Dr Charlie Woodrow

Research Area: Global Health
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health
Keywords: malaria, Thailand, myanmar, artemisinins and resistance
Web Links:

Charlie Woodrow is a clinician-scientist who has been based in MORU since 2009, his arrival coinciding with the emergence of artemisinin resistance in Southeast Asia. His main role over this time has been to co-ordinate clinical and laboratory studies on resistance to artemisinins and partner drugs, collaborating with a range of MORU researchers and external groups to bring together diverse datasets of clinical, in vitro and molecular data. Most recently, Charlie has led a countrywide survey of the K13 artemisinin resistance marker in Myanmar. In September 2014, he was an invited member of the WHO Expert Review Group on K13.

Charlie is also a Scientific Advisor to WWARN’s in vitro module, and was a driving force behind the development of WWARN’s IVART tool which allows analysis of large in vitro datasets via a free, online server. The tool is now the preferred analysis method for a number of in vitro scientists. Charlie also leads MORU’s collaborative work on malaria in Afghanistan.

Charlie is a Visiting Professor at Mahidol University, and plays an active role in the Faculty of Tropical Medicine’s Molecular Tropical Medicine and Genetics Department. His particular interests include antimalarial drug resistance, evolutionary aspects of malaria biology, parasite clearance mechanisms and the diagnosis of uncomplicated and severe malaria.

Prior to joining MORU, Charlie was an MRC Clinician Scientist Fellow. He is a Consultant Physician with an Honorary Contract at the John NHS Hospitals NHS Trust, and takes part in the acute general medicine on-call rota.

There are no collaborations listed for this principal investigator.

Phyo AP, Ashley EA, Anderson TJ, Bozdech Z, Carrara VI, Sriprawat K, Nair S, White MM et al. 2016. Declining Efficacy of Artemisinin Combination Therapy Against P. Falciparum Malaria on the Thai-Myanmar Border (2003-2013): The Role of Parasite Genetic Factors. Clin Infect Dis, 63 (6), pp. 784-791. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Deployment of mefloquine-artesunate (MAS3) on the Thailand-Myanmar border has led to a sustained reduction in falciparum malaria, although antimalarial efficacy has declined substantially in recent years. The role of Plasmodium falciparum K13 mutations (a marker of artemisinin resistance) in reducing treatment efficacy remains controversial. METHODS: Between 2003 and 2013, we studied the efficacy of MAS3 in 1005 patients with uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in relation to molecular markers of resistance. RESULTS: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-adjusted cure rates declined from 100% in 2003 to 81.1% in 2013 as the proportions of isolates with multiple Pfmdr1 copies doubled from 32.4% to 64.7% and those with K13 mutations increased from 6.7% to 83.4%. K13 mutations conferring moderate artemisinin resistance (notably E252Q) predominated initially but were later overtaken by propeller mutations associated with slower parasite clearance (notably C580Y). Those infected with both multiple Pfmdr1 copy number and a K13 propeller mutation were 14 times more likely to fail treatment. The PCR-adjusted cure rate was 57.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 45.4, 68.3) compared with 97.8% (95% CI, 93.3, 99.3) in patients with K13 wild type and Pfmdr1 single copy. K13 propeller mutation alone was a strong risk factor for recrudescence (P = .009). The combined population attributable fraction of recrudescence associated with K13 mutation and Pfmdr1 amplification was 82%. CONCLUSIONS: The increasing prevalence of K13 mutations was the decisive factor for the recent and rapid decline in efficacy of artemisinin-based combination (MAS3) on the Thailand-Myanmar border.

Abdulla S, Achan J, Yeka A, D'Alessandro U, Adam I, Alemayehu BH, Allan R, Temu EA et al. 2016. Gametocyte carriage in uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria following treatment with artemisinin combination therapy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of individual patient data BMC Medicine, 14 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2016 WWARN Gametocyte Study Group.Background: Gametocytes are responsible for transmission of malaria from human to mosquito. Artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) reduces post-treatment gametocyte carriage, dependent upon host, parasite and pharmacodynamic factors. The gametocytocidal properties of antimalarial drugs are important for malaria elimination efforts. An individual patient clinical data meta-analysis was undertaken to identify the determinants of gametocyte carriage and the comparative effects of four ACTs: artemether-lumefantrine (AL), artesunate/amodiaquine (AS-AQ), artesunate/mefloquine (AS-MQ), and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP). Methods: Factors associated with gametocytaemia prior to, and following, ACT treatment were identified in multivariable logistic or Cox regression analysis with random effects. All relevant studies were identified through a systematic review of PubMed. Risk of bias was evaluated based on study design, methodology, and missing data. Results: The systematic review identified 169 published and 9 unpublished studies, 126 of which were shared with the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) and 121 trials including 48,840 patients were included in the analysis. Prevalence of gametocytaemia by microscopy at enrolment was 12.1 % (5887/48,589), and increased with decreasing age, decreasing asexual parasite density and decreasing haemoglobin concentration, and was higher in patients without fever at presentation. After ACT treatment, gametocytaemia appeared in 1.9 % (95 % CI, 1.7-2.1) of patients. The appearance of gametocytaemia was lowest after AS-MQ and AL and significantly higher after DP (adjusted hazard ratio (AHR), 2.03; 95 % CI, 1.24-3.12; P = 0.005 compared to AL) and AS-AQ fixed dose combination (FDC) (AHR, 4.01; 95 % CI, 2.40-6.72; P < 0.001 compared to AL). Among individuals who had gametocytaemia before treatment, gametocytaemia clearance was significantly faster with AS-MQ (AHR, 1.26; 95 % CI, 1.00-1.60; P = 0.054) and slower with DP (AHR, 0.74; 95 % CI, 0.63-0.88; P = 0.001) compared to AL. Both recrudescent (adjusted odds ratio (AOR), 9.05; 95 % CI, 3.74-21.90; P < 0.001) and new (AOR, 3.03; 95 % CI, 1.66-5.54; P < 0.001) infections with asexual-stage parasites were strongly associated with development of gametocytaemia after day 7. Conclusions: AS-MQ and AL are more effective than DP and AS-AQ FDC in preventing gametocytaemia shortly after treatment, suggesting that the non-artemisinin partner drug or the timing of artemisinin dosing are important determinants of post-treatment gametocyte dynamics.

Tun KM, Jeeyapant A, Imwong M, Thein M, Aung SS, Hlaing TM, Yuentrakul P, Promnarate C et al. 2016. Parasite clearance rates in Upper Myanmar indicate a distinctive artemisinin resistance phenotype: a therapeutic efficacy study. Malar J, 15 (1), pp. 185. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum extends across Southeast Asia where it is associated with worsening partner drug resistance and a decline in the efficacy of frontline artemisinin-based combination therapy. Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) is an essential component of preventive and curative treatment in the region, but its therapeutic efficacy has fallen in Cambodia. METHODS: A prospective clinical and parasitological evaluation of DP was conducted at two sites in Upper Myanmar between August 2013 and December 2014, enrolling 116 patients with acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Patients received DP orally for 3 days together with primaquine 0.25 mg/kg on admission. Parasite clearance half-lives based on 6 hourly blood smears, and day 42 therapeutic responses were assessed as well as parasite K13 genotypes. RESULTS: Median parasite clearance half-life was prolonged, and clearance half-life was greater than 5 h in 21% of patients. Delayed parasite clearance was significantly associated with mutations in the propeller region of the parasite k13 gene. The k13 F446I mutation was found in 25.4% of infections and was associated with a median clearance half-life of 4.7 h compared with 2.7 h for infections without k13 mutations (p < 0.001). There were no failures after 42 days of follow-up, although 18% of patients had persistent parasitaemia on day 3. CONCLUSION: The dominant k13 mutation observed in Upper Myanmar, F446I, appears to be associated with an intermediate rate of parasite clearance compared to other common mutations described elsewhere in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Discerning this phenotype requires relatively detailed clearance measurements, highlighting the importance of methodology in assessing artemisinin resistance.

