register interest

Professor François H Nosten

Research Area: Global Health
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health
Keywords: malaria, pregnancy, HIV, AIDS and drug resistance
Web Links:

Field microscopy

Field microscopy

Maela Camp clinic

Maela Camp clinic

Dr Nosten’s work concentrates on uncomplicated malaria and he has conducted the largest ever drug trials in malaria in an area which has the world’s most drug-resistant parasites, including a detailed study of the SPf66 malaria vaccine. Recent studies have concentrated on the efficacy and effectiveness of combination anti malarial therapy. Dr Nosten has also investigated malaria prophylaxis and antimalarial treatment in pregnancy and the identification of thiamine deficiency (beri-beri) as a major cause of infant mortality amongst Karen refugees.

Name Department Institution Country
Professor Richard Price Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Tim Anderson Southwest Foundation Texas United States
Laurent RENIA Singapore Immunology Network Singapore
Professor Philippe J Guerin Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Nicholas PJ Day FMedSci FRCP Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Nicholas J White FRS Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Lisa J White Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Paul Newton Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Dr Claudia Turner Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Paul Turner Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Dr Mayfong Mayxay Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Tran T Hien Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Boudhar A, Ng XW, Loh CY, Chia WN, Tan ZM, Nosten F, Dymock BW, Tan KS. 2016. Overcoming chloroquine resistance in malaria: Design, synthesis and structure-activity relationships of novel chemoreversal agents. Eur J Med Chem, 119 pp. 231-249. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria remains a significant infectious disease with even artemisinin-based therapies now facing resistance in the field. Development of new therapies is urgently needed, either by finding new compounds with unique modes of action, or by reversing resistance towards known drugs with 'chemosensitizers' or 'chemoreversal' agents (CRA). Concerning the latter, we have focused on the resistance mechanisms developed against chloroquine (CQ). We have synthesized a series of compounds related to previously identified CRAs, and found promising novel compounds. These compounds show encouraging results in a coumarin labeled chloroquine uptake assay, exhibiting a dose response in resensitising parasites to the antimalarial effects of chloroquine. Selected compounds show consistent potency across a panel of chloroquine and artemisinin sensitive and resistant parasites, and a wide therapeutic window. This data supports further study of CRAs in the treatment of malaria and, ultimately, their use in chloroquine-based combination therapies.

Pearson RD, Amato R, Auburn S, Miotto O, Almagro-Garcia J, Amaratunga C, Suon S, Mao S et al. 2016. Genomic analysis of local variation and recent evolution in Plasmodium vivax. Nat Genet, | Show Abstract | Read more

The widespread distribution and relapsing nature of Plasmodium vivax infection present major challenges for the elimination of malaria. To characterize the genetic diversity of this parasite in individual infections and across the population, we performed deep genome sequencing of >200 clinical samples collected across the Asia-Pacific region and analyzed data on >300,000 SNPs and nine regions of the genome with large copy number variations. Individual infections showed complex patterns of genetic structure, with variation not only in the number of dominant clones but also in their level of relatedness and inbreeding. At the population level, we observed strong signals of recent evolutionary selection both in known drug resistance genes and at new loci, and these varied markedly between geographical locations. These findings demonstrate a dynamic landscape of local evolutionary adaptation in the parasite population and provide a foundation for genomic surveillance to guide effective strategies for control and elimination of P. vivax.

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, pp. ciw388-ciw388. | 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.

Fellmeth G, Paw MK, Wiladphaingern J, Charunwatthana P, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2016. Maternal suicide risk among refugees and migrants. Int J Gynaecol Obstet, 134 (2), pp. 223-224. | Read more

Nakeesathit S, Saralamba N, Pukrittayakamee S, Dondorp A, Nosten F, White NJ, Imwong M. 2016. Limited Polymorphism of the Kelch Propeller Domain in Plasmodium malariae and P. ovale Isolates from Thailand. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 60 (7), pp. 4055-4062. | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum, the agent of severe malaria, is currently a major obstacle to malaria control in Southeast Asia. A gene named "kelch13" has been associated with artemisinin resistance in P. falciparum The orthologue of the kelch gene in P. vivax was identified and a small number of mutations were found in previous studies. The kelch orthologues in the other two human malaria parasites, P. malariae and P. ovale, have not yet been studied. Therefore, in this study, the orthologous kelch genes of P. malariae, P. ovale wallikeri, and P. ovale curtisi were isolated and analyzed for the first time. The homologies of the kelch genes of P. malariae and P. ovale were 84.8% and 82.7%, respectively, compared to the gene in P. falciparum kelch polymorphisms were studied in 13 P. malariae and 5 P. ovale isolates from Thailand. There were 2 nonsynonymous mutations found in these samples. One mutation was P533L, which was found in 1 of 13 P. malariae isolates, and the other was K137R, found in 1 isolate of P. ovale wallikeri (n = 4). This result needs to be considered in the context of widespread artemisinin used within the region; their functional consequences for artemisinin sensitivity in P. malariae and P. ovale will need to be elucidated.

Tarning J. 2016. Treatment of Malaria in Pregnancy. N Engl J Med, 374 (10), pp. 981-982. | Read more

Boudhar A, Ng XW, Loh CY, Chia WN, Tan ZM, Nosten F, Dymock BW, Tan KS. 2016. Overcoming Chloroquine Resistance in Malaria: Design, Synthesis, and Structure-Activity Relationships of Novel Hybrid Compounds. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 60 (5), pp. 3076-3089. | Show Abstract | Read more

Resistance to antimalarial therapies, including artemisinin, has emerged as a significant challenge. Reversal of acquired resistance can be achieved using agents that resensitize resistant parasites to a previously efficacious therapy. Building on our initial work describing novel chemoreversal agents (CRAs) that resensitize resistant parasites to chloroquine (CQ), we herein report new hybrid single agents as an innovative strategy in the battle against resistant malaria. Synthetically linking a CRA scaffold to chloroquine produces hybrid compounds with restored potency toward a range of resistant malaria parasites. A preferred compound, compound 35, showed broad activity and good potency against seven strains resistant to chloroquine and artemisinin. Assessment of aqueous solubility, membrane permeability, and in vitro toxicity in a hepatocyte line and a cardiomyocyte line indicates that compound 35 has a good therapeutic window and favorable drug-like properties. This study provides initial support for CQ-CRA hybrid compounds as a potential treatment for resistant malaria.

Charnaud SC, McGready R, Herten-Crabb A, Powell R, Guy A, Langer C, Richards JS, Gilson PR et al. 2016. Maternal-foetal transfer of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax antibodies in a low transmission setting. Sci Rep, 6 pp. 20859. | Show Abstract | Read more

During pregnancy immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies are transferred from mother to neonate across the placenta. Studies in high transmission areas have shown transfer of P. falciparum-specific IgG, but the extent and factors influencing maternal-foetal transfer in low transmission areas co-endemic for both P. falciparum and P. vivax are unknown. Pregnant women were screened weekly for Plasmodium infection. Mother-neonate paired serum samples at delivery were tested for IgG to antigens from P. falciparum, P. vivax and other infectious diseases. Antibodies to malarial and non-malarial antigens were highly correlated between maternal and neonatal samples (median [range] spearman ρ = 0.78 [0.57-0.93]), although Plasmodium spp. antibodies tended to be lower in neonates than mothers. Estimated gestational age at last P. falciparum infection, but not P. vivax infection, was positively associated with antibody levels in the neonate (P. falciparum merozoite, spearman ρ median [range] 0.42 [0.33-0.66], PfVAR2CSA 0.69; P. vivax ρ = 0.19 [0.09-0.3]). Maternal-foetal transfer of anti-malarial IgG to Plasmodium spp. antigens occurs in low transmission settings. P. vivax IgG acquisition is not associated with recent exposure unlike P. falciparum IgG, suggesting a difference in acquisition of antibodies. IgG transfer is greatest in the final weeks of pregnancy which has implications for the timing of future malaria vaccination strategies in pregnant women.

Moore KA, Simpson JA, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M, Wiladphaingern J, Rijken MJ, Jittamala P, White NJ, Fowkes FJ, Nosten F, McGready R. 2016. Safety of artemisinins in first trimester of prospectively followed pregnancies: an observational study. Lancet Infect Dis, 16 (5), pp. 576-583. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinins, the most effective antimalarials available, are not recommended for falciparum malaria during the first trimester of pregnancy because of safety concerns. Therefore, quinine is used despite its poor effectiveness. Assessing artemisinin safety requires weighing the risks of malaria and its treatment. We aimed to assess the effect of first-trimester malaria and artemisinin treatment on miscarriage and major congenital malformations. METHODS: In this observational study, we assessed data from antenatal clinics on the Thai-Myanmar border between Jan 1, 1994, and Dec 31, 2013. We included women who presented to antenatal clinics during their first trimester with a viable fetus. Women were screened for malaria, and data on malaria, antimalarial treatment, and birth outcomes were collected. The relationship between artemisinin treatments (artesunate, dihydroartemisinin, or artemether) and miscarriage or malformation was assessed using Cox regression with left-truncation and time-varying exposures. FINDINGS: Of 55 636 pregnancies registered between 1994 and 2013, 25 485 pregnancies were analysed for first-trimester malaria and miscarriage, in which 2558 (10%) had first-trimester malaria. The hazard of miscarriage increased 1·61-fold after an initial first-trimester falciparum episode (95% CI 1·32-1·97; p<0·0001), 3·24-fold following falciparum recurrence (2·24-4·68; p<0·0001), and 2·44-fold (1·01-5·88; p=0·0473) following recurrent symptomatic vivax malaria. No difference was noted in miscarriage in first-line falciparum treatments with artemisinin (n=183) versus quinine (n=842; HR 0·78 [95% CI 0·45-1·34]; p=0·3645) or in risk of major congenital malformations (two [2%] of 109 [95% CI 0·22-6·47] versus eight (1%) of 641 [0·54-2·44], respectively). INTERPRETATION: First-trimester falciparum and vivax malaria both increase the risk of miscarriage. We noted no evidence of an increased risk of miscarriage or of major congenital malformations associated with first-line treatment with an artemisinin derivative compared with quinine. In view of the low efficacy of quinine and wide availability of highly effective artemisinin-based combination therapies, it is time to reconsider first-trimester antimalarial treatment recommendations. FUNDING: The Wellcome Trust and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Stuetz W, Carrara VI, Mc Gready R, Lee SJ, Sriprawat K, Po B, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Grune T, Biesalski HK, Nosten FH. 2016. Impact of Food Rations and Supplements on Micronutrient Status by Trimester of Pregnancy: Cross-Sectional Studies in the Maela Refugee Camp in Thailand. Nutrients, 8 (2), pp. 66. | Show Abstract | Read more

Micronutrient fortified flour (MFF), supplementary food rations and micronutrient (MN) supplements may prevent deficiencies among pregnant women. Objectives of cross-sectional surveys in 2004 (n = 533) and 2006 (n = 515) were to assess the impact of new food rations (flour, oil) and supplements on MN status by trimester of pregnancy in the Maela refugee camp. Hemoglobin, iron status, zinc, retinol, β-carotene and tryptophan decreased, while α-/γ-tocopherol and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) increased from first to third trimester. In 2006, mean zinc and α-tocopherol for each trimester was significantly higher than in 2004. The weeks of supplemented thiamine and folic acid were positively correlated with thiamine diphosphate (TDP) and 5-MTHF, but not for ferrous sulfate as iron deficiency was observed in 38.5% of third-trimester women. Frequent consumption of fish paste and owning a garden or animal were associated with significantly higher iron status, retinol, β-carotene, and 5-MTHF. In conclusion, MFF and supplementary oil were most likely to explain improved zinc and α-tocopherol status, while thiamine and folate supplements ensured high TDP and 5-MTHF in late pregnancy. MN supplements, MN-rich staple food, small gardens, and programs to improve iron compliance are promising strategies to prevent MN deficiencies during pregnancy in vulnerable populations.

Carrara VI, Darakomon MC, Thin NW, Paw NT, Wah N, Wah HG, Helen N, Keereecharoen S et al. 2016. Evaluation and Acceptability of a Simplified Test of Visual Function at Birth in a Limited-Resource Setting. PLoS One, 11 (6), pp. e0157087. | Show Abstract | Read more

Neurological examination, including visual fixation and tracking of a target, is routinely performed in the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit postnatal care units on the Thailand-Myanmar border. We aimed to evaluate a simple visual newborn test developed in Italy and performed by non-specialized personnel working in neonatal care units. An intensive training of local health staff in Thailand was conducted prior to performing assessments at 24, 48 and 72 hours of life in healthy, low-risk term singletons. The 48 and 72 hours results were then compared to values obtained to those from Italy. Parents and staff administering the test reported on acceptability. One hundred and seventy nine newborns, between June 2011 and October 2012, participated in the study. The test was rapidly completed if the infant remained in an optimal behavioral stage (7 ± 2 minutes) but the test duration increased significantly (12 ± 4 minutes, p < 0.001) if its behavior changed. Infants were able to fix a target and to discriminate a colored face at 24 hours of life. Horizontal tracking of a target was achieved by 96% (152/159) of the infants at 48 hours. Circular tracking, stripe discrimination and attention to distance significantly improved between each 24-hour test period. The test was easily performed by non-specialized local staff and well accepted by the parents. Healthy term singletons in this limited-resource setting have a visual response similar to that obtained to gestational age matched newborns in Italy. It is possible to use these results as a reference set of values for the visual assessment in Karen and Burmese infants in the first 72 hours of life. The utility of the 24 hours test should be pursued.

Numminen E, Chewapreecha C, Turner C, Goldblatt D, Nosten F, Bentley SD, Turner P, Corander J. 2016. Corrigendum: Climate induces seasonality in pneumococcal transmission. Sci Rep, 6 pp. 23307. | Read more

Oo NN, Bancone G, Maw LZ, Chowwiwat N, Bansil P, Domingo GJ, Htun MM, Thant KZ, Htut Y, Nosten F. 2016. Validation of G6PD Point-of-Care Tests among Healthy Volunteers in Yangon, Myanmar. PLoS One, 11 (4), pp. e0152304. | Show Abstract | Read more

Primaquine and other 8-amnoquinoline based anti-malarials can cause haemolysis in subjects with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. Correct diagnosis of G6PD status in patients is crucial for safe treatment of both relapsing stages of Plasmodium vivax and transmitting forms of Plasmodium falciparum. Lack of suitable point-of-care tests has hampered a much needed wide use of primaquine for malaria elimination. In this study we have assessed the performances of two qualitative tests, the fluorescent spot test (FST) and the G6PD CareStart test (CST), against the gold standard quantitative spectrophotometric assay in a population of 1000 random adult healthy volunteers living in Yangon, Myanmar. The prevalence of G6PD deficiency in the Bamar, Karen and in the whole sample set was 6.6% (10.1% in males), 9.2% (21.0% in males) and 6.8% (11.1% in males) respectively. The FST and CST showed comparable performances with sensitivity over 95% and specificity over 90%, however for cases with severe G6PD activity the FTS had improved performance. If used with a conservative interpretation of the signal, the CareStart test has the potential to be used in the field and, by allowing a wider use of primaquine, to help malaria elimination.

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.

Dicko A, Brown JM, Diawara H, Baber I, Mahamar A, Soumare HM, Sanogo K, Koita F et al. 2016. Primaquine to reduce transmission of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Mali: a single-blind, dose-ranging, adaptive randomised phase 2 trial. Lancet Infect Dis, 16 (6), pp. 674-684. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Single low doses of primaquine, when added to artemisinin-based combination therapy, might prevent transmission of Plasmodium falciparum malaria to mosquitoes. We aimed to establish the activity and safety of four low doses of primaquine combined with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine in male patients in Mali. METHODS: In this phase 2, single-blind, dose-ranging, adaptive randomised trial, we enrolled boys and men with uncomplicated P falciparum malaria at the Malaria Research and Training Centre (MRTC) field site in Ouelessebougou, Mali. All participants were confirmed positive carriers of gametocytes through microscopy and had normal function of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) on colorimetric quantification. In the first phase, participants were randomly assigned (1:1:1) to one of three primaquine doses: 0 mg/kg (control), 0·125 mg/kg, and 0·5 mg/kg. Randomisation was done with a computer-generated randomisation list (in block sizes of six) and concealed with sealed, opaque envelopes. In the second phase, different participants were sequentially assigned (1:1) to 0·25 mg/kg primaquine or 0·0625 mg/kg primaquine. Primaquine tablets were dissolved into a solution and administered orally in a single dose. Participants were also given a 3 day course of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine, administered by weight (320 mg dihydroartemisinin and 40 mg piperaquine per tablet). Outcome assessors were masked to treatment allocation, but participants were permitted to find out group assignment. Infectivity was assessed through membrane-feeding assays, which were optimised through the beginning part of phase one. The primary efficacy endpoint was the mean within-person percentage change in mosquito infectivity 2 days after primaquine treatment in participants who completed the study after optimisation of the infectivity assay, had both a pre-treatment infectivity measurement and at least one follow-up infectivity measurement, and who were given the correct primaquine dose. The safety endpoint was the mean within-person change in haemoglobin concentration during 28 days of study follow-up in participants with at least one follow-up visit. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01743820. FINDINGS: Between Jan 2, 2013, and Nov 27, 2014, we enrolled 81 participants. In the primary analysis sample (n=71), participants in the 0·25 mg/kg primaquine dose group (n=15) and 0·5 mg/kg primaquine dose group (n=14) had significantly lower mean within-person reductions in infectivity at day 2-92·6% (95% CI 78·3-100; p=0·0014) for the 0·25 mg/kg group; and 75·0% (45·7-100; p=0·014) for the 0·5 mg/kg primaquine group-compared with those in the control group (n=14; 11·3% [-27·4 to 50·0]). Reductions were not significantly different from control for participants assigned to the 0·0625 mg/kg dose group (n=16; 41·9% [1·4-82·5]; p=0·16) and the 0·125 mg/kg dose group (n=12; 54·9% [13·4-96·3]; p=0·096). No clinically meaningful or statistically significant drops in haemoglobin were recorded in any individual in the haemoglobin analysis (n=70) during follow-up. No serious adverse events were reported and adverse events did not differ between treatment groups. INTERPRETATION: A single dose of 0·25 mg/kg primaquine, given alongside dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine, was safe and efficacious for the prevention of P falciparum malaria transmission in boys and men who are not deficient in G6PD. Future studies should assess the safety of single-dose primaquine in G6PD-deficient individuals to define the therapeutic range of primaquine to enable the safe roll-out of community interventions with primaquine. FUNDING: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Zhu L, Mok S, Imwong M, Jaidee A, Russell B, Nosten F, Day NP, White NJ, Preiser PR, Bozdech Z. 2016. New insights into the Plasmodium vivax transcriptome using RNA-Seq. Sci Rep, 6 pp. 20498. | Show Abstract | Read more

Historically seen as a benign disease, it is now becoming clear that Plasmodium vivax can cause significant morbidity. Effective control strategies targeting P. vivax malaria is hindered by our limited understanding of vivax biology. Here we established the P. vivax transcriptome of the Intraerythrocytic Developmental Cycle (IDC) of two clinical isolates in high resolution by Illumina HiSeq platform. The detailed map of transcriptome generates new insights into regulatory mechanisms of individual genes and reveals their intimate relationship with specific biological functions. A transcriptional hotspot of vir genes observed on chromosome 2 suggests a potential active site modulating immune evasion of the Plasmodium parasite across patients. Compared to other eukaryotes, P. vivax genes tend to have unusually long 5' untranslated regions and also present multiple transcription start sites. In contrast, alternative splicing is rare in P. vivax but its association with the late schizont stage suggests some of its significance for gene function. The newly identified transcripts, including up to 179 vir like genes and 3018 noncoding RNAs suggest an important role of these gene/transcript classes in strain specific transcriptional regulation.

