansak J, Simpson JA, White NJ et al. 2017. Mediation of the effect of malaria in pregnancy on stillbirth and neonatal death in an area of low transmission: observational data analysis. BMC Med, 15 (1), pp. 98. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria in pregnancy is preventable and contributes significantly to the estimated 5.5 million stillbirths and neonatal deaths that occur annually. The contribution of malaria in pregnancy in areas of low transmission has not been quantified, and the roles of maternal anaemia, small-for-gestational-age status, and preterm birth in mediating the effect of malaria in pregnancy on stillbirth and neonatal death are poorly elucidated. METHODS: We analysed observational data routinely collected at antenatal clinics on the Thai-Myanmar border (1986-2015). We used Cox regression and sequential mediation analysis to determine the effect of falciparum and vivax malaria in pregnancy on antepartum (death in utero) and intrapartum (death during labour) stillbirth and neonatal mortality as well as mediation through maternal anaemia, preterm birth, and small-for-gestational-age status. RESULTS: Of 61,836 women, 9350 (15%) had malaria in pregnancy, and 526 (0.8%) had stillbirths. In a sub-set of 9090 live born singletons followed from birth there were 153 (1.7%) neonatal deaths. The hazard of antepartum stillbirth increased 2.24-fold [95% confidence interval: 1.47, 3.41] following falciparum malaria (42% mediated through small-for-gestational-age status and anaemia), driven by symptomatic falciparum malaria (hazard ratio, HR: 2.99 [1.83, 4.89]) rather than asymptomatic falciparum malaria (HR: 1.35 [0.61, 2.96]). The hazard of antepartum stillbirth increased 2.21-fold [1.12, 4.33] following symptomatic vivax malaria (24% mediated through small-for-gestational-age status and anaemia) but not asymptomatic vivax malaria (HR: 0.54 [0.20, 1.45]). There was no association between falciparum or vivax malaria in pregnancy and intrapartum stillbirth (falciparum HR: 1.03 [0.58, 1.83]; vivax HR: 1.18 [0.66, 2.11]). Falciparum and vivax malaria in pregnancy increased the hazard of neonatal death 2.55-fold [1.54, 4.22] and 1.98-fold [1.10, 3.57], respectively (40% and 50%, respectively, mediated through small-for-gestational-age status and preterm birth). CONCLUSIONS: Prevention of malaria in pregnancy, new and existing interventions to prevent small-for-gestational-age status and maternal anaemia, and improved capacity for managing preterm and small-for-gestational-age newborns will reduce the number of malaria-associated stillbirths and neonatal deaths in malaria-endemic areas.

White NJ. 2017. Erratum to: Malaria parasite clearance. Malar J, 16 (1), pp. 194. | Read more

Näsström E, Parry CM, Vu Thieu NT, Maude RR, de Jong HK, Fukushima M, Rzhepishevska O, Marks F, Panzner U, Im J et al. 2017. Reproducible diagnostic metabolites in plasma from typhoid fever patients in Asia and Africa. Elife, 6 | Show Abstract | Read more

Salmonella Typhi is the causative agent of typhoid. Typhoid is diagnosed by blood culture, a method that lacks sensitivity, portability and speed. We have previously shown that specific metabolomic profiles can be detected in the blood of typhoid patients from Nepal (Näsström et al., 2014). Here, we performed mass spectrometry on plasma from Bangladeshi and Senegalese patients with culture confirmed typhoid fever, clinically suspected typhoid, and other febrile diseases including malaria. After applying supervised pattern recognition modelling, we could significantly distinguish metabolite profiles in plasma from the culture confirmed typhoid patients. After comparing the direction of change and degree of multivariate significance, we identified 24 metabolites that were consistently up- or down regulated in a further Bangladeshi/Senegalese validation cohort, and the Nepali cohort from our previous work. We have identified and validated a metabolite panel that can distinguish typhoid from other febrile diseases, providing a new approach for typhoid diagnostics.

Thwaites GE, Day NPJ. 2017. Approach to Fever in the Returning Traveler. N Engl J Med, 376 (18), pp. 1798. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Read more

Thwaites GE, Day NPJ. 2017. Approach to Fever in the Returning Traveler REPLY NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, 376 (18), pp. 1798-1798.

Dellicour S, Sevene E, McGready R, Tinto H, Mosha D, Manyando C, Rulisa S, Desai M, Ouma P, Oneko M et al. 2017. First-trimester artemisinin derivatives and quinine treatments and the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes in Africa and Asia: A meta-analysis of observational studies. PLoS Med, 14 (5), pp. e1002290. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Animal embryotoxicity data, and the scarcity of safety data in human pregnancies, have prevented artemisinin derivatives from being recommended for malaria treatment in the first trimester except in lifesaving circumstances. We conducted a meta-analysis of prospective observational studies comparing the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and major congenital anomaly (primary outcomes) among first-trimester pregnancies treated with artemisinin derivatives versus quinine or no antimalarial treatment. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Electronic databases including Medline, Embase, and Malaria in Pregnancy Library were searched, and investigators contacted. Five studies involving 30,618 pregnancies were included; four from sub-Saharan Africa (n = 6,666 pregnancies, six sites) and one from Thailand (n = 23,952). Antimalarial exposures were ascertained by self-report or active detection and confirmed by prescriptions, clinic cards, and outpatient registers. Cox proportional hazards models, accounting for time under observation and gestational age at enrollment, were used to calculate hazard ratios. Individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis was used to combine the African studies, and the results were then combined with those from Thailand using aggregated data meta-analysis with a random effects model. There was no difference in the risk of miscarriage associated with the use of artemisinins anytime during the first trimester (n = 37/671) compared with quinine (n = 96/945; adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] = 0.73 [95% CI 0.44, 1.21], I2 = 0%, p = 0.228), in the risk of stillbirth (artemisinins, n = 10/654; quinine, n = 11/615; aHR = 0.29 [95% CI 0.08-1.02], p = 0.053), or in the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth combined (pregnancy loss) (aHR = 0.58 [95% CI 0.36-1.02], p = 0.099). The corresponding risks of miscarriage, stillbirth, and pregnancy loss in a sensitivity analysis restricted to artemisinin exposures during the embryo sensitive period (6-12 wk gestation) were as follows: aHR = 1.04 (95% CI 0.54-2.01), I2 = 0%, p = 0.910; aHR = 0.73 (95% CI 0.26-2.06), p = 0.551; and aHR = 0.98 (95% CI 0.52-2.04), p = 0.603. The prevalence of major congenital anomalies was similar for first-trimester artemisinin (1.5% [95% CI 0.6%-3.5%]) and quinine exposures (1.2% [95% CI 0.6%-2.4%]). Key limitations of the study include the inability to control for confounding by indication in the African studies, the paucity of data on potential confounders, the limited statistical power to detect differences in congenital anomalies, and the lack of assessment of cardiovascular defects in newborns. CONCLUSIONS: Compared to quinine, artemisinin treatment in the first trimester was not associated with an increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. While the data are limited, they indicate no difference in the prevalence of major congenital anomalies between treatment groups. The benefits of 3-d artemisinin combination therapy regimens to treat malaria in early pregnancy are likely to outweigh the adverse outcomes of partially treated malaria, which can occur with oral quinine because of the known poor adherence to 7-d regimens. REVIEW REGISTRATION: PROSPERO CRD42015032371.

Plewes K, Kingston HWF, Ghose A, Maude RJ, Herdman MT, Leopold SJ, Ishioka H, Hasan MMU, Haider MS, Alam S et al. 2017. Cell-free hemoglobin mediated oxidative stress is associated with acute kidney injury and renal replacement therapy in severe falciparum malaria: an observational study. BMC Infect Dis, 17 (1), pp. 313. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Intravascular hemolysis is an intrinsic feature of severe malaria pathophysiology but the pathogenic role of cell-free hemoglobin-mediated oxidative stress in severe malaria associated acute kidney injury (AKI) is unknown. METHODS: As part of a prospective observational study, enrolment plasma cell-free hemoglobin (CFH), lipid peroxidation markers (F2-isoprostanes (F2-IsoPs) and isofurans (IsoFs)), red cell deformability, and serum creatinine were quantified in Bangladeshi patients with severe falciparum malaria (n = 107), uncomplicated malaria (n = 80) and sepsis (n = 28). The relationships between these indices and kidney function and clinical outcomes were examined. RESULTS: AKI was diagnosed at enrolment in 58% (62/107) of consecutive patients with severe malaria, defined by an increase in creatinine ≥1.5 times expected baseline. Severe malaria patients with AKI had significantly higher plasma cell-free hemoglobin (geometric mean CFH: 8.8 μM; 95% CI, 6.2-12.3 μM), F2-isoprostane (56.7 pg/ml; 95% CI, 45.3-71.0 pg/ml) and isofuran (109.2 pg/ml; 95% CI, 85.1-140.1 pg/ml) concentrations on enrolment compared to those without AKI (CFH: 5.1 μM; 95% CI, 4.0-6.6 μM; P = 0.018; F2-IsoPs: 27.8 pg/ml; 95% CI, 23.7-32.7 pg/ml; P < 0.001; IsoFs: 41.7 pg/ml; 95% CI, 30.2-57.6 pg/ml; P < 0.001). Cell-free hemoglobin correlated with markers of hemolysis, parasite burden (P. falciparum histidine rich protein 2 (PfHRP2)), and F2-IsoPs. Plasma F2-IsoPs and IsoFs inversely correlated with pH, positively correlated with creatinine, PfHRP2 and fractional excretion of sodium, and were higher in patients later requiring hemodialysis. Plasma F2-IsoP concentrations also inversely correlated with red cell deformability and were higher in fatal cases. Mixed effects modeling including an interaction term for CFH and time showed that F2-IsoPs, IsoFs, PfHRP2, CFH, and red cell rigidity were independently associated with increasing creatinine over 72 h. Multivariable logistic regression showed that admission F2-IsoPs, IsoFs and red cell deformability were associated with the need for subsequent hemodialysis. CONCLUSIONS: Cell-free hemoglobin and lipid peroxidation are associated with acute kidney injury and disease severity in falciparum malaria, suggesting a pathophysiological role in renal tubular injury. Evaluation of adjunctive therapies targeting cell-free hemoglobin-mediated oxidative stress is warranted.

Srisutham S, Saralamba N, Malleret B, Rénia L, Dondorp AM, Imwong M. 2017. Four human Plasmodium species quantification using droplet digital PCR. PLoS One, 12 (4), pp. e0175771. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR) is a partial PCR based on water-oil emulsion droplet technology. It is a highly sensitive method for detecting and delineating minor alleles from complex backgrounds and provides absolute quantification of DNA targets. The ddPCR technology has been applied for detection of many pathogens. Here the sensitive assay utilizing ddPCR for detection and quantification of Plasmodium species was investigated. The assay was developed for two levels of detection, genus specific for all Plasmodium species and for specific Plasmodium species detection. The ddPCR assay was developed based on primers and probes specific to the Plasmodium genus 18S rRNA gene. Using ddPCR for ultra-sensitive P. falciparum assessment, the lower level of detection from concentrated DNA obtained from a high volume (1 mL) blood sample was 11 parasites/mL. For species identification, in particular for samples with mixed infections, a duplex reaction was developed for detection and quantification P. falciparum/ P. vivax and P. malariae/ P. ovale. Amplification of each Plasmodium species in the duplex reaction showed equal sensitivity to singleplex single species detection. The duplex ddPCR assay had higher sensitivity to identify minor species in 32 subpatent parasitaemia samples from Cambodia, and performed better than real-time PCR. The ddPCR assay shows high sensitivity to assess very low parasitaemia of all human Plasmodium species. This provides a useful research tool for studying the role of the asymptomatic parasite reservoir for transmission in regions aiming for malaria elimination.

van Enter BJD, Lau YL, Ling CL, Watthanaworawit W, Sukthana Y, Lee WC, Nosten F, McGready R. 2017. Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii Infection in Refugee and Migrant Pregnant Women along the Thailand-Myanmar Border. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 97 (1), pp. 232-235. | Show Abstract | Read more

Toxoplasma gondii primary infection in pregnancy is associated with poor obstetric outcomes. This study aimed to determine the seroprevalence of Toxoplasma infection in pregnant migrant and refugee women from Myanmar attending antenatal care in Thailand. A random selection of 199 residual blood samples from first antenatal screen in 2014-2015 was tested for Toxoplasma IgG and IgM antibodies. Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma infection was 31.7% (95% confidence interval = 25.6-38.4). Avidity testing in the three positive IgM cases indicated all were past infections. Multiparity (≥ 3 children) was significantly associated with higher Toxoplasma seropositivity rates. Seroprevalence of T. gondii infection in this pregnant population is similar to the only other report from Myanmar, where multiparity was also identified as a significant association. Toxoplasma infection is important in pregnant women. Nevertheless, in this marginalized population, this infection may be given less priority, due to resource constraints in providing the most basic components of safe motherhood programs.

Dondorp AM, Limmathurotsakul D, Ashley EA. 2017. What's wrong in the control of antimicrobial resistance in critically ill patients from low- and middle-income countries? Intensive Care Med, pp. 1-4. | Read more

Turner C, Pol S, Suon K, Neou L, Day NP, Parker M, Kingori P. 2017. Beliefs and practices during pregnancy, post-partum and in the first days of an infant's life in rural Cambodia. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 17 (1), pp. 116. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to record the beliefs, practices during pregnancy, post-partum and in the first few days of an infant's life, held by a cross section of the community in rural Cambodia to determine beneficial community interventions to improve early neonatal health. METHODS: Qualitative study design with data generated from semi structured interviews (SSI) and focus group discussions (FGD). Data were analysed by thematic content analysis, with an a priori coding structure developed using available relevant literature. Further reading of the transcripts permitted additional coding to be performed in vivo. This study was conducted in two locations, firstly the Angkor Hospital for Children and secondarily in five villages in Sotnikum, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. RESULTS: A total of 20 participants underwent a SSIs (15 in hospital and five in the community) and six (three in hospital and three in the community; a total of 58 participants) FGDs were conducted. Harmful practices that occurred in the past (for example: discarding colostrum and putting mud on the umbilical stump) were not described as being practiced. Village elders did not enforce traditional views. Parents could describe signs of illness and felt responsible to seek care for their child even if other family members disagreed, however participants were unaware of the signs or danger of neonatal jaundice. Cost of transportation was the major barrier to healthcare that was identified. CONCLUSIONS: In the population examined, traditional practices in late pregnancy and the post-partum period were no longer commonly performed. However, jaundice, a potentially serious neonatal condition, was not recognised. Community neonatal interventions should be tailored to the populations existing practice and knowledge.