Awab GR, Imwong M, Pukrittayakamee S, Alim F, Hanpithakpong W, Tarning J, Dondorp AM, Day NP, White NJ, Woodrow CJ. 2016. Clinical trials of artesunate plus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine for Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Afghanistan: maintained efficacy a decade after introduction. Malar J, 15 (1), pp. 121. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Combination therapy with artesunate plus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) was adopted as recommended treatment for Plasmodium falciparum infection in Afghanistan in 2003. METHODS: A series of prospective clinical studies examining the efficacy of artesunate plus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (AS + SP) against P. falciparum were undertaken in sentinel sites in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2014, accompanied by relevant molecular studies. The first study was a randomized trial of AS + SP versus dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine, while two subsequent studies were standard therapeutic efficacy studies of AS + SP. RESULTS: Three hundred and three patients were enrolled across four provinces in the north and east of the country. Curative efficacy was high in all the trials, with an adequate clinical and parasitological response (ACPR) of more than 95 % in all groups and trial stages. Genotyping for drug-resistance alleles at dhfr indicated fixation of the S108 N mutation and a prevalence of the C59R mutation of approximately 95 % across all sites. Other mutations in dhfr and dhps remained rare or absent entirely, although five isolates from the first trial carried the dhps triple mutant SGEGA haplotype. In the last study undertaken in 2012-2014 the K13 artemisinin resistance marker was examined; only two of 60 successfully sequenced samples carried a K13-propeller mutation. CONCLUSIONS: These data confirm maintained efficacy 10 years after introduction of artesunate plus SP as combination treatment of P. falciparum in Afghanistan. The molecular data indicate that despite a substantial fall in incidence, resistance has not developed to artemisinins, or intensified to the ACT partner drug components. Trial Registration http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct NCT00682578, NCT01115439 and NCT01707199.

Win AA, Imwong M, Kyaw MP, Woodrow CJ, Chotivanich K, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Pukrittayakamee S. 2016. K13 mutations and pfmdr1 copy number variation in Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Myanmar. Malar J, 15 (1), pp. 110. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin-based combination therapy has been first-line treatment for falciparum malaria in Myanmar since 2005. The wide extent of artemisinin resistance in the Greater Mekong sub-region and the presence of mefloquine resistance at the Myanmar-Thailand border raise concerns over resistance patterns in Myanmar. The availability of molecular markers for resistance to both drugs enables assessment even in remote malaria-endemic areas. METHODS: A total of 250 dried blood spot samples collected from patients with Plasmodium falciparum malarial infection in five malaria-endemic areas across Myanmar were analysed for kelch 13 sequence (k13) and pfmdr1 copy number variation. K13 mutations in the region corresponding to amino acids 210-726 (including the propeller region of the protein) were detected by nested PCR amplification and sequencing, and pfmdr1 copy number variation by real-time PCR. In two sites, a sub-set of patients were prospectively followed up for assessment of day-3 parasite clearance rates after a standard course of artemether-lumefantrine. RESULTS: K13 mutations and pfmdr1 amplification were successfully analysed in 206 and 218 samples, respectively. Sixty-nine isolates (33.5 %) had mutations within the k13 propeller region with 53 of these (76.8 %) having mutations already known to be associated with artemisinin resistance. F446I (32 isolates) and P574L (15 isolates) were the most common examples. K13 mutation was less common in sites in western border regions (29 of 155 isolates) compared to samples from the east and north (40 of 51 isolates; p < 0.0001). The overall proportion of parasites with multiple pfmdr1 copies (greater than 1.5) was 5.5 %. Seven samples showed both k13 mutation and multiple copies of pfmdr1. Only one of 36 patients followed up after artemether-lumefantrine treatment still had parasites at day 3; molecular analysis indicated wild-type k13 and single copy pfmdr1. CONCLUSION: The proportion of P. falciparum isolates with mutations in the propeller region of k13 indicates that artemisinin resistance extends across much of Myanmar. There is a low prevalence of parasites with multiple pfmdr1 copies across the country. The efficacy of artemisinin-based combination therapy containing mefloquine and lumefantrine is, therefore, expected to be high, although regular monitoring of efficacy will be important.

MalariaGEN Plasmodium falciparum Community Project. 2016. Genomic epidemiology of artemisinin resistant malaria. Elife, 5 (MARCH2016), | Show Abstract | Read more

The current epidemic of artemisinin resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Southeast Asia is the result of a soft selective sweep involving at least 20 independent kelch13 mutations. In a large global survey, we find that kelch13 mutations which cause resistance in Southeast Asia are present at low frequency in Africa. We show that African kelch13 mutations have originated locally, and that kelch13 shows a normal variation pattern relative to other genes in Africa, whereas in Southeast Asia there is a great excess of non-synonymous mutations, many of which cause radical amino-acid changes. Thus, kelch13 is not currently undergoing strong selection in Africa, despite a deep reservoir of variations that could potentially allow resistance to emerge rapidly. The practical implications are that public health surveillance for artemisinin resistance should not rely on kelch13 data alone, and interventions to prevent resistance must account for local evolutionary conditions, shown by genomic epidemiology to differ greatly between geographical regions.

Wihokhoen B, Dondorp AM, Turner P, Woodrow CJ, Imwong M. 2016. Use of Blood Smears and Dried Blood Spots for Polymerase Chain Reaction-Based Detection and Quantification of Bacterial Infection and Plasmodium falciparum in Severely Ill Febrile African Children. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 94 (2), pp. 322-326. | Show Abstract | Read more

Molecular approaches offer a means of testing archived samples stored as dried blood spots in settings where standard blood cultures are not possible. Peripheral blood films are one suggested source of material, although the sensitivity of this approach has not been well defined. Thin blood smears and dried blood spots from a severe pediatric malaria study were assessed using specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers to detect non-typhoidal Salmonella (NTS; MisL gene), Streptococcus pneumoniae (lytA), and Plasmodium falciparum (18S rRNA). Of 16 cases of NTS and S. pneumoniae confirmed on blood culture, none were positive by PCR using DNA extracts from blood films or dried blood spots. In contrast, four of 36 dried blood spots and two of 178 plasma samples were PCR positive for S. pneumoniae, despite negative bacterial blood cultures, suggesting false positives. Quantitative assessment revealed that the effective concentration of P. falciparum DNA in blood films was three log orders of magnitude lower than for dried blood spots. The P. falciparum kelch13 gene could not be amplified from blood films. These findings question the value of blood PCR-based approaches for detection of NTS and S. pneumoniae, and show that stored blood films are an inefficient method of studying P. falciparum.

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

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

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

Ishioka H, Ghose A, Charunwatthana P, Maude R, Plewes K, Kingston H, Intharabut B, Woodrow C et al. 2016. Sequestration and Red Cell Deformability as Determinants of Hyperlactatemia in Falciparum Malaria. J Infect Dis, 213 (5), pp. 788-793. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Hyperlactatemia is a strong predictor of mortality in severe falciparum malaria. Sequestered parasitized erythrocytes and reduced uninfected red blood cell deformability (RCD) compromise microcirculatory flow, leading to anaerobic glycolysis. METHODS: In a cohort of patients with falciparum malaria hospitalized in Chittagong, Bangladesh, bulk RCD was measured using a laser diffraction technique, and parasite biomass was estimated from plasma concentrations of Plasmodium falciparum histidine-rich protein 2 (PfHRP2). A multiple linear regression model was constructed to examine their associations with plasma lactate concentrations. RESULTS: A total of 286 patients with falciparum malaria were studied, of whom 224 had severe malaria, and 70 died. Hyperlactatemia (lactate level, ≥ 4 mmol/L) was present in 111 cases. RCD at shear stresses of 1.7 Pa and 30 Pa was reduced significantly in patients who died, compared with survivors, individuals with uncomplicated malaria, or healthy individuals (P < .05, for all comparisons). Multiple linear regression analysis showed that the plasma PfHRP2 level, parasitemia level, total bilirubin level, and RCD at a shear stress of 1.7 Pa were each independently correlated with plasma lactate concentrations (n = 278; R(2) = 0.35). CONCLUSIONS: Sequestration of parasitized red blood cells and reduced RCD both contribute to decreased microcirculatory flow in severe disease.

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

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

Herdman MT, Sriboonvorakul N, Leopold SJ, Douthwaite S, Mohanty S, Hassan MM, Maude RJ, Kingston HW et al. 2015. The role of previously unmeasured organic acids in the pathogenesis of severe malaria. Crit Care, 19 (1), pp. 317. | Show Abstract | Read more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White NJ, Ashley EA, Recht J, Delves MJ, Ruecker A, Smithuis FM, Eziefula AC, Bousema T et al. 2014. Assessment of therapeutic responses to gametocytocidal drugs in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Malar J, 13 (1), pp. 483. | Show Abstract | Read more

Indirect clinical measures assessing anti-malarial drug transmission-blocking activity in falciparum malaria include measurement of the duration of gametocytaemia, the rate of gametocyte clearance or the area under the gametocytaemia-time curve (AUC). These may provide useful comparative information, but they underestimate dose-response relationships for transmission-blocking activity. Following 8-aminoquinoline administration P. falciparum gametocytes are sterilized within hours, whereas clearance from blood takes days. Gametocytaemia AUC and clearance times are determined predominantly by the more numerous female gametocytes, which are generally less drug sensitive than the minority male gametocytes, whereas transmission-blocking activity and thus infectivity is determined by the more sensitive male forms. In choosing doses of transmission-blocking drugs there is no substitute yet for mosquito-feeding studies.