Lee W-C, Malleret B, Lau Y-L, Mauduit M, Fong M-Y, Cho JS, Suwanarusk R, Zhang R et al. 2015. Glycophorin C (CD236R) mediates vivax malaria parasite rosetting to normocytes BLOOD, 126 (25), pp. E100-E109. | Read more

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

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

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

Cheeseman IH, Miller B, Tan JC, Tan A, Nair S, Nkhoma SC, De Donato M, Rodulfo H et al. 2016. Population Structure Shapes Copy Number Variation in Malaria Parasites. Mol Biol Evol, 33 (3), pp. 603-620. | Show Abstract | Read more

If copy number variants (CNVs) are predominantly deleterious, we would expect them to be more efficiently purged from populations with a large effective population size (Ne) than from populations with a small Ne. Malaria parasites (Plasmodium falciparum) provide an excellent organism to examine this prediction, because this protozoan shows a broad spectrum of population structures within a single species, with large, stable, outbred populations in Africa, small unstable inbred populations in South America and with intermediate population characteristics in South East Asia. We characterized 122 single-clone parasites, without prior laboratory culture, from malaria-infected patients in seven countries in Africa, South East Asia and South America using a high-density single-nucleotide polymorphism/CNV microarray. We scored 134 high-confidence CNVs across the parasite exome, including 33 deletions and 102 amplifications, which ranged in size from <500 bp to 59 kb, as well as 10,107 flanking, biallelic single-nucleotide polymorphisms. Overall, CNVs were rare, small, and skewed toward low frequency variants, consistent with the deleterious model. Relative to African and South East Asian populations, CNVs were significantly more common in South America, showed significantly less skew in allele frequencies, and were significantly larger. On this background of low frequency CNV, we also identified several high-frequency CNVs under putative positive selection using an FST outlier analysis. These included known adaptive CNVs containing rh2b and pfmdr1, and several other CNVs (e.g., DNA helicase and three conserved proteins) that require further investigation. Our data are consistent with a significant impact of genetic structure on CNV burden in an important human pathogen.

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

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

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

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

Kaji A, Parker DM, Chu CS, Thayatkawin W, Suelaor J, Charatrueangrongkun R, Salathibuppha K, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2015. Immunization Coverage in Migrant School Children Along the Thailand-Myanmar Border. J Immigr Minor Health, | Show Abstract | Read more

The objective of this project was to document and increase vaccine coverage in migrant school children on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Migrant school children (n = 12,277) were enrolled in a school-based immunization program in four Thai border districts. The children were evaluated for vaccination completion and timing, for six different vaccines: Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG); Oral Polio vaccine (OPV); Hepatitis B vaccine (HepB); Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus vaccine (DTP); Measles Containing Vaccine or Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine (MMR); Tetanus and Diphtheria containing vaccine (Td). Vaccine coverage proportions for BCG, OPV3, DTP3, HepB3 and measles containing vaccine were 92.3, 85.3, 63.8, 72.2, and 90.9 % respectively. Most children were able to receive vaccines in a time appropriate manner. School-based immunization programs offer a suitable vaccine delivery mechanism for hard-to-reach populations. However, these data suggest overall low vaccine coverage in migrant populations. Further efforts toward improving appropriate vaccine coverage and methods of retaining documentation of vaccination in mobile migrant populations are necessary for improved health.

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

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

Parker DM, Carrara VI, Pukrittayakamee S, McGready R, Nosten FH. 2015. Malaria ecology along the Thailand–Myanmar border Malaria Journal, 14 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 Parker et al.Background: Malaria in Southeast Asia frequently clusters along international borders. For example, while most of Thailand is malaria free, the border region shared with Myanmar continues to have endemic malaria. This spatial pattern is the result of complex interactions between landscape, humans, mosquito vectors, and malaria parasites. An understanding of these complex ecological and socio-cultural interactions is important for designing and implementing malaria elimination efforts in the region. This article offers an ecological perspective on the malaria situation along the Thailand-Myanmar border. Discussion: This border region is long (2000 km), mountainous, and the environment ranges from thick forests to growing urban settlements and wet-rice fields. It is also a biologically diverse region. All five species of malaria known to naturally infect humans are present. At least three mosquito vector species complexes, with widely varying behavioural characteristics, exist in the area. The region is also a hub for ethnic diversity, being home to over ten different ethnolinguistic groups, several of which have been engaged in conflict with the Myanmar government now for over half a century. Given the biological and ethnic diversity, as well as the complex socio-political context, malaria control and elimination in the region is challenging. Conclusion: Despite these complexities, multipronged approaches including collaborations with multiple local organizations, quick access to diagnosis and treatment, prevention of mosquito bites, radical cure of parasites, and mass drug administration appear to be drastically decreasing Plasmodium falciparum infections. Such approaches remain crucial as the region moves toward elimination of P. falciparum and potentially Plasmodium vivax.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abdulla S, Ashley EA, Bassat Q, Bethell D, Bjorkman A, Borrmann S, D'Alessandro U, Dahal P et al. 2015. Baseline data of parasite clearance in patients with falciparum malaria treated with an artemisinin derivative: an individual patient data meta-analysis MALARIA JOURNAL, 14 (1), | Read more

Ashley EA, Aweeka F, Barnes KI, Bassat Q, Borrmann S, Dahal P, Davis TME, Deloron P et al. 2015. Artemether-lumefantrine treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria: a systematic review and meta-analysis of day 7 lumefantrine concentrations and therapeutic response using individual patient data BMC Medicine, 13 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) Lumefantrine PK/PD Study Group.Background: Achieving adequate antimalarial drug exposure is essential for curing malaria. Day 7 blood or plasma lumefantrine concentrations provide a simple measure of drug exposure that correlates well with artemether-lumefantrine efficacy. However, the 'therapeutic' day 7 lumefantrine concentration threshold needs to be defined better, particularly for important patient and parasite sub-populations. Methods: The WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) conducted a large pooled analysis of individual pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic data from patients treated with artemether-lumefantrine for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria, to define therapeutic day 7 lumefantrine concentrations and identify patient factors that substantially alter these concentrations. A systematic review of PubMed, Embase, Google Scholar, ClinicalTrials.gov and conference proceedings identified all relevant studies. Risk of bias in individual studies was evaluated based on study design, methodology and missing data. Results: Of 31 studies identified through a systematic review, 26 studies were shared with WWARN and 21 studies with 2,787 patients were included. Recrudescence was associated with low day 7 lumefantrine concentrations (HR 1.59 (95 % CI 1.36 to 1.85) per halving of day 7 concentrations) and high baseline parasitemia (HR 1.87 (95 % CI 1.22 to 2.87) per 10-fold increase). Adjusted for mg/kg dose, day 7 concentrations were lowest in very young children (<3 years), among whom underweight-for-age children had 23 % (95 % CI -1 to 41 %) lower concentrations than adequately nourished children of the same age and 53 % (95 % CI 37 to 65 %) lower concentrations than adults. Day 7 lumefantrine concentrations were 44 % (95 % CI 38 to 49 %) lower following unsupervised treatment. The highest risk of recrudescence was observed in areas of emerging artemisinin resistance and very low transmission intensity. For all other populations studied, day 7 concentrations ≥200 ng/ml were associated with >98 % cure rates (if parasitemia <135,000/μL). Conclusions: Current artemether-lumefantrine dosing recommendations achieve day 7 lumefantrine concentrations ≥200 ng/ml and high cure rates in most uncomplicated malaria patients. Three groups are at increased risk of treatment failure: very young children (particularly those underweight-for-age); patients with high parasitemias; and patients in very low transmission intensity areas with emerging parasite resistance. In these groups, adherence and treatment response should be monitored closely. Higher, more frequent, or prolonged dosage regimens should now be evaluated in very young children, particularly if malnourished, and in patients with hyperparasitemia.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

© 2015 Guyant et al.This meeting report presents the outcomes of a workshop held in Bangkok on December 1st 2014, where the following challenges were discussed: the threat of resistance to artemisinin and artemisinin-based combination therapy in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) and in Africa; access to treatment for most at risk and hard to reach population; insecticide resistance, residual and outdoors transmission. The role of operational research and the interactions between research institutions, National Malaria Control Programmes, Civil Society Organizations, and of financial and technical partners to address those challenges and to accelerate translation of research into policies and programmes were debated. The threat and the emergency of the artemisinin resistance spread and independent emergence in the GMS was intensely debated as it is now close to the border of India. The need for key messages, based on scientific evidence and information available and disseminated without delay, was highlighted as crucial for an effective and urgent response.

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

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

Zhang R, Suwanarusk R, Malleret B, Cooke BM, Nosten F, Lau YL, Dao M, Lim CT, Renia L, Tan KS, Russell B. 2016. A Basis for Rapid Clearance of Circulating Ring-Stage Malaria Parasites by the Spiroindolone KAE609. J Infect Dis, 213 (1), pp. 100-104. | Show Abstract | Read more

Recent clinical trials revealed a surprisingly rapid clearance of red blood cells (RBCs) infected with malaria parasites by the spiroindolone KAE609. Here, we show that ring-stage parasite-infected RBCs exposed to KAE609 become spherical and rigid, probably through osmotic dysregulation consequent to the disruption of the parasite's sodium efflux pump (adenosine triphosphate 4). We also show that this peculiar drug effect is likely to cause accelerated splenic clearance of the rheologically impaired Plasmodium vivax- and Plasmodium falciparum-infected RBCs.

Nosten F, McGready R. 2015. Intermittent presumptive treatment in pregnancy with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine: A counter perspective Malaria Journal, 14 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 Nosten and McGready.Malaria continues to cause devastation during pregnancy. Unfortunately, there is still no clear strategy to effectively protect pregnant women and countless mothers living in malaria endemic countries are dying every year. The effective prevention of malaria during pregnancy will take much more than the so-called "Global Call for Action" for an intervention (IPTp-SP) that cannot succeed. A new and truly "global" strategy is urgently needed.

Cho JS, Russell B, Kosasaivee V, Zhang R, Colin Y, Bertrand O, Chandramohanadas R, Chu CS, Nosten F, Renia L, Malleret B. 2016. Unambiguous determination of Plasmodium vivax reticulocyte invasion by flow cytometry. Int J Parasitol, 46 (1), pp. 31-39. | Show Abstract | Read more

The invasion of CD71+ reticulocytes by Plasmodium vivax is a crucial yet poorly characterised event. The application of flow cytometry to ex vivo invasion assays promises to facilitate the quantitative analysis of P. vivax reticulocyte invasion. However, current protocols suffer from a low level of sensitivity due to the absence of a particular design for P. vivax cell tropism. Importantly, merozoite invasion into contaminating red blood cells from the schizont inoculum (auto-invasion) may confound the analysis. Here we present a stable two-color flow cytometry assay for the accurate quantification of P. vivax merozoite invasion into intracellularly labelled CD71+ reticulocytes. Various enzymatic treatments, antibodies and invasion inhibitory molecules were used to successfully demonstrate the utility of this method. Fluorescent labelling of red blood cells did not affect the invasion and early intra-erythrocytic development of P. vivax. Importantly, this portable field assay allows for the economic usage of limited biological material (parasites and reticulocytes) and the intracellular labeling of the target cells reduces the need for highly purified schizont inoculums. This assay will facilitate the study of P. vivax merozoite biology and the testing of vaccine candidates against vivax malaria.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White LJ, Flegg JA, Phyo AP, Wiladpai-ngern JH, Bethell D, Plowe C, Anderson T, Nkhoma S 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.

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

© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.It has been suggested that community advisory boards (CABs) can play a role in minimising exploitation in international research. To get a better idea of what this requires and whether it might be achievable, the paper first describes core elements that we suggest must be in place for a CAB to reduce the potential for exploitation. The paper then examines a CAB established by the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit under conditions common in resource-poor settings - namely, where individuals join with a very limited understanding of disease and medical research and where an existing organisational structure is not relied upon to serve as the CAB. Using the Tak Province Border Community Ethics Advisory Board (T-CAB) as a case study, we assess the extent to which it might be able to take on a role minimising exploitation were it to decide to do so. We investigate whether, after two years in operation, T-CAB is capable of assessing clinical trials for exploitative features and addressing those found to have them. The findings show that, although T-CAB members have gained knowledge and developed capacities that are foundational for one-day taking on a role to reduce exploitation, their ability to critically evaluate studies for the presence of exploitative elements has not yet been strongly demonstrated. In light of this example, we argue that CABs may not be able to perform such a role for a number of years after initial formation, making it an unsuitable responsibility for many short-term CABs.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

Phyo AP, Jittamala P, Nosten FH, Pukrittayakamee S, Imwong M, White NJ, Duparc S, Macintyre F, Baker M, Möhrle JJ. 2016. Antimalarial activity of artefenomel (OZ439), a novel synthetic antimalarial endoperoxide, in patients with Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax malaria: an open-label phase 2 trial. Lancet Infect Dis, 16 (1), pp. 61-69. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artefenomel (OZ439) is a novel synthetic trioxolane with improved pharmacokinetic properties compared with other antimalarial drugs with the artemisinin pharmacophore. Artefenomel has been generally well tolerated in volunteers at doses up to 1600 mg and is being developed as a partner drug in an antimalarial combination treatment. We investigated the efficacy, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of artefenomel at different doses in patients with Plasmodium falciparum or Plasmodium vivax malaria. METHODS: This phase 2a exploratory, open-label trial was done at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Bangkok, and the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit in Thailand. Adult patients with acute, uncomplicated P falciparum or P vivax malaria received artefenomel in a single oral dose (200 mg, 400 mg, 800 mg, or 1200 mg). The first cohort received 800 mg. Testing of a new dose of artefenomel in a patient cohort was decided on after safety and efficacy assessment of the preceding cohort. The primary endpoint was the natural log parasite reduction per 24 h. Definitive oral treatment was given at 36 h. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01213966. FINDINGS: Between Oct 24, 2010, and May 25, 2012, 82 patients were enrolled (20 in each of the 200 mg, 400 mg, and 800 mg cohorts, and 21 in the 1200 mg cohort). One patient withdrew consent (before the administration of artefenomel) but there were no further dropouts. The parasite reduction rates per 24 h ranged from 0·90 to 1·88 for P falciparum, and 2·09 to 2·53 for P vivax. All doses were equally effective in both P falciparum and P vivax malaria, with median parasite clearance half-lives of 4·1 h (range 1·3-6·7) to 5·6 h (2·0-8·5) for P falciparum and 2·3 h (1·2-3·9) to 3·2 h (0·9-15·0) for P vivax. Maximum plasma concentrations, dose-proportional to 800 mg, occurred at 4 h (median). The estimated elimination half-life was 46-62 h. No serious drug-related adverse effects were reported; other adverse effects were generally mild and reversible, with the highest number in the 1200 mg cohort (17 [81%] patients with at least one adverse event). The most frequently reported adverse effect was an asymptomatic increase in plasma creatine phosphokinase concentration (200 mg, n=5; 400 mg, n=3; 800 mg, n=1; 1200 mg, n=3). INTERPRETATION: Artefenomel is a new synthetic antimalarial peroxide with a good safety profile that clears parasitaemia rapidly in both P falciparum and P vivax malaria. Its long half-life suggests a possible use in a single-dose treatment in combination with other drugs. FUNDING: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, and UK Department for International Development.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vaughan AM, Pinapati RS, Cheeseman IH, Camargo N, Fishbaugher M, Checkley LA, Nair S, Hutyra CA et al. 2015. Plasmodium falciparum genetic crosses in a humanized mouse model Nature Methods, 12 (7), pp. 631-633. | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.Genetic crosses of phenotypically distinct strains of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum are a powerful tool for identifying genes controlling drug resistance and other key phenotypes. Previous studies relied on the isolation of recombinant parasites from splenectomized chimpanzees, a research avenue that is no longer available. Here we demonstrate that human-liver chimeric mice support recovery of recombinant progeny for the identification of genetic determinants of parasite traits and adaptations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bancone G, Chu CS, Somsakchaicharoen R, Chowwiwat N, Parker DM, Charunwatthana P, White NJ, Nosten FH. 2014. Characterization of G6PD genotypes and phenotypes on the northwestern PLoS ONE, 9 (12), | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2014 Bancone et al.Mutations in the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) gene result in red blood cells with increased susceptibility to oxidative damage. Significant haemolysis can be caused by primaquine and other 8-aminoquinoline antimalarials used for the radical treatment of Plasmodium vivax malaria. The distribution and phenotypes of mutations causing G6PD deficiency in the male population of migrants and refugees in a malaria endemic region on the Thailand-Myanmar border were characterized. Blood samples for G6PD fluorescent spot test (FST), G6PD genotyping, and malaria testing were taken from 504 unrelated males of Karen and Burman ethnicities presenting to the outpatient clinics. The overall frequency of G6PD deficiency by the FST was 13.7%. Among the deficient subjects, almost 90% had the Mahidol variant (487G>A) genotype. The remaining subjects had Chinese-4 (392G>T), Viangchan (871G>A), Açores (595A>G), Seattle (844G>C) and Mediterranean (563C>T) variants. Quantification of G6PD activity was performed using a modification of the standard spectrophotometric assay on a subset of 24 samples with Mahidol, Viangchan, Seattle and Chinese-4 mutations; all samples showed a residual enzymatic activity below 10% of normal and were diagnosed correctly by the FST. Further studies are needed to characterise the haemolytic risk of using 8-aminoquinolines in patients with these genotypes.

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

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

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.

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

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

Malleret B, Li A, Zhang R, Tan KS, Suwanarusk R, Claser C, Cho JS, Koh EG et al. 2015. Plasmodium vivax: restricted tropism and rapid remodeling of CD71-positive reticulocytes. Blood, 125 (8), pp. 1314-1324. | Show Abstract | Read more

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

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

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

McGready R, Prakash JA, Benjamin SJ, Watthanaworawit W, Anantatat T, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Ling CL, Tan SO et al. 2014. Pregnancy outcome in relation to treatment of murine typhus and scrub typhus infection: a fever cohort and a case series analysis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 8 (11), pp. e3327. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: There is a paucity of published reports on pregnancy outcome following scrub and murine typhus despite these infections being leading causes of undifferentiated fever in Asia. This study aimed to relate pregnancy outcome with treatment of typhus. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Data were analyzed from: i) pregnant women with a diagnosis of scrub and/or murine typhus from a fever cohort studies; ii) case series of published studies in PubMed using the search terms "scrub typhus" (ST), "murine typhus" (MT), "Orientia tsutsugamushi", "Rickettsia tsutsugamushi", "Rickettsia typhi", "rickettsiae", "typhus", or "rickettsiosis"; and "pregnancy", until February 2014 and iii) an unpublished case series. Fever clearance time (FCT) and pregnancy outcome (miscarriage and delivery) were compared to treatment. Poor neonatal outcome was a composite measure for pregnancies sustained to 28 weeks or more of gestation ending in stillbirth, preterm birth, or delivery of a growth restricted or low birth weight newborn. RESULTS: There were 26 women in the fever cohort. MT and ST were clinically indistinguishable apart from two ST patients with eschars. FCTs (median [range] hours) were 25 [16-42] for azithromycin (n=5), 34 [20-53] for antimalarials (n=5) and 92 [6-260] for other antibiotics/supportive therapy (n=16). There were 36.4% (8/22) with a poor neonatal outcome. In 18 years, 97 pregnancies were collated, 82 with known outcomes, including two maternal deaths. Proportions of miscarriage 17.3% (14/81) and poor neonatal outcomes 41.8% (28/67) were high, increasing with longer FCTs (p=0.050, linear trend). Use of azithromycin was not significantly associated with improved neonatal outcomes (p=0.610). CONCLUSION: The published ST and MT world literature amounts to less than 100 pregnancies due to under recognition and under diagnosis. Evidence supporting the most commonly used treatment, azithromycin, is weak. Collaborative, prospective clinical trials in pregnant women are urgently required to reduce the burden of adverse maternal and newborn outcomes and to determine the safety and efficacy of antimicrobial treatment.