Thriemer K, Ley B, Bobogare A, Dysoley L, Alam MS, Pasaribu AP, Sattabongkot J, Jambert E, Domingo GJ, Commons R et al. 2017. Challenges for achieving safe and effective radical cure of Plasmodium vivax: a round table discussion of the APMEN Vivax Working Group. Malar J, 16 (1), pp. 141. | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The delivery of safe and effective radical cure for Plasmodium vivax is one of the greatest challenges for achieving malaria elimination from the Asia-Pacific by 2030. During the annual meeting of the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network Vivax Working Group in October 2016, a round table discussion was held to discuss the programmatic issues hindering the widespread use of primaquine (PQ) radical cure. Participants included 73 representatives from 16 partner countries and 33 institutional partners and other research institutes. In this meeting report, the key discussion points are presented and grouped into five themes: (i) current barriers for glucose-6-phosphate deficiency (G6PD) testing prior to PQ radical cure, (ii) necessary properties of G6PD tests for wide scale deployment, (iii) the promotion of G6PD testing, (iv) improving adherence to PQ regimens and (v) the challenges for future tafenoquine (TQ) roll out. Robust point of care (PoC) G6PD tests are needed, which are suitable and cost-effective for clinical settings with limited infrastructure. An affordable and competitive test price is needed, accompanied by sustainable funding for the product with appropriate training of healthcare staff, and robust quality control and assurance processes. In the absence of quantitative PoC G6PD tests, G6PD status can be gauged with qualitative diagnostics, however none of the available tests is currently sensitive enough to guide TQ treatment. TQ introduction will require overcoming additional challenges including the management of severely and intermediately G6PD deficient individuals. Robust strategies are needed to ensure that effective treatment practices can be deployed widely, and these should ensure that the caveats are outweighed by  the benefits of radical cure for both the patients and the community. Widespread access to quality controlled G6PD testing will be critical.

Phuc BQ, Rasmussen C, Duong TT, Dong LT, Loi MA, Ménard D, Tarning J, Bustos D, Ringwald P, Galappaththy GL, Thieu NQ. 2017. Treatment Failure of Dihydroartemisinin/Piperaquine for Plasmodium falciparum Malaria, Vietnam. Emerg Infect Dis, 23 (4), pp. 715-717. | Show Abstract | Read more

We conducted a study in Binh Phuoc, Vietnam, in 2015 on the therapeutic efficacy of dihydroartemisinin/piperaquine for Plasmodium falciparum malaria. A high number of treatment failures (14/40) was found, and piperaquine resistance in Vietnam was confirmed. A change in the malaria treatment policy for Vietnam is in process.

Rocha MV, Françoso KS, Lima LC, Camargo TM, Machado RLD, Costa FTM, Rénia L, Nosten F, Russell B, Rodrigues MM, Soares IS. 2017. Generation, characterization and immunogenicity of a novel chimeric recombinant protein based on Plasmodium vivax AMA-1 and MSP119. Vaccine, 35 (18), pp. 2463-2472. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium vivax is the most widely distributed malaria species and the most prevalent species of malaria in America and Asia. Vaccine development against P. vivax is considered a priority in the global program for the eradication of malaria. Earlier studies have characterized the Apical Membrane Antigen 1 (AMA-1) ectodomain and the C-terminal region (19kDa) of the Merozoite Surface Protein 1 (MSP-1) of P. vivax as immunodominant antigens. Based on this characterization, we designed a chimeric recombinant protein containing both merozoite immunodominant domains (PvAMA166-MSP119). The recombinant PvAMA166-MSP119 was successfully expressed in Pichia pastoris and used to immunize two different mouse strains (BALB/c and C57BL/6) in the presence of the Poly (I:C) as an adjuvant. Immunization with the chimeric protein induced high antibody titers against both proteins in both strains of mice as detected by ELISA. Antisera also recognized the native proteins expressed on the merozoites of mature P. vivax schizonts. Moreover, this antigen was able to induce IFN-gamma-secreting cells in C57BL/6 mice. These findings indicate that this novel yeast recombinant protein containing PvAMA166 and PvMSP119 is advantageous, because of improved antibody titers and cellular immune response. Therefore, this formulation should be further developed for pre-clinical trials in non-human primates as a potential candidate for a P. vivax vaccine.

Lubell Y, Althaus T. 2017. Biomarker tests for bacterial infection-a costly wait for the holy grail. Lancet Infect Dis, 17 (4), pp. 369-370. | Read more

Chaumeau V, Cerqueira D, Zadrozny J, Kittiphanakun P, Andolina C, Chareonviriyaphap T, Nosten F, Corbel V. 2017. Insecticide resistance in malaria vectors along the Thailand-Myanmar border. Parasit Vectors, 10 (1), pp. 165. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: There is a paucity of data about the susceptibility status of malaria vectors to Public Health insecticides along the Thailand-Myanmar border. This lack of data is a limitation to guide malaria vector-control in this region. The aim of this study was to assess the susceptibility status of malaria vectors to deltamethrin, permethrin and DDT and to validate a simple molecular assay for the detection of knock-down resistance (kdr) mutations in the study area. METHODS: Anopheles mosquitoes were collected in four sentinel villages during August and November 2014 and July 2015 using human landing catch and cow bait collection methods. WHO susceptibility tests were carried out to measure the mortality and knock-down rates of female mosquitoes to deltamethrin (0.05%), permethrin (0.75%) and DDT (4%). DNA sequencing of a fragment of the voltage-gated sodium channel gene was carried out to identify knock-down resistance (kdr) mutations at position 1014 in mosquitoes surviving exposure to insecticides. RESULTS: A total of 6295 Anopheles belonging to ten different species were bioassayed. Resistance or suspected resistance to pyrethroids was detected in An. barbirostris (s.l.) (72 and 84% mortality to deltamethrin (n = 504) and permethrin (n = 493) respectively), An. hyrcanus (s.l.) (33 and 48% mortality to deltamethrin (n = 172) and permethrin (n = 154), respectively), An. jamesii (87% mortality to deltamethrin, n = 111), An. maculatus (s.l.) (85 and 97% mortality to deltamethrin (n = 280) and permethrin (n = 264), respectively), An. minimus (s.l.) (92% mortality, n = 370) and An. vagus (75 and 95% mortality to deltamethrin (n =148) and permethrin (n = 178), respectively). Resistance or suspected resistance to DDT was detected in An. barbirostris (s.l.) (74% mortality, n = 435), An. hyrcanus (s.l.) (57% mortality, n = 91) and An. vagus (97% mortality, n = 133). The L1014S kdr mutation at both heterozygous and homozygous state was detected only in An. peditaeniatus (Hyrcanus Group). CONCLUSION: Resistance to pyrethroids is present along the Thailand-Myanmar border, and it represents a threat for malaria vector control. Further investigations are needed to better understand the molecular basis of insecticide resistance in malaria vectors in this area.

Pumpuang A, Dunachie SJ, Phokrai P, Jenjaroen K, Sintiprungrat K, Boonsilp S, Brett PJ, Burtnick MN, Chantratita N. 2017. Comparison of O-polysaccharide and hemolysin co-regulated protein as target antigens for serodiagnosis of melioidosis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11 (3), pp. e0005499. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Melioidosis is a severe disease caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei. Clinical manifestations are diverse and acute infections require immediate treatment with effective antibiotics. While culture is the current diagnostic standard, it is time-consuming and has low sensitivity. In endemic areas, inaccessibility to biosafety level 3 facilities and a lack of good serodiagnostic tools can impede diagnosis and disease surveillance. Recent studies have suggested that O-polysaccharide (OPS) and hemolysin co-regulated protein 1 (Hcp1) are promising target antigens for serodiagnosis of melioidosis. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPLE FINDINGS: We evaluated rapid ELISAs using crude antigens, purified OPS and Hcp1 to measure antibody levels in three sets of sera: (i) 419 serum samples from melioidosis patients, Thai and U.S. healthy donors, (ii) 120 serum samples from patients with other bacterial infections, and (iii) 423 serum samples from 200 melioidosis patients obtained upon admission and at 12 and 52 weeks post-recovery. We observed significantly higher antibody levels using the crude antigen prepared from wild type B. pseudomallei K96243 compared to that of an OPS-mutant. The areas under receiver operator characteristics (AUROCCs) for diagnosis were compared for individual Hcp1-ELISA or OPS-ELISA or combined Hcp1/OPS-ELISA. For Thai donors, AUROCCs were highest and comparable between the Hcp1-ELISA and the combined Hcp1/OPS-ELISA (0.95 versus 0.94). For U.S. donors, the AUROCC was highest for the combined Hcp1/OPS-ELISA (0.96). Significantly higher seropositivity was observed in diabetic patients compared to those without diabetes for both the Hcp1-ELISA (87.3% versus 69.7%) and OPS-ELISA (88.1% versus 60.6%). Although antibody levels for Hcp1 were highest upon admission, the titers declined by week 52 post-recovery. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Hcp1 and OPS are promising candidates for serodiagnosis of melioidosis in different groups of patients. The Hcp1-ELISA performed better than the OPS-ELISA in endemic areas, thus, Hcp1 represents a promising target antigen for the development of POC tests for acute melioidosis.

Plewes K, Soontarawirat I, Ghose A, Bancone G, Kingston HWF, Herdman MT, Leopold SJ, Ishioka H, Faiz MA, Anstey NM et al. 2017. Genotypic and phenotypic characterization of G6PD deficiency in Bengali adults with severe and uncomplicated malaria. Malar J, 16 (1), pp. 134. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Control of malaria increasingly involves administration of 8-aminoquinolines, with accompanying risk of haemolysis in individuals with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. Few data on the prevalence and genotypic basis of G6PD deficiency are available from Bangladesh, where malaria remains a major problem in the South (Chittagong Division). The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of G6PD deficiency, and associated G6PD genotypes, in adults with falciparum malaria in southern Bangladesh. METHODS: G6PD status was assessed via a combination of fluorescent spot testing (FST) and genotyping in 141 Bengali patients admitted with falciparum malaria to two centres in Chittagong Division from 2012 to 2014. In addition, an analysis of genomic data from 1000 Genomes Project was carried out among five healthy Indian subcontinent populations. RESULTS: One male patient with uncomplicated malaria was found to have G6PD deficiency on FST and a genotype associated with deficiency (hemizygous Orissa variant). In addition, there were two female patients heterozygous for deficiency variants (Orissa and Kerala-Kalyan). These three patients had a relatively long duration of symptoms prior to admission compared to G6PD normal cases, possibly suggesting an interaction with parasite multiplication rate. In addition, one of 27 healthy local controls was deficient on FST and hemizygous for the Mahidol variant of G6PD deficiency. Examination of 1000 Genomes Project sequencing data across the Indian subcontinent showed that 19/723 chromosomes (2.63%) carried a variant associated with deficiency. In the Bengali from Bangladesh 1000 Genomes population, three of 130 chromosomes (2.31%) carried deficient alleles; this included single chromosomes carrying the Kerala-Kalyan and Orissa variants. CONCLUSIONS: In line with other recent work, G6PD deficiency is uncommon in Bengalis in Bangladesh. Further studies of particular ethnic groups are needed to evaluate the potential risk of wide deployment of primaquine in malaria control efforts in Bangladesh.

Schultz MJ, Dunser MW, Dondorp AM, Adhikari NK, Iyer S, Kwizera A, Lubell Y, Papali A, Pisani L, Riviello BD et al. 2017. Current challenges in the management of sepsis in ICUs in resource-poor settings and suggestions for the future. Intensive Care Med, 43 (5), pp. 612-624. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Sepsis is a major reason for intensive care unit (ICU) admission, also in resource-poor settings. ICUs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) face many challenges that could affect patient outcome. AIM: To describe differences between resource-poor and resource-rich settings regarding the epidemiology, pathophysiology, economics and research aspects of sepsis. We restricted this manuscript to the ICU setting even knowing that many sepsis patients in LMICs are treated outside an ICU. FINDINGS: Although many bacterial pathogens causing sepsis in LMICs are similar to those in high-income countries, resistance patterns to antimicrobial drugs can be very different; in addition, causes of sepsis in LMICs often include tropical diseases in which direct damaging effects of pathogens and their products can sometimes be more important than the response of the host. There are substantial and persisting differences in ICU capacities around the world; not surprisingly the lowest capacities are found in LMICs, but with important heterogeneity within individual LMICs. Although many aspects of sepsis management developed in rich countries are applicable in LMICs, implementation requires strong consideration of cost implications and the important differences in resources. CONCLUSIONS: Addressing both disease-specific and setting-specific factors is important to improve performance of ICUs in LMICs. Although critical care for severe sepsis is likely cost-effective in LMIC setting, more detailed evaluation at both at a macro- and micro-economy level is necessary. Sepsis management in resource-limited settings is a largely unexplored frontier with important opportunities for research, training, and other initiatives for improvement.

Okello A, Tiemann TT, Inthavong P, Khamlome B, Phengvilaysouk A, Keonouchanh S, Keokhamphet C, Somoulay V, Blaszak K, Blacksell S et al. 2017. Integrating market chain assessments with zoonoses risk analysis in two cross-border pig value chains in Lao PDR. Asian-Australas J Anim Sci, | Show Abstract | Read more

Lao PDR's recent accession to the World Trade Organization necessitates a greater understanding of the patterns and risk of livestock production in order to better align national policy with the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. This eco-health study describes the integration of market chain and zoonoses risk analyses at two strategic cross border points between Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. Information gained from smallholder farmer/trader interviews was integrated with serological surveys for pig-associated zoonoses - including hepatitis E virus, Taenia solium and Trichinella - to identify potential linkages between disease risk and pig production and slaughter in low input systems common across the country. Trichinella and HEV exposure was high in both humans and pigs in both study areas, significantly associated with pig slaughter and the subsequent consumption and handling of raw pork products. T. solium demonstrated a strong geographical and ethnic association with the northern study area bordering Vietnam. With the right knowledge and accessible, affordable inputs, the majority of smallholder farmers indicated a willingness to invest more in pig production, which could simultaneously improve livelihoods and decrease exposure to HEV, Trichinella and T. solium through increased access to formal markets and an improved slaughter processes. Assessing disease risk in the context of potential economic and cultural drivers of transmission highlights the importance of a systems-based approach to the detection and control of zoonotic disease, improving the understanding of the Lao PDR livestock sector in accordance with the country's recent accession to the World Trade Organization.