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

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

Ashley EA, Dhorda M, Fairhurst RM, Amaratunga C, Lim P, Suon S, Sreng S, Anderson JM et al. 2014. Spread of artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. N Engl J Med, 371 (5), pp. 411-423. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum has emerged in Southeast Asia and now poses a threat to the control and elimination of malaria. Mapping the geographic extent of resistance is essential for planning containment and elimination strategies. METHODS: Between May 2011 and April 2013, we enrolled 1241 adults and children with acute, uncomplicated falciparum malaria in an open-label trial at 15 sites in 10 countries (7 in Asia and 3 in Africa). Patients received artesunate, administered orally at a daily dose of either 2 mg per kilogram of body weight per day or 4 mg per kilogram, for 3 days, followed by a standard 3-day course of artemisinin-based combination therapy. Parasite counts in peripheral-blood samples were measured every 6 hours, and the parasite clearance half-lives were determined. RESULTS: The median parasite clearance half-lives ranged from 1.9 hours in the Democratic Republic of Congo to 7.0 hours at the Thailand-Cambodia border. Slowly clearing infections (parasite clearance half-life >5 hours), strongly associated with single point mutations in the "propeller" region of the P. falciparum kelch protein gene on chromosome 13 (kelch13), were detected throughout mainland Southeast Asia from southern Vietnam to central Myanmar. The incidence of pretreatment and post-treatment gametocytemia was higher among patients with slow parasite clearance, suggesting greater potential for transmission. In western Cambodia, where artemisinin-based combination therapies are failing, the 6-day course of antimalarial therapy was associated with a cure rate of 97.7% (95% confidence interval, 90.9 to 99.4) at 42 days. CONCLUSIONS: Artemisinin resistance to P. falciparum, which is now prevalent across mainland Southeast Asia, is associated with mutations in kelch13. Prolonged courses of artemisinin-based combination therapies are currently efficacious in areas where standard 3-day treatments are failing. (Funded by the U.K. Department of International Development and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01350856.).

Woodrow CJ, Dondorp AM. 2014. Parasite burden and severity of malaria in Tanzanian children. N Engl J Med, 371 (5), pp. 481-482. | Read more

Jamornthanyawat N, Awab GR, Tanomsing N, Pukrittayakamee S, Yamin F, Dondorp AM, Day NP, White NJ, Woodrow CJ, Imwong M. 2014. A population survey of the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) 563C>T (Mediterranean) mutation in Afghanistan. PLoS One, 9 (2), pp. e88605. | Show Abstract | Read more

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is a common inherited enzyme defect and an important problem in areas with Plasmodium vivax infection because of the risk of haemolysis following administration of primaquine to treat the liver forms of the parasite. We undertook a genotypic survey of 713 male individuals across nine provinces of Afghanistan in which malaria is found, four in the north and five in the east. RFLP typing at nucleotide position 563 detected 40 individuals with the Mediterranean mutation 563C>T, an overall prevalence of 5.6%. This varied according to self-reported ethnicity, with prevalence in the Pashtun/Pashai group of 33/369 (8.9%) compared to 7/344 individuals in the rest of the population (2.0%; p<0.001, Chi-squared test). Multivariate analysis of ethnicity and geographical location indicated an adjusted odds ratio of 3.50 (95% CI 1.36-9.02) for the Pashtun/Pashai group, while location showed only a trend towards higher prevalence in eastern provinces (adjusted odds ratio = 1.73, 0.73-4.13). Testing of known polymorphic markers (1311C>T in exon 11, and C93T in intron XI) in a subset of 82 individuals wild-type at C563 revealed a mixture of 3 haplotypes in the background population and was consistent with data from the 1000 Genomes Project and published studies. By comparison individuals with G6PD deficiency showed a highly skewed haplotype distribution, with 95% showing the CT haplotype, a finding consistent with relatively recent appearance and positive selection of the Mediterranean variant in Afghanistan. Overall, the data confirm that the Mediterranean variant of G6PD is common in many ethnic groups in Afghanistan, indicating that screening for G6PD deficiency is required in all individuals before radical treatment of P. vivax with primaquine.

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Achan J, Adam I, Arinaitwe E, Ashley EA, Awab GR, Ba MS, Barnes KI, Bassat Q et al. 2013. The Effect of Dosing Regimens on the Antimalarial Efficacy of Dihydroartemisinin-Piperaquine: A Pooled Analysis of Individual Patient Data PLOS MEDICINE, 10 (12), pp. e1001564-e1001564. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background:Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) is increasingly recommended for antimalarial treatment in many endemic countries; however, concerns have been raised over its potential under dosing in young children. We investigated the influence of different dosing schedules on DP's clinical efficacy.Methods and Findings:A systematic search of the literature was conducted to identify all studies published between 1960 and February 2013, in which patients were enrolled and treated with DP. Principal investigators were approached and invited to share individual patient data with the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN). Data were pooled using a standardised methodology. Univariable and multivariable risk factors for parasite recrudescence were identified using a Cox's regression model with shared frailty across the study sites. Twenty-four published and two unpublished studies (n = 7,072 patients) were included in the analysis. After correcting for reinfection by parasite genotyping, Kaplan-Meier survival estimates were 97.7% (95% CI 97.3%-98.1%) at day 42 and 97.2% (95% CI 96.7%-97.7%) at day 63. Overall 28.6% (979/3,429) of children aged 1 to 5 years received a total dose of piperaquine below 48 mg/kg (the lower limit recommended by WHO); this risk was 2.3-2.9-fold greater compared to that in the other age groups and was associated with reduced efficacy at day 63 (94.4% [95% CI 92.6%-96.2%], p<0.001). After adjusting for confounding factors, the mg/kg dose of piperaquine was found to be a significant predictor for recrudescence, the risk increasing by 13% (95% CI 5.0%-21%) for every 5 mg/kg decrease in dose; p = 0.002. In a multivariable model increasing the target minimum total dose of piperaquine in children aged 1 to 5 years old from 48 mg/kg to 59 mg/kg would halve the risk of treatment failure and cure at least 95% of patients; such an increment was not associated with gastrointestinal toxicity in the ten studies in which this could be assessed.Conclusions:DP demonstrates excellent efficacy in a wide range of transmission settings; however, treatment failure is associated with a lower dose of piperaquine, particularly in young children, suggesting potential for further dose optimisation.Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary. © 2013 Price et al.

Russell B, Malleret B, Suwanarusk R, Anthony C, Kanlaya S, Lau YL, Woodrow CJ, Nosten F, Renia L. 2013. Field-based flow cytometry for ex vivo characterization of Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum antimalarial sensitivity. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 57 (10), pp. 5170-5174. | Show Abstract | Read more

Ex vivo antimalarial sensitivity testing in human malaria parasites has largely depended on microscopic determination of schizont maturation. While this microscopic method is sensitive, it suffers from poor precision and is laborious. The recent development of portable, low-cost cytometers has allowed us to develop and validate a simple, field-optimized protocol using SYBR green and dihydroethidium for the accurate and objective determination of antimalarial drug sensitivity in freshly isolated Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum.

Woodrow CJ, Dahlström S, Cooksey R, Flegg JA, Le Nagard H, Mentré F, Murillo C, Ménard D et al. 2013. High-throughput analysis of antimalarial susceptibility data by the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) in vitro analysis and reporting tool. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 57 (7), pp. 3121-3130. | Show Abstract | Read more

Assessment of in vitro susceptibility is a fundamental component of antimalarial surveillance studies, but wide variations in the measurement of parasite growth and the calculation of inhibitory constants make comparisons of data from different laboratories difficult. Here we describe a Web-based, high-throughput in vitro analysis and reporting tool (IVART) generating inhibitory constants for large data sets. Fourteen primary data sets examining laboratory-determined susceptibility to artemisinin derivatives and artemisinin combination therapy partner drugs were collated from 11 laboratories. Drug concentrations associated with half-maximal inhibition of growth (IC50s) were determined by a modified sigmoid Emax model-fitting algorithm, allowing standardized analysis of 7,350 concentration-inhibition assays involving 1,592 isolates. Examination of concentration-inhibition data revealed evidence of apparent paradoxical growth at high concentrations of nonartemisinin drugs, supporting amendment of the method for calculating the maximal drug effect in each assay. Criteria for defining more-reliable IC50s based on estimated confidence intervals and growth ratios improved correlation coefficients for the drug pairs mefloquine-quinine and chloroquine-desethylamodiaquine in 9 of 11 and 8 of 8 data sets, respectively. Further analysis showed that maximal drug inhibition was higher for artemisinins than for other drugs, particularly in ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay)-based assays, a finding consistent with the earlier onset of action of these drugs in the parasite life cycle. This is the first high-throughput analytical approach to apply consistent constraints and reliability criteria to large, diverse antimalarial susceptibility data sets. The data also illustrate the distinct biological properties of artemisinins and underline the need to apply more sensitive approaches to assessing in vitro susceptibility to these drugs.