Bergstrand M, Nosten F, Lwin KM, Karlsson MO, White NJ, Tarning J. 2014. Characterization of an in vivo concentration-effect relationship for piperaquine in malaria chemoprevention. Sci Transl Med, 6 (260), pp. 260ra147. | Show Abstract | Read more

A randomized, placebo-controlled trial conducted on the northwest border of Thailand compared malaria chemoprevention with monthly or bimonthly standard 3-day treatment regimens of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine. Healthy adult male subjects (N = 1000) were followed weekly during 9 months of treatment. Using nonlinear mixed-effects modeling, the concentration-effect relationship for the malaria-preventive effect of piperaquine was best characterized with a sigmoidal Emax relationship, where plasma concentrations of 6.7 ng/ml [relative standard error (RSE), 23%] and 20 ng/ml were found to reduce the hazard of acquiring a malaria infection by 50% [that is, median inhibitory concentration (IC50)] and 95% (IC95), respectively. Simulations of monthly dosing, based on the final model and published pharmacokinetic data, suggested that the incidence of malaria infections over 1 year could be reduced by 70% with a recently suggested dosing regimen compared to the current manufacturer's recommendations for small children (8 to 12 kg). This model provides a rational framework for piperaquine dose optimization in different patient groups.

Veiga MI, Osório NS, Ferreira PE, Franzén O, Dahlstrom S, Lum JK, Nosten F, Gil JP. 2014. Complex polymorphisms in the Plasmodium falciparum multidrug resistance protein 2 gene and its contribution to antimalarial response. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 58 (12), pp. 7390-7397. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium falciparum has the capacity to escape the actions of essentially all antimalarial drugs. ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter proteins are known to cause multidrug resistance in a large range of organisms, including the Apicomplexa parasites. P. falciparum genome analysis has revealed two genes coding for the multidrug resistance protein (MRP) type of ABC transporters: Pfmrp1, previously associated with decreased parasite drug susceptibility, and the poorly studied Pfmrp2. The role of Pfmrp2 polymorphisms in modulating sensitivity to antimalarial drugs has not been established. We herein report a comprehensive account of the Pfmrp2 genetic variability in 46 isolates from Thailand. A notably high frequency of 2.8 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)/kb was identified for this gene, including some novel SNPs. Additionally, we found that Pfmrp2 harbors a significant number of microindels, some previously not reported. We also investigated the potential association of the identified Pfmrp2 polymorphisms with altered in vitro susceptibility to several antimalarials used in artemisinin-based combination therapy and with parasite clearance time. Association analysis suggested Pfmrp2 polymorphisms modulate the parasite's in vitro response to quinoline antimalarials, including chloroquine, piperaquine, and mefloquine, and association with in vivo parasite clearance. In conclusion, our study reveals that the Pfmrp2 gene is the most diverse ABC transporter known in P. falciparum with a potential role in antimalarial drug resistance.

Price RN, von Seidlein L, Valecha N, Nosten F, Baird JK, White NJ. 2014. Global extent of chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium vivax: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Infect Dis, 14 (10), pp. 982-991. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Chloroquine is the first-line treatment for Plasmodium vivax malaria in most endemic countries, but resistance is increasing. Monitoring of antimalarial efficacy is essential, but in P. vivax infections the assessment of treatment efficacy is confounded by relapse from the dormant liver stages. We systematically reviewed P. vivax malaria treatment efficacy studies to establish the global extent of chloroquine resistance. METHODS: We searched Medline, Web of Science, Embase, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews to identify studies published in English between Jan 1, 1960, and April 30, 2014, which investigated antimalarial treatment efficacy in P. vivax malaria. We excluded studies that did not include supervised schizonticidal treatment without primaquine. We determined rates of chloroquine resistance according to P. vivax malaria recurrence rates by day 28 whole-blood chloroquine concentrations at the time of recurrence and study enrolment criteria. FINDINGS: We identified 129 eligible clinical trials involving 21,694 patients at 179 study sites and 26 case reports describing 54 patients. Chloroquine resistance was present in 58 (53%) of 113 assessable study sites, spread across most countries that are endemic for P. vivax. Clearance of parasitaemia assessed by microscopy in 95% of patients by day 2, or all patients by day 3, was 100% predictive of chloroquine sensitivity. INTERPRETATION: Heterogeneity of study design and analysis has confounded global surveillance of chloroquine-resistant P. vivax, which is now present across most countries endemic for P. vivax. Improved methods for monitoring of drug resistance are needed to inform antimalarial policy in these regions. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust (UK).

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

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

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

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

Chewapreecha C, Marttinen P, Croucher NJ, Salter SJ, Harris SR, Mather AE, Hanage WP, Goldblatt D et al. 2014. Comprehensive identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with beta-lactam resistance within pneumococcal mosaic genes. PLoS Genet, 10 (8), pp. e1004547. | Show Abstract | Read more

Traditional genetic association studies are very difficult in bacteria, as the generally limited recombination leads to large linked haplotype blocks, confounding the identification of causative variants. Beta-lactam antibiotic resistance in Streptococcus pneumoniae arises readily as the bacteria can quickly incorporate DNA fragments encompassing variants that make the transformed strains resistant. However, the causative mutations themselves are embedded within larger recombined blocks, and previous studies have only analysed a limited number of isolates, leading to the description of "mosaic genes" as being responsible for resistance. By comparing a large number of genomes of beta-lactam susceptible and non-susceptible strains, the high frequency of recombination should break up these haplotype blocks and allow the use of genetic association approaches to identify individual causative variants. Here, we performed a genome-wide association study to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and indels that could confer beta-lactam non-susceptibility using 3,085 Thai and 616 USA pneumococcal isolates as independent datasets for the variant discovery. The large sample sizes allowed us to narrow the source of beta-lactam non-susceptibility from long recombinant fragments down to much smaller loci comprised of discrete or linked SNPs. While some loci appear to be universal resistance determinants, contributing equally to non-susceptibility for at least two classes of beta-lactam antibiotics, some play a larger role in resistance to particular antibiotics. All of the identified loci have a highly non-uniform distribution in the populations. They are enriched not only in vaccine-targeted, but also non-vaccine-targeted lineages, which may raise clinical concerns. Identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms underlying resistance will be essential for future use of genome sequencing to predict antibiotic sensitivity in clinical microbiology.

White NJ, Pukrittayakamee S, Phyo AP, Rueangweerayut R, Nosten F, Jittamala P, Jeeyapant A, Jain JP et al. 2014. Spiroindolone KAE609 for falciparum and vivax malaria. N Engl J Med, 371 (5), pp. 403-410. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: KAE609 (cipargamin; formerly NITD609, Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases) is a new synthetic antimalarial spiroindolone analogue with potent, dose-dependent antimalarial activity against asexual and sexual stages of Plasmodium falciparum. METHODS: We conducted a phase 2, open-label study at three centers in Thailand to assess the antimalarial efficacy, safety, and adverse-event profile of KAE609, at a dose of 30 mg per day for 3 days, in two sequential cohorts of adults with uncomplicated P. vivax malaria (10 patients) or P. falciparum malaria (11). The primary end point was the parasite clearance time. RESULTS: The median parasite clearance time was 12 hours in each cohort (interquartile range, 8 to 16 hours in patients with P. vivax malaria and 10 to 16 hours in those with P. falciparum malaria). The median half-lives for parasite clearance were 0.95 hours (range, 0.68 to 2.01; interquartile range, 0.85 to 1.14) in the patients with P. vivax malaria and 0.90 hours (range, 0.68 to 1.64; interquartile range, 0.78 to 1.07) in those with P. falciparum malaria. By comparison, only 19 of 5076 patients with P. falciparum malaria (<1%) who were treated with oral artesunate in Southeast Asia had a parasite clearance half-life of less than 1 hour. Adverse events were reported in 14 patients (67%), with nausea being the most common. The adverse events were generally mild and did not lead to any discontinuations of the drug. The mean terminal half-life for the elimination of KAE609 was 20.8 hours (range, 11.3 to 37.6), supporting a once-daily oral dosing regimen. CONCLUSIONS: KAE609, at dose of 30 mg daily for 3 days, cleared parasitemia rapidly in adults with uncomplicated P. vivax or P. falciparum malaria. (Funded by Novartis and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01524341.).

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.).

Venkatesan M, Gadalla NB, Stepniewska K, Dahal P, Nsanzabana C, Moriera C, Price RN, Mårtensson A et al. 2014. Polymorphisms in Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine resistance transporter and multidrug resistance 1 genes: parasite risk factors that affect treatment outcomes for P. falciparum malaria after artemether-lumefantrine and artesunate-amodiaquine. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 91 (4), pp. 833-843. | Show Abstract | Read more

Adequate clinical and parasitologic cure by artemisinin combination therapies relies on the artemisinin component and the partner drug. Polymorphisms in the Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine resistance transporter (pfcrt) and P. falciparum multidrug resistance 1 (pfmdr1) genes are associated with decreased sensitivity to amodiaquine and lumefantrine, but effects of these polymorphisms on therapeutic responses to artesunate-amodiaquine (ASAQ) and artemether-lumefantrine (AL) have not been clearly defined. Individual patient data from 31 clinical trials were harmonized and pooled by using standardized methods from the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network. Data for more than 7,000 patients were analyzed to assess relationships between parasite polymorphisms in pfcrt and pfmdr1 and clinically relevant outcomes after treatment with AL or ASAQ. Presence of the pfmdr1 gene N86 (adjusted hazards ratio = 4.74, 95% confidence interval = 2.29 - 9.78, P < 0.001) and increased pfmdr1 copy number (adjusted hazards ratio = 6.52, 95% confidence interval = 2.36-17.97, P < 0.001 : were significant independent risk factors for recrudescence in patients treated with AL. AL and ASAQ exerted opposing selective effects on single-nucleotide polymorphisms in pfcrt and pfmdr1. Monitoring selection and responding to emerging signs of drug resistance are critical tools for preserving efficacy of artemisinin combination therapies; determination of the prevalence of at least pfcrt K76T and pfmdr1 N86Y should now be routine.

Onyamboko MA, Fanello CI, Wongsaen K, Tarning J, Cheah PY, Tshefu KA, Dondorp AM, Nosten F, White NJ, Day NP. 2014. Randomized comparison of the efficacies and tolerabilities of three artemisinin-based combination treatments for children with acute Plasmodium falciparum malaria in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 58 (9), pp. 5528-5536. | Show Abstract | Read more

An open-label, randomized controlled trial was carried out in 2011-2012 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to test the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of the artemisinin-based combination treatments dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine, amodiaquine-artesunate, and artemether-lumefantrine. Six hundred eighty-four children aged 3 to 59 months with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria were randomly allocated to each study arm. Children were hospitalized for 3 days, given supervised treatment, and followed up weekly for 42 days. All regimens were well tolerated and rapidly effective. The median parasitemia clearance half-life was 2.2 h, and half-lives were similar between arms (P=0.19). The PCR-uncorrected cure rates by day 42 were 73.0% for amodiaquine-artesunate, 70.2% for artemether-lumefantrine, and 86.3% for dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (P=0.001). Early treatment failure occurred in three patients (0.5%), one in each arm. The PCR-corrected cure rates were 93.4% for amodiaquine-artesunate, 92.7% for artemether-lumefantrine, and 94.3% for dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (P=0.78). The last provided a longer posttreatment prophylactic effect than did the other two treatments. The day 7 plasma concentration of piperaquine was below 30 ng/ml in 47% of the children treated with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine, and the day 7 lumefantrine concentration was below 280 ng/ml in 37.0% of children who received artemether-lumefantrine. Thus, although cure rates were all satisfactory, they could be improved by increasing the dose. (This study has been registered with the International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number Register [www.isrctn.org] under registration no. ISRCTN20984426.).

Imwong M, Hanchana S, Malleret B, Rénia L, Day NP, Dondorp A, Nosten F, Snounou G, White NJ. 2014. High-throughput ultrasensitive molecular techniques for quantifying low-density malaria parasitemias. J Clin Microbiol, 52 (9), pp. 3303-3309. | Show Abstract | Read more

The epidemiology of malaria in "low-transmission" areas has been underestimated. Molecular detection methods have revealed higher prevalences of malaria than conventional microscopy or rapid diagnostic tests, but these typically evaluate finger-prick capillary blood samples (∼5 μl) and therefore cannot detect parasite densities of <200/ml. Their use underestimates true parasite carriage rates. To characterize the epidemiology of malaria in low-transmission settings and plan elimination strategies, more sensitive quantitative PCR (qPCR) is needed to identify and quantify low-density malaria parasitemias. A highly sensitive "high-volume" quantitative PCR (qPCR) method based on Plasmodium sp. 18S RNA was adapted for blood sample volumes of ≥250 μl and scaled for high throughput. The methods were validated by assessment of the analytical sensitivity and specificity, diagnostic sensitivity, and specificity, efficiency, precision, analytical and diagnostic accuracies, limit of detection, root cause analysis of false positives, and robustness. The high-volume qPCR method based on Plasmodium sp. 18S RNA gave high PCR efficiency of 90 to 105%. Concentrations of parasite DNA from large volumes of blood gave a consistent analytical detection limit (LOD) of 22 parasites/ml (95% CI, 21.79 to 74.9), which is some 2,500 times more sensitive than conventional microscopy and 50 times more sensitive than currently used PCR methods from filter paper blood spots. The diagnostic specificity was 99.75%. Using automated procedures it was possible to process 700 blood samples per week. A very sensitive and specific high-throughput high-volume qPCR method for the detection of low-density parasitemias (>20 parasites/ml) was developed and validated.

Tan JJ, Capozzoli M, Sato M, Watthanaworawit W, Ling CL, Mauduit M, Malleret B, Grüner AC et al. 2014. An integrated lab-on-chip for rapid identification and simultaneous differentiation of tropical pathogens. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 8 (7), pp. e3043. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tropical pathogens often cause febrile illnesses in humans and are responsible for considerable morbidity and mortality. The similarities in clinical symptoms provoked by these pathogens make diagnosis difficult. Thus, early, rapid and accurate diagnosis will be crucial in patient management and in the control of these diseases. In this study, a microfluidic lab-on-chip integrating multiplex molecular amplification and DNA microarray hybridization was developed for simultaneous detection and species differentiation of 26 globally important tropical pathogens. The analytical performance of the lab-on-chip for each pathogen ranged from 102 to 103 DNA or RNA copies. Assay performance was further verified with human whole blood spiked with Plasmodium falciparum and Chikungunya virus that yielded a range of detection from 200 to 4×105 parasites, and from 250 to 4×107 PFU respectively. This lab-on-chip was subsequently assessed and evaluated using 170 retrospective patient specimens in Singapore and Thailand. The lab-on-chip had a detection sensitivity of 83.1% and a specificity of 100% for P. falciparum; a sensitivity of 91.3% and a specificity of 99.3% for P. vivax; a positive 90.0% agreement and a specificity of 100% for Chikungunya virus; and a positive 85.0% agreement and a specificity of 100% for Dengue virus serotype 3 with reference methods conducted on the samples. Results suggested the practicality of an amplification microarray-based approach in a field setting for high-throughput detection and identification of tropical pathogens.

Pratt B, Zion D, Lwin KM, Cheah PY, Nosten F, Loff B. 2014. Linking international clinical research with stateless populations to justice in global health. BMC Med Ethics, 15 (1), pp. 49. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In response to calls to expand the scope of research ethics to address justice in global health, recent scholarship has sought to clarify how external research actors from high-income countries might discharge their obligation to reduce health disparities between and within countries. An ethical framework-'research for health justice'-was derived from a theory of justice (the health capability paradigm) and specifies how international clinical research might contribute to improved health and research capacity in host communities. This paper examines whether and how external funders, sponsors, and researchers can fulfill their obligations under the framework. METHODS: Case study research was undertaken on the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit's (SMRU) vivax malaria treatment trial, which was performed on the Thai-Myanmar border with Karen and Myanmar refugees and migrants. We conducted nineteen in-depth interviews with trial stakeholders, including investigators, trial participants, community advisory board members, and funder representatives; directly observed at trial sites over a five-week period; and collected trial-related documents for analysis. RESULTS: The vivax malaria treatment trial drew attention to contextual features that, when present, rendered the 'research for health justice' framework's guidance partially incomplete. These insights allowed us to extend the framework to consider external research actors' obligations to stateless populations. Data analysis then showed that framework requirements are largely fulfilled in relation to the vivax malaria treatment trial by Wellcome Trust (funder), Oxford University (sponsor), and investigators. At the same time, this study demonstrates that it may be difficult for long-term collaborations to shift the focus of their research agendas in accordance with the changing burden of illness in their host communities and to build the independent research capacity of host populations when working with refugees and migrants. Obstructive factors included the research funding environment and staff turnover due to resettlement or migration. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings show that obligations for selecting research targets, research capacity strengthening, and post-trial benefits that link clinical trials to justice in global health can be upheld by external research actors from high-income countries when working with stateless populations in LMICs. However, meeting certain framework requirements for long-term collaborations may not be entirely feasible.

Kloprogge F, Jullien V, Piola P, Dhorda M, Muwanga S, Nosten F, Day NP, White NJ, Guerin PJ, Tarning J. 2014. Population pharmacokinetics of quinine in pregnant women with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Uganda. J Antimicrob Chemother, 69 (11), pp. 3033-3040. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: Oral quinine is used for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria during pregnancy, but few pharmacokinetic data are available for this population. Previous studies have reported a substantial effect of malaria on the pharmacokinetics of quinine resulting from increased α-1-acid glycoprotein levels and decreased cytochrome P450 3A4 activity. The aim of this study was to investigate the pharmacokinetic properties of oral quinine in pregnant women with uncomplicated malaria in Uganda using a population approach. METHODS: Data from 22 women in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria were analysed. Patients received quinine sulphate (10 mg of salt/kg) three times daily (0, 8 and 16 h) for 7 days. Plasma samples were collected daily and at frequent intervals after the first and last doses. A population pharmacokinetic model for quinine was developed accounting for different disposition, absorption, error and covariate models. RESULTS: Parasitaemia, as a time-varying covariate affecting relative bioavailability, and body temperature on admission as a covariate on elimination clearance, explained the higher exposure to quinine during acute malaria compared with the convalescent phase. Neither the estimated gestational age nor the trimester influenced the pharmacokinetic properties of quinine significantly. CONCLUSIONS: A population model was developed that adequately characterized quinine pharmacokinetics in pregnant Ugandan women with acute malaria. Quinine exposure was lower than previously reported in patients who were not pregnant. The measurement of free quinine concentration will be necessary to determine the therapeutic relevance of these observations.