Mercado CE, Ekapirat N, Dondorp AM, Maude RJ. 2017. An assessment of national surveillance systems for malaria elimination in the Asia Pacific. Malar J, 16 (1), pp. 127. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Heads of Government from Asia and the Pacific have committed to a malaria-free region by 2030. In 2015, the total number of confirmed cases reported to the World Health Organization by 22 Asia Pacific countries was 2,461,025. However, this was likely a gross underestimate due in part to incidence data not being available from the wide variety of known sources. There is a recognized need for an accurate picture of malaria over time and space to support the goal of elimination. A survey was conducted to gain a deeper understanding of the collection of malaria incidence data for surveillance by National Malaria Control Programmes in 22 countries identified by the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance. METHODS: In 2015-2016, a short questionnaire on malaria surveillance was distributed to 22 country National Malaria Control Programmes (NMCP) in the Asia Pacific. It collected country-specific information about the extent of inclusion of the range of possible sources of malaria incidence data and the role of the private sector in malaria treatment. The findings were used to produce recommendations for the regional heads of government on improving malaria surveillance to inform regional efforts towards malaria elimination. RESULTS: A survey response was received from all 22 target countries. Most of the malaria incidence data collected by NMCPs originated from government health facilities, while many did not collect comprehensive data from mobile and migrant populations, the private sector or the military. All data from village health workers were included by 10/20 countries and some by 5/20. Other sources of data included by some countries were plantations, police and other security forces, sentinel surveillance sites, research or academic institutions, private laboratories and other government ministries. Malaria was treated in private health facilities in 19/21 countries, while anti-malarials were available in private pharmacies in 16/21 and private shops in 6/21. Most countries use primarily paper-based reporting. CONCLUSIONS: Most collected malaria incidence data in the Asia Pacific is from government health facilities while data from a wide variety of other known sources are often not included in national surveillance databases. In particular, there needs to be a concerted regional effort to support inclusion of data on mobile and migrant populations and the private sector. There should also be an emphasis on electronic reporting and data harmonization across organizations. This will provide a more accurate and up to date picture of the true burden and distribution of malaria and will be of great assistance in helping realize the goal of malaria elimination in the Asia Pacific by 2030.

Tschirhart N, Thi SS, Swe LL, Nosten F, Foster AM. 2017. Erratum to: Treating the invisible: Gaps and opportunities for enhanced TB control along the Thailand-Myanmar border. BMC Health Serv Res, 17 (1), pp. 215. | Read more

Birnie E, Koh GC, Löwenberg EC, Meijers JC, Maude RR, Day NP, Peacock SJ, Poll TV, Wiersinga WJ. 2017. Increased Von Willebrand factor, decreased ADAMTS13 and thrombocytopenia in melioidosis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11 (3), pp. e0005468. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Melioidosis, caused by bioterror treat agent Burkholderia pseudomallei, is an important cause of community-acquired Gram-negative sepsis in Southeast Asia and Northern Australia. New insights into the pathogenesis of melioidosis may help improve treatment and decrease mortality rates from this dreadful disease. We hypothesized that changes in Von Willebrand factor (VWF) function should occur in melioidosis, based on the presence of endothelial stimulation by endotoxin, pro-inflammatory cytokines and thrombin in melioidosis, and investigated whether this impacted on outcome. METHODS/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We recruited 52 controls and 34 culture-confirmed melioidosis patients at Sappasithiprasong Hospital in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand. All subjects were diabetic. Platelet counts in melioidosis patients were lower compared to controls (p = 0.0001) and correlated with mortality (p = 0.02). VWF antigen levels were higher in patients (geometric mean, 478 U/dl) compared to controls (166 U/dL, p<0.0001). The high levels of VWF in melioidosis appeared to be due to increased endothelial stimulation (VWF propeptide levels were elevated, p<0.0001) and reduced clearance (ADAMTS13 reduction, p<0.0001). However, VWF antigen levels did not correlate with platelet counts implying that thrombocytopenia in acute melioidosis has an alternative cause. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Thrombocytopenia is a key feature of melioidosis and is correlated with mortality. Additionally, excess VWF and ADAMTS13 deficiency are features of acute melioidosis, but are not the primary drivers of thrombocytopenia in melioidosis. Further studies on the role of thrombocytopenia in B. pseudomallei infection are needed.

Haniffa R, Lubell Y, Cooper BS, Mohanty S, Alam S, Karki A, Pattnaik R, Maswood A, Haque R, Pangeni R et al. 2017. Impact of a structured ICU training programme in resource-limited settings in Asia. PLoS One, 12 (3), pp. e0173483. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To assess the impact on ICU performance of a modular training program in three resource-limited general adult ICUs in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. METHOD: A modular ICU training programme was evaluated using performance indicators from June 2009 to June 2012 using an interrupted time series design with an 8 to 15 month pre-intervention and 18 to 24 month post-intervention period. ICU physicians and nurses trained in Europe and the USA provided training for ICU doctors and nurses. The training program consisted of six modules on basic intensive care practices of 2-3 weeks each over 20 months. The performance indicators consisting of ICU mortality, time to ICU discharge, rate at which patients were discharged alive from the ICU, discontinuation of mechanical ventilation or vasoactive drugs and duration of antibiotic use were extracted. Stepwise changes and changes in trends associated with the intervention were analysed. RESULTS: Pre-Training ICU mortality in Rourkela (India), and Patan (Nepal) Chittagong (Bangladesh), was 28%, 41% and 62%, respectively, compared to 30%, 18% and 51% post-intervention. The intervention was associated with a stepwise reduction in cumulative incidence of in-ICU mortality in Chittagong (adjusted subdistribution hazard ratio [aSHR] (95% CI): 0.62 (0.40, 0.97), p = 0.03) and Patan (aSHR 0.16 (0.06, 0.41), p<0.001), but not in Rourkela (aSHR: 1.17 (0.75, 1.82), p = 0.49). The intervention was associated with earlier discontinuation of vasoactive drugs at Rourkela (adjusted hazard ratio for weekly change [aHR] 1.08 (1.03, 1.14), earlier discontinuation of mechanical ventilation in Chittagong (aHR 2.97 (1.24, 7.14), p = 0.02), and earlier ICU discharge in Patan (aHR 1.87 (1.02, 3.43), p = 0.04). CONCLUSION: This structured training program was associated with a decrease in ICU mortality in two of three sites and improvement of other performance indicators. A larger cluster randomised study assessing process outcomes and longer-term indicators is warranted.

Ataide R, Ashley EA, Powell R, Chan JA, Malloy MJ, O'Flaherty K, Takashima E, Langer C, Tsuboi T, Dondorp AM et al. 2017. Host immunity to Plasmodium falciparum and the assessment of emerging artemisinin resistance in a multinational cohort. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 114 (13), pp. 3515-3520. | Citations: 5 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria, defined by a slow-clearance phenotype and the presence of kelch13 mutants, has emerged in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Naturally acquired immunity to malaria clears parasites independent of antimalarial drugs. We hypothesized that between- and within-population variations in host immunity influence parasite clearance after artemisinin treatment and the interpretation of emerging artemisinin resistance. Antibodies specific to 12 Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite and blood-stage antigens were determined in 959 patients (from 11 sites in Southeast Asia) participating in a multinational cohort study assessing parasite clearance half-life (PCt1/2) after artesunate treatment and kelch13 mutations. Linear mixed-effects modeling of pooled individual patient data assessed the association between antibody responses and PCt1/2.P. falciparum antibodies were lowest in areas where the prevalence of kelch13 mutations and slow PCt1/2 were highest [Spearman ρ = -0.90 (95% confidence interval, -0.97, -0.65), and Spearman ρ = -0.94 (95% confidence interval, -0.98, -0.77), respectively]. P. falciparum antibodies were associated with faster PCt1/2 (mean difference in PCt1/2 according to seropositivity, -0.16 to -0.65 h, depending on antigen); antibodies have a greater effect on the clearance of kelch13 mutant compared with wild-type parasites (mean difference in PCt1/2 according to seropositivity, -0.22 to -0.61 h faster in kelch13 mutants compared with wild-type parasites). Naturally acquired immunity accelerates the clearance of artemisinin-resistant parasites in patients with falciparum malaria and may confound the current working definition of artemisinin resistance. Immunity may also play an important role in the emergence and transmission potential of artemisinin-resistant parasites.

Menard D, Dondorp A. 2017. Antimalarial Drug Resistance: A Threat to Malaria Elimination. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med, 7 (7), pp. a025619-a025619. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Increasing antimalarial drug resistance once again threatens effective antimalarial drug treatment, malaria control, and elimination. Artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) are first-line treatment for uncomplicated falciparum malaria in all endemic countries, yet partial resistance to artemisinins has emerged in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Concomitant emergence of partner drug resistance is now causing high ACT treatment failure rates in several areas. Genetic markers for artemisinin resistance and several of the partner drugs have been established, greatly facilitating surveillance. Single point mutations in the gene coding for the Kelch propeller domain of the K13 protein strongly correlate with artemisinin resistance. Novel regimens and strategies using existing antimalarial drugs will be needed until novel compounds can be deployed. Elimination of artemisinin resistance will imply elimination of all falciparum malaria from the same areas. In vivax malaria, chloroquine resistance is an increasing problem.

Chowdhury FR, Nur Z, Hassan N, von Seidlein L, Dunachie S. 2017. Pandemics, pathogenicity and changing molecular epidemiology of cholera in the era of global warming. Ann Clin Microbiol Antimicrob, 16 (1), pp. 10. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Vibrio cholerae, a Gram-negative, non-spore forming curved rod is found in diverse aquatic ecosystems around the planet. It is classified according to its major surface antigen into around 206 serogroups, of which O1 and O139 cause epidemic cholera. A recent spatial modelling technique estimated that around 2.86 million cholera cases occur globally every year, and of them approximately 95,000 die. About 1.3 billion people are currently at risk of infection from cholera. Meta-analysis and mathematical modelling have demonstrated that due to global warming the burden of vector-borne diseases like malaria, leishmaniasis, meningococcal meningitis, viral encephalitis, dengue and chikungunya will increase in the coming years in the tropics and beyond. CHOLERA AND CLIMATE: This review offers an overview of the interplay between global warming and the pathogenicity and epidemiology of V. cholerae. Several distinctive features of cholera survival (optimal thriving at 15% salinity, 30 °C water temperature, and pH 8.5) indicate a possible role of climate change in triggering the epidemic process. Genetic exchange (ctxAB, zot, ace, cep, and orfU) between strains and transduction process allows potential emergence of new toxigenic clones. These processes are probably controlled by precise environmental signals such as optimum temperature, sunlight and osmotic conditions. Environmental influences on phytoplankton growth and chitin remineralization will be discussed alongside the interplay of poor sanitary conditions, overcrowding, improper sewage disposal and global warming in promoting the growth and transmission of this deadly disease. CONCLUSION: The development of an effective early warning system based on climate data could help to prevent and control future outbreaks. It may become possible to integrate real-time monitoring of oceanic regions, climate variability and epidemiological and demographic population dynamics to predict cholera outbreaks and support the design of cost-effective public health strategies.

McLean ARD, Boel M, McGready R, Ataide R, Drew D, Tsuboi T, Beeson JG, Nosten F, Simpson JA, Fowkes FJI. 2017. Antibody Responses to Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax and Prospective Risk of Plasmodium spp. Infection Postpartum. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 96 (5), pp. 1197-1204. | Show Abstract | Read more

AbstractPostpartum women may have an altered susceptibility to Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. The relationship between naturally acquired malarial immunity and susceptibility to malaria postpartum is yet to be determined. IgG levels were measured against P. falciparum and P. vivax antigens from delivery in 201 postpartum and 201 nonpregnant controls over 12 weeks. Associations between time-varying antibody levels and time to first microscopically confirmed species-specific infection were determined by Cox regression. Associations between antibody levels and prospective risk of Plasmodium infection were similar in postpartum and control women. A 2-fold increase in P. falciparum antibody levels was associated with increased prospective risk of P. falciparum infection (hazard ratio [HR] range = 1.37-1.94). Antibody levels against most P. vivax antigens displayed no association with prospective risk of P. vivax infection (HR range = 1.02-1.05) with the exception of PvMSP119 antibodies that were weakly associated with prospective risk of P. vivax infection (HR = 1.14 (95% confidence interval = 1.02, 1.28) per 2-fold increase in levels). Associations between antibody levels and prospective risk of infection attenuated when adjusted for documented retrospective exposure. Serology may be a useful tool to predict and monitor women at increased risk of P. falciparum infection postpartum, particularly in the absence of a detailed history of retrospective infections.

Chaichana P, Chantratita N, Brod F, Koosakulnirand S, Jenjaroen K, Chumseng S, Sumonwiriya M, Burtnick MN, Brett PJ, Teparrukkul P et al. 2017. A nonsense mutation in TLR5 is associated with survival and reduced IL-10 and TNF-α levels in human melioidosis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11 (5), pp. e0005587. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Melioidosis, caused by the flagellated bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, is a life-threatening and increasingly recognized emerging disease. Toll-like receptor (TLR) 5 is a germline-encoded pattern recognition receptor to bacterial flagellin. We evaluated the association of a nonsense TLR5 genetic variant that truncates the receptor with clinical outcomes and with immune responses in melioidosis. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We genotyped TLR5 c.1174C>T in 194 acute melioidosis patients in Thailand. Twenty-six (13%) were genotype CT or TT. In univariable analysis, carriage of the c.1174C>T variant was associated with lower 28-day mortality (odds ratio (OR) 0.21, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.05-0.94, P = 0.04) and with lower 90-day mortality (OR 0.25, 95% CI 0.07-086, P = 0.03). In multivariable analysis adjusting for age, sex, diabetes and renal disease, the adjusted OR for 28-day mortality in carriers of the variant was 0.24 (95% CI 0.05-1.08, P = 0.06); and the adjusted OR for 90-day mortality was 0.27 (95% CI 0.08-0.97, P = 0.04). c.1174C>T was associated with a lower rate of bacteremia (P = 0.04) and reduced plasma levels of IL-10 (P = 0.049) and TNF-α (P < 0.0001). We did not find an association between c.1174C>T and IFN-γ ELISPOT (T-cell) responses (P = 0.49), indirect haemagglutination titers or IgG antibodies to bacterial flagellin during acute melioidosis (P = 0.30 and 0.1, respectively). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This study independently confirms the association of TLR5 c.1174C>T with protection against death in melioidosis, identifies lower bacteremia, IL-10 and TNF-α production in carriers of the variant with melioidosis, but does not demonstrate an association of the variant with acute T-cell IFN-γ response, indirect haemagglutination antibody titer, or anti-flagellin IgG antibodies.

Dance DA, Limmathurotsakul D, Currie BJ. 2017. Burkholderia pseudomallei: Challenges for the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory-a Response from the Front Line. J Clin Microbiol, 55 (3), pp. 980-982. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Read more

Saiwaew S, Sritabal J, Piaraksa N, Keayarsa S, Ruengweerayut R, Utaisin C, Sila P, Niramis R, Udomsangpetch R, Charunwatthana P et al. 2017. Effects of sevuparin on rosette formation and cytoadherence of Plasmodium falciparum infected erythrocytes. PLoS One, 12 (3), pp. e0172718. | Show Abstract | Read more

In severe falciparum malaria cytoadherence of parasitised red blood cells (PRBCs) to vascular endothelium (causing sequestration) and to uninfected red cells (causing rosette formation) contribute to microcirculatory flow obstruction in vital organs. Heparin can reverse the underlying ligand-receptor interactions, but may increase the bleeding risks. As a heparin-derived polysaccharide, sevuparin has been designed to retain anti-adhesive properties, while the antithrombin-binding domains have been eliminated, substantially diminishing its anticoagulant activity. Sevuparin has been evaluated recently in patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria, and is currently investigated in a clinical trial for sickle cell disease. The effects of sevuparin on rosette formation and cytoadherence of Plasmodium falciparum isolates from Thailand were investigated. Trophozoite stages of P. falciparum-infected RBCs (Pf-iRBCs) were cultured from 49 patients with malaria. Pf-iRBCs were treated with sevuparin at 37°C and assessed in rosetting and in cytoadhesion assays with human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HDMECs) under static and flow conditions. The proportion of Pf-iRBCs forming rosettes ranged from 6.5% to 26.0% (median = 12.2%). Rosetting was dose dependently disrupted by sevuparin (50% disruption by 250 μg/mL). Overall 57% of P. falciparum isolates bound to HDMECs under static conditions; median (interquartile range) Pf-iRBC binding was 8.5 (3.0-38.0) Pf-iRBCs/1000 HDMECs. Sevuparin in concentrations ≥ 100 μg/mL inhibited cytoadherence. Sevuparin disrupts P. falciparum rosette formation in a dose dependent manner and inhibits cytoadherence to endothelial cells. The data support assessment of sevuparin as an adjunctive treatment to the standard therapy in severe falciparum malaria.