Simpson JA, Jamsen KM, Anderson TJ, Zaloumis S, Nair S, Woodrow C, White NJ, Nosten F, Price RN. 2013. Nonlinear mixed-effects modelling of in vitro drug susceptibility and molecular correlates of multidrug resistant Plasmodium falciparum. PLoS One, 8 (7), pp. e69505. | Show Abstract | Read more

The analysis of in vitro anti-malarial drug susceptibility testing is vulnerable to the effects of different statistical approaches and selection biases. These confounding factors were assessed with respect to pfmdr1 gene mutation and amplification in 490 clinical isolates. Two statistical approaches for estimating the drug concentration associated with 50% effect (EC50 ) were compared: the commonly used standard two-stage (STS) method, and nonlinear mixed-effects modelling. The in vitro concentration-effect relationships for, chloroquine, mefloquine, lumefantrine and artesunate, were derived from clinical isolates obtained from patients on the western border of Thailand. All isolates were genotyped for polymorphisms in the pfmdr1 gene. The EC50 estimates were similar for the two statistical approaches but 15-28% of isolates in the STS method had a high coefficient of variation (>15%) for individual estimates of EC50 and these isolates had EC50 values that were 32 to 66% higher than isolates derived with more precision. In total 41% (202/490) of isolates had amplification of pfmdr1 and single nucleotide polymorphisms were found in 50 (10%). Pfmdr1 amplification was associated with an increase in EC50 for mefloquine (139% relative increase in EC50 for 2 copies, 188% for 3+ copies), lumefantrine (82% and 75% for 2 and 3+ copies respectively) and artesunate (63% and 127% for 2 and 3+ copies respectively). In contrast pfmdr1 mutation at codons 86 or 1042 were associated with an increase in chloroquine EC50 (44-48%). Sample size calculations showed that to demonstrate an EC50 shift of 50% or more with 80% power if the prevalence was 10% would require 430 isolates and 245 isolates if the prevalence was 20%. In conclusion, although nonlinear mixed-effects modelling did not demonstrate any major advantage for determining estimates of anti-malarial drug susceptibility, the method includes all isolates, thereby, potentially improving confirmation of candidate molecular markers of anti-malarial drug susceptibility.

Awab GR, Pukrittayakamee S, Jamornthanyawat N, Yamin F, Dondorp AM, Day NP, White NJ, Woodrow CJ, Imwong M. 2013. Prevalence of antifolate resistance mutations in Plasmodium falciparum isolates in Afghanistan. Malar J, 12 (1), pp. 96. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artesunate plus sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (AS+SP) is now first-line treatment for Plasmodium falciparum infection in several south Asian countries, including Afghanistan. Molecular studies provide a sensitive means to investigate the current state of drug susceptibility to the SP component, and can also provide information on the likely efficacy of other potential forms of artemisinin-combination therapy. METHODS: During the years 2007 to 2010, 120 blood spots from patients with P. falciparum malaria were obtained in four provinces of Afghanistan. PCR-based methods were used to detect drug-resistance mutations in dhfr, dhps, pfcrt and pfmdr1, as well as to determine copy number of pfmdr1. RESULTS: The majority (95.5%) of infections had a double mutation in the dhfr gene (C59R, S108N); no mutations at dhfr positions 16, 51 or 164 were seen. Most isolates were wild type across the dhps gene, but five isolates from the provinces of Kunar and Nangarhar in eastern Afghanistan had the triple mutation A437G / K540E / A581G; all five cases were successfully treated with three receiving AS+SP and two receiving dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine. All isolates showed the pfcrt SVNMT chloroquine resistance haplotype. Five of 79 isolates had the pfmdr1 N86Y mutation, while 52 had pfmdr1 Y184F; positions 1034, 1042 and 1246 were wild type in all isolates. The pfmdr1 gene was not amplified in any sample. CONCLUSIONS: This study indicates that shortly after the adoption of AS+SP as first-line treatment in Afghanistan, most parasites had a double mutation haplotype in dhfr, and a small number of isolates from eastern Afghanistan harboured a triple mutation haplotype in dhps. The impact of these mutations on the efficacy of AS+SP remains to be assessed in significant numbers of patients, but these results are clearly concerning since they suggest a higher degree of SP resistance than previously detected. Further focused molecular and clinical studies in this region are urgently required.

Hendriksen IC, White LJ, Veenemans J, Mtove G, Woodrow C, Amos B, Saiwaew S, Gesase S et al. 2013. Defining falciparum-malaria-attributable severe febrile illness in moderate-to-high transmission settings on the basis of plasma PfHRP2 concentration. J Infect Dis, 207 (2), pp. 351-361. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In malaria-endemic settings, asymptomatic parasitemia complicates the diagnosis of malaria. Histidine-rich protein 2 (HRP2) is produced by Plasmodium falciparum, and its plasma concentration reflects the total body parasite burden. We aimed to define the malaria-attributable fraction of severe febrile illness, using the distributions of plasma P. falciparum HRP2 (PfHRP2) concentrations from parasitemic children with different clinical presentations. METHODS: Plasma samples were collected from and peripheral blood slides prepared for 1435 children aged 6-60 months in communities and a nearby hospital in northeastern Tanzania. The study population included children with severe or uncomplicated malaria, asymptomatic carriers, and healthy control subjects who had negative results of rapid diagnostic tests. The distributions of plasma PfHRP2 concentrations among the different groups were used to model severe malaria-attributable disease. RESULTS: The plasma PfHRP2 concentration showed a close correlation with the severity of infection. PfHRP2 concentrations of >1000 ng/mL denoted a malaria-attributable fraction of severe disease of 99% (95% credible interval [CI], 96%-100%), with a sensitivity of 74% (95% CI, 72%-77%), whereas a concentration of <200 ng/mL denoted severe febrile illness of an alternative diagnosis in >10% (95% CI, 3%-27%) of patients. Bacteremia was more common among patients in the lowest and highest PfHRP2 concentration quintiles. CONCLUSIONS: The plasma PfHRP2 concentration defines malaria-attributable disease and distinguishes severe malaria from coincidental parasitemia in African children in a moderate-to-high transmission setting.

Ramutton T, Hendriksen IC, Mwanga-Amumpaire J, Mtove G, Olaosebikan R, Tshefu AK, Onyamboko MA, Karema C et al. 2012. Sequence variation does not confound the measurement of plasma PfHRP2 concentration in African children presenting with severe malaria. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 276. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum histidine-rich protein PFHRP2 measurement is used widely for diagnosis, and more recently for severity assessment in falciparum malaria. The Pfhrp2 gene is highly polymorphic, with deletion of the entire gene reported in both laboratory and field isolates. These issues potentially confound the interpretation of PFHRP2 measurements. METHODS: Studies designed to detect deletion of Pfhrp2 and its paralog Pfhrp3 were undertaken with samples from patients in seven countries contributing to the largest hospital-based severe malaria trial (AQUAMAT). The quantitative relationship between sequence polymorphism and PFHRP2 plasma concentration was examined in samples from selected sites in Mozambique and Tanzania. RESULTS: There was no evidence for deletion of either Pfhrp2 or Pfhrp3 in the 77 samples with lowest PFHRP2 plasma concentrations across the seven countries. Pfhrp2 sequence diversity was very high with no haplotypes shared among 66 samples sequenced. There was no correlation between Pfhrp2 sequence length or repeat type and PFHRP2 plasma concentration. CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that sequence polymorphism is not a significant cause of variation in PFHRP2 concentration in plasma samples from African children. This justifies the further development of plasma PFHRP2 concentration as a method for assessing African children who may have severe falciparum malaria. The data also add to the existing evidence base supporting the use of rapid diagnostic tests based on PFHRP2 detection.