Ocholla H, Preston MD, Mipando M, Jensen AT, Campino S, MacInnis B, Alcock D, Terlouw A et al. 2014. Whole-genome scans provide evidence of adaptive evolution in Malawian Plasmodium falciparum isolates. J Infect Dis, 210 (12), pp. 1991-2000. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Selection by host immunity and antimalarial drugs has driven extensive adaptive evolution in Plasmodium falciparum and continues to produce ever-changing landscapes of genetic variation. METHODS: We performed whole-genome sequencing of 69 P. falciparum isolates from Malawi and used population genetics approaches to investigate genetic diversity and population structure and identify loci under selection. RESULTS: High genetic diversity (π = 2.4 × 10(-4)), moderately high multiplicity of infection (2.7), and low linkage disequilibrium (500-bp) were observed in Chikhwawa District, Malawi, an area of high malaria transmission. Allele frequency-based tests provided evidence of recent population growth in Malawi and detected potential targets of host immunity and candidate vaccine antigens. Comparison of the sequence variation between isolates from Malawi and those from 5 geographically dispersed countries (Kenya, Burkina Faso, Mali, Cambodia, and Thailand) detected population genetic differences between Africa and Asia, within Southeast Asia, and within Africa. Haplotype-based tests of selection to sequence data from all 6 populations identified signals of directional selection at known drug-resistance loci, including pfcrt, pfdhps, pfmdr1, and pfgch1. CONCLUSIONS: The sequence variations observed at drug-resistance loci reflect differences in each country's historical use of antimalarial drugs and may be useful in formulating local malaria treatment guidelines.

Croucher NJ, Chewapreecha C, Hanage WP, Harris SR, McGee L, van der Linden M, Song JH, Ko KS et al. 2014. Evidence for soft selective sweeps in the evolution of pneumococcal multidrug resistance and vaccine escape. Genome Biol Evol, 6 (7), pp. 1589-1602. | Show Abstract | Read more

The multidrug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae Taiwan(19F)-14, or PMEN14, clone was first observed with a 19F serotype, which is targeted by the heptavalent polysaccharide conjugate vaccine (PCV7). However, "vaccine escape" PMEN14 isolates with a 19A serotype became an increasingly important cause of disease post-PCV7. Whole genome sequencing was used to characterize the recent evolution of 173 pneumococci of, or related to, PMEN14. This suggested that PMEN14 is a single lineage that originated in the late 1980s in parallel with the acquisition of multiple resistances by close relatives. One of the four detected serotype switches to 19A generated representatives of the sequence type (ST) 320 isolates that have been highly successful post-PCV7. A second produced an ST236 19A genotype with reduced resistance to β-lactams owing to alteration of pbp1a and pbp2x sequences through the same recombination that caused the change in serotype. A third, which generated a mosaic capsule biosynthesis locus, resulted in serotype 19A ST271 isolates. The rapid diversification through homologous recombination seen in the global collection was similarly observed in the absence of vaccination in a set of isolates from the Maela refugee camp in Thailand, a collection that also allowed variation to be observed within carriage through longitudinal sampling. This suggests that some pneumococcal genotypes generate a pool of standing variation that is sufficiently extensive to result in "soft" selective sweeps: The emergence of multiple mutants in parallel upon a change in selection pressure, such as vaccine introduction. The subsequent competition between these mutants makes this phenomenon difficult to detect without deep sampling of individual lineages.

Kuhen KL, Chatterjee AK, Rottmann M, Gagaring K, Borboa R, Buenviaje J, Chen Z, Francek C et al. 2014. KAF156 is an antimalarial clinical candidate with potential for use in prophylaxis, treatment, and prevention of disease transmission. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 58 (9), pp. 5060-5067. | Show Abstract | Read more

Renewed global efforts toward malaria eradication have highlighted the need for novel antimalarial agents with activity against multiple stages of the parasite life cycle. We have previously reported the discovery of a novel class of antimalarial compounds in the imidazolopiperazine series that have activity in the prevention and treatment of blood stage infection in a mouse model of malaria. Consistent with the previously reported activity profile of this series, the clinical candidate KAF156 shows blood schizonticidal activity with 50% inhibitory concentrations of 6 to 17.4 nM against P. falciparum drug-sensitive and drug-resistant strains, as well as potent therapeutic activity in a mouse models of malaria with 50, 90, and 99% effective doses of 0.6, 0.9, and 1.4 mg/kg, respectively. When administered prophylactically in a sporozoite challenge mouse model, KAF156 is completely protective as a single oral dose of 10 mg/kg. Finally, KAF156 displays potent Plasmodium transmission blocking activities both in vitro and in vivo. Collectively, our data suggest that KAF156, currently under evaluation in clinical trials, has the potential to treat, prevent, and block the transmission of malaria.

McGready R, Wongsaen K, Chu CS, Tun NW, Chotivanich K, White NJ, Nosten F. 2014. Uncomplicated Plasmodium vivax malaria in pregnancy associated with mortality from acute respiratory distress syndrome Malaria Journal, 13 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

The association between severe malaria and Plasmodium vivax species is contentious. On the Thai-Myanmar border, all pregnant women are followed systematically with active weekly malaria screening. Over a 27-year period of providing antenatal care, 48,983 have been prospectively followed until pregnancy outcome (miscarriage or delivery) and 4,298 women have had P. vivax detected at least once. Reported here is the first known P. vivax-associated death amongst these women. The initial patient presentation was of uncomplicated P. vivax (0.5% parasitaemia) in a term, multigravida woman who responded rapidly to oral artesunate and mefloquine treatment, clearing her blood stage parasites within 48 hours. The patient appeared well, was ambulatory and due to be discharged but became unwell with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) requiring ventilation three days (67 hours) into treatment. Despite induction and delivery of a stillborn foetus, ventilatory requirements increased and the patient died on day 7. The patient had a low body mass index. Sensitive detection with nested PCR confirmed only the presence of P. vivax species and concomitant infections such as tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were also ruled out. The contemporaneous treatment of acute uncomplicated P. vivax and the onset of ARDS on day 3 in this patient implies a possible but unconfirmed association with death in this patient. Assuming this death was caused by P. vivax, the risk of ARDS-related maternal mortality in this setting did not differ significantly between Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax (0.24 per 1,000 (1/4,158) versus 0.23 per 1,000 (1/4,298), contrary to the increased risk of maternal mortality from P. falciparum compared to P. vivax, 2.89 per 1,000 (12/4,158) versus 0.23 per 1,000 (1/4,298), P = 0.003. © 2014 McGready et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

McGready R, Wongsaen K, Chu CS, Tun NW, Chotivanich K, White NJ, Nosten F. 2014. Uncomplicated Plasmodium vivax malaria in pregnancy associated with mortality from acute respiratory distress syndrome. Malar J, 13 (1), pp. 191. | Show Abstract | Read more

The association between severe malaria and Plasmodium vivax species is contentious. On the Thai-Myanmar border, all pregnant women are followed systematically with active weekly malaria screening. Over a 27-year period of providing antenatal care, 48,983 have been prospectively followed until pregnancy outcome (miscarriage or delivery) and 4,298 women have had P. vivax detected at least once. Reported here is the first known P. vivax-associated death amongst these women. The initial patient presentation was of uncomplicated P. vivax (0.5% parasitaemia) in a term, multigravida woman who responded rapidly to oral artesunate and mefloquine treatment, clearing her blood stage parasites within 48 hours. The patient appeared well, was ambulatory and due to be discharged but became unwell with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) requiring ventilation three days (67 hours) into treatment. Despite induction and delivery of a stillborn foetus, ventilatory requirements increased and the patient died on day 7. The patient had a low body mass index. Sensitive detection with nested PCR confirmed only the presence of P. vivax species and concomitant infections such as tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were also ruled out. The contemporaneous treatment of acute uncomplicated P. vivax and the onset of ARDS on day 3 in this patient implies a possible but unconfirmed association with death in this patient. Assuming this death was caused by P. vivax, the risk of ARDS-related maternal mortality in this setting did not differ significantly between Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax (0.24 per 1,000 (1/4,158) versus 0.23 per 1,000 (1/4,298), contrary to the increased risk of maternal mortality from P. falciparum compared to P. vivax, 2.89 per 1,000 (12/4,158) versus 0.23 per 1,000 (1/4,298), P = 0.003.

Chandramohanadas R, Basappa, Russell B, Liew K, Yau YH, Chong A, Liu M, Gunalan K et al. 2014. Small molecule targeting malaria merozoite surface protein-1 (MSP-1) prevents host invasion of divergent plasmodial species. J Infect Dis, 210 (10), pp. 1616-1626. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria causes nearly 1 million deaths annually. Recent emergence of multidrug resistance highlights the need to develop novel therapeutic interventions against human malaria. Given the involvement of sugar binding plasmodial proteins in host invasion, we set out to identify such proteins as targets of small glycans. Combining multidisciplinary approaches, we report the discovery of a small molecule inhibitor, NIC, capable of inhibiting host invasion through interacting with a major invasion-related protein, merozoite surface protein-1 (MSP-1). This interaction was validated through computational, biochemical, and biophysical tools. Importantly, treatment with NIC prevented host invasion by Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax--major causative organisms of human malaria. MSP-1, an indispensable antigen critical for invasion and suitably localized in abundance on the merozoite surface represents an ideal target for antimalarial development. The ability to target merozoite invasion proteins with specific small inhibitors opens up a new avenue to target this important pathogen.

Nair S, Nkhoma SC, Serre D, Zimmerman PA, Gorena K, Daniel BJ, Nosten F, Anderson TJ, Cheeseman IH. 2014. Single-cell genomics for dissection of complex malaria infections. Genome Res, 24 (6), pp. 1028-1038. | Show Abstract | Read more

Most malaria infections contain complex mixtures of distinct parasite lineages. These multiple-genotype infections (MGIs) impact virulence evolution, drug resistance, intra-host dynamics, and recombination, but are poorly understood. To address this we have developed a single-cell genomics approach to dissect MGIs. By combining cell sorting and whole-genome amplification (WGA), we are able to generate high-quality material from parasite-infected red blood cells (RBCs) for genotyping and next-generation sequencing. We optimized our approach through analysis of >260 single-cell assays. To quantify accuracy, we decomposed mixtures of known parasite genotypes and obtained highly accurate (>99%) single-cell genotypes. We applied this validated approach directly to infections of two major malaria species, Plasmodium falciparum, for which long term culture is possible, and Plasmodium vivax, for which no long-term culture is feasible. We demonstrate that our single-cell genomics approach can be used to generate parasite genome sequences directly from patient blood in order to unravel the complexity of P. vivax and P. falciparum infections. These methods open the door for large-scale analysis of within-host variation of malaria infections, and reveal information on relatedness and drug resistance haplotypes that is inaccessible through conventional sequencing of infections.

Somé AF, Zongo I, Compaoré YD, Sakandé S, Nosten F, Ouédraogo JB, Rosenthal PJ. 2014. Selection of drug resistance-mediating Plasmodium falciparum genetic polymorphisms by seasonal malaria chemoprevention in Burkina Faso. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 58 (7), pp. 3660-3665. | Show Abstract | Read more

Seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC), with regular use of amodiaquine plus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (AQ/SP) during the transmission season, is now a standard malaria control measure in the Sahel subregion of Africa. Another strategy under study is SMC with dihydroartemisinin plus piperaquine (DP). Plasmodium falciparum single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in P. falciparum crt (pfcrt), pfmdr1, pfdhfr, and pfdhps are associated with decreased response to aminoquinoline and antifolate antimalarials and are selected by use of these drugs. To characterize selection by SMC of key polymorphisms, we assessed 13 SNPs in P. falciparum isolated from children aged 3 to 59 months living in southwestern Burkina Faso and randomized to receive monthly DP or AQ/SP for 3 months in 2009. We compared SNP prevalence before the onset of SMC and 1 month after the third treatment in P. falciparum PCR-positive samples from 120 randomly selected children from each treatment arm and an additional 120 randomly selected children from a control group that did not receive SMC. The prevalence of relevant mutations was increased after SMC with AQ/SP. Significant selection was seen for pfcrt 76T (68.5% to 83.0%, P = 0.04), pfdhfr 59R (54.8% to 83.3%, P = 0.0002), and pfdhfr 108N (55.0% to 87.2%, P = 0.0001), with trends toward selection of pfmdr1 86Y, pfdhfr 51I, and pfdhps 437G. After SMC with DP, only borderline selection of wild-type pfmdr1 D1246 (mutant; 7.7% to 0%, P = 0.05) was seen. In contrast to AQ/SP, SMC with DP did not clearly select for known resistance-mediating polymorphisms. SMC with AQ/SP, but not DP, may hasten the development of resistance to components of this regimen. (This study has been registered at ClinicalTrials.gov under registration no. NCT00941785.).

Jovel IT, Ferreira PE, Veiga MI, Malmberg M, Mårtensson A, Kaneko A, Zakeri S, Murillo C, Nosten F, Björkman A, Ursing J. 2014. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in Plasmodium falciparum V type H(+) pyrophosphatase gene (pfvp2) and their associations with pfcrt and pfmdr1 polymorphisms. Infect Genet Evol, 24 pp. 111-115. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Chloroquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum malaria has been associated with pfcrt 76T (chloroquine resistance transporter gene) and pfmdr1 86Y (multidrug resistance gene 1) alleles. Pfcrt 76T enables transport of protonated chloroquine out of the parasites digestive vacuole resulting in a loss of hydrogen ions (H(+)). V type H(+) pyrophosphatase (PfVP2) is thought to pump H(+) into the digestive vacuole. This study aimed to describe the geographic distribution of single nucleotide polymorphisms in pfvp2 and their possible associations with pfcrt and pfmdr1 polymorphisms. METHODS: Blood samples from 384 patients collected (1981-2009) in Honduras (n=35), Colombia (n=50), Liberia (n=50), Guinea Bissau (n=50), Tanzania (n=50), Iran (n=50), Thailand (n=49) and Vanuatu (n=50) were analysed. The pfcrt 72-76 haplotype, pfmdr1 copy numbers, pfmdr1 N86Y and pfvp2 V405I, K582R and P711S alleles were identified using PCR based methods. RESULTS: Pfvp2 was amplified in 344 samples. The pfvp2 allele proportions were V405 (97%), 405I (3%), K582 (99%), 582R (1%), P711 (97%) and 711S (3%). The number of patients with any of pfvp2 405I, 582R and/or 711S were as follows: Honduras (2/30), Colombia (0/46), Liberia (7/48), Guinea-Bissau (4/50), Tanzania (3/48), Iran (3/50), Thailand (1/49) and Vanuatu (0/31). The alleles were most common in Liberia (P=0.01) and Liberia+Guinea-Bissau (P=0.01). The VKP haplotype was found in 189/194 (97%) and 131/145 (90%) samples harbouring pfcrt 76T and pfcrt K76 respectively (P=0.007). CONCLUSIONS: The VKP haplotype was dominant. Most pfvp2 405I, 582R and 711S SNPs were seen where CQ resistance was not highly prevalent at the time of blood sampling possibly due to greater genetic variation prior to the bottle neck event of spreading CQ resistance. The association between the pfvp2 VKP haplotype and pfcrt 76T, which may indicate that pfvp2 is involved in CQ resistance, should therefore be interpreted with caution.

Lee WC, Malleret B, Lau YL, Mauduit M, Fong MY, Cho JS, Suwanarusk R, Zhang R et al. 2014. Glycophorin C (CD236R) mediates vivax malaria parasite rosetting to normocytes. Blood, 123 (18), pp. e100-e109. | Show Abstract | Read more

Rosetting phenomenon has been linked to malaria pathogenesis. Although rosetting occurs in all causes of human malaria, most data on this subject has been derived from Plasmodium falciparum. Here, we investigate the function and factors affecting rosette formation in Plasmodium vivax. To achieve this, we used a range of novel ex vivo protocols to study fresh and cryopreserved P vivax (n = 135) and P falciparum (n = 77) isolates from Thailand. Rosetting is more common in vivax than falciparum malaria, both in terms of incidence in patient samples and percentage of infected erythrocytes forming rosettes. Rosetting to P vivax asexual and sexual stages was evident 20 hours postreticulocyte invasion, reaching a plateau after 30 hours. Host ABO blood group, reticulocyte count, and parasitemia were not correlated with P vivax rosetting. Importantly, mature erythrocytes (normocytes), rather than reticulocytes, preferentially form rosetting complexes, indicating that this process is unlikely to directly facilitate merozoite invasion. Although antibodies against host erythrocyte receptors CD235a and CD35 had no effect, Ag-binding fragment against the BRIC 4 region of CD236R significantly inhibited rosette formation. Rosetting assays using CD236R knockdown normocytes derived from hematopoietic stem cells further supports the role of glycophorin C as a receptor in P vivax rosette formation.

Jaroensuk J, Stoesser N, Leimanis ML, Jittamala P, White NJ, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2014. Treatment of suspected hyper-reactive malarial splenomegaly (HMS) in pregnancy with mefloquine. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 90 (4), pp. 609-611. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria infections in pregnancy are associated with adverse outcomes for both mother and child. There are few data on hyper-reactive malarial splenomegaly, an aberrant immunological response to chronic or recurrent malaria in pregnancy. This retrospective assessment reviewed the impact of mefloquine treatment on pregnant women with suspected hyper-reactive malarial splenomegaly in an area of low malaria transmission in the 1990s, showing significant reductions in spleen size and anemia and anti-malarial antibody titers without any notable negative effect on treated women or their newborns.

