Assistant Professor Wirichada Pan-ngum

Research Area: Bioinformatics & Stats (inc. Modelling and Computational Biology)
Technology Exchange: Computational biology and Medical statistics
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health
Keywords: Mathematical modelling, Biostatistics and Epidemiology
Leptospirosis in Thailand

Leptospirosis in Thailand

Field work in the northeast of Thailand

Field work in the northeast of Thailand

Field survey on mixing contact pattern in migrant worker, Thailand

Field survey on mixing contact pattern in migrant worker, Thailand

Wirichada Pan-Ngum’s research mainly involves using a mixed approach including modelling and field surveys to gain better understanding of transmission routes of zoonotic diseases and the Human-Animal-Ecosystems interface. Her current work focuses on leptospirosis, one of many long-term health problems for agricultural workers in Thailand. Her model explores the importance of these environmental factors as well as the risk of disease exposure during traditional rice farming activities in relation to the incidence of human leptospirosis. Her other research interests include dengue, human contact patterns and population dynamics for infectious disease modelling.

In addition to her work at MORU, Wirichada is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Tropical Hygiene, Faculty of Tropical Medicine at Mahidol University. She teaches biostatistics and mathematical modelling. In addition, she serves as a project advisor for postgraduates on the Tropical Medicine and Biomedical and Health Informatics courses.

Name Department Institution Country
Graham Medley London United Kingdom
Phakhounthong K, Chaovalit P, Jittamala P, Blacksell SD, Carter MJ, Turner P, Chheng K, Sona S, Kumar V, Day NPJ et al. 2018. Predicting the severity of dengue fever in children on admission based on clinical features and laboratory indicators: application of classification tree analysis. BMC Pediatr, 18 (1), pp. 109. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Dengue fever is a re-emerging viral disease commonly occurring in tropical and subtropical areas. The clinical features and abnormal laboratory test results of dengue infection are similar to those of other febrile illnesses; hence, its accurate and timely diagnosis for providing appropriate treatment is difficult. Delayed diagnosis may be associated with inappropriate treatment and higher risk of death. Early and correct diagnosis can help improve case management and optimise the use of resources such as hospital staff, beds, and intensive care equipment. The goal of this study was to develop a predictive model to characterise dengue severity based on early clinical and laboratory indicators using data mining and statistical tools. METHODS: We retrieved data from a study of febrile illness in children at Angkor Hospital for Children, Cambodia. Of 1225 febrile episodes recorded, 198 patients were confirmed to have dengue. A classification and regression tree (CART) was used to construct a predictive decision tree for severe dengue, while logistic regression analysis was used to independently quantify the significance of each parameter in the decision tree. RESULTS: A decision tree algorithm using haematocrit, Glasgow Coma Score, urine protein, creatinine, and platelet count predicted severe dengue with a sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of 60.5%, 65% and 64.1%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The decision tree we describe, using five simple clinical and laboratory indicators, can be used to predict severe cases of dengue among paediatric patients on admission. This algorithm is potentially useful for guiding a patient-monitoring plan and outpatient management of fever in resource-poor settings.

Thu SWYM, Kijsanayotin B, Kaewkungwal J, Soonthornworasiri N, Pan-Ngum W. 2017. Satisfaction with Paper-Based Dental Records and Perception of Electronic Dental Records among Dental Professionals in Myanmar. Healthc Inform Res, 23 (4), pp. 304-313. | Show Abstract | Read more

Objectives: To overcome challenges in the implementation of electronic dental record systems in a low-resource setting, it is crucial to know the level of users' satisfaction with the existing system of paper-based dental records and their perceptions of electronic dental records. Methods: A cross-sectional paper-based questionnaire survey was conducted among Myanmar dental professionals who worked in one of two teaching hospitals or in private dental clinics. Descriptive data were analyzed and regression analysis was carried out to identify factors influencing perceptions of electronic dental records. Results: Most dental professionals (>60%) were satisfied with just three out of six aspects of paper-based dental records (familiarity, flexibility, and portability). In addition, generalized positive perceptions were found among decision makers towards electronic dental records, and 86% of dentists indicated that they were willing to use them. Financial concerns were identified as the most important barrier to the implementation of electronic dental records among dentists who were not willing to use the proposed system. Conclusions: The first step towards implementing electronic dental records in Myanmar should be improvement of the content and structure of paper-based dental records, especially in private dental clinics. Utilization of appropriate open-source electronic dental record software in private dental clinics is recommended to address perceived issues around financial barriers. For the long term, we recommend providing further education and training in health informatics to healthcare professionals to facilitate the efficient use of electronic dental record software in Myanmar in the future.

Chaiteerakij R, Pan-Ngum W, Poovorawan K, Soonthornworasiri N, Treeprasertsuk S, Phaosawasdi K. 2017. Characteristics and outcomes of cholangiocarcinoma by region in Thailand: A nationwide study. World J Gastroenterol, 23 (39), pp. 7160-7167. | Show Abstract | Read more

AIM: To identify the potential risk factors of cholangiocarcinoma, we determined the characteristics of cholangiocarcinoma patients among 5 different regions of Thailand. METHODS: All patients diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma between 2008 and 2013 were identified using the Nationwide Hospital Admission Data registry (n = 39421). Baseline characteristics, comorbidities and survival were abstracted. RESULTS: The annual incidence during the study period was stable in all regions. Most patients lived in the Northeast (62.8%), followed by the North (16.9%), Central (12.3%), Bangkok (5.4%), and South (n = 2.6%) regions (P < 0.0001). Significantly more cholangiocarcinoma patients had diabetes, cirrhosis, and chronic viral hepatitis B/C infection than non-cholangiocarcinoma participants (diabetes: 11.42% vs 5.28%; cirrhosis: 4.81% vs 0.92%; hepatitis B: 0.74% vs 0.12%; and hepatitis C: 0.50% vs 0.10%, P < 0.0001 for all, respectively). The overall 1-year mortality rate was 81.7%, with a stable trend over time. CONCLUSION: Diabetes and chronic liver diseases may be associated with cholangiocarcinoma in the Thai population.

Charatcharoenwitthaya P, Soonthornworasiri N, Karaketklang K, Poovorawan K, Pan-Ngum W, Chotiyaputta W, Tanwandee T, Phaosawasdi K. 2017. Factors affecting mortality and resource use for hospitalized patients with cirrhosis: A population-based study. Medicine (Baltimore), 96 (32), pp. e7782. | Show Abstract | Read more

Hospitalizations for advanced liver disease are costly and associated with significant mortality. This population-based study aimed to evaluate factors associated with in-hospital mortality and resource use for the management of hospitalized patients with cirrhosis.Mortality records and resource utilization for 52,027 patients hospitalized with cirrhosis and/or complications of portal hypertension (ascites, hepatic encephalopathy, variceal bleeding, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, or hepatorenal syndrome) were extracted from a nationally representative sample of Thai inpatients covered by Universal Coverage Scheme during 2009 to 2013.The rate of dying in the hospital increased steadily by 12% from 9.6% in 2009 to 10.8% in 2013 (P < .001). Complications of portal hypertension were independently associated with increased in-hospital mortality except for ascites. The highest independent risk for hospital death was seen with hepatorenal syndrome (odds ratio [OR], 5.04; 95% confidence interval [CI], 4.38-5.79). Mortality rate remained high in patients with infection, particularly septicemia (OR, 4.26; 95% CI, 4.0-4.54) and pneumonia (OR, 2.44; 95% CI, 2.18-2.73). Receiving upper endoscopy (OR, 0.29; 95% CI, 0.27-0.32) and paracentesis (OR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.87-1.00) were associated with improved patient survival. The inflation-adjusted national annual costs (P = .06) and total hospital days (P = .07) for cirrhosis showed a trend toward increasing during the 5-year period. Renal dysfunction, infection, and sequelae of portal hypertension except for ascites were independently associated with increased resource utilization.Renal dysfunction, infection, and portal hypertension-related complications are the main factors affecting in-hospital mortality and resource utilization for hospitalized patients with cirrhosis. The early intervention for modifiable factors is an important step toward improving hospital outcomes.