Hendriksen IC, Mwanga-Amumpaire J, von Seidlein L, Mtove G, White LJ, Olaosebikan R, Lee SJ, Tshefu AK et al. 2012. Diagnosing severe falciparum malaria in parasitaemic African children: a prospective evaluation of plasma PfHRP2 measurement. PLoS Med, 9 (8), pp. e1001297. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In African children, distinguishing severe falciparum malaria from other severe febrile illnesses with coincidental Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia is a major challenge. P. falciparum histidine-rich protein 2 (PfHRP2) is released by mature sequestered parasites and can be used to estimate the total parasite burden. We investigated the prognostic significance of plasma PfHRP2 and used it to estimate the malaria-attributable fraction in African children diagnosed with severe malaria. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Admission plasma PfHRP2 was measured prospectively in African children (from Mozambique, The Gambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo) aged 1 month to 15 years with severe febrile illness and a positive P. falciparum lactate dehydrogenase (pLDH)-based rapid test in a clinical trial comparing parenteral artesunate versus quinine (the AQUAMAT trial, ISRCTN 50258054). In 3,826 severely ill children, Plasmadium falciparum PfHRP2 was higher in patients with coma (p = 0.0209), acidosis (p<0.0001), and severe anaemia (p<0.0001). Admission geometric mean (95%CI) plasma PfHRP2 was 1,611 (1,350-1,922) ng/mL in fatal cases (n = 381) versus 1,046 (991-1,104) ng/mL in survivors (n = 3,445, p<0.0001), without differences in parasitaemia as assessed by microscopy. There was a U-shaped association between log(10) plasma PfHRP2 and risk of death. Mortality increased 20% per log(10) increase in PfHRP2 above 174 ng/mL (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.21, 95%CI 1.05-1.39, p = 0.009). A mechanistic model assuming a PfHRP2-independent risk of death in non-malaria illness closely fitted the observed data and showed malaria-attributable mortality less than 50% with plasma PfHRP2≤174 ng/mL. The odds ratio (OR) for death in artesunate versus quinine-treated patients was 0.61 (95%CI 0.44-0.83, p = 0.0018) in the highest PfHRP2 tertile, whereas there was no difference in the lowest tertile (OR 1.05; 95%CI 0.69-1.61; p = 0.82). A limitation of the study is that some conclusions are drawn from a mechanistic model, which is inherently dependent on certain assumptions. However, a sensitivity analysis of the model indicated that the results were robust to a plausible range of parameter estimates. Further studies are needed to validate our findings. CONCLUSIONS: Plasma PfHRP2 has prognostic significance in African children with severe falciparum malaria and provides a tool to stratify the risk of "true" severe malaria-attributable disease as opposed to other severe illnesses in parasitaemic African children.

Woodrow CJ, Taylor WR. 2012. Reappraisal of the efficacy of a simplified artesunate regimen in falciparum malaria. J Infect Dis, 206 (4), pp. 619-621. | Read more

Woodrow CJ, Gardner KB, Bustamante LY. 2012. Questions over high frequency of mutant PfATP6 haplotypes in traveller isolates. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 186. | Show Abstract | Read more

A recent paper in Malaria Journal suggests that a high proportion of Plasmodium falciparum isolates found in travellers returning from a range of African countries carry the PfATP6 A623E S769N haplotype, and that this genotype is associated with artemether resistance. Such a finding would represent a substantial departure from the extensive literature reporting these individual mutations to be very rare, with the double mutation never documented. The number of isolates screened to obtain these double mutants is unstated, but highly relevant, not least because selection of isolates could have introduced significant confounders, such as timing of in vitro testing. An additional concern relates to the location of sequencing primers used to assess these positions. In the absence of clear information on these fundamental questions it would be appropriate to treat the findings with caution.

Gardner KB, Sinha I, Bustamante LY, Day NPJ, White NJ, Woodrow CJ. 2011. Protein-based signatures of functional evolution in Plasmodium falciparum BMC Evolutionary Biology, 11 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Abstract. Background: It has been known for over a decade that Plasmodium falciparum proteins are enriched in non-globular domains of unknown function. The potential for these regions of protein sequence to undergo high levels of genetic drift provides a fundamental challenge to attempts to identify the molecular basis of adaptive change in malaria parasites. Results: Evolutionary comparisons were undertaken using a set of forty P. falciparum metabolic enzyme genes, both within the hominid malaria clade (P. reichenowi) and across the genus (P. chabaudi). All genes contained coding elements highly conserved across the genus, but there were also a large number of regions of weakly or non-aligning coding sequence. These displayed remarkable levels of non-synonymous fixed differences within the hominid malaria clade indicating near complete release from purifying selection (dN/dS ratio at residues non-aligning across genus: 0.64, dN/dS ratio at residues identical across genus: 0.03). Regions of low conservation also possessed high levels of hydrophilicity, a marker of non-globularity. The propensity for such regions to act as potent sources of non-synonymous genetic drift within extant P. falciparum isolates was confirmed at chromosomal regions containing genes known to mediate drug resistance in field isolates, where 150 of 153 amino acid variants were located in poorly conserved regions. In contrast, all 22 amino acid variants associated with drug resistance were restricted to highly conserved regions. Additional mutations associated with laboratory-selected drug resistance, such as those in PfATPase4 selected by spiroindolone, were similarly restricted while mutations in another calcium ATPase (PfSERCA, a gene proposed to mediate artemisinin resistance) that reach significant frequencies in field isolates were located exclusively in poorly conserved regions consistent with genetic drift. Conclusion: Coding sequences of malaria parasites contain prospectively definable domains subject to neutral or nearly neutral evolution on a scale that appears unrivalled in biology. This distinct evolutionary landscape has potential to confound analytical methods developed for other genera. Against this tide of genetic drift, polymorphisms mediating functional change stand out to such an extent that evolutionary context provides a useful signal for identifying the molecular basis of drug resistance in malaria parasites, a finding that is of relevance to both genome-wide and candidate gene studies in this genus. © 2011 Gardner et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Woodrow CJ, Bustamante LY. 2011. Mechanisms of artemisinin action and resistance: wider focus is needed. Trends Parasitol, 27 (1), pp. 2-3. | Read more

Woodrow CJ, Bustamante LY, Bacon DJ, Udhayakumar V. 2010. Plasmodium falciparum ATP6 Not under Selection during Introduction of Artemisinin Combination Therapy in Peru Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 54 (5), pp. 2280-2281. | Read more

Awab GR, Pukrittayakamee S, Imwong M, Dondorp AM, Woodrow CJ, Lee SJ, Day NP, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Kaker F. 2010. Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine versus chloroquine to treat vivax malaria in Afghanistan: an open randomized, non-inferiority, trial. Malar J, 9 (1), pp. 105. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Afghanistan's national guidelines recommend chloroquine for the treatment of Plasmodium vivax infection, the parasite responsible for the majority of its malaria burden. Chloroquine resistance in P. vivax is emerging in Asia. Therapeutic responses across Afghanistan have not been evaluated in detail. METHODS: Between July 2007 and February 2009, an open-label, randomized controlled trial of chloroquine and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine in patients aged three months and over with slide-confirmed P. vivax mono-infections was conducted. Consistent with current national guidelines, primaquine was not administered. Subjects were followed up daily during the acute phase of illness (days 0-3) and weekly until day 56. The primary endpoint was the overall cumulative parasitological failure rate at day 56 after the start of treatment, with the hypothesis being that dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine was non-inferior compared to chloroquine (Delta = 5% difference in proportion of failures). RESULTS: Of 2,182 individuals with positive blood films for P. vivax, 536 were enrolled in the trial. The day 28 cure rate was 100% in both treatment groups. Parasite clearance was more rapid with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine than chloroquine. At day 56, there were more recurrent infections in the chloroquine arm (8.9%, 95% CI 6.0-13.1%) than the dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine arm (2.8%, 95% CI 1.4-5.8%), a difference in cumulative recurrence rate of 6.1% (2-sided 90%CI +2.6 to +9.7%). The log-rank test comparing the survival curves confirmed the superiority of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine over chloroquine (p = 0.003). Multivariate analysis showed that a lower initial haemoglobin concentration was also independently associated with recurrence. Both regimens were well tolerated and no serious adverse events were reported. CONCLUSIONS: Chloroquine remains an efficacious treatment for the treatment of vivax malaria in Afghanistan. In a setting where radical therapy cannot be administered, dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine provides additional benefit in terms of post-treatment prophylaxis, reducing the incidence of recurrence from 4-8 weeks after treatment.

Choowongkomon K, Theppabutr S, Songtawee N, Day NP, White NJ, Woodrow CJ, Imwong M. 2010. Computational analysis of binding between malarial dihydrofolate reductases and anti-folates. Malar J, 9 (1), pp. 65. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum readily develops resistance to the anti-folates pyrimethamine and proguanil via a characteristic set of mutations in the dihydrofolate reductase (PfDHFR) gene that leads to reduced competitive drug binding at the enzyme's active site. Analogous mutations can be found in the DHFR gene in isolates of Plasmodium vivax (PvDHFR) although anti-folates have not been widely used for the treatment of this infection. Here the interactions between DHFR inhibitors and modelled structures of the DHFR enzymes of Plasmodium malariae (PmDHFR) and Plasmodium ovale (PoDHFR) are described, along with an investigation of the effect of recently reported mutations within PmDHFR. METHODS: DHFR models for PmDHFR and PoDHFR were constructed using the solved PfDHFR-TS and PvDHFR structures respectively as templates. The modelled structures were docked with three DHFR inhibitors as ligands and more detailed interactions were explored via simulation of molecular dynamics. RESULTS: Highly accurate models were obtained containing sets of residues that mediate ligand binding which are highly comparable to those mediating binding in known crystal structures. Within this set, there were differences in the relative contribution of individual residues to inhibitor binding. Modelling of PmDHFR mutant sequences revealed that PmDHFR I170M was associated with a significant reduction in binding energy to all DHFR inhibitors studied, while the other predicted resistance mutations had lesser or no effects on ligand binding. CONCLUSIONS: Binding of DHFR inhibitors to the active sites of all four Plasmodium enzymes is broadly similar, being determined by an analogous set of seven residues. PmDHFR mutations found in field isolates influenced inhibitor interactions to a varying extent. In the case of the isolated I170M mutation, the loss of interaction with pyrimethamine suggests that DHFR-inhibitor interactions in P. malariae are different to those seen for DHFRs from P. falciparum and P. vivax.