Parr M, Dabu CP, Wai NS, Say PS, Ner M, Tun NW, Min A, Gilder ME, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2014. Clinical audit to enhance safe practice of skilled birth attendants for the fetus with nuchal cord: Evidence from a refugee and migrant cohort BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 14 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Current evidence for optimal management of fetal nuchal cord detected after the head has birthed supports techniques that avoid ligation of the umbilical cord circulation. Routine audit found frequent unsafe management of nuchal cord by skilled birth attendants (SBAs) in migrant and refugee birth centres on the Thai-Burmese border.Method: The audit cycle was used to enhance safe practice by SBA for the fetus with nuchal cord. In the three birth centres the action phase of the audit cycle was initially carried out by the doctor responsible for the site. Six months later a registered midwife, present six days per week for three months in one birth facility, encouraged SBAs to facilitate birth with an intact umbilical circulation for nuchal cord. Rates of cord ligation before birth were recorded over a 24 month period (1-July-2011 to 30-June-2013) and in-depth interviews and a knowledge survey of the SBAs took place three months after the registered midwife departure.Results: The proportion of births with nuchal cord ligation declined significantly over the four six monthly quarters from 15.9% (178/1123) before the action phase of the audit cycle; to 11.1% (107/966) during the action phase of the audit cycle with the doctors; to 2.4% (28/1182) with the registered midwife; to 0.9% (9/999) from three to nine months after the departure of the registered midwife, (p < 0.001, linear trend). Significant improvements in safe practice were observed at all three SMRU birth facilities. Knowledge of fetal nuchal cord amongst SBAs was sub-optimal and associated with fear and worry despite improved practice. The support of a registered midwife increased confidence of SBAs.Conclusion: The audit cycle and registered midwife interprofessional learning for SBAs led to a significant improvement in safe practice for the fetus with nuchal cord. The authors would encourage this type of learning in organizations with birth facilities on the Thai-Burmese border and in other similar resource limited settings with SBAs. © 2014 Parr et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Parr M, Dabu CP, Wai NS, Say PS, Ner M, Tun NW, Min A, Gilder ME, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2014. Clinical audit to enhance safe practice of skilled birth attendants for the fetus with nuchal cord: evidence from a refugee and migrant cohort. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 14 (1), pp. 76. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Current evidence for optimal management of fetal nuchal cord detected after the head has birthed supports techniques that avoid ligation of the umbilical cord circulation. Routine audit found frequent unsafe management of nuchal cord by skilled birth attendants (SBAs) in migrant and refugee birth centres on the Thai-Burmese border. METHOD: The audit cycle was used to enhance safe practice by SBA for the fetus with nuchal cord. In the three birth centres the action phase of the audit cycle was initially carried out by the doctor responsible for the site. Six months later a registered midwife, present six days per week for three months in one birth facility, encouraged SBAs to facilitate birth with an intact umbilical circulation for nuchal cord. Rates of cord ligation before birth were recorded over a 24 month period (1-July-2011 to 30-June-2013) and in-depth interviews and a knowledge survey of the SBAs took place three months after the registered midwife departure. RESULTS: The proportion of births with nuchal cord ligation declined significantly over the four six monthly quarters from 15.9% (178/1123) before the action phase of the audit cycle; to 11.1% (107/966) during the action phase of the audit cycle with the doctors; to 2.4% (28/1182) with the registered midwife; to 0.9% (9/999) from three to nine months after the departure of the registered midwife, (p < 0.001, linear trend). Significant improvements in safe practice were observed at all three SMRU birth facilities. Knowledge of fetal nuchal cord amongst SBAs was sub-optimal and associated with fear and worry despite improved practice. The support of a registered midwife increased confidence of SBAs. CONCLUSION: The audit cycle and registered midwife interprofessional learning for SBAs led to a significant improvement in safe practice for the fetus with nuchal cord. The authors would encourage this type of learning in organizations with birth facilities on the Thai-Burmese border and in other similar resource limited settings with SBAs.

Maung Lwin K, Cheah PY, Cheah PK, White NJ, Day NPJ, Nosten F, Parker M. 2014. Motivations and perceptions of community advisory boards in the ethics of medical research: The case of the Thai-Myanmar border BMC Medical Ethics, 15 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Community engagement is increasingly promoted as a marker of good, ethical practice in the context of international collaborative research in low-income countries. There is, however, no widely agreed definition of community engagement or of approaches adopted. Justifications given for its use also vary. Community engagement is, for example, variously seen to be of value in: the development of more effective and appropriate consent processes; improved understanding of the aims and forms of research; higher recruitment rates; the identification of important ethical issues; the building of better relationships between the community and researchers; the obtaining of community permission to approach potential research participants; and, the provision of better health care. Despite these diverse and potentially competing claims made for the importance of community engagement, there is very little published evidence on effective models of engagement or their evaluation. Methods. In this paper, drawing upon interviews with the members of a Community Advisory Board on the Thai-Myanmar border, we describe and critically reflect upon an approach to community engagement which was developed in the context of international collaborative research in the border region. Results and conclusions. Drawing on our analysis, we identify a number of considerations relevant to the development of an approach to evaluating community engagement in this complex research setting. The paper also identifies a range of important ways in which the Community Advisory Board is in practice understood by its members (and perhaps by community members beyond this) to have morally significant roles and responsibilities beyond those usually associated with the successful and appropriate conduct of research. © 2014 Maung Lwin et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Chewapreecha C, Harris SR, Croucher NJ, Turner C, Marttinen P, Cheng L, Pessia A, Aanensen DM et al. 2014. Dense genomic sampling identifies highways of pneumococcal recombination. Nat Genet, 46 (3), pp. 305-309. | Show Abstract | Read more

Evasion of clinical interventions by Streptococcus pneumoniae occurs through selection of non-susceptible genomic variants. We report whole-genome sequencing of 3,085 pneumococcal carriage isolates from a 2.4-km(2) refugee camp. This sequencing provides unprecedented resolution of the process of recombination and its impact on population evolution. Genomic recombination hotspots show remarkable consistency between lineages, indicating common selective pressures acting at certain loci, particularly those associated with antibiotic resistance. Temporal changes in antibiotic consumption are reflected in changes in recombination trends, demonstrating rapid spread of resistance when selective pressure is high. The highest frequencies of receipt and donation of recombined DNA fragments were observed in non-encapsulated lineages, implying that this largely overlooked pneumococcal group, which is beyond the reach of current vaccines, may have a major role in genetic exchange and the adaptation of the species as a whole. These findings advance understanding of pneumococcal population dynamics and provide information for the design of future intervention strategies.

Tarning J, Lindegardh N, Lwin KM, Annerberg A, Kiricharoen L, Ashley E, White NJ, Nosten F, Day NP. 2014. Population pharmacokinetic assessment of the effect of food on piperaquine bioavailability in patients with uncomplicated malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 58 (4), pp. 2052-2058. | Show Abstract | Read more

Previously published literature reports various impacts of food on the oral bioavailability of piperaquine. The aim of this study was to use a population modeling approach to investigate the impact of concomitant intake of a small amount of food on piperaquine pharmacokinetics. This was an open, randomized comparison of piperaquine pharmacokinetics when administered as a fixed oral formulation once daily for 3 days with (n=15) and without (n=15) concomitant food to patients with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Thailand. Nonlinear mixed-effects modeling was used to characterize the pharmacokinetics of piperaquine and the influence of concomitant food intake. A modified Monte Carlo mapped power approach was applied to evaluate the relationship between statistical power and various degrees of covariate effect sizes of the given study design. Piperaquine population pharmacokinetics were described well in fasting and fed patients by a three-compartment distribution model with flexible absorption. The final model showed a 25% increase in relative bioavailability per dose occasion during recovery from malaria but demonstrated no clinical impact of concomitant intake of a low-fat meal. Body weight and age were both significant covariates in the final model. The novel power approach concluded that the study was adequately powered to detect a food effect of at least 35%. This modified Monte Carlo mapped power approach may be a useful tool for evaluating the power to detect true covariate effects in mixed-effects modeling and a given study design. A small amount of food does not affect piperaquine absorption significantly in acute malaria.

Chu CS, Winearls S, Ling C, Phyo AP, Haohankunnathum W, Turner P, Wuthiekanun V, Nosten F. 2014. Two fatal cases of melioidosis on the Thai-Myanmar border F1000Research, 3 | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2014 Chu CS et al.Melioidosis is endemic in areas of Southeast Asia, however, there are no published reports from the Thai-Myanmar border. We report the first two cases of fatal melioidosis in this region. This is of great public health importance and highlights the need to increase clinical awareness of melioidosis on the Thai-Myanmar border and to assess the true burden of disease in the area through improved case detection and Burkholderia pseudomallei prevalence studies.

Chaikitgosiyakul S, Rijken MJ, Muehlenbachs A, Lee SJ, Chaisri U, Viriyavejakul P, Turner GD, Pongponratn E, Nosten F, McGready R. 2014. A morphometric and histological study of placental malaria shows significant changes to villous architecture in both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax infection. Malar J, 13 (1), pp. 4. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria in pregnancy remains a major health problem. Placental malaria infection may cause pathophysiological changes in pregnancy and result in morphological changes to placental villi. Quantitative histomorphological image analysis of placental biopsies was performed to compare placental villous architecture between active or treated placental malaria cases and controls. METHODS: A total of 67 placentas were studied from three clinical groups: control patients who did not have malaria (n = 27), active (n = 14) and treated (n=26) malaria cases, including both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax infections. Image analysis of histological placental sections was performed using ImageJ software to measure the number and size (area) of terminal villi, perimeter measurement per villus and total perimeter per unit area, and number of capillaries per villus (vascularity). Histological features of placental malaria were scored and these results were correlated with malaria status and clinical outcomes. RESULTS: Villous size correlated with vascularity (p <0.0001) but was inversely correlated with observed villi per unit area, (p = 0.0001). Significantly greater villous area and vascularity was observed in UK controls. Indices of histological malaria infection were significantly greater in active versus treated malaria cases. Active placental malaria cases showed significantly smaller villous area (p <0.0084), vascularity (p <0.0139) and perimeter (p <0.0006) than treated malaria cases or controls, but significantly more villi per unit area (p <0.0001). Villous size in treated malaria cases was significantly larger than active placental malaria cases (p <0.001) and similar to controls. There was a significant relationship between villous number and anaemia at the time of infection (p <0.0034), but not placental weight, birth weight or gestational age at delivery. No differences were found between histology or villous morphology comparing infections with P. falciparum or P. vivax. CONCLUSIONS: These results imply that villous size, perimeter and vascularity are acutely decreased during active placental malaria, decreasing the surface area available for gas exchange per villus. However the increased number of villi per unit area offsets this change and persists after treatment. Histopathological and villous architectural changes may be reversed by early detection and appropriate anti-malarial treatment.

Bancone G, Chu CS, Somsakchaicharoen R, Chowwiwat N, Parker DM, Charunwatthana P, White NJ, Nosten FH. 2014. Characterization of G6PD genotypes and phenotypes on the northwestern Thailand-Myanmar border. PLoS One, 9 (12), pp. e116063. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mutations in the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) gene result in red blood cells with increased susceptibility to oxidative damage. Significant haemolysis can be caused by primaquine and other 8-aminoquinoline antimalarials used for the radical treatment of Plasmodium vivax malaria. The distribution and phenotypes of mutations causing G6PD deficiency in the male population of migrants and refugees in a malaria endemic region on the Thailand-Myanmar border were characterized. Blood samples for G6PD fluorescent spot test (FST), G6PD genotyping, and malaria testing were taken from 504 unrelated males of Karen and Burman ethnicities presenting to the outpatient clinics. The overall frequency of G6PD deficiency by the FST was 13.7%. Among the deficient subjects, almost 90% had the Mahidol variant (487G>A) genotype. The remaining subjects had Chinese-4 (392G>T), Viangchan (871G>A), Açores (595A>G), Seattle (844G>C) and Mediterranean (563C>T) variants. Quantification of G6PD activity was performed using a modification of the standard spectrophotometric assay on a subset of 24 samples with Mahidol, Viangchan, Seattle and Chinese-4 mutations; all samples showed a residual enzymatic activity below 10% of normal and were diagnosed correctly by the FST. Further studies are needed to characterise the haemolytic risk of using 8-aminoquinolines in patients with these genotypes.

Loh CC, Suwanarusk R, Lee YQ, Chan KW, Choy KY, Rénia L, Russell B, Lear MJ, Nosten FH, Tan KS, Chow LM. 2014. Characterization of the commercially-available fluorescent chloroquine-BODIPY conjugate, LynxTag-CQGREEN, as a marker for chloroquine resistance and uptake in a 96-well plate assay. PLoS One, 9 (10), pp. e110800. | Show Abstract | Read more

Chloroquine was a cheap, extremely effective drug against Plasmodium falciparum until resistance arose. One approach to reversing resistance is the inhibition of chloroquine efflux from its site of action, the parasite digestive vacuole. Chloroquine accumulation studies have traditionally relied on radiolabelled chloroquine, which poses several challenges. There is a need for development of a safe and biologically relevant substitute. We report here a commercially-available green fluorescent chloroquine-BODIPY conjugate, LynxTag-CQGREEN, as a proxy for chloroquine accumulation. This compound localized to the digestive vacuole of the parasite as observed under confocal microscopy, and inhibited growth of chloroquine-sensitive strain 3D7 more extensively than in the resistant strains 7G8 and K1. Microplate reader measurements indicated suppression of LynxTag-CQGREEN efflux after pretreatment of parasites with known reversal agents. Microsomes carrying either sensitive- or resistant-type PfCRT were assayed for uptake; resistant-type PfCRT exhibited increased accumulation of LynxTag-CQGREEN, which was suppressed by pretreatment with known chemosensitizers. Eight laboratory strains and twelve clinical isolates were sequenced for PfCRT and Pgh1 haplotypes previously reported to contribute to drug resistance, and pfmdr1 copy number and chloroquine IC50s were determined. These data were compared with LynxTag-CQGREEN uptake/fluorescence by multiple linear regression to identify genetic correlates of uptake. Uptake of the compound correlated with the logIC50 of chloroquine and, more weakly, a mutation in Pgh1, F1226Y.

Zongo I, Somé FA, Somda SA, Parikh S, Rouamba N, Rosenthal PJ, Tarning J, Lindegardh N, Nosten F, Ouédraogo JB. 2014. Efficacy and day 7 plasma piperaquine concentrations in African children treated for uncomplicated malaria with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine. PLoS One, 9 (8), pp. e103200. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: One promising new Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) is dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHA-PQ). However, the pharmacokinetics of piperaquine and the relationship between drug levels and clinical efficacy are incompletely characterized, particularly in children. METHODS: We performed a single-arm open-label trial in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso. A total of 379 participants aged 6 months or more with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were enrolled. Each participant received daily dose of DHA-PQ for three days and followed for 42 days. Parasitological efficacy was analyzed, considering rates of recrudescence and overall recurrence. PK was an exploratory endpoint and a priori, no sample size had been determined. Day 7 capillary and venous plasma concentrations of piperaquine were measured in children aged 2-10 years. RESULTS: Of the 379 participants, 365 (96.3%) completed 42 days of follow-up. The median daily dose of PQ was 18.5 mg/kg [6.5-24]. Treatment with DHA-PQ was well tolerated with fever and parasitemia resolution within 48 hours in nearly all children. Recurrent malaria within 42 days of follow-up occurred in 31.3% (10/34) of children less than 2 years old, 16.0% (16/106) of those aged 2-5 years, 9.4% (15/160) of those aged 5-10 years, and none (0/68) of those over 10 years old. After genotyping, 3 of 41 recurrent episodes were recrudescence. An exploratory analysis shows that children with successful treatment outcomes had significantly higher median plasma concentrations of PQ compared to those with recurrent malaria within 42 days after therapy, considering either capillary samples (68 ng/ml [50-85] compared to 48 ng/ml [36-55], p<0.001) or venous samples (42 ng/ml [29-59] compared to 25 ng/ml [19-44], p<0.001). CONCLUSION: DHA-PQ was effective for uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria treatment and offers an alternative to other ACTs. Recurrent malaria was mainly due to new infections after treatment and was correlated with low day 7 PQ concentration in the youngest patients. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN59761234.

Tarning J, Thana P, Phyo AP, Lwin KM, Hanpithakpong W, Ashley EA, Day NP, Nosten F, White NJ. 2014. Population Pharmacokinetics and Antimalarial Pharmacodynamics of Piperaquine in Patients With Plasmodium vivax Malaria in Thailand. CPT Pharmacometrics Syst Pharmacol, 3 (8), pp. e132. | Show Abstract | Read more

Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is an effective drug in the treatment of Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax malaria. The objective of this study was to evaluate the population pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of piperaquine in patients with P. vivax malaria in Thailand after a standard regimen of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine to determine whether residual piperaquine prevents or delays the emergence of P. vivax relapse. Sparse blood samples were collected from 116 patients. Piperaquine pharmacokinetics were described well by a three-compartment distribution model. Relapsing P. vivax malaria was accommodated by a constant baseline hazard (8.94 relapses/year) with the addition of a surge function in a fixed 3-week interval and a protective piperaquine effect. The results suggest that a large proportion of the first relapses were suppressed completely by residual piperaquine concentrations and that recurrences resulted mainly from emergence of the second or third relapse or from reinfection. This suggests a significant reduction in P. vivax morbidity when using dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine compared with other antimalarial drugs with shorter terminal postprophylactic effects.

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Seale AC, Blencowe H, Manu AA, Nair H, Bahl R, Qazi SA, Zaidi AK, Berkley JA et al. 2014. Estimates of possible severe bacterial infection in neonates in sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia, and Latin America for 2012: A systematic review and meta-analysis The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 14 (8), pp. 731-741. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Bacterial infections are a leading cause of the 2·9 million annual neonatal deaths. Treatment is usually based on clinical diagnosis of possible severe bacterial infection (pSBI). To guide programme planning, we have undertaken the first estimates of neonatal pSBI, by sex and by region, for sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia, and Latin America. Methods: We included data for pSBI incidence in neonates of 32 weeks' gestation or more (or birthweight ≥1500 g) with livebirth denominator data, undertaking a systematic review and forming an investigator group to obtain unpublished data. We calculated pooled risk estimates for neonatal pSBI and case fatality risk, by sex and by region. We then applied these risk estimates to estimates of livebirths in sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia, and Latin America to estimate cases and associated deaths in 2012. Findings: We included data from 22 studies, for 259 944 neonates and 20 196 pSBI cases, with most of the data (18 of the 22 studies) coming from the investigator group. The pooled estimate of pSBI incidence risk was 7·6% (95% CI 6·1-9·2%) and the case-fatality risk associated with pSBI was 9·8% (7·4-12·2). We estimated that in 2012 there were 6·9 million cases (uncertainty range 5·5 million-8·3 million) of pSBI in neonates needing treatment: 3·5 million (2·8 million-4·2 million) in south Asia, 2·6 million (2·1 million-3·1 million) in sub-Saharan Africa, and 0·8 million (0·7 million-1·0 million) in Latin America. The risk of pSBI was greater in boys (risk ratio 1·12, 95% CI 1·06-1·18) than girls. We estimated that there were 0·68 million (0·46 million-0·92 million) neonatal deaths associated with pSBI in 2012. Interpretation: The need-to-treat population for pSBI in these three regions is high, with ten cases of pSBI diagnosed for each associated neonatal death. Deaths and disability can be reduced through improved prevention, detection, and case management. Funding: The Wellcome Trust and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through grants to Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group (CHERG) and Save the Children's Saving Newborn Lives programme. © 2014 Seale et al.

Ch'ng JH, Lee YQ, Gun SY, Chia WN, Chang ZW, Wong LK, Batty KT, Russell B, Nosten F, Renia L, Tan KS. 2014. Validation of a chloroquine-induced cell death mechanism for clinical use against malaria. Cell Death Dis, 5 (6), pp. e1305. | Show Abstract | Read more

An alternative antimalarial pathway of an 'outdated' drug, chloroquine (CQ), may facilitate its return to the shrinking list of effective antimalarials. Conventionally, CQ is believed to interfere with hemozoin formation at nanomolar concentrations, but resistant parasites are able to efflux this drug from the digestive vacuole (DV). However, we show that the DV membrane of both resistant and sensitive laboratory and field parasites is compromised after exposure to micromolar concentrations of CQ, leading to an extrusion of DV proteases. Furthermore, only a short period of exposure is required to compromise the viability of late-stage parasites. To study the feasibility of this strategy, mice malaria models were used to demonstrate that high doses of CQ also triggered DV permeabilization in vivo and reduced reinvasion efficiency. We suggest that a time-release oral formulation of CQ may sustain elevated blood CQ levels sufficiently to clear even CQ-resistant parasites.