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

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

Sobhonslidsuk A, Poovorawan K, Soonthornworasiri N, Pan-Ngum W, Phaosawasdi K. 2016. The incidence, presentation, outcomes, risk of mortality and economic data of drug-induced liver injury from a national database in Thailand: a population-base study. BMC Gastroenterol, 16 (1), pp. 135. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Toxic liver diseases are mainly caused by drug-induced liver injury (DILI). We assessed incidences and outcomes of DILI including associated factors for mortality. METHODS: We performed a population-based study of hospitalized patients with DILI. Information was retrieved from the Nationwide Hospital Admission Data using ICD-10 code of toxic liver diseases (K71) and additional codes (T36-T65). The associated factors were analyzed with log-rank test, univariate and multiple cox regression analysis. RESULTS: During 2009-2013, a total of 159,061 (average 21,165 per year) admissions were related to liver diseases. 6,516 admissions (1,303 per year) were due to toxic liver diseases. The most common type of toxic liver disease was acute hepatitis (33.5 %). In-hospital and 90-day mortality rates were 3.4 % and 17.2 %. DILI with cirrhosis yielded the highest in-hospital and 90-day mortality rates (15.8 % and 47.4 %). Acetaminophen, cirrhosis and age ≥ 60 years were seen in 0.5 %, 8.3 % and 50.1 % of patients who died versus 5 %, 2.3 % and 32.4 % of survivors. Factors associated with mortality were cirrhosis (HR 2.72, 95 % CI: 2.33-3.19), age ≥60 years (HR 2.16, 95 % CI: 1.96-2.38), human immunodeficiency viral infection (HR 2.11, 95 % CI: 1.88-2.36), chronic kidney disease (HR 1.59, 95 % CI: 1.33-1.90), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchiectasis (HR 1.55, 95 % CI: 1.17-2.04), malnutrition (HR 1.43, 95 % CI: 1.10-1.86) and male (HR 1.31, 95 % CI: 1.21-1.43). Acetaminophen DILI yielded lower risks of mortality (HR 0.24, 95 % CI: 0.13-0.42). The most common causes of DILI were acetaminophen (35.0 %) and anti-tuberculous drugs (34.7 %). CONCLUSIONS: DILI is an uncommon indication for hospitalization carrying lower risks of death except in patients with non-acetaminophen, cirrhosis, elderly or concomitant diseases.

Poovorawan K, Pan-Ngum W, White LJ, Soonthornworasiri N, Wilairatana P, Wasitthankasem R, Tangkijvanich P, Poovorawan Y. 2016. Estimating the Impact of Expanding Treatment Coverage and Allocation Strategies for Chronic Hepatitis C in a Direct Antiviral Agent Era. PLoS One, 11 (9), pp. e0163095. | Show Abstract | Read more

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is an important worldwide public health problem, and most of the global HCV burden is in low- to middle-income countries. This study aimed to estimate the future burden of chronic hepatitis C (CHC) and the impact of public health policies using novel antiviral agents in Thailand. A mathematical model of CHC transmission dynamics was constructed to examine the disease burden over the next 20 years using different treatment strategies. We compared and evaluated the current treatment (PEGylated interferon and ribavirin) with new treatments using novel direct-acting antiviral agents among various treatment policies. Thailand's CHC prevalence was estimated to decrease 1.09%-0.19% in 2015-2035. Expanding treatment coverage (i.e., a five-fold increment in treatment accessibility) was estimated to decrease cumulative deaths (33,007 deaths avoided, 25.5% reduction) from CHC-related decompensated cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The yearly incidence of HCC-associated HCV was estimated to decrease from 2,305 to 1,877 cases yearly with expanding treatment coverage. A generalized treatment scenario (i.e., an equal proportional distribution of available treatment to individuals at all disease stages according to the number of cases at each stage) was predicted to further reduce death from HCC (9,170 deaths avoided, 11.3% reduction) and the annual incidence of HCC (i.e., a further decrease from 1,877 to 1,168 cases yearly, 37.7% reduction), but cumulative deaths were predicted to increase (by 3,626 deaths, 3.7% increase). Based on the extensive coverage scenario and the generalized treatment scenario, we estimated near-zero death from decompensated cirrhosis in 2031. In conclusion, CHC-related morbidity and mortality in Thailand are estimated to decrease dramatically over the next 20 years. Treatment coverage and allocation strategies are important factors that affect the future burden of CHC in resource-limited countries like Thailand.

Poovorawan K, Pan-Ngum W, Soonthornworasiri N, Kulrat C, Kittitrakul C, Wilairatana P, Treeprasertsuk S, Kitsahawong B, Phaosawasdi K. 2016. Burden of Liver Abscess and Survival Risk Score in Thailand: A Population-Based Study. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 95 (3), pp. 683-688. | Show Abstract | Read more

In Thailand, the burden of liver abscess, a life-threatening infectious disease, has not been thoroughly evaluated. We developed a predictive scoring system to estimate survival of patients with liver abscess using information from the 2008-2013 Nationwide Hospital Admission Data to evaluate the burden of liver abscess in Thailand. All patients with primary diagnosis of pyogenic liver abscess (PLA) and amoebic liver abscess (ALA) were included. Epidemiological data, baseline characteristics, hospital course, and survival were analyzed. Overall, 11,296 admissions comprising 8,423 patients from 844 hospitals across Thailand were eligible for analysis. The mean age was 52 ± 17 years and 66.1% of patients were male. ALA was significantly prevalent in southern and western border regions of Thailand, and PLA occurred nationwide. The highest incidence of liver abscess occurred in the rainy season (June-November, P < 0.01). The median length of hospital stay was 8 days (interquartile range = 4-13 days), and mean direct cost of hospitalization was 846 ± 1,574 USD. The overall inhospital mortality rate was 2.8%. Incidence of ALA decreased over the 5-year study period, whereas PLA incidence increased (P < 0.01). Using multivariable Cox regression methods with stepwise variable selection, we developed a final model with five highly significant baseline parameters associated with increased 60-day mortality: older age, PLA, underlying chronic kidney disease, cirrhosis, and human immunodeficiency virus infection. Range of estimated probability of 60-day survival was 95-16% at cumulative risk score 0-13. This simplified score is practical, and may help clinicians prioritize patients requiring more intensive care.

Dway NS, Soonthornworasiri N, Jandee K, Lawpoolsri S, Pan-Ngum W, Sinthuvanich D, Kaewkungwal J. 2016. Effects of edutainment on knowledge and perceptions of Lisu mothers about the immunisation of their children Health Education Journal, 75 (2), pp. 131-143. | Show Abstract | Read more

© Health Education Journal. Objective: This study assessed the immediate effects of edutainment modules on changes in knowledge and perceptions towards the Expanded Programme for Immunisation (EPI) among an under served minority (Lisu) population. Method: An edutainment module was developed on mobile tablets for use by village health volunteers. As the study was conducted among a vulnerable population in a low-resource setting, it was designed as a simple pre-post assessment without a comparison group. Results: Participating Lisu mothers accepted and understood the edutainment module, and the intervention appears to have successfully improved their knowledge and perceptions of EPI. Tests showed a significant immediate improvement in knowledge, and an increasing proportion of participants reported having positive perceptions of the EPI process. The edutainment module may be an effective tool for highlighting the importance of appropriate practices and addressing misconceptions. Conclusion: The edutainment modules were considered user-friendly and attractive health-promotion tools by both health-care providers and villagers. This initiative's effect on knowledge and perceptions towards child immunisation programmes among this group showed the positive potential of using modern technology when approaching hard-to-reach, under-vaccinated populations.