Maude RJ, Woodrow CJ, White LJ. 2010. Artemisinin Antimalarials: Preserving the "Magic Bullet" Drug Dev Res, 71 (1), pp. 12-19. | Show Abstract | Read more

The artemisinins are the most effective antimalarial drugs known. They possess a remarkably wide therapeutic index. These agents have been used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine for more than 2,000 years but were not subjected to scientific scrutiny until the 1970s. The first formal clinical trials of the artemisinins, and the development of methods for their industrial scale production, followed rapidly. A decade later, Chinese scientists shared their findings with the rest of the world; since then, a significant body of international trial evidence has confirmed these drugs to be far superior to any available alternatives. In particular, they have the ability to rapidly kill a broad range of asexual parasite stages at safe concentrations that are consistently achievable via standard dosing regimens. As their half-life is very short, there was also thought to be a low risk of resistance. These discoveries coincided with the appearance and spread of resistance to all the other major classes of antimalarials. As a result, the artemisinins now form an essential element of recommended first-line antimalarial treatment regimens worldwide. To minimize the risk of artemisinin resistance, they are recommended to be used to treat uncomplicated malaria in combination with other antimalarials as artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs). Their rollout has resulted in documented reductions in malaria prevalence in a number of African and Asian countries. Unfortunately, there are already worrisome early signs of artemisinin resistance appearing in western Cambodia. If this resistance were to spread, it would be disastrous for malaria control efforts worldwide. The enormous challenge for the international community is how to avert this catastrophe and preserve the effectiveness of this antimalarial "magic bullet". Drug Dev Res 71: 12-19, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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Scopus

Dondorp AM, Fanello CI, Hendriksen IC, Gomes E, Seni A, Chhaganlal KD, Bojang K, Olaosebikan R et al. 2010. Artesunate versus quinine in the treatment of severe falciparum malaria in African children (AQUAMAT): An open-label, randomised trial The Lancet, 376 (9753), pp. 1647-1657. | Show Abstract | Read more

Severe malaria is a major cause of childhood death and often the main reason for paediatric hospital admission in sub-Saharan Africa. Quinine is still the established treatment of choice, although evidence from Asia suggests that artesunate is associated with a lower mortality. We compared parenteral treatment with either artesunate or quinine in African children with severe malaria. This open-label, randomised trial was undertaken in 11 centres in nine African countries. Children (<15 years) with severe falciparum malaria were randomly assigned to parenteral artesunate or parenteral quinine. Randomisation was in blocks of 20, with study numbers corresponding to treatment allocations kept inside opaque sealed paper envelopes. The trial was open label at each site, and none of the investigators or trialists, apart from for the trial statistician, had access to the summaries of treatment allocations. The primary outcome measure was in-hospital mortality, analysed by intention to treat. This trial is registered, number ISRCTN50258054. 5425 children were enrolled; 2712 were assigned to artesunate and 2713 to quinine. All patients were analysed for the primary outcome. 230 (8·5) patients assigned to artesunate treatment died compared with 297 (10·9) assigned to quinine treatment (odds ratio [OR] stratified for study site 0·75, 95 CI 0·63-0·90; relative reduction 22·5, 95 CI 8·1-36·9; p=0·0022). Incidence of neurological sequelae did not differ significantly between groups, but the development of coma (65/1832 [3·5] with artesunate vs 91/1768 [5·1] with quinine; OR 0·69 95 CI 0·49-0·95; p=0·0231), convulsions (224/2712 [8·3] vs 273/2713 [10·1]; OR 0·80, 0·66-0·97; p=0·0199), and deterioration of the coma score (166/2712 [6·1] vs 208/2713 [7·7]; OR 0·78, 0·64-0·97; p=0·0245) were all significantly less frequent in artesunate recipients than in quinine recipients. Post-treatment hypoglycaemia was also less frequent in patients assigned to artesunate than in those assigned to quinine (48/2712 [1·8] vs 75/2713 [2·8]; OR 0·63, 0·43-0·91; p=0·0134). Artesunate was well tolerated, with no serious drug-related adverse effects. Artesunate substantially reduces mortality in African children with severe malaria. These data, together with a meta-analysis of all trials comparing artesunate and quinine, strongly suggest that parenteral artesunate should replace quinine as the treatment of choice for severe falciparum malaria worldwide. The Wellcome Trust. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Derbyshire ET, Franssen FJ, de Vries E, Morin C, Woodrow CJ, Krishna S, Staines HM. 2008. Identification, expression and characterisation of a Babesia bovis hexose transporter Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, 161 (2), pp. 124-129. | Read more

Jay A, Dhanda J, Chiodini PL, Woodrow CJ, Farthing PM, Evans J, Jager HR. 2007. Oral cysticercosis British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, 45 (4), pp. 331-334. | Read more

Woodrow CJ, Eziefula AC, Agranoff D, Scott GM, Watson J, Chiodini PL, Lockwood DNJ, Grant AD. 2007. Early risk assessment for viral haemorrhagic fever: Experience at the Hospital for tropical diseases, London, UK Journal of Infection, 54 (1), pp. 6-11. | Read more

Vera J, Hensiek A, Woodrow C, Crawley F, Krishna S. 2006. Ophthalmoplegia and Slurred Speech in an Intravenous Drug User PLoS Medicine, 3 (12), pp. e453-e453. | Read more

Woodrow CJ. 2005. Artemisinins Postgraduate Medical Journal, 81 (952), pp. 71-78. | Read more

Faust SN, Woodrow CJ, Patel S, Snape M, Chiodini PL, Tudor-Williams G, Hermione Lyall EG. 2004. Sleeping Sickness in Brothers in London The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, 23 (9), pp. 879-881. | Read more

Krishna S, Eckstein-Ludwig U, Joët T, Uhlemann A-C, Morin C, Webb R, Woodrow C, Kun JFJ, Kremsner PG. 2002. Transport processes in Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes: potential as new drug targets International Journal for Parasitology, 32 (13), pp. 1567-1573. | Read more

Manning SK, Woodrow C, Zuniga FA, Iserovich P, Fischbarg J, Louw AI, Krishna S. 2002. Mutational Analysis of the Hexose Transporter of Plasmodium falciparum and Development of a Three-dimensional Model Journal of Biological Chemistry, 277 (34), pp. 30942-30949. | Read more

Krishna S, Webb R, Woodrow C. 2001. Transport proteins of Plasmodium falciparum: defining the limits of metabolism International Journal for Parasitology, 31 (12), pp. 1331-1342. | Read more

Papadopoulos MC, Saadoun S, Woodrow CJ, Davies DC, Costa-Martins P, Moss RF, Krishna S, Bell BA. 2001. Occludin expression in microvessels of neoplastic and non-neoplastic human brain Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology, 27 (5), pp. 384-395. | Read more

Krishna S, Planche T, Agbenyega T, Woodrow C, Agranoff D, Bedu-Addo G, Owusu-Ofori AK, Appiah JA, Ramanathan S, Mansor SM, Navaratnam V. 2001. Bioavailability and Preliminary Clinical Efficacy of Intrarectal Artesunate in Ghanaian Children with Moderate Malaria Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 45 (2), pp. 509-516. | Read more

Krishna S, Woodrow CJ, Burchmore RJS, Saliba KJ, Kirk K. 2000. Hexose Transport in Asexual Stages of Plasmodium falciparum and Kinetoplastidae Parasitology Today, 16 (12), pp. 516-521. | Read more

Woodrow CJ, Burchmore RJ, Krishna S. 2000. Hexose permeation pathways in Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 97 (18), pp. 9931-9936. | Read more

Cowan G, Planche T, Agbenyega T, Bedu-Addo G, Owusu-Ofori A, Adebe-Appiah J, Agranoff D, Woodrow C, Castell L, Elford B, Krishna S. 1999. Plasma glutamine levels and falciparum malaria. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 93 (6), pp. 616-618. | Show Abstract | Read more

Glutamine deficiency is associated with increased rates of sepsis and mortality, which can be prevented by glutamine supplementation. Changes in glutamine concentration were examined in Ghanaian children with acute falciparum malaria and control cases. The mean (SD) plasma glutamine concentration was lower in patients with acute malaria (401 (82) mumol/L, n = 50) than in control patients (623 (67) mumol/L, n = 7; P < 0.001). Plasma glutamine concentrations all rose in convalescence. The mean (SD) increase in plasma glutamine was 202 (123) mumol/L (n = 18; P < 0.001) compared with acute infection. We conclude that acute falciparum malaria is associated with large decreases in plasma glutamine and these falls may increase susceptibility to sepsis and dyserythropoeisis.