Rijken MJ, De Livera AM, Lee SJ, Boel ME, Rungwilailaekhiri S, Wiladphaingern J, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M et al. 2014. Quantifying low birth weight, preterm birth and small-for-gestational-age effects of malaria in pregnancy: a population cohort study. PLoS One, 9 (7), pp. e100247. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The association between malaria during pregnancy and low birth weight (LBW) is well described. This manuscript aims to quantify the relative contribution of malaria to small-for-gestational-age (SGA) infants and preterm birth (PTB) in pregnancies accurately dated by ultrasound on the Thai-Myanmar border at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit. METHODS AND FINDINGS: From 2001 to 2010 in a population cohort of prospectively followed pregnancies, we analyzed all singleton newborns who were live born, normal, weighed in the first hour of life and with a gestational age (GA) between 28+0 and 41+6 weeks. Fractional polynomial regression was used to determine the mean birthweight and standard deviation as functions of GA. Risk differences and factors of LBW and SGA were studied across the range of GA for malaria and non-malaria pregnancies. From 10,264 newborns records, population centiles were created. Women were screened for malaria by microscopy a median of 22 [range 1-38] times and it was detected and treated in 12.6% (1,292) of pregnancies. Malaria was associated with LBW, PTB, and SGA compared to those without malaria. Nearly two-thirds of PTB were classified as LBW (68% (539/789)), most of which 83% (447/539) were not SGA. After GA 39 weeks, 5% (298/5,966) of non-LBW births were identified as SGA. Low body mass index, primigravida, hypertension, smoking and female sex of the newborn were also significantly and independently associated with LBW and SGA consistent with previous publications. CONCLUSIONS: Treated malaria in pregnancy was associated with an increased risk for LBW, PTB, and SGA, of which the latter are most important for infant survival. Using LBW as an endpoint without adjusting for GA incorrectly estimated the effects of malaria in pregnancy. Ultrasound should be used for dating pregnancies and birth weights should be expressed as a function (or adjusted for GA) of GA in future malaria in pregnancy studies.

Preston MD, Campino S, Assefa SA, Echeverry DF, Ocholla H, Amambua-Ngwa A, Stewart LB, Conway DJ et al. 2014. A barcode of organellar genome polymorphisms identifies the geographic origin of Plasmodium falciparum strains. Nat Commun, 5 pp. 4052. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria is a major public health problem that is actively being addressed in a global eradication campaign. Increased population mobility through international air travel has elevated the risk of re-introducing parasites to elimination areas and dispersing drug-resistant parasites to new regions. A simple genetic marker that quickly and accurately identifies the geographic origin of infections would be a valuable public health tool for locating the source of imported outbreaks. Here we analyse the mitochondrion and apicoplast genomes of 711 Plasmodium falciparum isolates from 14 countries, and find evidence that they are non-recombining and co-inherited. The high degree of linkage produces a panel of relatively few single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that is geographically informative. We design a 23-SNP barcode that is highly predictive (~92%) and easily adapted to aid case management in the field and survey parasite migration worldwide.

Gilder ME, Zin TW, Wai NS, Ner M, Say PS, Htoo M, Say S, Htay WW et al. 2014. Gestational diabetes mellitus prevalence in Maela refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border: a clinical report. Glob Health Action, 7 pp. 23887. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Individuals in conflict-affected areas rarely get appropriate care for chronic or non-infectious diseases. The prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is increasing worldwide, and new evidence shows conclusively that the negative effects of hyperglycemia occur even at mild glucose elevations and that these negative effects can be attenuated by treatment. Scientific literature on gestational diabetes in refugee camp settings is critically limited. METHODS: A 75 g 2-hour glucose tolerance test was administered to 228 women attending the antenatal care (ANC) clinic in Maela refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border. Prevalence of GDM was determined using the HAPO trial cut-offs [≥92 mg/dL (fasting),≥180 (1 hour), and≥153 (2 hour)] and the WHO criteria [≥126 mg/dL (fasting), and 140 mg/dL (2 hour)]. RESULTS: From July 2011 to March 2012, the prevalence of GDM was 10.1% [95% confidence interval (CI): 6.2-14.0] when the cut-off determined by the HAPO trial was applied. Applying the older WHO criteria yielded a prevalence of 6.6% (95% CI 3.3-9.8). Age, parity, and BMI emerged as characteristics that may be significantly associated with GDM in this population. Other risk factors that are commonly used in screening guidelines were not applicable in this diabetes-naïve population. DISCUSSION: The prevalence of GDM is lower in this population compared with other populations, but still complicates 10% of pregnancies. New evidence regarding gestational diabetes raises new dilemmas for healthcare providers in resource-poor settings. Efforts to identify and treat patients at risk for adverse outcomes need to be balanced with awareness of the risks and burdens associated with over diagnosis and unnecessary interventions. Screening approaches based on risk factors or using higher cut-off values may help minimize this burden and identify those most likely to benefit from intervention.

Chu CS, Winearls S, Ling C, Torchinsky MB, Phyo AP, Haohankunnathum W, Turner P, Wuthiekanun V, Nosten F. 2014. Two fatal cases of melioidosis on the Thai-Myanmar border. F1000Res, 3 pp. 4. | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis is endemic in areas of Southeast Asia, however, there are no published reports from the Thai-Myanmar border. We report the first two documented cases of fatal melioidosis in this region. This is of great public health importance and highlights the need to both increase clinical awareness of melioidosis on the Thai-Myanmar border, and to assess the true burden of disease in the area through improved case detection and Burkholderia pseudomallei prevalence studies.

Price RN, Nosten F. 2014. Single-dose radical cure of Plasmodium vivax: A step closer The Lancet, 383 (9922), pp. 1020-1021. | Read more

Tanomsing N, Mayxay M, Newton PN, Nosten F, Dolecek C, Hien TT, White NJ, Day NP, Dondorp AM, Imwong M. 2014. Genetic variability of Plasmodium malariae dihydropteroate synthase (dhps) in four Asian countries. PLoS One, 9 (4), pp. e93942. | Show Abstract | Read more

The dihydropteroate synthase (dhps) genes of 44 P. malariae strains from four Asian countries were isolated. Only a limited number of polymorphisms were observed. Comparison with homologous mutations in other Plasmodium species showed that these polymorphisms are unlikely to be associated with sulfadoxine resistance.

Hanson J, Lee SJ, Mohanty S, Faiz MA, Anstey NM, Price RN, Charunwatthana P, Yunus EB et al. 2014. Rapid clinical assessment to facilitate the triage of adults with falciparum malaria, a retrospective analysis. PLoS One, 9 (1), pp. e87020. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Most adults dying from falciparum malaria will die within 48 hours of their hospitalisation. An essential component of early supportive care is the rapid identification of patients at greatest risk. In resource-poor settings, where most patients with falciparum malaria are managed, decisions regarding patient care must frequently be made using clinical evaluation alone. METHODS: We retrospectively analysed 4 studies of 1801 adults with severe falciparum malaria to determine whether the presence of simple clinical findings might assist patient triage. RESULTS: If present on admission, shock, oligo-anuria, hypo- or hyperglycaemia, an increased respiratory rate, a decreased Glasgow Coma Score and an absence of fever were independently predictive of death. The variables were used to construct a simple clinical algorithm. When applied to the 1801 patients, this algorithm's positive predictive value for survival to 48 hours was 99.4 (95% confidence interval (CI) 97.8-99.9) and for survival to discharge 96.9% (95% CI 94.3-98.5). In the 712 patients receiving artesunate, the algorithm's positive predictive value for survival to 48 hours was 100% (95% CI 97.3-100) and to discharge was 98.5% (95% CI 94.8-99.8). CONCLUSIONS: Simple clinical findings are closely linked to the pathophysiology of severe falciparum malaria in adults. A basic algorithm employing these indices can facilitate the triage of patients in settings where intensive care services are limited. Patients classified as low-risk by this algorithm can be safely managed initially on a general ward whilst awaiting senior clinical review and laboratory data.

Vicentin EC, Françoso KS, Rocha MV, Iourtov D, Dos Santos FL, Kubrusly FS, Sakauchi MA, Raw I et al. 2014. Invasion-inhibitory antibodies elicited by immunization with Plasmodium vivax apical membrane antigen-1 expressed in Pichia pastoris yeast. Infect Immun, 82 (3), pp. 1296-1307. | Show Abstract | Read more

In a recent vaccine trial performed with African children, immunization with a recombinant protein based on Plasmodium falciparum apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA-1) conferred a significant degree of strain-specific resistance against malaria. To contribute to the efforts of generating a vaccine against Plasmodium vivax malaria, we expressed the ectodomain of P. vivax AMA-1 (PvAMA-1) as a secreted soluble protein in the methylotrophic yeast Pichia pastoris. Recognized by a high percentage of sera from individuals infected by P. vivax, this recombinant protein was found to have maintained its antigenicity. The immunogenicity of this protein was evaluated in mice using immunization protocols that included homologous and heterologous prime-boost strategies with plasmid DNA and recombinant protein. We used the following formulations containing different adjuvants: aluminum salts (Alum), Bordetella pertussis monophosphoryl lipid A (MPLA), flagellin FliC from Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, saponin Quil A, or incomplete Freund's adjuvant (IFA). The formulations containing the adjuvants Quil A or IFA elicited the highest IgG antibody titers. Significant antibody titers were also obtained using a formulation developed for human use containing MPLA or Alum plus MPLA. Recombinant PvAMA-1 produced under "conditions of good laboratory practice" provided a good yield, high purity, low endotoxin levels, and no microbial contaminants and reproduced the experimental immunizations. Most relevant for vaccine development was the fact that immunization with PvAMA-1 elicited invasion-inhibitory antibodies against different Asian isolates of P. vivax. Our results show that AMA-1 expressed in P. pastoris is a promising antigen for use in future preclinical and clinical studies.

Turner C, Turner P, Hoogenboom G, Aye Mya Thein N, McGready R, Phakaudom K, De Zoysa A, Efstratiou A, Heath PT, Nosten F. 2013. A three year descriptive study of early onset neonatal sepsis in a refugee population on the Thailand Myanmar border. BMC Infect Dis, 13 (1), pp. 601. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Each year an estimated four million neonates die, the majority in the first week of life. One of the major causes of death is sepsis. Proving the incidence and aetiology of neonatal sepsis is difficult, particularly in resource poor settings where the majority of the deaths occur. METHODS: We conducted a three year observational study of clinically diagnosed early onset (<7 days of age) neonatal sepsis (EONS) in infants born to mothers following antenatal care at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit clinic in Maela camp for displaced persons on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Episodes of EONS were identified using a clinical case definition. Conventional and molecular microbiological techniques were employed in order to determine underlying aetiology. RESULTS: From April 2009 until April 2012, 187 infants had clinical signs of EONS, giving an incidence rate of 44.8 per 1000 live births (95% CI 38.7-51.5). One blood culture was positive for Escherichia coli, E. coli was detected in the cerebrospinal fluid specimen in this infant, and in an additional two infants, by PCR. Therefore, the incidence of bacteriologically proven EONS was 0.7 per 1000 live births (95% CI 0.1-2.1). No infants enrolled in study died as a direct result of EONS. CONCLUSION: A low incidence of bacteriologically proven EONS was seen in this study, despite a high incidence of clinically diagnosed EONS. The use of molecular diagnostics and nonspecific markers of infection need to be studied in resource poor settings to improve the diagnosis of EONS and rationalise antibiotic use.

Price RN, Nosten F. 2014. Single-dose radical cure of Plasmodium vivax: a step closer. Lancet, 383 (9922), pp. 1020-1021. | Read more

Preston MD, Assefa SA, Ocholla H, Sutherland CJ, Borrmann S, Nzila A, Michon P, Hien TT et al. 2014. PlasmoView: a web-based resource to visualise global Plasmodium falciparum genomic variation. J Infect Dis, 209 (11), pp. 1808-1815. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria is a global public health challenge, with drug resistance a major barrier to disease control and elimination. To meet the urgent need for better treatments and vaccines, a deeper knowledge of Plasmodium biology and malaria epidemiology is required. An improved understanding of the genomic variation of malaria parasites, especially the most virulent Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) species, has the potential to yield new insights in these areas. High-throughput sequencing and genotyping is generating large amounts of genomic data across multiple parasite populations. The resulting ability to identify informative variants, particularly single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), will lead to the discovery of intra- and inter-population differences and thus enable the development of genetic barcodes for diagnostic assays and clinical studies. Knowledge of genetic variability underlying drug resistance and other differential phenotypes will also facilitate the identification of novel mutations and contribute to surveillance and stratified medicine applications. The PlasmoView interactive web-browsing tool enables the research community to visualise genomic variation and annotation (eg, biological function) in a geographic setting. The first release contains over 600,000 high-quality SNPs in 631 Pf isolates from laboratory strains and four malaria-endemic regions (West Africa, East Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania).

Cited:

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Scopus

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.

Corbel V, Nosten F, Thanispong K, Luxemburger C, Kongmee M, Chareonviriyaphap T. 2013. Challenges and prospects for dengue and malaria control in Thailand, Southeast Asia Trends in Parasitology, 29 (12), pp. 623-633. | Show Abstract | Read more

Despite significant advances in the search for potential dengue vaccines and new therapeutic schemes for malaria, the control of these diseases remains difficult. In Thailand, malaria incidence is falling whereas that of dengue is rising, with an increase in the proportion of reported severe cases. In the absence of antiviral therapeutic options for acute dengue, appropriate case management reduces mortality. However, the interruption of transmission still relies on vector control measures that are currently insufficient to curtail the cycle of epidemics. Drug resistance in malaria parasites is increasing, compromising malaria control and elimination. Deficiencies in our knowledge of vector biology and vectorial capacity also hinder public health efforts for vector control. Challenges to dengue and malaria control are discussed, and research priorities identified. © 2013.

Turner P, Turner C, Green N, Ashton L, Lwe E, Jankhot A, Day NP, White NJ, Nosten F, Goldblatt D. 2013. Serum antibody responses to pneumococcal colonization in the first 2 years of life: Results from an SE Asian longitudinal cohort study Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 19 (12), | Show Abstract | Read more

Assessment of antibody responses to pneumococcal colonization in early childhood may aid our understanding of protection and inform vaccine antigen selection. Serum samples were collected from mother-infant pairs during a longitudinal pneumococcal colonization study in Burmese refugees. Maternal and cord sera were collected at birth and infants were bled monthly (1-24 months of age). Nasopharyngeal swabs were taken monthly to detect colonization. Serum IgG titres to 27 pneumococcal protein antigens were measured in 2624 sera and IgG to dominant serotypes (6B, 14, 19F, 19A and 23F) were quantified in 864 infant sera. Antibodies to all protein antigens were detectable in maternal sera. Titres to four proteins (LytB, PcpA, PhtD and PhtE) were significantly higher in mothers colonized by pneumococci at delivery. Maternally-derived antibodies to PiuA and Spr0096 were associated with delayed pneumococcal acquisition in infants in univariate, but not multivariate models. Controlling for infant age and previous homologous serotype exposure, nasopharyngeal acquisition of serotypes 19A, 23F, 14 or 19F was associated significantly with a ≥2-fold antibody response to the homologous capsule (OR 12.84, 7.52, 6.52, 5.33; p <0.05). Acquisition of pneumococcal serotypes in the nasopharynx of infants was not significantly associated with a ≥2-fold rise in antibodies to any of the protein antigens studied. In conclusion, nasopharyngeal colonization in young children resulted in demonstrable serum IgG responses to pneumococcal capsules and surface/virulence proteins. However, the relationship between serum IgG and the prevention of, or response to, pneumococcal nasopharyngeal colonization remains complex. Mechanisms other than serum IgG are likely to have a role but are currently poorly understood. ©2013 The Authors. Clinical Microbiology and Infection published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

Turner P, Turner C, Green N, Ashton L, Lwe E, Jankhot A, Day NP, White NJ, Nosten F, Goldblatt D. 2013. Serum antibody responses to pneumococcal colonization in the first 2 years of life: results from an SE Asian longitudinal cohort study. Clin Microbiol Infect, 19 (12), pp. E551-E558. | Show Abstract | Read more

Assessment of antibody responses to pneumococcal colonization in early childhood may aid our understanding of protection and inform vaccine antigen selection. Serum samples were collected from mother-infant pairs during a longitudinal pneumococcal colonization study in Burmese refugees. Maternal and cord sera were collected at birth and infants were bled monthly (1–24 months of age). Nasopharyngeal swabs were taken monthly to detect colonization. Serum IgG titres to 27 pneumococcal protein antigens were measured in 2624 sera and IgG to dominant serotypes (6B, 14, 19F, 19A and 23F) were quantified in 864 infant sera. Antibodies to all protein antigens were detect ablein maternal sera. Titres to four proteins (LytB, PcpA, PhtD and PhtE) were significantly higher in mothers colonized by pneumococci at delivery. Maternally-derived antibodies to PiuA and Spr0096 were associated with delayed pneumococcal acquisition in infants in univariate,but not multivariate models. Controlling for infant age and previous homologous serotype exposure, nasopharyngeal acquisition of serotypes 19A, 23F, 14 or 19F was associated significantly with a ≥2-fold antibody response to the homologous capsule (OR 12.84, 7.52,6.52, 5.33; p <0.05). Acquisition of pneumococcal serotypes in the nasopharynx of infants was not significantly associated with a ≥2-fold rise in antibodies to any of the protein antigens studied. In conclusion, nasopharyngeal colonization in young children resulted in demonstrable serum IgG responses to pneumococcal capsules and surface/virulence proteins. However, the relationship between serum IgG and the prevention of, or response to, pneumococcal nasopharyngeal colonization remains complex. Mechanisms other than serum IgG are likely to have a role but are currently poorly understood.

McNamara CW, Lee MC, Lim CS, Lim SH, Roland J, Nagle A, Simon O, Yeung BK et al. 2013. Targeting Plasmodium PI(4)K to eliminate malaria. Nature, 504 (7479), pp. 248-253. | Show Abstract | Read more

Achieving the goal of malaria elimination will depend on targeting Plasmodium pathways essential across all life stages. Here we identify a lipid kinase, phosphatidylinositol-4-OH kinase (PI(4)K), as the target of imidazopyrazines, a new antimalarial compound class that inhibits the intracellular development of multiple Plasmodium species at each stage of infection in the vertebrate host. Imidazopyrazines demonstrate potent preventive, therapeutic, and transmission-blocking activity in rodent malaria models, are active against blood-stage field isolates of the major human pathogens P. falciparum and P. vivax, and inhibit liver-stage hypnozoites in the simian parasite P. cynomolgi. We show that imidazopyrazines exert their effect through inhibitory interaction with the ATP-binding pocket of PI(4)K, altering the intracellular distribution of phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate. Collectively, our data define PI(4)K as a key Plasmodium vulnerability, opening up new avenues of target-based discovery to identify drugs with an ideal activity profile for the prevention, treatment and elimination of malaria.