Dance DAB, Limmathurotsakul D, Currie BJ. 2017. Burkholderia pseudomallei: Challenges for the clinical microbiology laboratory-A response from the front line Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 55 (3), pp. 980-982. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Read more

Permala J, Tarning J, Nosten F, White NJ, Karlsson MO, Bergstrand M. 2017. Prediction of Improved Antimalarial Chemoprevention with Weekly Dosing of Dihydroartemisinin-Piperaquine. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 61 (5), pp. e02491-16-e02491-16. | Show Abstract | Read more

Intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) is used to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality, especially in vulnerable groups such as children and pregnant women. IPT with the fixed dose combination of piperaquine (PQ) and dihydroartemisinin (DHA) is being evaluated as a potential mass treatment to control and eliminate artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria. This study explored alternative DHA-PQ adult dosing regimens compared to the monthly adult dosing regimen currently being studied in clinical trials. A time-to-event model describing the concentration-effect relationship of preventive DHA-PQ administration was used to explore the potential clinical efficacy of once-weekly adult dosing regimens. Loading dose strategies were evaluated and the advantage of weekly dosing regimen was tested against different degrees of adherence. Assuming perfect adherence, three tablets weekly dosing regimen scenarios maintained malaria incidence of 0.2 to 0.3% per year compared to 2.1 to 2.6% for all monthly dosing regimen scenarios and 52% for the placebo. The three tablets weekly dosing regimen was also more forgiving (i.e., less sensitive to poor adherence), resulting in a predicted ∼4% malaria incidence per year compared to ∼8% for dosing regimen of two tablets weekly and ∼10% for monthly regimens (assuming 60% adherence and 35% interindividual variability). These results suggest that weekly dosing of DHA-PQ for malaria chemoprevention would improve treatment outcomes compared to monthly administration by lowering the incidence of malaria infections, reducing safety concerns about high PQ peak plasma concentrations and being more forgiving. In addition, weekly dosing is expected to reduce the selection pressure for PQ resistance.

White NJ. 2017. Malaria parasite clearance. Malar J, 16 (1), pp. 88. | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Following anti-malarial drug treatment asexual malaria parasite killing and clearance appear to be first order processes. Damaged malaria parasites in circulating erythrocytes are removed from the circulation mainly by the spleen. Splenic clearance functions increase markedly in acute malaria. Either the entire infected erythrocytes are removed because of their reduced deformability or increased antibody binding or, for the artemisinins which act on young ring stage parasites, splenic pitting of drug-damaged parasites is an important mechanism of clearance. The once-infected erythrocytes returned to the circulation have shortened survival. This contributes to post-artesunate haemolysis that may follow recovery in non-immune hyperparasitaemic patients. As the parasites mature Plasmodium vivax-infected erythrocytes become more deformable, whereas Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes become less deformable, but they escape splenic filtration by sequestering in venules and capillaries. Sequestered parasites are killed in situ by anti-malarial drugs and then disintegrate to be cleared by phagocytic leukocytes. After treatment with artemisinin derivatives some asexual parasites become temporarily dormant within their infected erythrocytes, and these may regrow after anti-malarial drug concentrations decline. Artemisinin resistance in P. falciparum reflects reduced ring stage susceptibility and manifests as slow parasite clearance. This is best assessed from the slope of the log-linear phase of parasitaemia reduction and is commonly measured as a parasite clearance half-life. Pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic modelling of anti-malarial drug effects on parasite clearance has proved useful in predicting therapeutic responses and in dose-optimization.

Skwark MJ, Croucher NJ, Puranen S, Chewapreecha C, Pesonen M, Xu YY, Turner P, Harris SR, Beres SB, Musser JM et al. 2017. Interacting networks of resistance, virulence and core machinery genes identified by genome-wide epistasis analysis. PLoS Genet, 13 (2), pp. e1006508. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Recent advances in the scale and diversity of population genomic datasets for bacteria now provide the potential for genome-wide patterns of co-evolution to be studied at the resolution of individual bases. Here we describe a new statistical method, genomeDCA, which uses recent advances in computational structural biology to identify the polymorphic loci under the strongest co-evolutionary pressures. We apply genomeDCA to two large population data sets representing the major human pathogens Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) and Streptococcus pyogenes (group A Streptococcus). For pneumococcus we identified 5,199 putative epistatic interactions between 1,936 sites. Over three-quarters of the links were between sites within the pbp2x, pbp1a and pbp2b genes, the sequences of which are critical in determining non-susceptibility to beta-lactam antibiotics. A network-based analysis found these genes were also coupled to that encoding dihydrofolate reductase, changes to which underlie trimethoprim resistance. Distinct from these antibiotic resistance genes, a large network component of 384 protein coding sequences encompassed many genes critical in basic cellular functions, while another distinct component included genes associated with virulence. The group A Streptococcus (GAS) data set population represents a clonal population with relatively little genetic variation and a high level of linkage disequilibrium across the genome. Despite this, we were able to pinpoint two RNA pseudouridine synthases, which were each strongly linked to a separate set of loci across the chromosome, representing biologically plausible targets of co-selection. The population genomic analysis method applied here identifies statistically significantly co-evolving locus pairs, potentially arising from fitness selection interdependence reflecting underlying protein-protein interactions, or genes whose product activities contribute to the same phenotype. This discovery approach greatly enhances the future potential of epistasis analysis for systems biology, and can complement genome-wide association studies as a means of formulating hypotheses for targeted experimental work.

Sahan K, Pell C, Smithuis F, Phyo AK, Maung SM, Indrasuta C, Dondorp AM, White NJ, Day NP, von Seidlein L, Cheah PY. 2017. Community engagement and the social context of targeted malaria treatment: a qualitative study in Kayin (Karen) State, Myanmar. Malar J, 16 (1), pp. 75. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The spread of artemisinin-resistance in Plasmodium falciparum is a threat to current global malaria control initiatives. Targeted malaria treatment (TMT), which combines mass anti-malarial administration with conventional malaria prevention and control measures, has been proposed as a strategy to tackle this problem. The effectiveness of TMT depends on high levels of population coverage and is influenced by accompanying community engagement activities and the local social context. The article explores how these factors influenced attitudes and behaviours towards TMT in Kayin (Karen) State, Myanmar. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with villagers from study villages (N = 31) and TMT project staff (N = 14) between March and July 2015. RESULTS: Community engagement consisted of a range of activities to communicate the local malaria situation (including anti-malarial drug resistance and asymptomatic malaria), the aims of the TMT project, and its potential benefits. Community engagement was seen by staff as integral to the TMT project as a whole and not a sub-set of activities. Attitudes towards TMT (including towards community engagement) showed that developing trusting relationships helped foster participation. After initial wariness, staff received hospitality and acceptance among villagers. Offering healthcare alongside TMT proved mutually beneficial for the study and villagers. A handful of more socially-mobile and wealthy community members were reluctant to participate. The challenges of community engagement included time constraints and the isolation of the community with its limited infrastructure and a history of conflict. CONCLUSIONS: Community engagement had to be responsive to the local community even though staff faced time constraints. Understanding the social context of engagement helped TMT to foster respectful and trusting relationships. The complex relationship between the local context and community engagement complicated evaluation of the community strategy. Nonetheless, the project did record high levels of population coverage.

Drake TL, Lubell Y, Kyaw SS, Devine A, Kyaw MP, Day NPJ, Smithuis FM, White LJ. 2017. Geographic Resource Allocation Based on Cost Effectiveness: An Application to Malaria Policy. Appl Health Econ Health Policy, 15 (3), pp. 299-306. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Healthcare services are often provided to a country as a whole, though in many cases the available resources can be more effectively targeted to specific geographically defined populations. In the case of malaria, risk is highly geographically heterogeneous, and many interventions, such as insecticide-treated bed nets and malaria community health workers, can be targeted to populations in a way that maximises impact for the resources available. This paper describes a framework for geographically targeted budget allocation based on the principles of cost-effectiveness analysis and applied to priority setting in malaria control and elimination. The approach can be used with any underlying model able to estimate intervention costs and effects given relevant local data. Efficient geographic targeting of core malaria interventions could significantly increase the impact of the resources available, accelerating progress towards elimination. These methods may also be applicable to priority setting in other disease areas.

Drake TL, Lubell Y. 2017. Erratum to: Malaria and Economic Evaluation Methods: Challenges and Opportunities. Appl Health Econ Health Policy, 15 (3), pp. 435. | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2017, Springer International Publishing Switzerland. An Online First version of this article was made available at 1 on 19 Jan 2017. However, there was an error in Fig. 2. Although the figure was correct in the original manuscript, an error was introduced while replacing it with a higher resolution file during the production of the article. The article has now been updated with a corrected version of Fig. 2, which is also provided in this erratum.

Thwaites GE, Day NP. 2017. Approach to Fever in the Returning Traveler. N Engl J Med, 376 (6), pp. 548-560. | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Read more

White NJ. 2017. The Consequences of Treating Asymptomatic Malaria Parasitemia. Clin Infect Dis, 64 (5), pp. 654-655. | Read more

Dondorp AM, Smithuis FM, Woodrow C, Seidlein LV. 2017. How to Contain Artemisinin- and Multidrug-Resistant Falciparum Malaria. Trends Parasitol, 33 (5), pp. 353-363. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

In the Greater Mekong subregion (GMS), artemisinin resistance is increasingly compounded by partner drug resistance, causing high failure rates of artemisinin combination therapies in some areas. For its containment, an accelerated elimination strategy will be needed. This includes high-quality implementation of conventional malaria control measures: early case management with quality artemisinin combination therapies (avoiding artesunate monotherapies) and single gametocytocidal low dose of primaquine, vector control and surveillance. Village health workers (VHWs) play a key role in the provision of community-based services which have to reach even the most remote populations. Additional, more aggressive, approaches will be important to accelerate malaria elimination, which could include mass drug administrations, potentially in combination with ivermectin and vaccination, mass screening and treatment with novel diagnostics, reactive case detection, and other measures.

Watson J, Taylor WR, Menard D, Kheng S, White NJ. 2017. Modelling primaquine-induced haemolysis in G6PD deficiency. Elife, 6 | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Primaquine is the only drug available to prevent relapse in vivax malaria. The main adverse effect of primaquine is erythrocyte age and dose-dependent acute haemolytic anaemia in individuals with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PDd). As testing for G6PDd is often unavailable, this limits the use of primaquine for radical cure. A compartmental model of the dynamics of red blood cell production and destruction was designed to characterise primaquine-induced haemolysis using a holistic Bayesian analysis of all published data and was used to predict a safer alternative to the currently recommended once weekly 0.75 mg/kg regimen for G6PDd. The model suggests that a step-wise increase in daily administered primaquine dose would be relatively safe in G6PDd. If this is confirmed, then were this regimen to be recommended for radical cure patients would not require testing for G6PDd in areas where G6PDd Viangchan or milder variants are prevalent.

Peyraud N, Rafael F, Parker LA, Quere M, Alcoba G, Korff C, Deats M, Esteve PB, Cabrol JC, Serafini M et al. 2017. An epidemic of dystonic reactions in central Africa. Lancet Glob Health, 5 (2), pp. e137-e138. | Read more

Imwong M, Suwannasin K, Kunasol C, Sutawong K, Mayxay M, Rekol H, Smithuis FM, Hlaing TM, Tun KM, van der Pluijm RW et al. 2017. The spread of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in the Greater Mekong subregion: a molecular epidemiology observational study. Lancet Infect Dis, 17 (5), pp. 491-497. | Citations: 8 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Evidence suggests that the PfKelch13 mutations that confer artemisinin resistance in falciparum malaria have multiple independent origins across the Greater Mekong subregion, which has motivated a regional malaria elimination agenda. We aimed to use molecular genotyping to assess antimalarial drug resistance selection and spread in the Greater Mekong subregion. METHODS: In this observational study, we tested Plasmodium falciparum isolates from Myanmar, northeastern Thailand, southern Laos, and western Cambodia for PfKelch13 mutations and for Pfplasmepsin2 gene amplification (indicating piperaquine resistance). We collected blood spots from patients with microscopy or rapid test confirmed uncomplicated falciparum malaria. We used microsatellite genotyping to assess genetic relatedness. FINDINGS: As part of studies on the epidemiology of artemisinin-resistant malaria between Jan 1, 2008, and Dec 31, 2015, we collected 434 isolates. In 2014-15, a single long PfKelch13 C580Y haplotype (-50 to +31·5 kb) lineage, which emerged in western Cambodia in 2008, was detected in 65 of 88 isolates from northeastern Thailand, 86 of 111 isolates from southern Laos, and 14 of 14 isolates from western Cambodia, signifying a hard transnational selective sweep. Pfplasmepsin2 amplification occurred only within this lineage, and by 2015 these closely related parasites were found in ten of the 14 isolates from Cambodia and 15 of 15 isolates from northeastern Thailand. C580Y mutated parasites from Myanmar had a different genetic origin. INTERPRETATION: Our results suggest that the dominant artemisinin-resistant P falciparum C580Y lineage probably arose in western Cambodia and then spread to Thailand and Laos, outcompeting other parasites and acquiring piperaquine resistance. The emergence and spread of fit artemisinin-resistant P falciparum parasite lineages, which then acquire partner drug resistance across the Greater Mekong subregion, threatens regional malaria control and elimination goals. Elimination of falciparum malaria from this region should be accelerated while available antimalarial drugs still remain effective. FUNDING: The Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Chu CS, Bancone G, Moore KA, Win HH, Thitipanawan N, Po C, Chowwiwat N, Raksapraidee R, Wilairisak P, Phyo AP et al. 2017. Haemolysis in G6PD Heterozygous Females Treated with Primaquine for Plasmodium vivax Malaria: A Nested Cohort in a Trial of Radical Curative Regimens. PLoS Med, 14 (2), pp. e1002224. | Citations: 5 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Radical cure of Plasmodium vivax malaria with 8-aminoquinolines (primaquine or tafenoquine) is complicated by haemolysis in individuals with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. G6PD heterozygous females, because of individual variation in the pattern of X-chromosome inactivation (Lyonisation) in erythroid cells, may have low G6PD activity in the majority of their erythrocytes, yet are usually reported as G6PD "normal" by current phenotypic screening tests. Their haemolytic risk when treated with 8-aminoquinolines has not been well characterized. METHODS AND FINDINGS: In a cohort study nested within a randomised clinical trial that compared different treatment regimens for P. vivax malaria, patients with a normal standard NADPH fluorescent spot test result (≳30%-40% of normal G6PD activity) were randomised to receive 3 d of chloroquine or dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine in combination with primaquine, either the standard high dose of 0.5 mg base/kg/day for 14 d or a higher dose of 1 mg base/kg/d for 7 d. Patterns of haemolysis were compared between G6PD wild-type and G6PD heterozygous female participants. Between 21 February 2012 and 04 July 2014, 241 female participants were enrolled, of whom 34 were heterozygous for the G6PD Mahidol variant. Haemolysis was substantially greater and a larger proportion of participants reached the threshold of clinically significant haemolysis (fractional haematocrit reduction >25%) in G6PD heterozygotes taking the higher (7 d) primaquine dose (9/17 [53%]) compared with G6PD heterozygotes taking the standard high (14 d) dose (2/16 [13%]; p = 0.022). In heterozygotes, the mean fractional haematocrit reductions were correspondingly greater with the higher primaquine dose (7-d regimen): -20.4% (95% CI -26.0% to -14.8%) (nadir on day 5) compared with the standard high (14 d) dose: -13.1% (95% CI -17.6% to -8.6%) (nadir day 6). Two heterozygotes taking the higher (7 d) primaquine dose required blood transfusion. In wild-type participants, mean haematocrit reductions were clinically insignificant and similar with both doses: -5.8 (95% CI -7.2% to -4.4%) (nadir day 3) compared with -5.5% (95% CI -7.4% to -3.7%) (nadir day 4), respectively. Limitations to this nested cohort study are that the primary objective of the trial was designed to measure efficacy and not haemolysis in relation to G6PD genotype and that the heterozygote groups were small. CONCLUSION: Higher daily doses of primaquine have the potential to cause clinically significant haemolysis in G6PD heterozygous females who are reported as phenotypically normal with current point of care tests. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT01640574.