Thit WM, Kaewkungwal J, Soonthornworasiri N, Theera-Ampornpunt N, Kijsanayotin B, Lawpoolsri S, Naing S, Pan-Ngum W. 2016. Electronic medical records in Myanmar: User perceptions at marie stopes international clinics in Myanmar Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health, 47 (4), pp. 799-809. | Show Abstract

© 2016, SEAMEO TROPMED Network. All rights reserved. Using paper-based records to store patient data is common in a developing country like Myanmar. Implementing electronic medical records (EMR) can have a significant impact on the efficiency and quality of patient care. In this paper, potential users’ perceptions around an EMR system was obtained via qualitative interviews conducted with clinic staff from a non-governmental healthcare provider, Marie Stopes International Myanmar (MSI-M). Users’ prospective concerns included the extra workload and training required during the transition stage, accessibility and confidentiality of data held under the new system, and the provision of technical support and the suitability of current infrastructure. Generally, respondents regarded EMR favorably, with expectations of knowledge gains from training, and for facilitating their routine work when accessing, retrieving, and reviewing patient data. The findings represent the perceptions and acceptability relating to EMR by clinic staff in an international non-governmental organization operating in Myanmar.

Lubell Y, Althaus T, Blacksell SD, Paris DH, Mayxay M, Pan-Ngum W, White LJ, Day NPJ, Newton PN. 2016. Modelling the Impact and Cost-Effectiveness of Biomarker Tests as Compared with Pathogen-Specific Diagnostics in the Management of Undifferentiated Fever in Remote Tropical Settings. PLoS One, 11 (3), pp. e0152420. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria accounts for a small fraction of febrile cases in increasingly large areas of the malaria endemic world. Point-of-care tests to improve the management of non-malarial fevers appropriate for primary care are few, consisting of either diagnostic tests for specific pathogens or testing for biomarkers of host response that indicate whether antibiotics might be required. The impact and cost-effectiveness of these approaches are relatively unexplored and methods to do so are not well-developed. METHODS: We model the ability of dengue and scrub typhus rapid tests to inform antibiotic treatment, as compared with testing for elevated C-Reactive Protein (CRP), a biomarker of host-inflammation. Using data on causes of fever in rural Laos, we estimate the proportion of outpatients that would be correctly classified as requiring an antibiotic and the likely cost-effectiveness of the approaches. RESULTS: Use of either pathogen-specific test slightly increased the proportion of patients correctly classified as requiring antibiotics. CRP testing was consistently superior to the pathogen-specific tests, despite heterogeneity in causes of fever. All testing strategies are likely to result in higher average costs, but only the scrub typhus and CRP tests are likely to be cost-effective when considering direct health benefits, with median cost per disability adjusted life year averted of approximately $48 USD and $94 USD, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Testing for viral infections is unlikely to be cost-effective when considering only direct health benefits to patients. Testing for prevalent bacterial pathogens can be cost-effective, having the benefit of informing not only whether treatment is required, but also as to the most appropriate antibiotic; this advantage, however, varies widely in response to heterogeneity in causes of fever. Testing for biomarkers of host inflammation is likely to be consistently cost-effective despite high heterogeneity, and can also offer substantial reductions in over-use of antimicrobials in viral infections.

Vorasan N, Pan-Ngum W, Jittamala P, Maneeboonyang W, Rukmanee P, Lawpoolsri S. 2015. Long-term impact of childhood malaria infection on school performance among school children in a malaria endemic area along the Thai-Myanmar border. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 401. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Children represent a high-risk group for malaria worldwide. Among people in Thailand who have malaria during childhood, some may have multiple malaria attacks during their lifetime. Malaria may affect neurological cognition in children, resulting in short-term impairment of memory and language functions. However, little is known regarding the long-term effects of malaria infection on cognitive function. This study examines the long-term impact of malaria infection on school performance among school children living in a malaria-endemic area along the Thai-Myanmar border. METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was conducted among school children aged 6-17 years in a primary-secondary school of a sub-district of Ratchaburi Province, Thailand. History of childhood malaria infection was obtained from the medical records of the sole malaria clinic in the area. School performance was assessed by using scores for the subjects Thai Language and Mathematics in 2014. Other variables, such as demographic characteristics, perinatal history, nutritional status, and emotional intelligence, were also documented. RESULTS: A total of 457 students were included, 135 (30 %) of whom had a history of uncomplicated malaria infection. About half of the malaria-infected children had suffered infection before the age of four years. The mean scores for both Mathematics and Thai Language decreased in relation to the increasing number of malaria attacks. Most students had their last malaria episode more than two years previously. The mean scores were not associated with duration since the last malaria attack. The association between malaria infection and school performance was not significant after adjusting for potential confounders, including gender, school absenteeism over a semester term, and emotional intelligence. CONCLUSIONS: This study characterizes the long-term consequences of uncomplicated malaria disease during childhood. School performance was not associated with a history of malaria infection, considering that most students had their last malaria infection more than two years previously. These findings indicate that the impact of uncomplicated malaria infection on school performance may not be prolonged.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Punyadee N, Mairiang D, Thiemmeca S, Komoltri C, Pan-Ngum W, Chomanee N, Charngkaew K, Tangthawornchaikul N, Limpitikul W, Vasanawathana S et al. 2015. Microparticles provide a novel biomarker to predict severe clinical outcomes of dengue virus infection. J Virol, 89 (3), pp. 1587-1607. | Show Abstract | Read more

UNLABELLED: Shedding of microparticles (MPs) is a consequence of apoptotic cell death and cellular activation. Low levels of circulating MPs in blood help maintain homeostasis, whereas increased MP generation is linked to many pathological conditions. Herein, we investigated the role of MPs in dengue virus (DENV) infection. Infection of various susceptible cells by DENV led to apoptotic death and MP release. These MPs harbored a viral envelope protein and a nonstructural protein 1 (NS1) on their surfaces. Ex vivo analysis of clinical specimens from patients with infections of different degrees of severity at multiple time points revealed that MPs generated from erythrocytes and platelets are two major MP populations in the circulation of DENV-infected patients. Elevated levels of red blood cell-derived MPs (RMPs) directly correlated with DENV disease severity, whereas a significant decrease in platelet-derived MPs was associated with a bleeding tendency. Removal by mononuclear cells of complement-opsonized NS1-anti-NS1 immune complexes bound to erythrocytes via complement receptor type 1 triggered MP shedding in vitro, a process that could explain the increased levels of RMPs in severe dengue. These findings point to the multiple roles of MPs in dengue pathogenesis. They offer a potential novel biomarker candidate capable of differentiating dengue fever from the more serious dengue hemorrhagic fever. IMPORTANCE: Dengue is the most important mosquito-transmitted viral disease in the world. No vaccines or specific treatments are available. Rapid diagnosis and immediate treatment are the keys to achieve a positive outcome. Dengue virus (DENV) infection, like some other medical conditions, changes the level and composition of microparticles (MPs), tiny bag-like structures which are normally present at low levels in the blood of healthy individuals. This study investigated how MPs in culture and patients' blood are changed in response to DENV infection. Infection of cells led to programmed cell death and MP release. In patients' blood, the majority of MPs originated from red blood cells and platelets. Decreased platelet-derived MPs were associated with a bleeding tendency, while increased levels of red blood cell-derived MPs (RMPs) correlated with more severe disease. Importantly, the level of RMPs during the early acute phase could serve as a biomarker to identify patients with potentially severe disease who require immediate care.

