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 clinicaltrials.gov (NCT01872702). Registered 4 June 2013.

Chotsiri P, Wattanakul T, Hoglund R, 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 presented study were to evaluate the pharmacokinetic properties of dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine, potential drug-drug interactions with concomitant primaquine treatment, and piperaquine effects on the electrocardiogram in healthy volunteers. METHODS: Population pharmacokinetic properties of dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine were assessed in 16 in 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 dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine population pharmacokinetics accurately. Concomitant treatment with primaquine did not affect the pharmacokinetic properties of dihydroartemisinin 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 increase in piperaquine plasma concentration. Simulations from the final model showed that monthly and bi-monthly mass drug administration in healthy subjects would result in median maximum QT-interval prolongations of 18.9 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 dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine treatment in areas of multi-resistant falciparum malaria. CONCLUSIONS: Pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic modelling and simulation in healthy adult volunteers suggested that therapeutic doses of DHA-piperaquine in prevention or treatment are very unlikely to be associated with dangerous QT-prolongation.

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, | 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.

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. | 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, | 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 to 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-centred approach, we analysed the evolutionary history of twelve 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 non-random associations between co-colonising 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 emphasise the strong adaptive potential of the bacterium by its ability to generate novel antigenic diversity by recombination.

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.

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.

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: 1 (Scopus) | 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 (Scopus) | 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.

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, pp. 1-13. | 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, | 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.

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: 1 (Scopus) | 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, pp. postgradmedj-2016-134718-postgradmedj-2016-134718. | 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.

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. | Read more

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. | 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.

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. | 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.

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

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. | 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.

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. | 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: 1 (Scopus) | 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. | 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.

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. | 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. | 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: 1 (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: 1 (Scopus) | 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. | Read more

Thwaites GE, Day NP. 2017. Approach to Fever in the Returning Traveler. N Engl J Med, 376 (6), pp. 548-560. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | 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. | 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 | 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: 1 (Scopus) | 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: 3 (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: ClinicalTrials.gov 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: 1 (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.

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. | 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, | 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 pp. 16263. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | 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: ClinicalTrials.gov 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: 1 (Scopus) | 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: 1 (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. | 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: 2 (Scopus) | 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. | Read more

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: 2 (Scopus) | 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. | 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. | 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. | 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 bit.ly/id_artemisinin_resistance.

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. | 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: 1 (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 (Scopus) | 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 ClinicalTrials.gov 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. | 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: 9 (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: 1 (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: 3 (Scopus) | 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. | 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.

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