Lee SJ, Ter Kuile FO, Price RN, Luxemburger C, Nosten F. 2017. Adverse effects of mefloquine for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in Thailand: A pooled analysis of 19, 850 individual patients. PLoS One, 12 (2), pp. e0168780. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Mefloquine (MQ) has been used for the treatment of malaria since the mid-1980s, first as monotherapy or as fixed combination with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (MSP) and since the mid-1990s in combination with artesunate. There is a renewed interested in MQ as part of a triple therapy for the treatment of multi-drug resistance P. falciparum malaria. The widespread use of MQ beyond south-East Asia has been constrained by reports of poor tolerability. Here we present the side effect profile of MQ for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria on the Thai-Myanmar/Cambodia borders. In total 19,850 patients received seven different regimens containing either 15 or 24-25 mg/kg of MQ, the latter given either as a single dose, or split over two or three days. The analysis focused on (predominantly) gastrointestinal and neuropsychiatric events as compared to the new fixed dose combination of MQ plus artesunate given as equal doses of 8 mg/kg MQ per day over three days. Gastrointestinal side effects were dose-dependent and associated with the severity of malaria symptoms. Serious neuropsychiatric side effects associated with MQ use were rare: for a single 25 mg/kg dose it was 11.9 per 10,000 treatments (95% confidence interval, CI, 4-285) vs. 7.8 (3-15) for the 15 mg/kg dose. The risk with 25 mg/kg was much higher when it was given as repeat dosing in patients who had failed treatment with 15 mg/kg MQ in the preceding month; (RR 6.57 (95% CI 1.33 to 32.4), p = 0.0077). MQ was best tolerated as 15 mg/kg or as 24 mg/kg when given over three days in combination with artesunate. We conclude that the tolerance of a single dose of MQ in the treatment of uncomplicated malaria is moderate, but can be improved by administering it as a split dose over three days.

Sudarmono P, Aman AT, Arif M, Syarif AK, Kosasih H, Karyana M, Chotpitayasunondh T, Vandepitte WP, Boonyasiri A, Lapphra K et al. 2017. Causes and outcomes of sepsis in southeast Asia: a multinational multicentre cross-sectional study LANCET GLOBAL HEALTH, 5 (2), pp. E157-E167. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite)

Thuy-Nhien N, Tuyen NK, Tong NT, Vy NT, Thanh NV, Van HT, Huong-Thu P, Quang HH, Boni MF, Dolecek C et al. 2017. K13 Propeller Mutations in Plasmodium falciparum Populations in Regions of Malaria Endemicity in Vietnam from 2009 to 2016. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 61 (4), pp. e01578-16-e01578-16. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

The spread of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum compromises the therapeutic efficacy of artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) and is considered the greatest threat to current global initiatives to control and eliminate malaria. This is particularly relevant in Vietnam, where dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) is the recommended ACT for P. falciparum infection. The propeller domain gene of K13, a molecular marker of artemisinin resistance, was successfully sequenced in 1,060 P. falciparum isolates collected at 3 malaria hot spots in Vietnam between 2009 and 2016. Eight K13 propeller mutations (Thr474Ile, Tyr493His, Arg539Thr, Ile543Thr, Pro553Leu, Val568Gly, Pro574Leu, and Cys580Tyr), including several that have been validated to be artemisinin resistance markers, were found. The prevalences of K13 mutations were 29% (222/767), 6% (11/188), and 43% (45/105) in the Binh Phuoc, Ninh Thuan, and Gia Lai Provinces of Vietnam, respectively. Cys580Tyr became the dominant genotype in recent years, with 79.1% (34/43) of isolates in Binh Phuoc Province and 63% (17/27) of isolates in Gia Lai Province carrying this mutation. K13 mutations were associated with reduced ring-stage susceptibility to dihydroartemisinin (DHA) in vitro and prolonged parasite clearance in vivo An analysis of haplotypes flanking K13 suggested the presence of multiple strains with the Cys580Tyr mutation rather than a single strain expanding across the three sites.

de Kock M, Tarning J, Workman L, Nyunt MM, Adam I, Barnes KI, Denti P. 2017. Pharmacokinetics of Sulfadoxine and Pyrimethamine for Intermittent Preventive Treatment of Malaria During Pregnancy and After Delivery. CPT Pharmacometrics Syst Pharmacol, 6 (7), pp. 430-438. | Show Abstract | Read more

Sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine is recommended for intermittent preventative treatment of malaria during pregnancy. Data from 98 women during pregnancy and 77 after delivery in four African countries were analyzed using nonlinear mixed-effects modeling to characterize the effects of pregnancy, postpartum duration, and other covariates such as body weight and hematocrit on sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine pharmacokinetic properties. During pregnancy, clearance increased 3-fold for sulfadoxine but decreased by 18% for pyrimethamine. Postpartum sulfadoxine clearance decreased gradually over 13 weeks. This finding, together with hematocrit-based scaling of plasma to whole-blood concentrations and allometric scaling of pharmacokinetics parameters with body weight, enabled site-specific differences in the pharmacokinetic profiles to be reduced significantly but not eliminated. Further research is necessary to explain residual site-specific differences and elucidate whether dose-optimization, to address the 3-fold increase in clearance of sulfadoxine in pregnant women, is necessary, viable, and safe with the current fixed dose combination of sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine.

Chewapreecha C, Holden MT, Vehkala M, Välimäki N, Yang Z, Harris SR, Mather AE, Tuanyok A, De Smet B, Le Hello S et al. 2017. Global and regional dissemination and evolution of Burkholderia pseudomallei. Nat Microbiol, 2 (4), pp. 16263. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The environmental bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei causes an estimated 165,000 cases of human melioidosis per year worldwide and is also classified as a biothreat agent. We used whole genome sequences of 469 B. pseudomallei isolates from 30 countries collected over 79 years to explore its geographic transmission. Our data point to Australia as an early reservoir, with transmission to Southeast Asia followed by onward transmission to South Asia and East Asia. Repeated reintroductions were observed within the Malay Peninsula and between countries bordered by the Mekong River. Our data support an African origin of the Central and South American isolates with introduction of B. pseudomallei into the Americas between 1650 and 1850, providing a temporal link with the slave trade. We also identified geographically distinct genes/variants in Australasian or Southeast Asian isolates alone, with virulence-associated genes being among those over-represented. This provides a potential explanation for clinical manifestations of melioidosis that are geographically restricted.

Hearn P, Miliya T, Seng S, Ngoun C, Day NPJ, Lubell Y, Turner C, Turner P. 2017. Prospective surveillance of healthcare associated infections in a Cambodian pediatric hospital. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control, 6 (1), pp. 16. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Healthcare associated infections (HAI) are the most common preventable adverse events following admission to healthcare facilities. Data from low-income countries are scarce. We sought to prospectively define HAI incidence at Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC), a Cambodian pediatric referral hospital. METHODS: Prospective HAI surveillance was introduced for medical admissions to AHC. Cases were identified on daily ward rounds and confirmed using locally adapted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definitions. During the surveillance period, established infection prevention and control (IPC) activities continued, including hand hygiene surveillance. In addition, antimicrobial stewardship practices such as the creation of an antimicrobial guideline smartphone app were introduced. RESULTS: Between 1st January and 31st December 2015 there were 3,263 medical admissions and 102 HAI cases. The incidence of HAI was 4.6/1,000 patient-days (95% confidence interval 3.8-5.6) and rates were highest amongst neonates. Median length of stay was significantly longer in HAI cases: 25 days versus 5 days for non-HAI cases (p < 0.0001). All-cause in-hospital mortality increased from 2.0 to 16.1% with HAI (p < 0.0001). Respiratory infections were the most common HAI (54/102; 52.9%). Amongst culture positive infections, Gram-negative organisms predominated (13/16; 81.3%). Resistance to third generation cephalosporins was common, supporting the use of more expensive carbapenem drugs empirically in HAI cases. The total cost of treatment for all 102 HCAI cases combined, based on additional inpatient days, was estimated to be $299,608. CONCLUSIONS: Prospective HAI surveillance can form part of routine practice in low-income healthcare settings. HAI incidence at AHC was relatively low, but human and financial costs remained high due to increased carbapenem use, prolonged admissions and higher mortality rates.

Thielemans L, Trip-Hoving M, Bancone G, Turner C, Simpson JA, Hanboonkunupakarn B, van Hensbroek MB, van Rheenen P, Paw MK, Nosten F et al. 2017. Neonatal Hyperbilirubinemia in a Marginalized Population on the Thai-Myanmar Border: a study protocol. BMC Pediatr, 17 (1), pp. 32. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: This study aims to identify risk factors and the neurodevelopmental impact of neonatal hyperbilirubinemia in a limited-resource setting among a refugee and migrant population residing along the Thai-Myanmar border, an area with a high prevalence of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase-deficiency. METHODS: This is an analytic, observational, prospective birth cohort study including all infants of estimated gestational age equal to or greater than 28 weeks from mothers who followed antenatal care in the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit clinics. At birth, a series of clinical exams and laboratory investigations on cord blood will be carried out. Serum bilirubin will be measured in all infants during their first week of life. All the infants of the cohort will be clinically followed until the age of one year, including monitoring of their neurodevelopment. DISCUSSION: The strength of this study is the prospective cohort design. It will allow us to collect information about the pregnancy and detect all infants with neonatal hyperbilirubinemia, to observe their clinical response under treatment and to compare their neurodevelopment with infants who did not develop neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. Our study design has some limitations in particular the generalizability of our findings will be limited to infants born after the gestational age of 28 weeks onwards and neurodevelopment to the end of the first year of life. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ID NCT02361788 , registration date September 1st, 2014.

Drake TL, Lubell Y. 2017. Malaria and Economic Evaluation Methods: Challenges and Opportunities. Appl Health Econ Health Policy, 15 (3), pp. 291-297. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

There is a growing evidence base on the cost effectiveness of malaria interventions. However, certain characteristics of malaria decision problems present a challenge to the application of healthcare economic evaluation methods. This paper identifies five such challenges. The complexities of (i) declining incidence and cost effectiveness in the context of an elimination campaign; (ii) international aid and its effect on resource constraints; and (iii) supranational priority setting, all affect how health economists might use a cost-effectiveness threshold. Consensus and guidance on how to determine and interpret cost-effectiveness thresholds in the context of internationally financed elimination campaigns is greatly needed. (iv) Malaria interventions are often complimentary and evaluations may need to construct intervention bundles to represent relevant policy positions as sets of mutually exclusive alternatives. (v) Geographic targeting is a key aspect of malaria policy making that is only beginning to be addressed in economic evaluations. An approach to budget-based geographic resource allocation is described in an accompanying paper in this issue and addresses some of these methodological challenges.

Lehtinen S, Blanquart F, Croucher NJ, Turner P, Lipsitch M, Fraser C. 2017. Evolution of antibiotic resistance is linked to any genetic mechanism affecting bacterial duration of carriage. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 114 (5), pp. 1075-1080. | Citations: 5 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Understanding how changes in antibiotic consumption affect the prevalence of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens is important for public health. In a number of bacterial species, including Streptococcus pneumoniae, the prevalence of resistance has remained relatively stable despite prolonged selection pressure from antibiotics. The evolutionary processes allowing the robust coexistence of antibiotic sensitive and resistant strains are not fully understood. While allelic diversity can be maintained at a locus by direct balancing selection, there is no evidence for such selection acting in the case of resistance. In this work, we propose a mechanism for maintaining coexistence at the resistance locus: linkage to a second locus that is under balancing selection and that modulates the fitness effect of resistance. We show that duration of carriage plays such a role, with long duration of carriage increasing the fitness advantage gained from resistance. We therefore predict that resistance will be more common in strains with a long duration of carriage and that mechanisms maintaining diversity in duration of carriage will also maintain diversity in antibiotic resistance. We test these predictions in S. pneumoniae and find that the duration of carriage of a serotype is indeed positively correlated with the prevalence of resistance in that serotype. These findings suggest heterogeneity in duration of carriage is a partial explanation for the coexistence of sensitive and resistant strains and that factors determining bacterial duration of carriage will also affect the prevalence of resistance.

Sadiq MB, Tarning J, Aye Cho TZ, Anal AK. 2017. Antibacterial Activities and Possible Modes of Action of Acacia nilotica (L.) Del. against Multidrug-Resistant Escherichia coli and Salmonella. Molecules, 22 (1), pp. 47-47. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Medicinal plants are frequently used for the treatment of various infectious diseases. The objective of this study was to evaluate the antibacterial activity and mode of action of Acacia nilotica and the antibiogram patterns of foodborne and clinical strains of Escherichia coli and Salmonella. The mechanism of action of acacia extracts against E. coli and Salmonella was elucidated by observing morphological damages including cell integrity and cell membrane permeability, as well as changes in cell structures and growth patterns in kill-time experiments. The clinical isolates of E. coli and Salmonella were found resistant to more of the tested antibiotics, compared to food isolates. Minimum inhibitory concentration and minimum bactericidal concentration of acacia leaf extracts were in the ranges of 1.56-3.12 mg/mL and 3.12-6.25 mg/mL, respectively, whereas pods and bark extracts showed somewhat higher values of 3.12-6.25 mg/mL and 6.25-12.5 mg/mL, respectively, against all tested pathogens. The release of electrolytes and essential cellular constituents (proteins and nucleic acids) indicated that acacia extracts damaged the cellular membrane of the pathogens. These changes corresponded to simultaneous reduction in the growth of viable bacteria. This study indicates that A. nilotica can be a potential source of new antimicrobials, effective against antibiotic-resistant strains of pathogens.