Flegg JA, Guérin PJ, Nosten F, Ashley EA, Phyo AP, Dondorp AM, Fairhurst RM, Socheat D et al. 2013. Optimal sampling designs for estimation of Plasmodium falciparum clearance rates in patients treated with artemisinin derivatives. Malar J, 12 (1), pp. 411. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The emergence of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinins in Southeast Asia threatens the control of malaria worldwide. The pharmacodynamic hallmark of artemisinin derivatives is rapid parasite clearance (a short parasite half-life), therefore, the in vivo phenotype of slow clearance defines the reduced susceptibility to the drug. Measurement of parasite counts every six hours during the first three days after treatment have been recommended to measure the parasite clearance half-life, but it remains unclear whether simpler sampling intervals and frequencies might also be sufficient to reliably estimate this parameter. METHODS: A total of 2,746 parasite density-time profiles were selected from 13 clinical trials in Thailand, Cambodia, Mali, Vietnam, and Kenya. In these studies, parasite densities were measured every six hours until negative after treatment with an artemisinin derivative (alone or in combination with a partner drug). The WWARN Parasite Clearance Estimator (PCE) tool was used to estimate "reference" half-lives from these six-hourly measurements. The effect of four alternative sampling schedules on half-life estimation was investigated, and compared to the reference half-life (time zero, 6, 12, 24 (A1); zero, 6, 18, 24 (A2); zero, 12, 18, 24 (A3) or zero, 12, 24 (A4) hours and then every 12 hours). Statistical bootstrap methods were used to estimate the sampling distribution of half-lives for parasite populations with different geometric mean half-lives. A simulation study was performed to investigate a suite of 16 potential alternative schedules and half-life estimates generated by each of the schedules were compared to the "true" half-life. The candidate schedules in the simulation study included (among others) six-hourly sampling, schedule A1, schedule A4, and a convenience sampling schedule at six, seven, 24, 25, 48 and 49 hours. RESULTS: The median (range) parasite half-life for all clinical studies combined was 3.1 (0.7-12.9) hours. Schedule A1 consistently performed the best, and schedule A4 the worst, both for the individual patient estimates and for the populations generated with the bootstrapping algorithm. In both cases, the differences between the reference and alternative schedules decreased as half-life increased. In the simulation study, 24-hourly sampling performed the worst, and six-hourly sampling the best. The simulation study confirmed that more dense parasite sampling schedules are required to accurately estimate half-life for profiles with short half-life (≤ three hours) and/or low initial parasite density (≤ 10,000 per μL). Among schedules in the simulation study with six or fewer measurements in the first 48 hours, a schedule with measurements at times (time windows) of 0 (0-2), 6 (4-8), 12 (10-14), 24 (22-26), 36 (34-36) and 48 (46-50) hours, or at times 6, 7 (two samples in time window 5-8), 24, 25 (two samples during time 23-26), and 48, 49 (two samples during time 47-50) hours, until negative most accurately estimated the "true" half-life. For a given schedule, continuing sampling after two days had little effect on the estimation of half-life, provided that adequate sampling was performed in the first two days and the half-life was less than three hours. If the measured parasitaemia at two days exceeded 1,000 per μL, continued sampling for at least once a day was needed for accurate half-life estimates. CONCLUSIONS: This study has revealed important insights on sampling schedules for accurate and reliable estimation of Plasmodium falciparum half-life following treatment with an artemisinin derivative (alone or in combination with a partner drug). Accurate measurement of short half-lives (rapid clearance) requires more dense sampling schedules (with more than twice daily sampling). A more intensive sampling schedule is, therefore, recommended in locations where P. falciparum susceptibility to artemisinins is not known and the necessary resources are available. Counting parasite density at six hours is important, and less frequent sampling is satisfactory for estimating long parasite half-lives in areas where artemisinin resistance is present.

Lee YQ, Goh AS, Ch'ng JH, Nosten FH, Preiser PR, Pervaiz S, Yadav SK, Tan KS. 2014. A high-content phenotypic screen reveals the disruptive potency of quinacrine and 3',4'-dichlorobenzamil on the digestive vacuole of Plasmodium falciparum. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 58 (1), pp. 550-558. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium falciparum is the etiological agent of malignant malaria and has been shown to exhibit features resembling programmed cell death. This is triggered upon treatment with low micromolar doses of chloroquine or other lysosomotrophic compounds and is associated with leakage of the digestive vacuole contents. In order to exploit this cell death pathway, we developed a high-content screening method to select compounds that can disrupt the parasite vacuole, as measured by the leakage of intravacuolar Ca(2+). This assay uses the ImageStream 100, an imaging-capable flow cytometer, to assess the distribution of the fluorescent calcium probe Fluo-4. We obtained two hits from a small library of 25 test compounds, quinacrine and 3',4'-dichlorobenzamil. The ability of these compounds to permeabilize the digestive vacuole in laboratory strains and clinical isolates was validated by confocal microscopy. The hits could induce programmed cell death features in both chloroquine-sensitive and -resistant laboratory strains. Quinacrine was effective at inhibiting field isolates in a 48-h reinvasion assay regardless of artemisinin clearance status. We therefore present as proof of concept a phenotypic screening method with the potential to provide mechanistic insights to the activity of antimalarial drugs.

Corbel V, Nosten F, Thanispong K, Luxemburger C, Kongmee M, Chareonviriyaphap T. 2013. Challenges and prospects for dengue and malaria control in Thailand, Southeast Asia. Trends Parasitol, 29 (12), pp. 623-633. | Show Abstract | Read more

Despite significant advances in the search for potential dengue vaccines and new therapeutic schemes for malaria, the control of these diseases remains difficult. In Thailand, malaria incidence is falling whereas that of dengue is rising, with an increase in the proportion of reported severe cases. In the absence of antiviral therapeutic options for acute dengue, appropriate case management reduces mortality. However, the interruption of transmission still relies on vector control measures that are currently insufficient to curtail the cycle of epidemics. Drug resistance in malaria parasites is increasing, compromising malaria control and elimination. Deficiencies in our knowledge of vector biology and vectorial capacity also hinder public health efforts for vector control. Challenges to dengue and malaria control are discussed, and research priorities identified.

Domingo GJ, Satyagraha AW, Anvikar A, Baird K, Bancone G, Bansil P, Carter N, Cheng Q et al. 2013. G6PD testing in support of treatment and elimination of malaria: recommendations for evaluation of G6PD tests. Malar J, 12 (1), pp. 391. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria elimination will be possible only with serious attempts to address asymptomatic infection and chronic infection by both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. Currently available drugs that can completely clear a human of P. vivax (known as "radical cure"), and that can reduce transmission of malaria parasites, are those in the 8-aminoquinoline drug family, such as primaquine. Unfortunately, people with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency risk having severe adverse reactions if exposed to these drugs at certain doses. G6PD deficiency is the most common human enzyme defect, affecting approximately 400 million people worldwide.Scaling up radical cure regimens will require testing for G6PD deficiency, at two levels: 1) the individual level to ensure safe case management, and 2) the population level to understand the risk in the local population to guide Plasmodium vivax treatment policy. Several technical and operational knowledge gaps must be addressed to expand access to G6PD deficiency testing and to ensure that a patient's G6PD status is known before deciding to administer an 8-aminoquinoline-based drug.In this report from a stakeholder meeting held in Thailand on October 4 and 5, 2012, G6PD testing in support of radical cure is discussed in detail. The focus is on challenges to the development and evaluation of G6PD diagnostic tests, and on challenges related to the operational aspects of implementing G6PD testing in support of radical cure. The report also describes recommendations for evaluation of diagnostic tests for G6PD deficiency in support of radical cure.

Tanomsing N, Imwong M, Sutherland CJ, Dolecek C, Hien TT, Nosten F, Day NP, White NJ, Snounou G. 2013. Genetic marker suitable for identification and genotyping of Plasmodium ovale curtisi and Plasmodium ovale wallikeri. J Clin Microbiol, 51 (12), pp. 4213-4216. | Show Abstract | Read more

We present a seminested PCR method that specifically discriminates between Plasmodium ovale curtisi and P. ovale wallikeri with high sensitivity. The test is based on species-specific amplification of a size-polymorphic fragment of the tryptophan-rich antigen gene, potra, which also permits discrimination of intraspecific sequence variants at this locus.

Turner P, Turner C, Watthanaworawit W, Carrara V, Cicelia N, Deglise C, Phares C, Ortega L, Nosten F. 2013. Respiratory virus surveillance in hospitalised pneumonia patients on the Thailand-Myanmar border. BMC Infect Dis, 13 (1), pp. 434. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Pneumonia is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in the developing world. Viruses contribute significantly to pneumonia burden, although data for low-income and tropical countries are scarce. The aim of this laboratory-enhanced, hospital-based surveillance was to characterise the epidemiology of respiratory virus infections among refugees living on the Thailand-Myanmar border. METHODS: Maela camp provides shelter for ~45,000 refugees. Inside the camp, a humanitarian organisation provides free hospital care in a 158-bed inpatient department (IPD). Between 1st April 2009 and 30th September 2011, all patients admitted to the IPD with a clinical diagnosis of pneumonia were invited to participate. Clinical symptoms and signs were recorded and a nasopharyngeal aspirate (NPA) collected. NPAs were tested for adenoviruses, human metapneumovirus (hMPV), influenza A & B, and RSV by PCR. RESULTS: Seven hundred eight patient episodes (698 patients) diagnosed as pneumonia during the enhanced surveillance period were included in this analysis. The median patient age was 1 year (range: < 1-70), and 90.4% were aged < 5 years. At least one virus was detected in 53.7% (380/708) of episodes. Virus detection was more common in children aged < 5 years old (<1 year: OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.2-3.4, p = 0.01; 1-4 years: OR 1.4, 95% CI 0.8-2.3, p = 0.2). RSV was detected in 176/708 (24.9%); an adenovirus in 133/708 (18.8%); an influenza virus in 68/708 (9.6%); and hMPV in 33/708 (4.7%). Twenty-eight episodes of multiple viral infections were identified, most commonly adenovirus plus another virus. RSV was more likely to be detected in children <5 years (OR 12.3, 95% CI 3.0-50.8, p = 0.001) and influenza viruses in patients ≥5 years (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.5-5.4, p = 0.002). IPD treatment was documented in 702/708 cases; all but one patient received antimicrobials, most commonly a beta-lactam (amoxicillin/ampicillin +/-gentamicin in 664/701, 94.7%). CONCLUSIONS: Viral nucleic acid was identified in the nasopharynx in half the patients admitted with clinically diagnosed pneumonia. Development of immunisations targeting common respiratory viruses is likely to reduce the incidence of pneumonia in children living refugee camps and similar settings.

Thanapongpichat S, McGready R, Luxemburger C, Day NP, White NJ, Nosten F, Snounou G, Imwong M. 2013. Microsatellite genotyping of Plasmodium vivax infections and their relapses in pregnant and non-pregnant patients on the Thai-Myanmar border. Malar J, 12 (1), pp. 275. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium vivax infections in pregnancy are associated with low birth weight and anaemia. This parasites species is also characterised by relapses, erythrocytic infections initiated by the activation of the dormant liver stages, the hypnozoites, to mature. Genotyping of P. vivax using microsatellite markers has opened the way to comparative investigations of parasite populations. The aim of the study was to assess whether there were any differences between the parasites found in pregnant and non-pregnant patients, and/or between the admission infections and recurrent episodes during follow-up. METHODS: Blood samples were collected from 18 pregnant and 18 non-pregnant patients, who had at least two recurrent episodes during follow-up, that were recruited in two previous trials on the efficacy of chloroquine treatment of P. vivax infections on the Thai-Myanmar border. DNA was purified and the P. vivax populations genotyped with respect to eight polymorphic microsatellite markers. Analyses of the genetic diversity, multiplicity of infection (MOI), and a comparison of the genotypes in the samples from each patient were conducted. RESULTS: The P. vivax parasites present in the samples exhibited high genetic diversity (6 to 15 distinct allelic variants found for the 8 loci). Similar expected heterozygosity (He) values were obtained for isolates from pregnant (0.837) and non-pregnant patients (0.852). There were modest differences between the MOI values calculated for both admission and recurrence samples from the pregnant patients (2.00 and 2.05, respectively) and the equivalent samples from the non-pregnant patients (1.67 and 1.64, respectively). Furthermore, the mean number of distinct alleles enumerated in the admission samples from the pregnant (6.88) and non-pregnant (7.63) patients were significantly lower than that found in the corresponding recurrent episodes samples (9.25 and 9.63, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: The P. vivax populations circulating in inhabitants along the Thai-Myanmar border, an area of low malaria transmission, displayed high genetic diversity. A subtle increase in the multiplicity of P. vivax infections in pregnant patients suggests a higher susceptibility to infection. The higher allelic diversity in the relapse as compared to the admission samples in both patient groups is consistent with the hypothesis that a febrile episode promotes the activation of hypnozoites.

Tarning J, Kloprogge F, Dhorda M, Jullien V, Nosten F, White NJ, Guerin PJ, Piola P. 2013. Pharmacokinetic properties of artemether, dihydroartemisinin, lumefantrine, and quinine in pregnant women with uncomplicated plasmodium falciparum malaria in Uganda. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 57 (10), pp. 5096-5103. | Show Abstract | Read more

Pregnancy alters the pharmacokinetic properties of many drugs used in the treatment of malaria, usually resulting in lower drug exposures. This increases the risks of treatment failure, adverse outcomes for the fetus, and the development of resistance. The pharmacokinetic properties of artemether and its principal metabolite dihydroartemisinin (n = 21), quinine (n = 21), and lumefantrine (n = 26) in pregnant Ugandan women were studied. Lumefantrine pharmacokinetics in a nonpregnant control group (n = 17) were also studied. Frequently sampled patient data were evaluated with noncompartmental analysis. No significant correlation was observed between estimated gestational age and artemether, dihydroartemisinin, lumefantrine, or quinine exposures. Artemether/dihydroartemisinin and quinine exposures were generally low in these pregnant women compared to values reported previously for nonpregnant patients. Median day 7 lumefantrine concentrations were 488 (range, 30.7 to 3,550) ng/ml in pregnant women compared to 720 (339 to 2,150) ng/ml in nonpregnant women (P = 0.128). There was no statistical difference in total lumefantrine exposure or maximum concentration. More studies with appropriate control groups in larger series are needed to characterize the degree to which pregnant women are underdosed with current antimalarial dosing regimens.

Turner P, Turner C, Watthanaworawit W, Carrara V, Cicelia N, Deglise C, Phares C, Ortega L, Nosten F. 2013. Respiratory virus surveillance in hospitalised pneumonia patients on the Thailand-Myanmar border BMC Infectious Diseases, 13 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Pneumonia is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in the developing world. Viruses contribute significantly to pneumonia burden, although data for low-income and tropical countries are scarce. The aim of this laboratory-enhanced, hospital-based surveillance was to characterise the epidemiology of respiratory virus infections among refugees living on the Thailand-Myanmar border.Methods: Maela camp provides shelter for ~45,000 refugees. Inside the camp, a humanitarian organisation provides free hospital care in a 158-bed inpatient department (IPD). Between 1st April 2009 and 30th September 2011, all patients admitted to the IPD with a clinical diagnosis of pneumonia were invited to participate. Clinical symptoms and signs were recorded and a nasopharyngeal aspirate (NPA) collected. NPAs were tested for adenoviruses, human metapneumovirus (hMPV), influenza A & B, and RSV by PCR.Results: Seven hundred eight patient episodes (698 patients) diagnosed as pneumonia during the enhanced surveillance period were included in this analysis. The median patient age was 1 year (range: < 1-70), and 90.4% were aged < 5 years. At least one virus was detected in 53.7% (380/708) of episodes. Virus detection was more common in children aged < 5 years old (<1 year: OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.2-3.4, p = 0.01; 1-4 years: OR 1.4, 95% CI 0.8-2.3, p = 0.2). RSV was detected in 176/708 (24.9%); an adenovirus in 133/708 (18.8%); an influenza virus in 68/708 (9.6%); and hMPV in 33/708 (4.7%). Twenty-eight episodes of multiple viral infections were identified, most commonly adenovirus plus another virus. RSV was more likely to be detected in children <5 years (OR 12.3, 95% CI 3.0-50.8, p = 0.001) and influenza viruses in patients ≥5 years (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.5-5.4, p = 0.002). IPD treatment was documented in 702/708 cases; all but one patient received antimicrobials, most commonly a beta-lactam (amoxicillin/ampicillin +/-gentamicin in 664/701, 94.7%).Conclusions: Viral nucleic acid was identified in the nasopharynx in half the patients admitted with clinically diagnosed pneumonia. Development of immunisations targeting common respiratory viruses is likely to reduce the incidence of pneumonia in children living refugee camps and similar settings. © 2013 Turner et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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.

Pratt B, Zion D, Lwin KM, Cheah PY, Nosten F, Loff B. 2013. Ancillary Care: From Theory to Practice in International Clinical Research. Public Health Ethics, 6 (2), pp. 154-169. | Show Abstract | Read more

How international research might contribute to justice in global health has not been substantively addressed by bioethics. This article describes how the provision of ancillary care can link international clinical research to the reduction of global health disparities. It identifies the ancillary care obligations supported by a theory of global justice, showing that Jennifer Ruger's health capability paradigm requires the delivery of ancillary care to trial participants for a limited subset of conditions that cause severe morbidity and mortality. Empirical research on the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit's (SMRU) vivax malaria treatment trial was then undertaken to demonstrate whether and how these obligations might be upheld in a resource-poor setting. Our findings show that fulfilment of the ancillary care obligations is feasible where there is commitment from chief investigators and funders and is strongly facilitated by SMRU's dual role as a research unit and medical non-governmental organization.

Turner C, Carrara V, Thien NA, Paw NM, Rijken M, McGready R, Nosten F. 2013. Changes in the body weight of term infants, born in the tropics, during the first seven days of life. BMC Pediatr, 13 (1), pp. 93. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Identifying unwell neonates, particularly in the first week of life, is often subjective. If normal values are known, calculating the weight lost or gained from birth weight can be a useful adjunct in the evaluation of the health of a neonate. METHODS: Serial body weights of well, term, breast fed infants who were attending for routine follow up, were recorded at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit clinic in Maela Camp for displaced persons on the Thailand Myanmar border. Newborn examination was routine. Weight loss, expressed as percent weight lost from birth weight, and weight gain, expressed as a velocity (g/kg/day), was calculated for the first seven days of life. The results from normal birth weight infants, low birth weight infants (<2.5 kg) and small for gestational age infants (SGA) were examined. RESULTS: In the first week of life there were no significant differences in weight gained or lost across the three study groups. The maximum weight lost was 4.4% (95% CI 4.1 - 4.6%), which occurred on day three. Weight gain ranged from 13 g/kg/day [95% CI 10 - 16] on day four to 18 g/kg/day [95% CI 15 - 20] on days six and seven. CONCLUSIONS: Use of these normal values for weight gain and loss, allows infants falling outside of the expected range (95% CI) to be easily identified and subsequently highlighted as needing further medical review.