Rukmanee N, Yimsamran S, Rukmanee P, Thanyavanich N, Maneeboonyang W, Puangsa-art S, Wuthisen P, Lawpoolsri S, Prommongkol S, Chaimoongkun W, Pan-ngum W. 2014. Knowledge, attitudes and practices (kap) regarding influenza A (H1N1) among a population living along Thai-Myanmar border, Ratchaburi Province, Thailand. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health, 45 (4), pp. 825-833. | Show Abstract

The 2009 influenza A (H1N1) outbreaks in Thailand was successfully controlled, partly through the use of electronic media to educate the public. People living along the Thai-Myanmar border may have less access to this electronic media or might have health beliefs that differ from the general Thai population with potential to impact an influenza outbreak. We conducted a survey to assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding influenza among people living along the Thai-Myanmar boder in Ratchaburi Province, Thailand. Of 110 house- holds surveyed, 96% were Karen ethnicity. Greater than 50% were uneducated and most had a low family income. Knowledge about influenza was low. Attitudes regarding infection were mostly negative among the elderly in this area. Practices regarding influenza were moderately good. Education level was associated with knowledge and practice. Income level and wealth indicators were associated with knowledge and having a radio or TV was associated with good practices. Preventive behavior was associated with good knowledge but not with attitudes about influenza. Health education campaigns are needed in these communities to help people adopt desired changes in behavior to improve personal hygiene.

Monyarit S, Pan-ngum W, Lawpoolsri S, Yimsamran S, Pongnumkul S, Kaewkungwal J, Singhasivanon P. 2014. Advantages of using voiced questionnaire and image capture application for data collection from a minority group in rural areas along the Thailand-Myanmar border. Inform Prim Care, 21 (4), pp. 179-188. | Show Abstract | Read more

AIMS: To compare the quality of data collection via electronic data capture (EDC) with voiced questionnaire (QNN) and data image capture features using a tablet versus standard paper-based QNN, to assess the user's perception of using the EDC tool, and to compare user satisfaction with the two methods. STUDY DESIGN: Randomised cross-over study. Study sites: This study was conducted in two villages along the Thailand-Myanmar border. METHODOLOGY: This study included 30 community health volunteers (CHVs) and 120 Karen hill tribe villagers. Employing a cross-over study design, the CHVs were allocated randomly to two groups, in which they performed interviews in different sequences using EDC and QNN. RESULTS: Data discrepancies were found between the two data-collection methods, when data from the paper-based and image-capture methods were compared, and when conducting skip pattern questions. More than 90% of the CHVs perceived the EDC to be useful and easy to use. Both interviewers and interviewees were more satisfied with the EDC compared with QNN in terms of format, ease of use, and system speed. CONCLUSION: The EDC can effectively be used as an alternative method to paper-based QNNs for data collection. It produces more accurate data that can be considered evidence-based.

Moore CE, Pan-Ngum W, Wijedoru LPM, Sona S, Nga TVT, Duy PT, Vinh PV, Chheng K, Kumar V, Emary K et al. 2014. Evaluation of the diagnostic accuracy of a typhoid IgM flow assay for the diagnosis of typhoid fever in Cambodian children using a Bayesian latent class model assuming an imperfect gold standard. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 90 (1), pp. 114-120. | Show Abstract | Read more

Rapid diagnostic tests are needed for typhoid fever (TF) diagnosis in febrile children in endemic areas. Five hundred children admitted to the hospital in Cambodia between 2009 and 2010 with documented fever (≥ 38°C) were investigated using blood cultures (BCs), Salmonella Typhi/Paratyphi A real-time polymerase chain reactions (PCRs), and a Typhoid immunoglobulin M flow assay (IgMFA). Test performance was determined by conventional methods and Bayesian latent class modeling. There were 32 cases of TF (10 BC- and PCR-positive cases, 14 BC-positive and PCR-negative cases, and 8 BC-negative and PCR-positive cases). IgMFA sensitivity was 59.4% (95% confidence interval = 41-76), and specificity was 97.8% (95% confidence interval = 96-99). The model estimate sensitivity for BC was 81.0% (95% credible interval = 54-99). The model estimate sensitivity for PCR was 37.8% (95% credible interval = 26-55), with a specificity of 98.2% (95% credible interval = 97-99). The model estimate sensitivity for IgMFA (≥ 2+) was 77.9% (95% credible interval = 58-90), with a specificity of 97.5% (95% credible interval = 95-100). The model estimates of IgMFA sensitivity and specificity were comparable with BCs and better than estimates using conventional analysis.

Pan-ngum W, Blacksell SD, Lubell Y, Pukrittayakamee S, Bailey MS, de Silva HJ, Lalloo DG, Day NPJ, White LJ, Limmathurotsakul D. 2013. Estimating the true accuracy of diagnostic tests for dengue infection using bayesian latent class models. PLoS One, 8 (1), pp. e50765. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Accuracy of rapid diagnostic tests for dengue infection has been repeatedly estimated by comparing those tests with reference assays. We hypothesized that those estimates might be inaccurate if the accuracy of the reference assays is not perfect. Here, we investigated this using statistical modeling. METHODS/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Data from a cohort study of 549 patients suspected of dengue infection presenting at Colombo North Teaching Hospital, Ragama, Sri Lanka, that described the application of our reference assay (a combination of Dengue IgM antibody capture ELISA and IgG antibody capture ELISA) and of three rapid diagnostic tests (Panbio NS1 antigen, IgM antibody and IgG antibody rapid immunochromatographic cassette tests) were re-evaluated using bayesian latent class models (LCMs). The estimated sensitivity and specificity of the reference assay were 62.0% and 99.6%, respectively. Prevalence of dengue infection (24.3%), and sensitivities and specificities of the Panbio NS1 (45.9% and 97.9%), IgM (54.5% and 95.5%) and IgG (62.1% and 84.5%) estimated by bayesian LCMs were significantly different from those estimated by assuming that the reference assay was perfect. Sensitivity, specificity, PPV and NPV for a combination of NS1, IgM and IgG cassette tests on admission samples were 87.0%, 82.8%, 62.0% and 95.2%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Our reference assay is an imperfect gold standard. In our setting, the combination of NS1, IgM and IgG rapid diagnostic tests could be used on admission to rule out dengue infection with a high level of accuracy (NPV 95.2%). Further evaluation of rapid diagnostic tests for dengue infection should include the use of appropriate statistical models.

Hendriksen ICE, Mwanga-Amumpaire J, von Seidlein L, Mtove G, White LJ, Olaosebikan R, Lee SJ, Tshefu AK, Woodrow C, Amos B 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.

Moore C, Pan-ngum W, Wijedoru L, Ngoun C, Pastoor R, Tran N, Soeng S, Kheng C, Kumar V, Emary K et al. 2012. Evaluation of a Typhoid IgM flow assay for the diagnosis of typhoid fever in Cambodian children using a Bayesian modelling approach assuming an imperfect gold standard INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, 16 pp. E400-E401. | Read more

von Seidlein L, Olaosebikan R, Hendriksen ICE, Lee SJ, Adedoyin OT, Agbenyega T, Nguah SB, Bojang K, Deen JL, Evans J et al. 2012. Predicting the clinical outcome of severe falciparum malaria in african children: findings from a large randomized trial. Clin Infect Dis, 54 (8), pp. 1080-1090. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Data from the largest randomized, controlled trial for the treatment of children hospitalized with severe malaria were used to identify such predictors of a poor outcome from severe malaria. METHODS: African children (<15 years) with severe malaria participated in a randomized comparison of parenteral artesunate and parenteral quinine in 9 African countries. Detailed clinical assessment was performed on admission. Parasite densities were assessed in a reference laboratory. Predictors of death were examined using a multivariate logistic regression model. RESULTS: Twenty indicators of disease severity were assessed, out of which 5 (base deficit, impaired consciousness, convulsions, elevated blood urea, and underlying chronic illness) were associated independently with death. Tachypnea, respiratory distress, deep breathing, shock, prostration, low pH, hyperparasitemia, severe anemia, and jaundice were statistically significant indicators of death in the univariate analysis but not in the multivariate model. Age, glucose levels, axillary temperature, parasite density, heart rate, blood pressure, and blackwater fever were not related to death in univariate models. CONCLUSIONS: Acidosis, cerebral involvement, renal impairment, and chronic illness are key independent predictors for a poor outcome in African children with severe malaria. Mortality is markedly increased in cerebral malaria combined with acidosis. Clinical Trial Registration. ISRCTN50258054.