Tschirhart N, Thi SS, Swe LL, Nosten F, Foster AM. 2017. Treating the invisible: Gaps and opportunities for enhanced TB control along the Thailand-Myanmar border. BMC Health Serv Res, 17 (1), pp. 29. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In Thailand's northwestern Tak province, contextual conditions along the border with Myanmar pose difficulties for TB control among migrant populations. Incomplete surveillance data, migrant patient mobility, and loss to follow-up make it difficult to estimate the TB burden and implement effective TB control measures. This multi-methods study examined tuberculosis, tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus co-infection, and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis treatment accessibility for migrants and refugees in Tak province, health system response, and public health surveillance. METHODS: In this study we conducted 13 interviews with key informants working in public health or TB treatment provision to elicit information on TB treatment availability and TB surveillance practices. In addition we organized 15 focus group discussions with refugee and migrant TB, TB/HIV, and MDR-TB patients and non-patients to discuss treatment access. We analyzed the data using thematic analysis and created treatment availability maps with Google maps. RESULTS: The study identified surveillance, treatment, and funding gaps. Migrant TB cases are underreported in the provincial statistics due to jurisdictional interpretations and resource barriers. Our results suggest that TB/HIV and MDR-TB treatment options are limited for migrants and a heavy reliance on donor funding may lead to potential funding gaps for migrant TB services. We identified several opportunities that positively contribute to TB control in Tak province: improved diagnostics, comprehensive care, and collaboration through data sharing, planning, and patient referrals. The various organizations providing TB treatment to migrant and refugee populations along the border and the Tak Provincial Public Health Office are highly collaborative which offers a strong foundation for future TB control initiatives. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest the need to enhance the surveillance system to include all migrant TB patients who seek treatment in Tak province and support efforts by stakeholders on both sides of the border to continue to share data and engage in collaborative planning on TB, TB/HIV, and MDR-TB treatment provision for migrant populations.

Thanh NV, Thuy-Nhien N, Tuyen NT, Tong NT, Nha-Ca NT, Dong LT, Quang HH, Farrar J, Thwaites G, White NJ et al. 2017. Rapid decline in the susceptibility of Plasmodium falciparum to dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine in the south of Vietnam. Malar J, 16 (1), pp. 27. | Citations: 8 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin resistant Plasmodium falciparum has emerged in the countries of the Greater Mekong sub-region posing a serious threat to global malaria elimination efforts. The relationship of artemisinin resistance to treatment failure has been unclear. METHODS: In annual studies conducted in three malaria endemic provinces in the south of Vietnam (Binh Phuoc, Ninh Thuan and Gia Lai) between 2011 and 2015, 489 patients with uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria were enrolled in detailed clinical, parasitological and molecular therapeutic response assessments with 42 days follow up. Patients received the national recommended first-line treatment dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine for three days. RESULTS: Over the 5 years the proportion of patients with detectable parasitaemia on day 3 rose steadily from 38 to 57% (P < 0.001). In Binh Phuoc province, the parasite clearance half-life increased from 3.75 h in 2011 to 6.60 h in 2015 (P < 0.001), while treatment failures rose from 0% in 2012 and 2013, to 7% in 2014 and 26% in 2015 (P < 0.001). Recrudescence was associated with in vitro evidence of artemisinin and piperaquine resistance. In the treatment failures cases of 2015, all 14 parasite isolates carried the C580Y Pfkelch 13 gene, marker of artemisinin resistance and 93% (13/14) of them carried exoE415G mutations, markers of piperaquine resistance. CONCLUSIONS: In the south of Vietnam recent emergence of piperaquine resistant P. falciparum strains has accelerated the reduced response to artemisinin and has led to treatment failure rates of up to 26% to dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine, Vietnam's current first-line ACT. Alternative treatments are urgently needed.

Cho JS, Russell B, Kosaisavee V, Zhang R, Colin Y, Bertrand O, Chandramohanadas R, Chu CS, Nosten F, Renia L, Malleret B. 2017. Corrigendum to "Unambiguous determination of Plasmodium vivax reticulocyte invasion by flow cytometry" [Int. J. Parasitol. 46 (2016) 31-39]. Int J Parasitol, 47 (4), pp. 237. | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2017 The authors regret to inform about an error in the original publication of this article. The last name and the affiliation of the author Varakorn Kosaisavee was incorrect. The correct name and the affiliation is as above. The authors would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Nguyen TN, Thu PN, Hung NT, Son DH, Tien NT, Van Dung N, Quang HH, Seidlein LV, Cheah PY, Dondorp AM et al. 2017. Community perceptions of targeted anti-malarial mass drug administrations in two provinces in Vietnam: a quantitative survey. Malar J, 16 (1), pp. 17. | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: As part of a targeted malaria elimination project, mass drug administrations (MDAs) were conducted in Vietnam. The impact of MDAs on malaria transmission depends largely on the efficacy of the anti-malarial drug regimen, the malaria epidemiology in the site and the population coverage. To explore why some people participate in MDAs and others do not, a quantitative survey of the villagers' perceptions was undertaken in Vietnam. METHODS: In 2013/2014 MDAs were conducted in a village in Binh Phuoc province and a village in Ninh Thuan province. Within three months of the drug administration, 59 respondents in a village in Binh Phuoc and 79 respondents in a village in Ninh Thuan were randomly selected and interviewed. RESULTS: Comprehension of the purpose of the intervention was of paramount importance for participation in the intervention. Respondents aware that the intervention aims to protect against malaria were significantly more likely to participate than respondents who were unaware of the MDA's purpose. Secondly, how and by whom villagers were informed was critical for participation. There was a strong association between sensitization by an informant such as a member of the local health team with participation in the intervention. CONCLUSIONS: The study suggests several approaches to increase participation in mass drug administration campaigns. Training trustworthy informants to sensitize the study population is critical to maximize village participation in this setting. To achieve high coverage the entire community must understand and agree with the intervention.

Pan-Ngum W, Kinyanjui T, Kiti M, Taylor S, Toussaint JF, Saralamba S, Van Effelterre T, Nokes DJ, White LJ. 2017. Predicting the relative impacts of maternal and neonatal respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine target product profiles: A consensus modelling approach. Vaccine, 35 (2), pp. 403-409. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the major viral cause of infant and childhood lower respiratory tract disease worldwide. Defining the optimal target product profile (TPP) is complicated due to a wide range of possible vaccine properties, modalities and an incomplete understanding of the mechanism of natural immunity. We report consensus population level impact projections based on two mathematical models applied to a low income setting. METHOD: Two structurally distinct age-specific deterministic compartmental models reflecting uncertainty associated with the natural history of infection and the mechanism by which immunity is acquired and lost were constructed. A wide range of vaccine TPPs were explored including dosing regime and uptake, and effects in the vaccinated individual on infectiousness, susceptibility, duration of protection, disease severity and interaction with maternal antibodies and natural induced immunity. These were combined with a range of vaccine implementation strategies, targeting the highest priority age group and calibrated using hospitalization data from Kilifi County Hospital, Kenya. FINDINGS: Both models were able to reproduce the data. The impact predicted by the two models was qualitatively similar across the range of TPPs, although one model consistently predicted higher impact than the other. For a proposed realistic range of scenarios of TPP combinations, the models predicted up to 70% reduction in hospitalizations in children under five years old. Vaccine designs which reduced the duration and infectiousness of infection were predicted to have higher impacts. The models were sensitive to the coverage and rate of loss of vaccine protection but not to the interaction between vaccine and maternal/naturally acquired immunity. CONCLUSION: The results suggest that vaccine properties leading to reduced virus circulation by lessening the duration and infectiousness of infection upon challenge are of major importance in population RSV disease control. These features should be a focus for vaccine development.

Hoglund RM, Workman L, Edstein MD, Thanh NX, Quang NN, Zongo I, Ouedraogo JB, Borrmann S, Mwai L, Nsanzabana C et al. 2017. Population Pharmacokinetic Properties of Piperaquine in Falciparum Malaria: An Individual Participant Data Meta-Analysis. PLoS Med, 14 (1), pp. e1002212. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are the mainstay of the current treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria, but ACT resistance is spreading across Southeast Asia. Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is one of the five ACTs currently recommended by the World Health Organization. Previous studies suggest that young children (<5 y) with malaria are under-dosed. This study utilised a population-based pharmacokinetic approach to optimise the antimalarial treatment regimen for piperaquine. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Published pharmacokinetic studies on piperaquine were identified through a systematic literature review of articles published between 1 January 1960 and 15 February 2013. Individual plasma piperaquine concentration-time data from 11 clinical studies (8,776 samples from 728 individuals) in adults and children with uncomplicated malaria and healthy volunteers were collated and standardised by the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network. Data were pooled and analysed using nonlinear mixed-effects modelling. Piperaquine pharmacokinetics were described successfully by a three-compartment disposition model with flexible absorption. Body weight influenced clearance and volume parameters significantly, resulting in lower piperaquine exposures in small children (<25 kg) compared to larger children and adults (≥25 kg) after administration of the manufacturers' currently recommended dose regimens. Simulated median (interquartile range) day 7 plasma concentration was 29.4 (19.3-44.3) ng/ml in small children compared to 38.1 (25.8-56.3) ng/ml in larger children and adults, with the recommended dose regimen. The final model identified a mean (95% confidence interval) increase of 23.7% (15.8%-32.5%) in piperaquine bioavailability between each piperaquine dose occasion. The model also described an enzyme maturation function in very young children, resulting in 50% maturation at 0.575 (0.413-0.711) y of age. An evidence-based optimised dose regimen was constructed that would provide piperaquine exposures across all ages comparable to the exposure currently seen in a typical adult with standard treatment, without exceeding the concentration range observed with the manufacturers' recommended regimen. Limited data were available in infants and pregnant women with malaria as well as in healthy individuals. CONCLUSIONS: The derived population pharmacokinetic model was used to develop a revised dose regimen of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine that is expected to provide equivalent piperaquine exposures safely in all patients, including in small children with malaria. Use of this dose regimen is expected to prolong the useful therapeutic life of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine by increasing cure rates and thereby slowing resistance development. This work was part of the evidence that informed the World Health Organization technical guidelines development group in the development of the recently published treatment guidelines (2015).

Jeeyapant A, Kingston HW, Plewes K, Maude RJ, Hanson J, Herdman MT, Leopold SJ, Ngernseng T, Charunwatthana P, Phu NH et al. 2017. Defining Surrogate Endpoints for Clinical Trials in Severe Falciparum Malaria. PLoS One, 12 (1), pp. e0169307. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Clinical trials in severe falciparum malaria require a large sample size to detect clinically meaningful differences in mortality. This means few interventions can be evaluated at any time. Using a validated surrogate endpoint for mortality would provide a useful alternative allowing a smaller sample size. Here we evaluate changes in coma score and plasma lactate as surrogate endpoints for mortality in severe falciparum malaria. METHODS: Three datasets of clinical studies in severe malaria were re-evaluated: studies from Chittagong, Bangladesh (adults), the African 'AQUAMAT' trial comparing artesunate and quinine (children), and the Vietnamese 'AQ' study (adults) comparing artemether with quinine. The absolute change, relative change, slope of the normalization over time, and time to normalization were derived from sequential measurements of plasma lactate and coma score, and validated for their use as surrogate endpoint, including the proportion of treatment effect on mortality explained (PTE) by these surrogate measures. RESULTS: Improvements in lactate concentration or coma scores over the first 24 hours of admission, were strongly prognostic for survival in all datasets. In hyperlactataemic patients in the AQ study (n = 173), lower mortality with artemether compared to quinine closely correlated with faster reduction in plasma lactate concentration, with a high PTE of the relative change in plasma lactate at 8 and 12 hours of 0.81 and 0.75, respectively. In paediatric patients enrolled in the 'AQUAMAT' study with cerebral malaria (n = 785), mortality was lower with artesunate compared to quinine, but this was not associated with faster coma recovery. CONCLUSIONS: The relative changes in plasma lactate concentration assessed at 8 or 12 hours after admission are valid surrogate endpoints for severe malaria studies on antimalarial drugs or adjuvant treatments aiming at improving the microcirculation. Measures of coma recovery are not valid surrogate endpoints for mortality.

Sengvilaipaseuth O, Phommasone K, de Lamballerie X, Vongsouvath M, Phonemixay O, Blacksell SD, Mayxay M, Keomany S, Souvannasing P, Newton PN, Dubot-Pérès A. 2017. Temperature of a Dengue Rapid Diagnostic Test under Tropical Climatic Conditions: A Follow Up Study. PLoS One, 12 (1), pp. e0170359. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The Dengue Duo Rapid Diagnostic Test (SD Dengue RDT) has good specificity and sensitivity for dengue diagnosis in rural tropical areas. In a previous study, using four control sera, we demonstrated that that the diagnostic accuracy of these RDTs remains stable after long-term storage at high temperatures. We extended this study by testing sera from 119 febrile patients collected between July-November 2012 at Salavan Provincial Hospital (southern Laos) with RDTs stored for 6 months at 4°C, 35° and in a hut (miniature traditional house) at Lao ambient temperatures. The dengue NS1 antigen results from RDTs stored at 35°C and in the hut demonstrated 100% agreement with those stored at 4°C. However, lower positive percent agreements, with broad 95%CI, were observed for the tests: IgM, 60% (14.7-94.7) and 40% (5.3-85.3) for RDTs store at 35°C and in the hut, compared to those stored at 4°C, respectively. This study strenghtens the evidence of the robustness of the NS1 antigen detection RDT for the diagnosis of dengue after storage at tropical temperatures.

Suttisunhakul V, Pumpuang A, Ekchariyawat P, Wuthiekanun V, Elrod MG, Turner P, Currie BJ, Phetsouvanh R, Dance DA, Limmathurotsakul D et al. 2017. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry for the identification of Burkholderia pseudomallei from Asia and Australia and differentiation between Burkholderia species. PLoS One, 12 (4), pp. e0175294. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) is increasingly used for rapid bacterial identification. Studies of Burkholderia pseudomallei identification have involved small isolate numbers drawn from a restricted geographic region. There is a need to expand the reference database and evaluate B. pseudomallei from a wider geographic distribution that more fully captures the extensive genetic diversity of this species. Here, we describe the evaluation of over 650 isolates. Main spectral profiles (MSP) for 26 isolates of B. pseudomallei (N = 5) and other Burkholderia species (N = 21) were added to the Biotyper database. MALDI-TOF MS was then performed on 581 B. pseudomallei, 19 B. mallei, 6 B. thailandensis and 23 isolates representing a range of other bacterial species. B. pseudomallei originated from northeast and east Thailand (N = 524), Laos (N = 12), Cambodia (N = 14), Hong Kong (N = 4) and Australia (N = 27). All 581 B. pseudomallei were correctly identified, with 100% sensitivity and specificity. Accurate identification required a minimum inoculum of 5 x 107 CFU/ml, and identification could be performed on spiked blood cultures after 24 hours of incubation. Comparison between a dendrogram constructed from MALDI-TOF MS main spectrum profiles and a phylogenetic tree based on recA gene sequencing demonstrated that MALDI-TOF MS distinguished between B. pseudomallei and B. mallei, while the recA tree did not. MALDI-TOF MS is an accurate method for the identification of B. pseudomallei, and discriminates between this and other related Burkholderia species.