Woodrow CJ, Penny JI, Krishna S. 1999. Intraerythrocytic Plasmodium falciparum Expresses a High Affinity Facilitative Hexose Transporter Journal of Biological Chemistry, 274 (11), pp. 7272-7277. | Read more

Daya H, Amedofu G, Woodrow CJ, Agranoff D, Brobby G, Agbenyega T, Krishna S. 1997. Assessment of cochlear damage after pneumococcal meningitis using otoacoustic emissions Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 91 (3), pp. 248-249. | Read more

Nosten F, Luxemburger C, ter Kuile FO, Woodrow C, Eh JP, Chongsuphajaisiddhi T, White NJ. 1994. Treatment of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria with 3-day artesunate-mefloquine combination. J Infect Dis, 170 (4), pp. 971-977. | Show Abstract | Read more

Studies of 652 adults and children with acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria were done to determine the optimum treatment of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria on the Thai-Burmese border. Single-dose artesunate (4 mg/kg) plus mefloquine (25 mg of base/kg) gave more rapid symptomatic and parasitologic responses than high-dose mefloquine alone but did not improve cure rates. Three days of artesunate (total dose, 10 mg/kg) plus mefloquine was 98% effective compared with a 28-day failure rate of 31% with high-dose mefloquine alone (relative risk [RR], 0.06; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.02-0.2; P < .0001). By day 63, the reinfection adjusted failure rates were 2% and 44%, respectively (P < .0001). Artesunate also prevented high-grade failures. Both drugs were well tolerated. No adverse effects were attributable to artesunate. Vomiting was reduced significantly by giving mefloquine on day 2 of treatment (RR, 0.40; 95% CI, 0.20-0.79; P = .009. Artesunate (10 mg/kg over 3 days) plus mefloquine (25 mg/kg) is currently the most effective treatment for falciparum malaria in this area of increasing mefloquine resistance.

Watkins WM, Woodrow C, Marsh K. 1993. Falciparum malaria: differential effects of antimalarial drugs on ex vivo parasite viability during the critical early phase of therapy. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 49 (1), pp. 106-112. | Show Abstract

A method of monitoring Plasmodium falciparum viability ex vivo was used to compare the ability of different antimalarial drugs to arrest the progression of young parasites to mature, potentially damaging stages. Neither pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine nor quinine, the treatment of choice for severe, life-threatening malaria, had a demonstrable effect on circulating parasites during the first 24 hr of therapy. In contrast, in vivo exposure to halofantrine for as little as six hours was sufficient to arrest parasite development. The method of assessing ex vivo parasite viability permits a comparison of antimalarial drug action at a time that may be critical for the therapy of life-threatening disease. If parenteral formulations of halofantrine prove to be safe and effective, they may have a role in the therapy of severe malaria.

Nosten F, ter Kuile FO, Luxemburger C, Woodrow C, Kyle DE, Chongsuphajaisiddhi T, White NJ. 1993. Cardiac effects of antimalarial treatment with halofantrine. Lancet, 341 (8852), pp. 1054-1056. | Show Abstract | Read more

In a prospective electrocardiographic study of Karen patients with acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria, mefloquine (25 mg/kg) had no cardiac effects (n = 53), but halofantrine (72 mg/kg) induced consistent dose-related lengthening of the PR and QT intervals in all 61 patients treated. The likelihood of significant QTc prolongation (by more than 25% or a QTc of 0.55 s1/2 or more) was greater after halofantrine as retreatment following mefloquine failure than as primary treatment (7/10 vs 18/51; relative risk 2.0 [95% Cl 1.1-3.4], p = 0.04). More than 60% of the effect occurred with three doses of halofantrine (24 mg/kg). The arrhythmogenic potential of halofantrine should now be investigated.

Woodrow CJ, White NJ. 2016. The clinical impact of artemisinin resistance in Southeast Asia and the potential for future spread. FEMS Microbiol Rev, | 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.

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

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

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

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

Ashley EA, Dhorda M, Fairhurst RM, Amaratunga C, Lim P, Suon S, Sreng S, Anderson JM et al. 2014. Spread of artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. N Engl J Med, 371 (5), pp. 411-423. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum has emerged in Southeast Asia and now poses a threat to the control and elimination of malaria. Mapping the geographic extent of resistance is essential for planning containment and elimination strategies. METHODS: Between May 2011 and April 2013, we enrolled 1241 adults and children with acute, uncomplicated falciparum malaria in an open-label trial at 15 sites in 10 countries (7 in Asia and 3 in Africa). Patients received artesunate, administered orally at a daily dose of either 2 mg per kilogram of body weight per day or 4 mg per kilogram, for 3 days, followed by a standard 3-day course of artemisinin-based combination therapy. Parasite counts in peripheral-blood samples were measured every 6 hours, and the parasite clearance half-lives were determined. RESULTS: The median parasite clearance half-lives ranged from 1.9 hours in the Democratic Republic of Congo to 7.0 hours at the Thailand-Cambodia border. Slowly clearing infections (parasite clearance half-life >5 hours), strongly associated with single point mutations in the "propeller" region of the P. falciparum kelch protein gene on chromosome 13 (kelch13), were detected throughout mainland Southeast Asia from southern Vietnam to central Myanmar. The incidence of pretreatment and post-treatment gametocytemia was higher among patients with slow parasite clearance, suggesting greater potential for transmission. In western Cambodia, where artemisinin-based combination therapies are failing, the 6-day course of antimalarial therapy was associated with a cure rate of 97.7% (95% confidence interval, 90.9 to 99.4) at 42 days. CONCLUSIONS: Artemisinin resistance to P. falciparum, which is now prevalent across mainland Southeast Asia, is associated with mutations in kelch13. Prolonged courses of artemisinin-based combination therapies are currently efficacious in areas where standard 3-day treatments are failing. (Funded by the U.K. Department of International Development and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01350856.).

Jamornthanyawat N, Awab GR, Tanomsing N, Pukrittayakamee S, Yamin F, Dondorp AM, Day NP, White NJ, Woodrow CJ, Imwong M. 2014. A population survey of the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) 563C>T (Mediterranean) mutation in Afghanistan. PLoS One, 9 (2), pp. e88605. | Show Abstract | Read more

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is a common inherited enzyme defect and an important problem in areas with Plasmodium vivax infection because of the risk of haemolysis following administration of primaquine to treat the liver forms of the parasite. We undertook a genotypic survey of 713 male individuals across nine provinces of Afghanistan in which malaria is found, four in the north and five in the east. RFLP typing at nucleotide position 563 detected 40 individuals with the Mediterranean mutation 563C>T, an overall prevalence of 5.6%. This varied according to self-reported ethnicity, with prevalence in the Pashtun/Pashai group of 33/369 (8.9%) compared to 7/344 individuals in the rest of the population (2.0%; p<0.001, Chi-squared test). Multivariate analysis of ethnicity and geographical location indicated an adjusted odds ratio of 3.50 (95% CI 1.36-9.02) for the Pashtun/Pashai group, while location showed only a trend towards higher prevalence in eastern provinces (adjusted odds ratio = 1.73, 0.73-4.13). Testing of known polymorphic markers (1311C>T in exon 11, and C93T in intron XI) in a subset of 82 individuals wild-type at C563 revealed a mixture of 3 haplotypes in the background population and was consistent with data from the 1000 Genomes Project and published studies. By comparison individuals with G6PD deficiency showed a highly skewed haplotype distribution, with 95% showing the CT haplotype, a finding consistent with relatively recent appearance and positive selection of the Mediterranean variant in Afghanistan. Overall, the data confirm that the Mediterranean variant of G6PD is common in many ethnic groups in Afghanistan, indicating that screening for G6PD deficiency is required in all individuals before radical treatment of P. vivax with primaquine.