Meeyai A, Cooper B, Coker R, Pan-Ngum W, Akarasewi P, Iamsirithaworn S. 2012. Pandemic influenza H1N1 2009 in Thailand. WHO South East Asia J Public Health, 1 (1), pp. 59-68. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Developing a quantitative understanding of pandemic influenza dynamics in South-East Asia is important for informing future pandemic planning. Hence, transmission dynamics of influenza A/H1N1 were determined across space and time in Thailand. METHODS: Dates of symptom onset were obtained for all daily laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A/H1N1pdm in Thailand from 3 May 2009 to 26 December 2010 for four different geographic regions (Central, North, North-East, and South). These data were analysed using a probabilistic epidemic reconstruction, and estimates of the effective reproduction number, R(t), were derived by region and over time. RESULTS: Estimated R(t) values for the first wave peaked at 1.54 (95% CI: 1.42-1.71) in the Central region and 1.64 (95% CI: 1.38-1.92) in the North, whilst the corresponding values in the North-East and the South were 1.30 (95% CI: 1.17-1.46) and 1.39 (95% CI: 1.32-1.45) respectively. As the R(t) in the Central region fell below one, the value of R(t) in the rest of Thailand increased above one. R(t) was above one for 30 days continuously through the first wave in all regions of Thailand. During the second wave R(t) was only marginally above one in all regions except the South. CONCLUSIONS: In Thailand, the value of R(t) varied by region in the two pandemic waves. Higher R(t) estimates were found in Central and Northern regions in the first wave. Knowledge of regional variation in transmission potential is needed for predicting the course of future pandemics and for analysing the potential impact of control measures.

White LJ, Newton PN, Maude RJ, Pan-ngum W, Fried JR, Mayxay M, Maude RR, Day NPJ. 2012. Defining disease heterogeneity to guide the empirical treatment of febrile illness in resource poor settings. PLoS One, 7 (9), pp. e44545. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria incidence is in decline in many parts of SE Asia leading to a decreasing proportion of febrile illness that is attributable to malaria. However in the absence of rapid, affordable and accurate diagnostic tests, the non-malaria causes of these illnesses cannot be reliably identified. Studies on the aetiology of febrile illness have indicated that the causes are likely to vary by geographical location within countries (i.e. be spatially heterogeneous) and that national empirical treatment policies based on the aetiology measured in a single location could lead to inappropriate treatment. METHODS: Using data from Vientiane as a reference for the incidence of major febrile illnesses in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos) and estimated incidences, plausible incidence in other Lao provinces were generated using a mathematical model for a range of national and local scale variations. For a range of treatment protocols, the mean number of appropriate treatments was predicted and the potential impact of a spatially explicit national empirical treatment protocol assessed. FINDINGS: The model predicted a negative correlation between number of appropriate treatments and the level of spatial heterogeneity. A spatially explicit national treatment protocol was predicted to increase the number of appropriate treatments by 50% for intermediate levels of spatial heterogeneity. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that given even only moderate spatial variation, a spatially explicit treatment algorithm will result in a significant improvement in the outcome of undifferentiated fevers in Laos and other similar resource poor settings.

Lubell Y, Riewpaiboon A, Dondorp AM, von Seidlein L, Mokuolu OA, Nansumba M, Gesase S, Kent A, Mtove G, Olaosebikan R et al. 2011. Cost-effectiveness of parenteral artesunate for treating children with severe malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. Bull World Health Organ, 89 (7), pp. 504-512. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To explore the cost-effectiveness of parenteral artesunate for the treatment of severe malaria in children and its potential impact on hospital budgets. METHODS: The costs of inpatient care of children with severe malaria were assessed in four of the 11 sites included in the African Quinine Artesunate Malaria Treatment trial, conducted with over 5400 children. The drugs, laboratory tests and intravenous fluids provided to 2300 patients from admission to discharge were recorded, as was the length of inpatient stay, to calculate the cost of inpatient care. The data were matched with pooled clinical outcomes and entered into a decision model to calculate the cost per disability-adjusted life year (DALY) averted and the cost per death averted. FINDINGS: The mean cost of treating severe malaria patients was similar in the two study groups: 63.5 United States dollars (US$) (95% confidence interval, CI: 61.7-65.2) in the quinine arm and US$ 66.5 (95% CI: 63.7-69.2) in the artesunate arm. Children treated with artesunate had 22.5% lower mortality than those treated with quinine and the same rate of neurological sequelae: (artesunate arm: 2.3 DALYs per patient; quinine arm: 3.0 DALYs per patient). Compared with quinine as a baseline, artesunate showed an incremental cost per DALY averted and an incremental cost per death averted of US$ 3.8 and US$ 123, respectively. CONCLUSION: Artesunate is a highly cost-effective and affordable alternative to quinine for treating children with severe malaria. The budgetary implications of adopting artesunate for routine use in hospital-based care are negligible.

Pukrittayakamee S, Jittamala P, Stepniewska K, Lindegardh N, Chueasuwanchai S, Leowattana W, Phakdeeraj A, Permpunpanich S, Hanpithakpong W, Pan-Ngum W et al. 2011. An open-label crossover study to evaluate potential pharmacokinetic interactions between oral oseltamivir and intravenous zanamivir in healthy Thai adults. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 55 (9), pp. 4050-4057. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is no parenteral formulation of the neuraminidase inhibitor oseltamivir, the most widely used anti-influenza virus drug. Oseltamivir resistance is an increasing problem. Zanamivir is effective against the most prevalent oseltamivir-resistant influenza viruses. A parenteral formulation of zanamivir is in development for the treatment of severe influenza. It is not known if there is any pharmacokinetic interaction between the two drugs. Sixteen healthy Thai adult volunteers were studied in an open-label, four-period, randomized two-sequence crossover pharmacokinetic study in which zanamivir was given by constant-rate infusion or slow intravenous injection either alone or together with oral oseltamivir. Plasma concentration profiles of oseltamivir, the active metabolite oseltamivir carboxylate, and zanamivir were measured by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry-mass spectrometry. Both drugs were well tolerated alone and in combination. The maximum plasma concentrations and the areas under the plasma concentration-time curves (AUC) of oseltamivir and oseltamivir carboxylate were not significantly different when oseltamivir was given separately or together with zanamivir. Maximum plasma concentrations of zanamivir were 10% (95% confidence interval, 7 to 12%) higher when zanamivir was infused concurrently with oral oseltamivir than with infusions before or after oral oseltamivir. The plasma zanamivir total AUC was positively correlated with the total oseltamivir carboxylate AUC (Pearson's correlation coefficient [r(P)] = 0.720, P = 0.002, n = 16) but not with the oseltamivir AUC (r(p) = 0.121, n = 16). There is no clinically significant pharmacokinetic interaction between oseltamivir and zanamivir.

Saralamba S, Pan-Ngum W, Maude RJ, Lee SJ, Tarning J, Lindegårdh N, Chotivanich K, Nosten F, Day NPJ, Socheat D et al. 2011. Intrahost modeling of artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 108 (1), pp. 397-402. | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria has emerged in western Cambodia. Resistance is characterized by prolonged in vivo parasite clearance times (PCTs) following artesunate treatment. The biological basis is unclear. The hypothesis that delayed parasite clearance results from a stage-specific reduction in artemisinin sensitivity of the circulating young asexual parasite ring stages was examined. A mathematical model was developed, describing the intrahost parasite stage-specific pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic relationships. Model parameters were estimated using detailed pharmacokinetic and parasite clearance data from 39 patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria treated with artesunate from Pailin (western Cambodia) where artemisinin resistance was evident and 40 patients from Wang Pha (northwestern Thailand) where efficacy was preserved. The mathematical model reproduced the observed parasite clearance for each patient with an accurate goodness of fit (rmsd: 0.03-0.67 in log(10) scale). The parameter sets that provided the best fits with the observed in vivo data consist of a highly conserved concentration-effect relationship for the trophozoite and schizont parasite stages, but a variable relationship for the ring stages. The model-derived assessment suggests that the efficacy of artesunate on ring stage parasites is reduced significantly in Pailin. This result supports the hypothesis that artemisinin resistance mainly reflects reduced ring-stage susceptibility and predicts that doubling the frequency of dosing will accelerate clearance of artemisinin-resistant parasites.