Teparrukkul P, Hantrakun V, Day NPJ, West TE, Limmathurotsakul D. 2017. Management and outcomes of severe dengue patients presenting with sepsis in a tropical country. PLoS One, 12 (4), pp. e0176233. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Dengue is a common cause of infection in adults in tropical countries. Sepsis is a syndrome of systemic manifestations induced by infection of any organisms; including bacterial, fungal and viral agents. Here, we investigated the diagnosis, management and outcomes of dengue patients presenting with sepsis in a prospective study of community-acquired sepsis in Thailand. METHODS: From June to December 2015, 874 adult patients (age≥18 years) with suspected or documented community-acquired infection, with ≥3 diagnostic criteria for sepsis according to the Surviving Sepsis Campaign 2012, and within 24 hours of admission were evaluated. Serum was stored and later tested for dengue PCR assays. RESULTS: A total of 126 patients had dengue PCR assays positive (2 DENV-1, 12 DENV-2, 24 DENV-3 and 88 DENV-4), and 5 of them (4%) died. We found that attending physicians suspected dengue infection on admission in 84 patients (67%), and recorded dengue infection as the final diagnosis in 96 patients (76%). Four of five fatal cases were diagnosed and treated as septic shock not due to dengue. In multivariable analysis, there was a trend showing that age≥60 years, hypoxemia and misdiagnosis of dengue by attending physicians were associated with 28-day mortality. CONCLUSIONS: A number of adult patients who died of dengue are misdiagnosed as severe sepsis and septic shock. Diagnosis of dengue based on clinical features alone is difficult. Rapid diagnostic tests for dengue may need to be routinely used in adult patients presenting with sepsis and septic shock in tropical countries. This approach could improve diagnosis and management of those patients.

Tun STT, Lubell Y, Dondorp AM, Fieldman T, Tun KM, Celhay O, Chan XH, Saralamba S, White LJ. 2017. Identifying artemisinin resistance from parasite clearance half-life data with a simple Shiny web application. PLoS One, 12 (5), pp. e0177840. | Show Abstract | Read more

The emergence of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria is a major threat to malaria elimination. New tools for supporting the surveillance of artemisinin resistance are critical for current and future malaria control and elimination strategies. We have developed an open-access, user-friendly, web-based tool to analyse parasite clearance half-life data of P. falciparum infected patients after treatment with artemisinin derivatives, so that resistance to artemisinin can be identified. The tool can be accessed at

Adhikari B, Pell C, Phommasone K, Soundala X, Kommarasy P, Pongvongsa T, Henriques G, Day NPJ, Mayxay M, Cheah PY. 2017. Elements of effective community engagement: lessons from a targeted malaria elimination study in Lao PDR (Laos). Glob Health Action, 10 (1), pp. 1366136. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Mass drug (antimalarial) administration (MDA) is currently under study in Southeast Asia as part of a package of interventions referred to as targeted malaria elimination (TME). This intervention relies on effective community engagement that promotes uptake and adherence in target communities (above 80%). OBJECTIVE: Based on the experienced of designing and implementing the community engagement for TME in Laos, in this article we aim to present the elements of effective community engagement for mass antimalarial administration. METHODS: The design and implementation of community engagement, which took place from September 2015 to August 2016 was recorded as field notes, meeting minutes and photographs. These data underwent qualitative content analysis. RESULTS: The community engagement strategy that accompanied TME in Laos was successful in terms of contributing to high levels of participation in mass anti-malarial administration (above 85%). Based on the experience of designing and implementing the community engagement, five key elements were identified: (1) stakeholder and authority engagement, which proceeded from national level, to regional/district and local level; (2) local human resources, particularly the recruitment of local volunteers who were integral to the design and implementation of activities in the study villages; (3) formative research, to rapidly gain insight into the local social and economic context; (4) responsiveness whereby the approach was adapted according to the needs of the community and their responses to the various study components; and (5) sharing control/leadership with the community in terms of decisions on the organization of TME activities. CONCLUSIONS: The community engagement that accompanied TME in Laos had to deal with challenges of implementing a complex study in remote and linguistically isolated villages. Despite these challenges, the study recorded high population coverage. Lessons learnt from this experience are useful for studies and intervention programs in diverse contexts.

Kajeechiwa L, Thwin MM, Nosten S, Tun SW, Parker D, von Seidlein L, Tangseefa D, Nosten F, Cheah PY. 2017. Community engagement for the rapid elimination of malaria: the case of Kayin State, Myanmar. Wellcome Open Res, 2 pp. 59. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND:  Currently, malaria elimination efforts are ongoing in several locations across Southeast Asia,  including in Kayin State (also known as Karen State), Myanmar . This paper describes the community engagement efforts for a pilot malaria elimination project, the challenges encountered and lessons learnt. METHODS:  Between May 2013 and June 2015, a study on targeted malaria elimination (TME) that included mass drug administration was conducted in four villages (TPN, TOT, KNH, and HKT) of Kayin State. Community engagement efforts included workshops, meetings and house-to-house visits with community members.  Exhibitions related to malaria and fun activities were organized for children. In addition, we provided primary care, small individual incentives and village-level incentives. This paper is based on our analysis of data extracted from meeting minutes, field notes, feedback sessions among staff and with community members as well as our own reflections. RESULTS:  Average participation across three rounds of MDA were 84.4%, 57.4%, 88.6% and 59.3% for TPN, TOT, KNH and HKT, respectively. Community engagement was fraught with practical challenges such as seasonal tasks of the villagers. There were challenges in explaining difficult concepts like drug resistance and submicroscopic infection. Another was understanding and navigating the politics of these villages, which are located in politically contested areas.  Managing expectations of villagers was difficult as they assumed that the community team must know everything related to health. CONCLUSIONS:  In the TME project, many different community engagement strategies were employed. We encountered many challenges which included logistical, scientific and political difficulties.  An approach that is tailored to the local population is key.

Ya-Umphan P, Cerqueira D, Parker DM, Cottrell G, Poinsignon A, Remoue F, Brengues C, Chareonviriyaphap T, Nosten F, Corbel V. 2017. Use of an Anopheles Salivary Biomarker to Assess Malaria Transmission Risk Along the Thailand-Myanmar Border. J Infect Dis, 215 (3), pp. 396-404. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: The modalities of malaria transmission along the Thailand-Myanmar border are poorly understood. Here we address the relevance of using a specific Anopheles salivary biomarker to measure the risk among humans of exposure to Anopheles bites. Methods: Serologic surveys were conducted from May 2013 to December 2014 in 4 sentinel villages. More than 9400 blood specimens were collected in filter papers from all inhabitants at baseline and then every 3 months thereafter, for up to 18 months, for analysis by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The relationship between the intensity of the human antibody response and entomological indicators of transmission (human biting rates and entomological inoculation rates [EIRs]) was studied using a multivariate 3-level mixed model analysis. Heat maps for human immunoglobulin G (IgG) responses for each village and survey time point were created using QGIS 2.4. Results: The levels of IgG response among participants varied significantly according to village, season, and age (P<.001) and were positively associated with the abundance of total Anopheles species and primary malaria vectors and the EIR (P<.001). Spatial clusters of high-IgG responders were identified across space and time within study villages. Conclusions: The gSG6-P1 biomarker has great potential to address the risk of transmission along the Thailand-Myanmar border and represents a promising tool to guide malaria interventions.

Bell D, Bwanika JB, Cunningham J, Gatton M, González IJ, Hopkins H, Kibira SP, Kyabayinze DJ, Mayxay M, Ndawula B et al. 2017. Prototype Positive Control Wells for Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Tests: Prospective Evaluation of Implementation Among Health Workers in Lao People's Democratic Republic and Uganda. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 96 (2), pp. 319-329. | Show Abstract | Read more

Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are widely used for malaria diagnosis, but lack of quality control at point of care restricts trust in test results. Prototype positive control wells (PCW) containing recombinant malaria antigens have been developed to identify poor-quality RDT lots. This study assessed community and facility health workers' (HW) ability to use PCWs to detect degraded RDTs, the impact of PCW availability on RDT use and prescribing, and preferred strategies for implementation in Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos) and Uganda. A total of 557 HWs participated in Laos (267) and Uganda (290). After training, most (88% to ≥ 99%) participants correctly performed the six key individual PCW steps; performance was generally maintained during the 6-month study period. Nearly all (97%) reported a correct action based on PCW use at routine work sites. In Uganda, where data for 127,775 individual patients were available, PCW introduction in health facilities was followed by a decrease in antimalarial prescribing for RDT-negative patients ≥ 5 years of age (4.7-1.9%); among community-based HWs, the decrease was 12.2% (P < 0.05) for all patients. Qualitative data revealed PCWs as a way to confirm RDT quality and restore confidence in RDT results. HWs in malaria-endemic areas are able to use prototype PCWs for quality control of malaria RDTs. PCW availability can improve HWs' confidence in RDT results, and benefit malaria diagnostic programs. Lessons learned from this study may be valuable for introduction of other point-of-care diagnostic and quality-control tools. Future work should evaluate longer term impacts of PCWs on patient management.

Stephens T, De Silva AP, Beane A, Welch J, Sigera C, De Alwis S, Athapattu P, Dharmagunawardene D, Peiris L, Siriwardana S et al. 2017. Capacity building for critical care training delivery: Development and evaluation of the Network for Improving Critical care Skills Training (NICST) programme in Sri Lanka. Intensive Crit Care Nurs, 39 pp. 28-36. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: To deliver and evaluate a short critical care nurse training course whilst simultaneously building local training capacity. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY: A multi-modal short course for critical care nursing skills was delivered in seven training blocks, from 06/2013-11/2014. Each training block included a Train the Trainer programme. The project was evaluated using Kirkpatrick's Hierarchy of Learning. There was a graded hand over of responsibility for course delivery from overseas to local faculty between 2013 and 2014. SETTING: Sri Lanka. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Participant learning assessed through pre/post course Multi-Choice Questionnaires. RESULTS: A total of 584 nurses and 29 faculty were trained. Participant feedback was consistently positive and each course demonstrated a significant increase (p≤0.0001) in MCQ scores. There was no significant difference MCQ scores (p=0.186) between overseas faculty led and local faculty led courses. CONCLUSIONS: In a relatively short period, training with good educational outcomes was delivered to nearly 25% of the critical care nursing population in Sri Lanka whilst simultaneously building a local faculty of trainers. Through use of a structured Train the Trainer programme, course outcomes were maintained following the handover of training responsibility to Sri Lankan faculty. The focus on local capacity building increases the possibility of long term course sustainability.

Hien TT, White NJ, Thuy-Nhien NT, Hoa NT, Thuan PD, Tarning J, Nosten F, Magnusson B, Jain JP, Hamed K. 2017. Estimation of the In Vivo MIC of Cipargamin in Uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum Malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 61 (2), pp. AAC.01940-16-AAC.01940-16. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The MIC of an antimalarial drug for a particular infection is the drug level associated with a net parasite multiplication rate of one per asexual cycle. To ensure the cure of malaria, the MIC must be exceeded until all parasites have been eliminated. The development of highly sensitive and accurate PCR quantitation of low-density malaria parasitemia enables the prospective pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic (PK-PD) characterization of antimalarial drug effects and now allows identification of the in vivo MIC. An adaptive design and a PK-PD modeling approach were used to determine prospectively the MIC of the new antimalarial cipargamin (KAE609) in adults with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in an open-label, dose-ranging phase 2a study. Vietnamese adults with acute P. falciparum malaria were allocated sequentially to treatment with a single 30-mg (n = 6), 20-mg (n = 5), 10-mg (n = 7), or 15-mg (n = 7) dose of cipargamin. Artemisinin-based combination therapy was given after parasite densities had fallen and then risen as cipargamin levels declined below the MIC but before a return of signs or symptoms. The rates of parasite clearance were dose dependent, with near saturation of the effect being seen at an adult dose of 30 mg. The developed PK-PD model accurately predicted the therapeutic responses in 23/25 patients. The predicted median in vivo MIC was 0.126 ng/ml (range, 0.038 to 0.803 ng/ml). Pharmacometric characterization of the relationship between antimalarial drug concentrations and parasite clearance rates following graded subtherapeutic antimalarial drug dosing is safe and provides a rational framework for dose finding in antimalarial drug development. (This study has been registered at under identifier NCT01836458.).

White NJ. 2017. Does antimalarial mass drug administration increase or decrease the risk of resistance? Lancet Infect Dis, 17 (1), pp. e15-e20. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

All antimalarial drugs developed so far have eventually succumbed to resistance. There is a general belief that the more people that are exposed to an antimalarial drug, the more likely it is that resistance will emerge. Mass drug administration (MDA) is therefore considered a potent cause of antimalarial drug resistance. In this Personal View, I discuss the circumstances under which antimalarial MDA increases or decreases the risk of resistance. It is the total number of parasites exposed and their individual probabilities of survival and spread that determine the risk, not the number of people that contain them. In malaria-endemic areas, a substantial proportion of the community carries malaria parasites in their blood without being ill. Although many more people have asymptomatic than symptomatic malaria at any time, their parasite burdens are several orders of magnitude lower, and their host defence mechanisms are substantially more effective. Symptomatic infections with high parasite numbers are the most likely source of resistance emergence, so effective mass treatment that reduces the number of symptomatic cases of malaria and its transmission can reduce the threat of antimalarial resistance emerging and spreading in treated populations.