Woodrow CJ, Dahlström S, Cooksey R, Flegg JA, Le Nagard H, Mentré F, Murillo C, Ménard D et al. 2013. High-throughput analysis of antimalarial susceptibility data by the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) in vitro analysis and reporting tool. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 57 (7), pp. 3121-3130. | Show Abstract | Read more

Assessment of in vitro susceptibility is a fundamental component of antimalarial surveillance studies, but wide variations in the measurement of parasite growth and the calculation of inhibitory constants make comparisons of data from different laboratories difficult. Here we describe a Web-based, high-throughput in vitro analysis and reporting tool (IVART) generating inhibitory constants for large data sets. Fourteen primary data sets examining laboratory-determined susceptibility to artemisinin derivatives and artemisinin combination therapy partner drugs were collated from 11 laboratories. Drug concentrations associated with half-maximal inhibition of growth (IC50s) were determined by a modified sigmoid Emax model-fitting algorithm, allowing standardized analysis of 7,350 concentration-inhibition assays involving 1,592 isolates. Examination of concentration-inhibition data revealed evidence of apparent paradoxical growth at high concentrations of nonartemisinin drugs, supporting amendment of the method for calculating the maximal drug effect in each assay. Criteria for defining more-reliable IC50s based on estimated confidence intervals and growth ratios improved correlation coefficients for the drug pairs mefloquine-quinine and chloroquine-desethylamodiaquine in 9 of 11 and 8 of 8 data sets, respectively. Further analysis showed that maximal drug inhibition was higher for artemisinins than for other drugs, particularly in ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay)-based assays, a finding consistent with the earlier onset of action of these drugs in the parasite life cycle. This is the first high-throughput analytical approach to apply consistent constraints and reliability criteria to large, diverse antimalarial susceptibility data sets. The data also illustrate the distinct biological properties of artemisinins and underline the need to apply more sensitive approaches to assessing in vitro susceptibility to these drugs.

Hendriksen IC, Mwanga-Amumpaire J, von Seidlein L, Mtove G, White LJ, Olaosebikan R, Lee SJ, Tshefu AK et al. 2012. Diagnosing severe falciparum malaria in parasitaemic African children: a prospective evaluation of plasma PfHRP2 measurement. PLoS Med, 9 (8), pp. e1001297. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In African children, distinguishing severe falciparum malaria from other severe febrile illnesses with coincidental Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia is a major challenge. P. falciparum histidine-rich protein 2 (PfHRP2) is released by mature sequestered parasites and can be used to estimate the total parasite burden. We investigated the prognostic significance of plasma PfHRP2 and used it to estimate the malaria-attributable fraction in African children diagnosed with severe malaria. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Admission plasma PfHRP2 was measured prospectively in African children (from Mozambique, The Gambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo) aged 1 month to 15 years with severe febrile illness and a positive P. falciparum lactate dehydrogenase (pLDH)-based rapid test in a clinical trial comparing parenteral artesunate versus quinine (the AQUAMAT trial, ISRCTN 50258054). In 3,826 severely ill children, Plasmadium falciparum PfHRP2 was higher in patients with coma (p = 0.0209), acidosis (p<0.0001), and severe anaemia (p<0.0001). Admission geometric mean (95%CI) plasma PfHRP2 was 1,611 (1,350-1,922) ng/mL in fatal cases (n = 381) versus 1,046 (991-1,104) ng/mL in survivors (n = 3,445, p<0.0001), without differences in parasitaemia as assessed by microscopy. There was a U-shaped association between log(10) plasma PfHRP2 and risk of death. Mortality increased 20% per log(10) increase in PfHRP2 above 174 ng/mL (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.21, 95%CI 1.05-1.39, p = 0.009). A mechanistic model assuming a PfHRP2-independent risk of death in non-malaria illness closely fitted the observed data and showed malaria-attributable mortality less than 50% with plasma PfHRP2≤174 ng/mL. The odds ratio (OR) for death in artesunate versus quinine-treated patients was 0.61 (95%CI 0.44-0.83, p = 0.0018) in the highest PfHRP2 tertile, whereas there was no difference in the lowest tertile (OR 1.05; 95%CI 0.69-1.61; p = 0.82). A limitation of the study is that some conclusions are drawn from a mechanistic model, which is inherently dependent on certain assumptions. However, a sensitivity analysis of the model indicated that the results were robust to a plausible range of parameter estimates. Further studies are needed to validate our findings. CONCLUSIONS: Plasma PfHRP2 has prognostic significance in African children with severe falciparum malaria and provides a tool to stratify the risk of "true" severe malaria-attributable disease as opposed to other severe illnesses in parasitaemic African children.

Gardner KB, Sinha I, Bustamante LY, Day NPJ, White NJ, Woodrow CJ. 2011. Protein-based signatures of functional evolution in Plasmodium falciparum BMC Evolutionary Biology, 11 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Abstract. Background: It has been known for over a decade that Plasmodium falciparum proteins are enriched in non-globular domains of unknown function. The potential for these regions of protein sequence to undergo high levels of genetic drift provides a fundamental challenge to attempts to identify the molecular basis of adaptive change in malaria parasites. Results: Evolutionary comparisons were undertaken using a set of forty P. falciparum metabolic enzyme genes, both within the hominid malaria clade (P. reichenowi) and across the genus (P. chabaudi). All genes contained coding elements highly conserved across the genus, but there were also a large number of regions of weakly or non-aligning coding sequence. These displayed remarkable levels of non-synonymous fixed differences within the hominid malaria clade indicating near complete release from purifying selection (dN/dS ratio at residues non-aligning across genus: 0.64, dN/dS ratio at residues identical across genus: 0.03). Regions of low conservation also possessed high levels of hydrophilicity, a marker of non-globularity. The propensity for such regions to act as potent sources of non-synonymous genetic drift within extant P. falciparum isolates was confirmed at chromosomal regions containing genes known to mediate drug resistance in field isolates, where 150 of 153 amino acid variants were located in poorly conserved regions. In contrast, all 22 amino acid variants associated with drug resistance were restricted to highly conserved regions. Additional mutations associated with laboratory-selected drug resistance, such as those in PfATPase4 selected by spiroindolone, were similarly restricted while mutations in another calcium ATPase (PfSERCA, a gene proposed to mediate artemisinin resistance) that reach significant frequencies in field isolates were located exclusively in poorly conserved regions consistent with genetic drift. Conclusion: Coding sequences of malaria parasites contain prospectively definable domains subject to neutral or nearly neutral evolution on a scale that appears unrivalled in biology. This distinct evolutionary landscape has potential to confound analytical methods developed for other genera. Against this tide of genetic drift, polymorphisms mediating functional change stand out to such an extent that evolutionary context provides a useful signal for identifying the molecular basis of drug resistance in malaria parasites, a finding that is of relevance to both genome-wide and candidate gene studies in this genus. © 2011 Gardner et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Woodrow CJ, Bustamante LY. 2011. Mechanisms of artemisinin action and resistance: wider focus is needed. Trends Parasitol, 27 (1), pp. 2-3. | Read more

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Dondorp AM, Fanello CI, Hendriksen IC, Gomes E, Seni A, Chhaganlal KD, Bojang K, Olaosebikan R et al. 2010. Artesunate versus quinine in the treatment of severe falciparum malaria in African children (AQUAMAT): An open-label, randomised trial The Lancet, 376 (9753), pp. 1647-1657. | Show Abstract | Read more

Severe malaria is a major cause of childhood death and often the main reason for paediatric hospital admission in sub-Saharan Africa. Quinine is still the established treatment of choice, although evidence from Asia suggests that artesunate is associated with a lower mortality. We compared parenteral treatment with either artesunate or quinine in African children with severe malaria. This open-label, randomised trial was undertaken in 11 centres in nine African countries. Children (<15 years) with severe falciparum malaria were randomly assigned to parenteral artesunate or parenteral quinine. Randomisation was in blocks of 20, with study numbers corresponding to treatment allocations kept inside opaque sealed paper envelopes. The trial was open label at each site, and none of the investigators or trialists, apart from for the trial statistician, had access to the summaries of treatment allocations. The primary outcome measure was in-hospital mortality, analysed by intention to treat. This trial is registered, number ISRCTN50258054. 5425 children were enrolled; 2712 were assigned to artesunate and 2713 to quinine. All patients were analysed for the primary outcome. 230 (8·5) patients assigned to artesunate treatment died compared with 297 (10·9) assigned to quinine treatment (odds ratio [OR] stratified for study site 0·75, 95 CI 0·63-0·90; relative reduction 22·5, 95 CI 8·1-36·9; p=0·0022). Incidence of neurological sequelae did not differ significantly between groups, but the development of coma (65/1832 [3·5] with artesunate vs 91/1768 [5·1] with quinine; OR 0·69 95 CI 0·49-0·95; p=0·0231), convulsions (224/2712 [8·3] vs 273/2713 [10·1]; OR 0·80, 0·66-0·97; p=0·0199), and deterioration of the coma score (166/2712 [6·1] vs 208/2713 [7·7]; OR 0·78, 0·64-0·97; p=0·0245) were all significantly less frequent in artesunate recipients than in quinine recipients. Post-treatment hypoglycaemia was also less frequent in patients assigned to artesunate than in those assigned to quinine (48/2712 [1·8] vs 75/2713 [2·8]; OR 0·63, 0·43-0·91; p=0·0134). Artesunate was well tolerated, with no serious drug-related adverse effects. Artesunate substantially reduces mortality in African children with severe malaria. These data, together with a meta-analysis of all trials comparing artesunate and quinine, strongly suggest that parenteral artesunate should replace quinine as the treatment of choice for severe falciparum malaria worldwide. The Wellcome Trust. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

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