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

BACKGROUND: 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. METHODS: 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. FINDINGS: 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. INTERPRETATION: 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. FUNDING: The Wellcome Trust.

Suputtamongkol Y, Pongtavornpinyo W, Lubell Y, Suttinont C, Hoontrakul S, Phimda K, Losuwanaluk K, Suwancharoen D, Silpasakorn S, Chierakul W, Day N. 2010. Strategies for diagnosis and treatment of suspected leptospirosis: a cost-benefit analysis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 4 (2), pp. e610. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Symptoms and signs of leptospirosis are non-specific. Several diagnostic tests for leptospirosis are available and in some instances are being used prior to treatment of leptospirosis-suspected patients. There is therefore a need to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the different treatment strategies in order to avoid misuse of scarce resources and ensure best possible health outcomes for patients. METHODS: The study population was adult patients, presented with uncomplicated acute febrile illness, without an obvious focus of infection or malaria or typical dengue infection. We compared the cost and effectiveness of 5 management strategies: 1) no patients tested or given antibiotic treatment; 2) all patients given empirical doxycycline treatment; patients given doxycycline when a patient is tested positive for leptospirosis using: 3) lateral flow; 4) MCAT; 5) latex test. The framework used is a cost-benefit analysis, accounting for all direct medical costs in diagnosing and treating patients suspected of leptospirosis. Outcomes are measured in length of fever after treatment which is then converted to productivity losses to capture the full economic costs. FINDINGS: Empirical doxycycline treatment was the most efficient strategy, being both the least costly alternative and the one that resulted in the shortest duration of fever. The limited sensitivity of all three diagnostic tests implied that their use to guide treatment was not cost-effective. The most influential parameter driving these results was the cost of treating patients with complications for patients who did not receive adequate treatment as a result of incorrect diagnosis or a strategy of no-antibiotic-treatment. CONCLUSIONS: Clinicians should continue treating suspected cases of leptospirosis on an empirical basis. This conclusion holds true as long as policy makers are not prioritizing the reduction of use of antibiotics, in which case the use of the latex test would be the most efficient strategy.

Maude RJ, Lubell Y, Socheat D, Yeung S, Saralamba S, Pongtavornpinyo W, Cooper BS, Dondorp AM, White NJ, White LJ. 2010. The role of mathematical modelling in guiding the science and economics of malaria elimination. Int Health, 2 (4), pp. 239-246. | Show Abstract | Read more

Unprecedented efforts are now underway to eliminate malaria from many regions. Despite the enormous financial resources committed, if malaria elimination is perceived as failing it is likely that this funding will not be sustained. It is imperative that methods are developed to use the limited data available to design site-specific, cost-effective elimination programmes. Mathematical modelling is a way of including mechanistic understanding to use available data to make predictions. Different strategies can be evaluated much more rapidly than is possible through trial and error in the field. Mathematical modelling has great potential as a tool to guide and inform current elimination efforts. Economic modelling weighs costs against characterised effects or predicted benefits in order to determine the most cost-efficient strategy but has traditionally used static models of disease not suitable for elimination. Dynamic mathematical modelling and economic modelling techniques need to be combined to contribute most effectively to ongoing policy discussions. We review the role of modelling in previous malaria control efforts as well as the unique nature of elimination and the consequent need for its explicit modelling, and emphasise the importance of good disease surveillance. The difficulties and complexities of economic evaluation of malaria control, particularly the end stages of elimination, are discussed.

Preechapornkul P, Imwong M, Chotivanich K, Pongtavornpinyo W, Dondorp AM, Day NPJ, White NJ, Pukrittayakamee S. 2009. Plasmodium falciparum pfmdr1 amplification, mefloquine resistance, and parasite fitness. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 53 (4), pp. 1509-1515. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mefloquine is widely used in combination with artemisinin derivatives for the treatment of falciparum malaria. Mefloquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum has been related to increased copy numbers of multidrug-resistant gene 1 (pfmdr1). We studied the ex vivo dynamics of pfmdr1 gene amplification in culture-adapted P. falciparum in relation to mefloquine resistance and parasite fitness. A Thai P. falciparum isolate (isolate TM036) was assessed by the use of multiple genetic markers as a single genotype. Resistance was selected by exposure to stepwise increasing concentrations of mefloquine up to 30 ng/ml in continuous culture. The pfmdr1 gene copy numbers increased as susceptibility to mefloquine declined (P = 0.03). No codon mutations at positions 86, 184, 1034, 1042, and 1246 in the pfmdr1 gene were detected. Two subclones of selected parasites (average copy numbers, 2.3 and 3.1, respectively) showed a fitness disadvantage when they were grown together with the original parasites containing a single pfmdr1 gene copy in the absence of mefloquine; the multiplication rates were 6.3% and 8.7% lower, respectively (P < 0.01). Modeling of the dynamics of the pfmdr1 copy numbers over time in relation to the relative fitness of the parasites suggested that net pfmdr1 gene amplification from one to two copies occurs once in every 10(8) parasites and that amplification from two to three copies occurs once in every 10(3) parasites. pfmdr1 gene amplification in P. falciparum is a frequent event and confers mefloquine resistance. Parasites with multiple copies of the pfmdr1 gene have decreased survival fitness in the absence of drug pressure.

Wattanagoon Y, Stepniewska K, Lindegårdh N, Pukrittayakamee S, Silachamroon U, Piyaphanee W, Singtoroj T, Hanpithakpong W, Davies G, Tarning J et al. 2009. Pharmacokinetics of high-dose oseltamivir in healthy volunteers. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 53 (3), pp. 945-952. | Show Abstract | Read more

The effects of loading doses and probenecid coadministration on oseltamivir pharmacokinetics at four increasing dose levels in groups of eight healthy adult Thai volunteers (125 individual series) were evaluated. Doses of up to 675 mg were well-tolerated. The pharmacokinetics were dose linear. Oseltamivir phosphate (OS) was rapidly and completely absorbed and converted (median conversion level, 93%) to the active carboxylate metabolite. Median elimination half-lives (and 95% confidence intervals [CI]) were 1.0 h (0.9 to 1.1 h) for OS and 5.1 h (4.7 to 5.7 h) for oseltamivir carboxylate (OC). One subject repeatedly showed markedly reduced OS-to-OC conversion, indicating constitutionally impaired carboxylesterase activity. The coadministration of probenecid resulted in a mean contraction in the apparent volume of distribution of OC of 40% (95% CI, 37 to 44%) and a reduction in the renal elimination of OC of 61% (95% CI, 58 to 62%), thereby increasing the median area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) for OC by 154% (range, 71 to 278%). The AUC increase for OC in saliva was approximately three times less than the AUC increase for OC in plasma. A loading dose 1.25 times the maintenance dose should be given for severe influenza pneumonia. Probenecid coadministration may allow considerable dose saving for oseltamivir, but more information on OC penetration into respiratory secretions is needed to devise appropriate dose regimens.