Amato R, Lim P, Miotto O, Amaratunga C, Dek D, Pearson RD, Almagro-Garcia J, Neal AT, Sreng S, Suon S et al. 2017. Genetic markers associated with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine failure in Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Cambodia: a genotype-phenotype association study. Lancet Infect Dis, 17 (2), pp. 164-173. | Citations: 13 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: As the prevalence of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria increases in the Greater Mekong subregion, emerging resistance to partner drugs in artemisinin combination therapies seriously threatens global efforts to treat and eliminate this disease. Molecular markers that predict failure of artemisinin combination therapy are urgently needed to monitor the spread of partner drug resistance, and to recommend alternative treatments in southeast Asia and beyond. METHODS: We did a genome-wide association study of 297 P falciparum isolates from Cambodia to investigate the relationship of 11 630 exonic single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 43 copy number variations (CNVs) with in-vitro piperaquine 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s), and tested whether these genetic variants are markers of treatment failure with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine. We then did a survival analysis of 133 patients to determine whether candidate molecular markers predicted parasite recrudescence following dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine treatment. FINDINGS: Piperaquine IC50s increased significantly from 2011 to 2013 in three Cambodian provinces (2011 vs 2013 median IC50s: 20·0 nmol/L [IQR 13·7-29·0] vs 39·2 nmol/L [32·8-48·1] for Ratanakiri, 19·3 nmol/L [15·1-26·2] vs 66·2 nmol/L [49·9-83·0] for Preah Vihear, and 19·6 nmol/L [11·9-33·9] vs 81·1 nmol/L [61·3-113·1] for Pursat; all p≤10(-3); Kruskal-Wallis test). Genome-wide analysis of SNPs identified a chromosome 13 region that associates with raised piperaquine IC50s. A non-synonymous SNP (encoding a Glu415Gly substitution) in this region, within a gene encoding an exonuclease, associates with parasite recrudescence following dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine treatment. Genome-wide analysis of CNVs revealed that a single copy of the mdr1 gene on chromosome 5 and a novel amplification of the plasmepsin 2 and plasmepsin 3 genes on chromosome 14 also associate with raised piperaquine IC50s. After adjusting for covariates, both exo-E415G and plasmepsin 2-3 markers significantly associate (p=3·0 × 10(-8) and p=1·7 × 10(-7), respectively) with decreased treatment efficacy (survival rates 0·38 [95% CI 0·25-0·51] and 0·41 [0·28-0·53], respectively). INTERPRETATION: The exo-E415G SNP and plasmepsin 2-3 amplification are markers of piperaquine resistance and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine failures in Cambodia, and can help monitor the spread of these phenotypes into other countries of the Greater Mekong subregion, and elucidate the mechanism of piperaquine resistance. Since plasmepsins are involved in the parasite's haemoglobin-to-haemozoin conversion pathway, targeted by related antimalarials, plasmepsin 2-3 amplification probably mediates piperaquine resistance. FUNDING: Intramural Research Program of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Wellcome Trust, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Medical Research Council, and UK Department for International Development.

Dondorp AM. 2017. New genetic marker for piperaquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum. Lancet Infect Dis, 17 (2), pp. 119-121. | Read more

Stirnemann J, Villar J, Salomon LJ, Ohuma E, Ruyan P, Altman DG, Nosten F, Craik R, Munim S, Cheikh Ismail L et al. 2017. International estimated fetal weight standards of the INTERGROWTH-21(st) Project. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol, 49 (4), pp. 478-486. | Citations: 6 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: Estimated fetal weight (EFW) and fetal biometry are complementary measures used to screen for fetal growth disturbances. Our aim was to provide international EFW standards to complement the INTERGROWTH-21(st) Fetal Growth Standards that are available for use worldwide. METHODS: Women with an accurate gestational-age assessment, who were enrolled in the prospective, international, multicenter, population-based Fetal Growth Longitudinal Study (FGLS) and INTERBIO-21(st) Fetal Study (FS), two components of the INTERGROWTH-21(st) Project, had ultrasound scans every 5 weeks from 9-14 weeks' until 40 weeks' gestation. At each visit, measurements of fetal head circumference (HC), biparietal diameter, occipitofrontal diameter, abdominal circumference (AC) and femur length (FL) were obtained blindly by dedicated research sonographers using standardized methods and identical ultrasound machines. Birth weight was measured within 12 h of delivery by dedicated research anthropometrists using standardized methods and identical electronic scales. Live babies without any congenital abnormality, who were born within 14 days of the last ultrasound scan, were selected for inclusion. As most births occurred at around 40 weeks' gestation, we constructed a bootstrap model selection and estimation procedure based on resampling of the complete dataset under an approximately uniform distribution of birth weight, thus enriching the sample size at extremes of fetal sizes, to achieve consistent estimates across the full range of fetal weight. We constructed reference centiles using second-degree fractional polynomial models. RESULTS: Of the overall population, 2404 babies were born within 14 days of the last ultrasound scan. Mean time between the last scan and birth was 7.7 (range, 0-14) days and was uniformly distributed. Birth weight was best estimated as a function of AC and HC (without FL) as log(EFW) = 5.084820 - 54.06633 × (AC/100)(3)  - 95.80076 × (AC/100)(3)  × log(AC/100) + 3.136370 × (HC/100), where EFW is in g and AC and HC are in cm. All other measures, gestational age, symphysis-fundus height, amniotic fluid indices and interactions between biometric measures and gestational age, were not retained in the selection process because they did not improve the prediction of EFW. Applying the formula to FGLS biometric data (n = 4231) enabled gestational age-specific EFW tables to be constructed. At term, the EFW centiles matched those of the INTERGROWTH-21(st) Newborn Size Standards but, at < 37 weeks' gestation, the EFW centiles were, as expected, higher than those of babies born preterm. Comparing EFW cross-sectional values with the INTERGROWTH-21(st) Preterm Postnatal Growth Standards confirmed that preterm postnatal growth is a different biological process from intrauterine growth. CONCLUSIONS: We provide an assessment of EFW, as an adjunct to routine ultrasound biometry, from 22 to 40 weeks' gestation. However, we strongly encourage clinicians to evaluate fetal growth using separate biometric measures such as HC and AC, as well as EFW, to avoid the minimalist approach of focusing on a single value. © 2016 Authors. Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Anderson TJ, Nair S, McDew-White M, Cheeseman IH, Nkhoma S, Bilgic F, McGready R, Ashley E, Pyae Phyo A, White NJ, Nosten F. 2017. Population Parameters Underlying an Ongoing Soft Sweep in Southeast Asian Malaria Parasites. Mol Biol Evol, 34 (1), pp. 131-144. | Citations: 7 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Multiple kelch13 alleles conferring artemisinin resistance (ART-R) are currently spreading through Southeast Asian malaria parasite populations, providing a unique opportunity to observe an ongoing soft selective sweep, investigate why resistance alleles have evolved multiple times and determine fundamental population genetic parameters for Plasmodium We sequenced kelch13 (n = 1,876), genotyped 75 flanking SNPs, and measured clearance rate (n = 3,552) in parasite infections from Western Thailand (2001-2014). We describe 32 independent coding mutations including common mutations outside the kelch13 propeller associated with significant reductions in clearance rate. Mutations were first observed in 2003 and rose to 90% by 2014, consistent with a selection coefficient of ∼0.079. ART-R allele diversity rose until 2012 and then dropped as one allele (C580Y) spread to high frequency. The frequency with which adaptive alleles arise is determined by the rate of mutation and the population size. Two factors drive this soft sweep: (1) multiple kelch13 amino-acid mutations confer resistance providing a large mutational target-we estimate the target is 87-163 bp. (2) The population mutation parameter (Θ = 2Neμ) can be estimated from the frequency distribution of ART-R alleles and is ∼5.69, suggesting that short term effective population size is 88 thousand to 1.2 million. This is 52-705 times greater than Ne estimated from fluctuation in allele frequencies, suggesting that we have previously underestimated the capacity for adaptive evolution in Plasmodium Our central conclusions are that retrospective studies may underestimate the complexity of selective events and the Ne relevant for adaptation for malaria is considerably higher than previously estimated.

Woodrow CJ, White NJ. 2017. The clinical impact of artemisinin resistance in Southeast Asia and the potential for future spread. FEMS Microbiol Rev, 41 (1), pp. 34-48. | Citations: 12 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemisinins are the most rapidly acting of currently available antimalarial drugs. Artesunate has become the treatment of choice for severe malaria, and artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are the foundation of modern falciparum malaria treatment globally. Their safety and tolerability profile is excellent. Unfortunately, Plasmodium falciparum infections with mutations in the 'K13' gene, with reduced ring-stage susceptibility to artemisinins, and slow parasite clearance in patients treated with ACTs, are now widespread in Southeast Asia. We review clinical efficacy data from the region (2000-2015) that provides strong evidence that the loss of first-line ACTs in western Cambodia, first artesunate-mefloquine and then DHA-piperaquine, can be attributed primarily to K13 mutated parasites. The ring-stage activity of artemisinins is therefore critical for the sustained efficacy of ACTs; once it is lost, rapid selection of partner drug resistance and ACT failure are inevitable consequences. Consensus methods for monitoring artemisinin resistance are now available. Despite increased investment in regional control activities, ACTs are failing across an expanding area of the Greater Mekong subregion. Although multiple K13 mutations have arisen independently, successful multidrug-resistant parasite genotypes are taking over and threaten to spread to India and Africa. Stronger containment efforts and new approaches to sustaining long-term efficacy of antimalarial regimens are needed to prevent a global malaria emergency.

Prins TJ, Trip-Hoving M, Paw MK, Ka ML, Win NN, Htoo G, Hser MK, Chotivanich K, Nosten F, McGready R. 2017. A Survey of Practice and Knowledge of Refugee and Migrant Pregnant Mothers Surrounding Neonatal Jaundice on the Thailand-Myanmar Border. J Trop Pediatr, 63 (1), pp. 50-56. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In populations with a high prevalence of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, practices that can induce haemolysis need to be identified to raise awareness of preventable risks. The aim of this survey was to determine the proportion of prospective mothers using haemolytic agents and their knowledge and practice surrounding neonatal jaundice. METHODS: Pregnant mothers were invited to participate in a cross-sectional survey conducted at Shoklo Malaria Research Unit on the Thailand-Myanmar border. RESULTS: From 12 April 2015 to 12 June 2015, 522 pregnant women completed the survey. Mothball use in the household was reported by 41.4% (216 of 522) of prospective mothers and menthol containing products on baby skin by 46.7% (244 of 522). CONCLUSION: Just over 40% of the households reported use of naphthalene-containing mothballs. Future health promotion activities that focus on reducing naphthalene mothball and menthol-containing products use have the potential to reduce rates of severe neonatal jaundice in this population.

Wu PJ, Jeyaratnam D, Tosas O, Cooper BS, French GL. 2017. Point-of-care universal screening for meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: a cluster-randomized cross-over trial. J Hosp Infect, 95 (3), pp. 245-252. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is frequently endemic in healthcare settings and may be transmitted by person-to-person spread. Asymptomatic MRSA carriers are potential, unsuspected sources for transmission and some of them may be identified by admission screening. AIM: To assess whether rapid point-of-care screening (POCS) for MRSA at hospital admission may be associated with a reduction in MRSA acquisition rates when compared with slower laboratory-based methods. METHODS: A cluster-randomized cross-over trial was conducted in four admission wards of an acute London tertiary care hospital. Polymerase chain reaction-based POCS screening was compared with conventional culture screening. Patients were screened on ward admission and discharge, and the MRSA acquisition rate on the admission wards was calculated as the primary outcome measure. RESULTS: In all, 10,017 patients were included; 4978 in the control arm, 5039 in the POCS arm. The MRSA carriage rate on admission was 1.7%. POCS reduced the median reporting time from 40.4 to 3.7 h (P < 0.001). MRSA was acquired on the admission wards by 23 (0.46%) patients in the control arm and by 24 (0.48%) in the intervention arm, acquisition rates of 5.39 and 4.60 per 1000 days respectively. After taking account of predefined confounding factors, the adjusted incidence rate ratio (IRR) for change in trend for MRSA acquisition was 0.961 (95% confidence interval: 0.766-1.206). The adjusted IRR for step change for MRSA acquisition was 0.98 (0.304-3.162). CONCLUSION: POCS produces a significantly faster result but has no effect on MRSA acquisition on admission wards compared with culture screening. Where compliance with infection prevention and control is high and MRSA carriage is low, POCS has no additional impact on MRSA acquisition rates over the first one to four days of admission compared with conventional culture screening.

Cerqueira GC, Cheeseman IH, Schaffner SF, Nair S, McDew-White M, Phyo AP, Ashley EA, Melnikov A, Rogov P, Birren BW et al. 2017. Longitudinal genomic surveillance of Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasites reveals complex genomic architecture of emerging artemisinin resistance. Genome Biol, 18 (1), pp. 78. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin-based combination therapies are the first line of treatment for Plasmodium falciparum infections worldwide, but artemisinin resistance has risen rapidly in Southeast Asia over the past decade. Mutations in the kelch13 gene have been implicated in this resistance. We used longitudinal genomic surveillance to detect signals in kelch13 and other loci that contribute to artemisinin or partner drug resistance. We retrospectively sequenced the genomes of 194 P. falciparum isolates from five sites in Northwest Thailand, over the period of a rapid increase in the emergence of artemisinin resistance (2001-2014). RESULTS: We evaluate statistical metrics for temporal change in the frequency of individual SNPs, assuming that SNPs associated with resistance increase in frequency over this period. After Kelch13-C580Y, the strongest temporal change is seen at a SNP in phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase, which is involved in a pathway recently implicated in artemisinin resistance. Furthermore, other loci exhibit strong temporal signatures which warrant further investigation for involvement in artemisinin resistance evolution. Through genome-wide association analysis we identify a variant in a kelch domain-containing gene on chromosome 10 that may epistatically modulate artemisinin resistance. CONCLUSIONS: This analysis demonstrates the potential of a longitudinal genomic surveillance approach to detect resistance-associated gene loci to improve our mechanistic understanding of how resistance develops. Evidence for additional genomic regions outside of the kelch13 locus associated with artemisinin-resistant parasites may yield new molecular markers for resistance surveillance, which may be useful in efforts to reduce the emergence or spread of artemisinin resistance in African parasite populations.

Bancone G, Kalnoky M, Chu CS, Chowwiwat N, Kahn M, Malleret B, Wilaisrisak P, Rénia L, Domingo GJ, Nosten F. 2017. The G6PD flow-cytometric assay is a reliable tool for diagnosis of G6PD deficiency in women and anaemic subjects. Sci Rep, 7 (1), pp. 9822. | Show Abstract | Read more

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) activity is essential for redox equilibrium of red blood cells (RBCs) and, when compromised, the RBCs are more susceptible to haemolysis. 8-aminoquinolines (primaquine and tafenoquine) are used for the radical curative treatment of Plasmodium vivax malaria and can cause haemolysis in G6PD deficient subjects. Haemolytic risk is dependent on treatment dose and patient G6PD status but ultimately it correlates with the number of G6PD deficient RBCs. The G6PD spectrophotometric assay reliably identifies deficient subjects but is less reliable in heterozygous females, especially when other blood conditions are present. In this work we analysed samples with a range of G6PD phenotypes and haematologic conditions from 243 healthy volunteers of Asian or African-American heritage using both the spectrophotomeric assay and the G6PD flow-cytometric assay. Overall 18.5% of subjects (29.3% of Asian females) presented with anaemia, associated with decreased RBCs volume (MCV) and reticulocytosis; the flow-cytometric assay showed good correlation with the spectrophotometric assay (Pearson's r 0.918-0.957) and was less influenced by haemoglobin concentration, number of RBCs and number of reticulocytes. This resulted in more precise quantification of the number of G6PD deficient RBCs and presumably higher predictive power of drug induced haemolytic risk.

Total publications on this page: 132

Total citations for publications on this page: 138