Pongtavornpinyo W, Hastings IM, Dondorp A, White LJ, Maude RJ, Saralamba S, Day NP, White NJ, Boni MF. 2009. Probability of emergence of antimalarial resistance in different stages of the parasite life cycle. Evol Appl, 2 (1), pp. 52-61. | Show Abstract | Read more

Understanding the evolution of drug resistance in malaria is a central area of study at the intersection of evolution and medicine. Antimalarial drug resistance is a major threat to malaria control and directly related to trends in malaria attributable mortality. Artemisinin combination therapies (ACT) are now recommended worldwide as first line treatment for uncomplicated malaria, and losing them to resistance would be a disaster for malaria control. Understanding the emergence and spread of antimalarial drug resistance in the context of different scenarios of antimalarial drug use is essential for the development of strategies protecting ACTs. In this study, we review the basic mechanisms of resistance emergence and describe several simple equations that can be used to estimate the probabilities of de novo resistance mutations at three stages of the parasite life cycle: sporozoite, hepatic merozoite and asexual blood stages; we discuss the factors that affect parasite survival in a single host in the context of different levels of antimalarial drug use, immunity and parasitaemia. We show that in the absence of drug effects, and despite very different parasite numbers, the probability of resistance emerging at each stage is very low and similar in all stages (for example per-infection probability of 10(-10)-10(-9) if the per-parasite chance of mutation is 10(-10) per asexual division). However, under the selective pressure provided by antimalarial treatment and particularly in the presence of hyperparasitaemia, the probability of resistance emerging in the blood stage of the parasite can be approximately five orders of magnitude higher than in the absence of drugs. Detailed models built upon these basic methods should allow us to assess the relative probabilities of resistance emergence in the different phases of the parasite life cycle.

White NJ, Pongtavornpinyo W, Maude RJ, Saralamba S, Aguas R, Stepniewska K, Lee SJ, Dondorp AM, White LJ, Day NPJ. 2009. Hyperparasitaemia and low dosing are an important source of anti-malarial drug resistance. Malar J, 8 (1), pp. 253. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Preventing the emergence of anti-malarial drug resistance is critical for the success of current malaria elimination efforts. Prevention strategies have focused predominantly on qualitative factors, such as choice of drugs, use of combinations and deployment of multiple first-line treatments. The importance of anti-malarial treatment dosing has been underappreciated. Treatment recommendations are often for the lowest doses that produce "satisfactory" results. METHODS: The probability of de-novo resistant malaria parasites surviving and transmitting depends on the relationship between their degree of resistance and the blood concentration profiles of the anti-malarial drug to which they are exposed. The conditions required for the in-vivo selection of de-novo emergent resistant malaria parasites were examined and relative probabilities assessed. RESULTS: Recrudescence is essential for the transmission of de-novo resistance. For rapidly eliminated anti-malarials high-grade resistance can arise from a single drug exposure, but low-grade resistance can arise only from repeated inadequate treatments. Resistance to artemisinins is, therefore, unlikely to emerge with single drug exposures. Hyperparasitaemic patients are an important source of de-novo anti-malarial drug resistance. Their parasite populations are larger, their control of the infection insufficient, and their rates of recrudescence following anti-malarial treatment are high. As use of substandard drugs, poor adherence, unusual pharmacokinetics, and inadequate immune responses are host characteristics, likely to pertain to each recurrence of infection, a small subgroup of patients provides the particular circumstances conducive to de-novo resistance selection and transmission. CONCLUSION: Current dosing recommendations provide a resistance selection opportunity in those patients with low drug levels and high parasite burdens (often children or pregnant women). Patients with hyperparasitaemia who receive outpatient treatments provide the greatest risk of selecting de-novo resistant parasites. This emphasizes the importance of ensuring that only quality-assured anti-malarial combinations are used, that treatment doses are optimized on the basis of pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic assessments in the target populations, and that patients with heavy parasite burdens are identified and receive sufficient treatment to prevent recrudescence.

White LJ, Maude RJ, Pongtavornpinyo W, Saralamba S, Aguas R, Van Effelterre T, Day NPJ, White NJ. 2009. The role of simple mathematical models in malaria elimination strategy design. Malar J, 8 (1), pp. 212. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria has recently been identified as a candidate for global eradication. This process will take the form of a series of national eliminations. Key issues must be considered specifically for elimination strategy when compared to the control of disease. Namely the spread of drug resistance, data scarcity and the adverse effects of failed elimination attempts. Mathematical models of various levels of complexity have been produced to consider the control and elimination of malaria infection. If available, detailed data on malaria transmission (such as the vector life cycle and behaviour, human population behaviour, the acquisition and decay of immunity, heterogeneities in transmission intensity, age profiles of clinical and subclinical infection) can be used to populate complex transmission models that can then be used to design control strategy. However, in many malaria countries reliable data are not available and policy must be formed based on information like an estimate of the average parasite prevalence. METHODS: A simple deterministic model, that requires data in the form of a single estimate of parasite prevalence as an input, is developed for the purpose of comparison with other more complex models. The model is designed to include key aspects of malaria transmission and integrated control. RESULTS: The simple model is shown to have similar short-term dynamic behaviour to three complex models. The model is used to demonstrate the potential of alternative methods of delivery of controls. The adverse effects on clinical infection and spread of resistance are predicted for failed elimination attempts. Since elimination strategies present an increased risk of the spread of drug resistance, the model is used to demonstrate the population level protective effect of multiple controls against this very serious threat. CONCLUSION: A simple model structure for the elimination of malaria is suitable for situations where data are sparse yet strategy design requirements are urgent with the caveat that more complex models, populated with new data, would provide more information, especially in the long-term.

Imwong M, Pukrittayakamee S, Pongtavornpinyo W, Nakeesathit S, Nair S, Newton P, Nosten F, Anderson TJC, Dondorp A, Day NPJ, White NJ. 2008. Gene amplification of the multidrug resistance 1 gene of Plasmodium vivax isolates from Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 52 (7), pp. 2657-2659. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium vivax mdr1 gene amplification, quantified by real-time PCR, was significantly more common on the western Thailand border (6 of 66 samples), where mefloquine pressure has been intense, than elsewhere in southeast Asia (3 of 149; P = 0.02). Five coding mutations in pvmdr1, independent of gene amplification, were also found.

Pongtavornpinyo W, Yeung S, Hastings IM, Dondorp AM, Day NPJ, White NJ. 2008. Spread of anti-malarial drug resistance: mathematical model with implications for ACT drug policies. Malar J, 7 (1), pp. 229. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Most malaria-endemic countries are implementing a change in anti-malarial drug policy to artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). The impact of different drug choices and implementation strategies is uncertain. Data from many epidemiological studies in different levels of malaria endemicity and in areas with the highest prevalence of drug resistance like borders of Thailand are certainly valuable. Formulating an appropriate dynamic data-driven model is a powerful predictive tool for exploring the impact of these strategies quantitatively. METHODS: A comprehensive model was constructed incorporating important epidemiological and biological factors of human, mosquito, parasite and treatment. The iterative process of developing the model, identifying data needed, and parameterization has been taken to strongly link the model to the empirical evidence. The model provides quantitative measures of outcomes, such as malaria prevalence/incidence and treatment failure, and illustrates the spread of resistance in low and high transmission settings. The model was used to evaluate different anti-malarial policy options focusing on ACT deployment. RESULTS: The model predicts robustly that in low transmission settings drug resistance spreads faster than in high transmission settings, and treatment failure is the main force driving the spread of drug resistance. In low transmission settings, ACT slows the spread of drug resistance to a partner drug, especially at high coverage rates. This effect decreases exponentially with increasing delay in deploying the ACT and decreasing rates of coverage. In the high transmission settings, however, drug resistance is driven by the proportion of the human population with a residual drug level, which gives resistant parasites some survival advantage. The spread of drug resistance could be slowed down by controlling presumptive drug use and avoiding the use of combination therapies containing drugs with mismatched half-lives, together with reducing malaria transmission through vector control measures. CONCLUSION: This paper has demonstrated the use of a comprehensive mathematical model to describe malaria transmission and the spread of drug resistance. The model is strongly linked to the empirical evidence obtained from extensive data available from various sources. This model can be a useful tool to inform the design of treatment policies, particularly at a time when ACT has been endorsed by WHO as first-line treatment for falciparum malaria worldwide.

Chierakul W, Wangboonskul J, Singtoroj T, Pongtavornpinyo W, Short JM, Maharjan B, Wuthiekanun V, Dance DAB, Teparrukkul P, Lindegardh N et al. 2006. Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic assessment of co-amoxiclav in the treatment of melioidosis. J Antimicrob Chemother, 58 (6), pp. 1215-1220. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: We conducted a prospective pharmacokinetic study of oral co-amoxiclav in patients with melioidosis to determine the optimal dosage and dosing interval in this potentially fatal infection. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Serial plasma concentrations were measured after administration of two 1 g tablets of Augmentin (1750 mg of amoxicillin and 250 mg of clavulanate) to 14 adult patients with melioidosis. Monte Carlo simulation was used to predict the concentration of each drug following multiple doses of co-amoxiclav at different dosages and dose intervals. The proportion of the dose-interval above MIC (T > MIC) was calculated from 10,000 simulated subject plasma concentration profiles together with chequerboard MIC data from 46 clinical isolates and four reference strains of Burkholderia pseudomallei. RESULTS: The median (range) observed maximum plasma concentrations of amoxicillin and clavulanate were 11.5 (3.3-40.2) mg/L and 5.1 (0.8-12.1) mg/L, respectively. The median (range) elimination half-lives were 94 (73-215) and 89 (57-140) min, respectively. Simulation indicated that co-amoxiclav 1750/250 mg given at 4, 6, 8 or 12 hourly dosing intervals would be associated with a T > MIC of < or = 50% in 0.7%, 2.8%, 8.6% and 33.2% of patients, respectively. Corresponding proportions for T > MIC of > or = 90% were 95.8%, 78.6%, 50.2% and 10.8%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The dosing interval for co-amoxiclav (750/250 mg) in melioidosis should not be greater than 6 h.

Dondorp AM, Desakorn V, Pongtavornpinyo W, Sahassananda D, Silamut K, Chotivanich K, Newton PN, Pitisuttithum P, Smithyman AM, White NJ, Day NPJ. 2005. Estimation of the total parasite biomass in acute falciparum malaria from plasma PfHRP2. PLoS Med, 2 (8), pp. e204. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In falciparum malaria sequestration of erythrocytes containing mature forms of Plasmodium falciparum in the microvasculature of vital organs is central to pathology, but quantitation of this hidden sequestered parasite load in vivo has not previously been possible. The peripheral blood parasite count measures only the circulating, relatively non-pathogenic parasite numbers. P. falciparum releases a specific histidine-rich protein (PfHRP2) into plasma. Quantitative measurement of plasma PfHRP2 concentrations may reflect the total parasite biomass in falciparum malaria. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We measured plasma concentrations of PfHRP2, using a quantitative antigen-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, in 337 adult patients with falciparum malaria of varying severity hospitalised on the Thai-Burmese border. Based on in vitro production rates, we constructed a model to link this measure to the total parasite burden in the patient. The estimated geometric mean parasite burden was 7 x 10(11) (95% confidence interval [CI] 5.8 x 10(11) to 8.5 x 10(11)) parasites per body, and was over six times higher in severe malaria (geometric mean 1.7 x 10(12), 95% CI 1.3 x 10(12) to 2.3 x 10(12)) than in patients hospitalised without signs of severity (geometric mean 2.8 x 10(11), 95% CI 2.3 x 10(11) to 3.5 x 10(11); p < 0.001). Parasite burden was highest in patients who died (geometric mean 3.4 x 10(12), 95% CI 1.9 x 10(12) to 6.3 x 10(12); p = 0.03). The calculated number of sequestered parasites increased with disease severity and was higher in patients with late developmental stages of P. falciparum present on peripheral blood smears. Comparing model and laboratory estimates of the time of sequestration suggested that admission to hospital with uncomplicated malaria often follows schizogony-but in severe malaria is unrelated to stage of parasite development. CONCLUSION: Plasma PfHRP2 concentrations may be used to estimate the total body parasite biomass in acute falciparum malaria. Severe malaria results from extensive sequestration of parasitised erythrocytes.

Desakorn V, Dondorp AM, Silamut K, Pongtavornpinyo W, Sahassananda D, Chotivanich K, Pitisuttithum P, Smithyman AM, Day NPJ, White NJ. 2005. Stage-dependent production and release of histidine-rich protein 2 by Plasmodium falciparum. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 99 (7), pp. 517-524. | Show Abstract | Read more

Because of their sequestration in the microcirculation, the pathogenic late stages of Plasmodium falciparum are under-represented in peripheral blood samples from patients with falciparum malaria. Excreted products of the parasite might help to estimate this sequestered biomass. We quantified the stage-dependent production and release per parasite of P. falciparum histidine-rich protein 2 (PfHRP2) with the objective of measuring the sequestered biomass. A simple method to relate parasite stage to parasite age was developed to facilitate this. In four isolates of P. falciparum, the median (range) PfHRP2 content was 2.0fg (0.5-4.3fg) for a young ring stage infected erythrocyte, and 5.4fg (2.1-10.2fg) for the schizont stage. The amount of PfHRP2 in the parasitized erythrocyte increased most during development to the mature trophozoite stage. The median (range) amount of PfHRP2 secreted per parasite per entire erythrocytic cycle was 5.2fg (1.1-13.0fg). A median of 89% of the total PfHRP2 was excreted at the moment of schizont rupture. This assessment of the stage-dependent release of PfHRP2 is an essential prerequisite for future studies aimed at estimating the total patient parasite mass from the peripheral blood PfHRP2 concentration.

Dondorp AM, Desakorn V, Pongtavornpinyo W, Sahassananda D, Silamut K, Chotivanich K, Newton PN, Pitisuttithum P, Smithyman AM, White NJ, Day NPJ. 2005. Correction: Estimation of the Total Parasite Biomass in Acute Falciparum Malaria from Plasma PfHRP2 PLoS Medicine, 2 (10), pp. e390-e390. | Read more

Yeung S, Pongtavornpinyo W, Hastings IM, Mills AJ, White NJ. 2004. Antimalarial drug resistance, artemisinin-based combination therapy, and the contribution of modeling to elucidating policy choices. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 71 (2 Suppl), pp. 179-186. | Show Abstract

Increasing resistance of Plasmodium falciparum malaria to antimalarial drugs is posing a major threat to the global effort to "Roll Back Malaria". Chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) are being rendered increasingly ineffective, resulting in increasing morbidity, mortality, and economic and social costs. One strategy advocated for delaying the development of resistance to the remaining armory of effective drugs is the wide-scale deployment of artemisinin-based combination therapy. However, the cost of these combinations are higher than most of the currently used monotherapies and alternative non-artemisinin-based combinations. In addition, uncertainty about the actual impact in real-life settings has made them a controversial choice for first-line treatment. The difficulties in measuring the burden of drug resistance and predicting the impact of strategies aimed at its reduction are outlined, and a mathematical model is introduced that is being designed to address these issues and to clarify policy options.

White NJ, Pongtavornpinyo W. 2003. The de novo selection of drug-resistant malaria parasites. Proc Biol Sci, 270 (1514), pp. 545-554. | Show Abstract | Read more

Antimalarial drug resistance emerges de novo predominantly in areas of low malaria transmission. Because of the logarithmic distribution of parasite numbers in human malaria infections, inadequately treated high biomass infections are a major source of de novo antimalarial resistance, whereas use of antimalarial prophylaxis provides a low resistance selection risk. Slowly eliminated antimalarials encourage resistance largely by providing a selective filter for resistant parasites acquired from others, and not by selecting resistance de novo. The de novo emergence of resistance can be prevented by use of antimalarial combinations. Artemisinin derivative combinations are particularly effective. Ensuring adequate treatment of the relatively few heavily infected patients would slow the emergence of resistance.