Douglas NM, Simpson JA, Phyo AP, Siswantoro H, Hasugian AR, Kenangalem E, Poespoprodjo JR, Singhasivanon P et al. 2013. Gametocyte dynamics and the role of drugs in reducing the transmission potential of Plasmodium vivax. J Infect Dis, 208 (5), pp. 801-812. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Designing interventions that will reduce transmission of vivax malaria requires knowledge of Plasmodium vivax gametocyte dynamics. METHODS: We analyzed data from a randomized controlled trial in northwestern Thailand and 2 trials in Papua, Indonesia, to identify and compare risk factors for vivax gametocytemia at enrollment and following treatment. RESULTS: A total of 492 patients with P. vivax infections from Thailand and 476 patients (162 with concurrent falciparum parasitemia) from Indonesia were evaluable. Also, 84.3% (415/492) and 66.6% (209/314) of patients with monoinfection were gametocytemic at enrollment, respectively. The ratio of gametocytemia to asexual parasitemia did not differ between acute and recurrent infections (P = .48 in Thailand, P = .08 in Indonesia). High asexual parasitemia was associated with an increased risk of gametocytemia during follow-up in both locations. In Thailand, the cumulative incidence of gametocytemia between day 7 and day 42 following dihydroartemisinin + piperaquine (DHA + PIP) was 6.92% vs 29.1% following chloroquine (P < .001). In Indonesia, the incidence of gametocytemia was 33.6% following artesunate + amodiaquine (AS + AQ), 7.42% following artemether + lumefantrine, and 6.80% following DHA + PIP (P < .001 for DHA + PIP vs AS + AQ). CONCLUSIONS: P. vivax gametocyte carriage mirrors asexual-stage infection. Prevention of relapses, particularly in those with high asexual parasitemia, is likely the most important strategy for interrupting P. vivax transmission.

Watthanaworawit W, Turner P, Turner C, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Richards AL, Bourzac KM, Blacksell SD, Nosten F. 2013. A prospective evaluation of real-time PCR assays for the detection of Orientia tsutsugamushi and Rickettsia spp. for early diagnosis of rickettsial infections during the acute phase of undifferentiated febrile illness. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 89 (2), pp. 308-310. | Show Abstract | Read more

One hundred and eighty febrile patients were analyzed in a prospective evaluation of Orientia tsutsugamushi and Rickettsia spp. real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays for early diagnosis of rickettsial infections. By paired serology, 3.9% (7 of 180) and 6.1% (11 of 180) of patients were confirmed to have acute scrub or murine typhus, respectively. The PCR assays for the detection of O. tsutsugamushi and Rickettsia spp. had high specificity (99.4% [95% confidence interval (CI): 96.8-100] and 100% [95% CI: 97.8-100], respectively). The PCR results were also compared with immunoglobulin M (IgM) immunofluorescence assay (IFA) on acute sera. For O. tsutsugamushi, PCR sensitivity was twice that of acute specimen IgM IFA (28.6% versus 14.3%; McNemar's P = 0.3). For Rickettsia spp., PCR was four times as sensitive as acute specimen IgM IFA (36.4% versus 9.1%; P = 0.08), although this was not statistically significant. Whole blood and buffy coat, but not serum, were acceptable specimens for these PCRs. Further evaluation of these assays in a larger prospective study is warranted.

Turner P, Turner C, Green N, Ashton L, Lwe E, Jankhot A, Day NP, White NJ, Nosten F, Goldblatt D. 2013. Serum antibody responses to pneumococcal colonisation in the first two years of life: results from a SE Asian longitudinal cohort study. Clin Microbiol Infect, 19 (12), pp. E551-E558. | Show Abstract | Read more

Assessment of antibody responses to pneumococcal colonisation in early childhood may aid our understanding of protection and inform vaccine antigen selection. Serum samples were collected from mother-infant pairs during a longitudinal pneumococcal colonisation study in Burmese refugees. Maternal and cord sera were collected at birth and infants were bled monthly (1-24 months of age). Nasopharyngeal swabs were taken monthly to detect colonisation. Serum IgG titres to 27 pneumococcal protein antigens were measured in 2,624 sera and IgG to dominant serotypes (6B,14,19F,19A,23F) were quantified in 864 infant sera. Antibodies to all protein antigens were detectable in maternal sera. Titres to four proteins (LytB,PcpA,PhtD,PhtE) were significantly higher in mothers colonised by pneumococci at delivery. Maternally-derived antibodies to PiuA and Spr0096 were associated with delayed pneumococcal acquisition in infants in univariate, but not multivariate models. Controlling for infant age and previous homologous serotype exposure, nasopharyngeal acquisition of serotypes 19A, 23F, 14, or 19F were associated significantly with a ≥2-fold antibody response to the homologous capsule (OR 12.84, 7.52, 6.52, 5.33; p<0.05). Acquisition of pneumococcal serotypes in the nasopharynx of infants was not significantly associated with a ≥2-fold rise in antibodies to any of the protein antigens studied. In conclusion, nasopharyngeal colonisation in young children resulted in demonstrable serum IgG responses to pneumococcal capsules and surface/virulence proteins. However, the relationship between serum IgG and the prevention of, or response to, pneumococcal nasopharyngeal colonisation remains complex. Mechanisms other than serum IgG are likely to have a role but are currently poorly understood. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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

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

Miotto O, Almagro-Garcia J, Manske M, Macinnis B, Campino S, Rockett KA, Amaratunga C, Lim P et al. 2013. Multiple populations of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Cambodia. Nat Genet, 45 (6), pp. 648-655. | Show Abstract | Read more

We describe an analysis of genome variation in 825 P. falciparum samples from Asia and Africa that identifies an unusual pattern of parasite population structure at the epicenter of artemisinin resistance in western Cambodia. Within this relatively small geographic area, we have discovered several distinct but apparently sympatric parasite subpopulations with extremely high levels of genetic differentiation. Of particular interest are three subpopulations, all associated with clinical resistance to artemisinin, which have skewed allele frequency spectra and high levels of haplotype homozygosity, indicative of founder effects and recent population expansion. We provide a catalog of SNPs that show high levels of differentiation in the artemisinin-resistant subpopulations, including codon variants in transporter proteins and DNA mismatch repair proteins. These data provide a population-level genetic framework for investigating the biological origins of artemisinin resistance and for defining molecular markers to assist in its elimination.

Ch'ng JH, Mok S, Bozdech Z, Lear MJ, Boudhar A, Russell B, Nosten F, Tan KS. 2013. A whole cell pathway screen reveals seven novel chemosensitizers to combat chloroquine resistant malaria. Sci Rep, 3 pp. 1734. | Show Abstract | Read more

Due to the widespread prevalence of resistant parasites, chloroquine (CQ) was removed from front-line antimalarial chemotherapy in the 1990s despite its initial promise of disease eradication. Since then, resistance-conferring mutations have been identified in transporters such as the PfCRT, that allow for the efflux of CQ from its primary site of action, the parasite digestive vacuole. Chemosensitizing/chemoreversing compounds interfere with the function of these transporters thereby sensitizing parasites to CQ once again. However, compounds identified thus far have disappointing in vivo efficacy and screening for alternative candidates is required to revive this strategy. In this study, we propose a simple and direct means to rapidly screen for such compounds using a fluorescent-tagged CQ molecule. When this screen was applied to a small library, seven novel chemosensitizers (octoclothepin, methiothepin, metergoline, loperamide, chlorprothixene, L-703,606 and mibefradil) were quickly elucidated, including two which showed greater potency than the classical chemosensitizers verapamil and desipramine.

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.

Nkhoma SC, Stepniewska K, Nair S, Phyo AP, McGready R, Nosten F, Anderson TJ. 2013. Genetic evaluation of the performance of malaria parasite clearance rate metrics. J Infect Dis, 208 (2), pp. 346-350. | Show Abstract | Read more

Accurate measurement of malaria parasite clearance rates (CRs) following artemisinin (ART) treatment is critical for resistance surveillance and research, and various CR metrics are currently used. We measured 13 CR metrics in 1472 ART-treated hyperparasitemia infections for which 6-hour parasite counts and parasite genotypes (93 single nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs]) were available. We used heritability to evaluate the performance of each metric. Heritability ranged from 0.06 ± 0.06 (SD) for 50% parasite clearance times to 0.67 ± 0.04 (SD) for clearance half-lives estimated from 6-hour parasite counts. These results identify the measures that should be avoided and show that reliable clearance measures can be obtained with abbreviated monitoring protocols.

Turner C, Mya Thein NA, Turner P, Nosten F, White NJ. 2013. Rectal pH in Well and Unwell Infants. J Trop Pediatr, 59 (2), pp. 162. | Read more

Turner C, Thein NAM, Turner P, Nosten F, White NJ. 2013. Erratum to Rectal pH in well and unwell infants [J Trop Pediatr, 58 (2012) 311-313] Journal of Tropical Pediatrics, 59 (2), pp. 162. | Read more

Carrara VI, Lwin KM, Phyo AP, Ashley E, Wiladphaingern J, Sriprawat K, Rijken M, Boel M et al. 2013. Malaria burden and artemisinin resistance in the mobile and migrant population on the Thai-Myanmar border, 1999-2011: an observational study. PLoS Med, 10 (3), pp. e1001398. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The Shoklo Malaria Research Unit has been working on the Thai-Myanmar border for 25 y providing early diagnosis and treatment (EDT) of malaria. Transmission of Plasmodium falciparum has declined, but resistance to artesunate has emerged. We expanded malaria activities through EDT and evaluated the impact over a 12-y period. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Between 1 October 1999 and 30 September 2011, the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit increased the number of cross-border (Myanmar side) health facilities from two to 11 and recorded the number of malaria consultations. Changes in malaria incidence were estimated from a cohort of pregnant women, and prevalence from cross-sectional surveys. In vivo and in vitro antimalarial drug efficacy were monitored. Over this period, the number of malaria cases detected increased initially, but then declined rapidly. In children under 5 y, the percentage of consultations due to malaria declined from 78% (95% CI 76-80) (1,048/1,344 consultations) to 7% (95% CI 6.2-7.1) (767/11,542 consultations), p<0.001. The ratio of P. falciparum/P. vivax declined from 1.4 (95% CI 1.3-1.4) to 0.7 (95% CI 0.7-0.8). The case fatality rate was low (39/75,126; 0.05% [95% CI 0.04-0.07]). The incidence of malaria declined from 1.1 to 0.1 episodes per pregnant women-year. The cumulative proportion of P. falciparum decreased significantly from 24.3% (95% CI 21.0-28.0) (143/588 pregnant women) to 3.4% (95% CI 2.8-4.3) (76/2,207 pregnant women), p<0.001. The in vivo efficacy of mefloquine-artesunate declined steadily, with a sharp drop in 2011 (day-42 PCR-adjusted cure rate 42% [95% CI 20-62]). The proportion of patients still slide positive for malaria at day 3 rose from 0% in 2000 to reach 28% (95% CI 13-45) (8/29 patients) in 2011. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the emergence of resistance to artesunate in P. falciparum, the strategy of EDT with artemisinin-based combination treatments has been associated with a reduction in malaria in the migrant population living on the Thai-Myanmar border. Although limited by its observational nature, this study provides useful data on malaria burden in a strategically crucial geographical area. Alternative fixed combination treatments are needed urgently to replace the failing first-line regimen of mefloquine and artesunate. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.

Creek DJ, Bigira V, McCormack S, Arinaitwe E, Wanzira H, Kakuru A, Tappero JW, Sandison TG et al. 2013. Pharmacokinetic predictors for recurrent malaria after dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine treatment of uncomplicated malaria in Ugandan infants. J Infect Dis, 207 (11), pp. 1646-1654. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Although dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) is used primarily in children, pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) data on DP use in young children are lacking. METHODS: We conducted a prospective PK/PD study of piperaquine in 107 young children in Uganda. Samples were collected up to 28 days after 218 episodes of malaria treatment, which occurred during follow-up periods of up to 5 months. Malaria follow-up was conducted actively to day 28 and passively to day 63. RESULTS: The median capillary piperaquine concentration on day 7 after treatment was 41.9 ng/mL. Low piperaquine concentrations were associated with an increased risk of recurrent malaria for up to 42 days, primarily in those receiving trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) prophylaxis. In children not receiving TMP-SMX, low piperaquine concentrations were only modestly associated with an increased risk of recurrent malaria. However, for children receiving TMP-SMX, associations were strong and evident for all sampling days, with PQ concentrations of ≤ 27.3 ng/mL on day 7 associated with a greatly increased risk of recurrent malaria. Notably, of 132 cases of recurrent malaria, 119 had detectable piperaquine concentrations at the time of presentation with recurrent malaria. CONCLUSIONS: These piperaquine PK/PD data represent the first in children <2 years of age. Piperaquine exposure on day 7 correlated with an increased risk of recurrent malaria after DP treatment in children receiving TMP-SMX prophylaxis. Interestingly, despite strong associations, infants remained at risk for malaria, even if they had residual levels of piperaquine.

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McNamara CW, Lee MCS, Lim CS, Lim SH, Roland J, Nagle A, Simon O, Yeung BKS et al. 2013. Targeting Plasmodium PI(4)K to eliminate malaria Nature, 504 (7479), pp. 248-253. | Show Abstract | Read more

Achieving the goal of malaria elimination will depend on targeting Plasmodium pathways essential across all life stages. Here we identify a lipid kinase, phosphatidylinositol-4-OH kinase (PI(4)K), as the target of imidazopyrazines, a new antimalarial compound class that inhibits the intracellular development of multiple Plasmodium species at each stage of infection in the vertebrate host. Imidazopyrazines demonstrate potent preventive, therapeutic, and transmission-blocking activity in rodent malaria models, are active against blood-stage field isolates of the major human pathogens P. falciparum and P. vivax, and inhibit liver-stage hypnozoites in the simian parasite P. cynomolgi. We show that imidazopyrazines exert their effect through inhibitory interaction with the ATP-binding pocket of PI(4)K, altering the intracellular distribution of phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate. Collectively, our data define PI(4)K as a key Plasmodium vulnerability, opening up new avenues of target-based discovery to identify drugs with an ideal activity profile for the prevention, treatment and elimination of malaria. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Kloprogge F, Piola P, Dhorda M, Muwanga S, Turyakira E, Apinan S, Lindegårdh N, Nosten F et al. 2013. Population Pharmacokinetics of Lumefantrine in Pregnant and Nonpregnant Women With Uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum Malaria in Uganda. CPT Pharmacometrics Syst Pharmacol, 2 (11), pp. e83. | Show Abstract | Read more

Pregnancy alters the pharmacokinetic properties of many antimalarial compounds. The objective of this study was to evaluate the pharmacokinetic properties of lumefantrine in pregnant and nonpregnant women with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Uganda after a standard fixed oral artemether-lumefantrine treatment. Dense venous (n = 26) and sparse capillary (n = 90) lumefantrine samples were drawn from pregnant patients. A total of 17 nonpregnant women contributed with dense venous lumefantrine samples. Lumefantrine pharmacokinetics was best described by a flexible absorption model with multiphasic disposition. Pregnancy and body temperature had a significant impact on the pharmacokinetic properties of lumefantrine. Simulations from the final model indicated 27% lower day 7 concentrations in pregnant women compared with nonpregnant women and a decreased median time of 0.92 and 0.42 days above previously defined critical concentration cutoff values (280 and 175 ng/ml, respectively). The standard artemether-lumefantrine dose regimen in P. falciparum malaria may need reevaluation in nonimmune pregnant women.CPT: Pharmacometrics & Systems Pharmacology (2013) 2, e83; doi:10.1038/psp.2013.59; advance online publication 13 November 2013.

Malleret B, Xu F, Mohandas N, Suwanarusk R, Chu C, Leite JA, Low K, Turner C et al. 2013. Significant biochemical, biophysical and metabolic diversity in circulating human cord blood reticulocytes. PLoS One, 8 (10), pp. e76062. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The transition from enucleated reticulocytes to mature normocytes is marked by substantial remodeling of the erythrocytic cytoplasm and membrane. Despite conspicuous changes, most studies describe the maturing reticulocyte as a homogenous erythropoietic cell type. While reticulocyte staging based on fluorescent RNA stains such as thiazole orange have been useful in a clinical setting; these 'sub-vital' stains may confound delicate studies on reticulocyte biology and may preclude their use in heamoparasite invasion studies. DESIGN AND METHODS: Here we use highly purified populations of reticulocytes isolated from cord blood, sorted by flow cytometry into four sequential subpopulations based on transferrin receptor (CD71) expression: CD71high, CD71medium, CD71low and CD71negative. Each of these subgroups was phenotyped in terms of their, morphology, membrane antigens, biomechanical properties and metabolomic profile. RESULTS: Superficially CD71high and CD71medium reticulocytes share a similar gross morphology (large and multilobular) when compared to the smaller, smooth and increasingly concave reticulocytes as seen in the in the CD71low and CD71negativesamples. However, between each of the four sample sets we observe significant decreases in shear modulus, cytoadhesive capacity, erythroid receptor expression (CD44, CD55, CD147, CD235R, and CD242) and metabolite concentrations. Interestingly increasing amounts of boric acid was found in the mature reticulocytes. CONCLUSIONS: Reticulocyte maturation is a dynamic and continuous process, confounding efforts to rigidly classify them. Certainly this study does not offer an alternative classification strategy; instead we used a nondestructive sampling method to examine key phenotypic changes of in reticulocytes. Our study emphasizes a need to focus greater attention on reticulocyte biology.

Turner C, Carrara V, Aye Mya Thein N, Chit Mo Mo Win N, Turner P, Bancone G, White NJ, McGready R, Nosten F. 2013. Neonatal intensive care in a Karen refugee camp: a 4 year descriptive study. PLoS One, 8 (8), pp. e72721. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: A third of all deaths in children aged <5 years occur in the neonatal period. Neonatal intensive care is often considered too complex and expensive to be implemented in resource poor settings. Consequently the reductions that have been made in infant mortality in the poorest countries have not been made in the neonatal period. This manuscript describes the activities surrounding the introduction of special care baby unit (SCBU) in a refugee setting and the resulting population impact. METHODS: A SCBU was developed in Maela refugee camp on the Thailand-Myanmar border. This unit comprised of a dedicated area, basic equipment, drugs and staff training. Training was built around neonatal guidelines, comprising six clinical steps: recognition, resuscitation, examination, supportive medical care, specialised medical care, and counselling of parents with sick newborns. RESULTS: From January 2008 until December 2011, 952 infants were admitted to SCBU. The main admission diagnoses were early onset neonatal sepsis, jaundice and prematurity. Early prematurity (<34 weeks) carried the highest risk of mortality (OR 9.5, 95% CI 5.4-16.5, p<0.001). There was a significant decrease in mortality from 19.3% (2008) to 4.8% (2011) among the infants admitted for prematurity (p=0.03). The neonatal mortality in Maela camp as a whole declined by 51% from 21.8 to 10.7 deaths per 1000 live births over the corresponding period (p=0.04). Staff expressed more confidence in their ability to take care of neonates and there was a more positive attitude towards premature infants. CONCLUSION: Neonatal mortality can be reduced in a resource poor setting by introduction of a simple low cost unit specialising in care of sick neonates and run by local health workers following adequate training. Training in recognition and provision of simple interventions at a high standard can increase staff confidence and reduce fatalistic attitudes towards premature neonates.

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.

Turner P, Turner C, Jankhot A, Phakaudom K, Nosten F, Goldblatt D. 2013. Field evaluation of culture plus latex sweep serotyping for detection of multiple pneumococcal serotype colonisation in infants and young children. PLoS One, 8 (7), pp. e67933. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Nasopharyngeal swab (NPS) culture by World Health Organisation (WHO) methodology underestimates multiple pneumococcal serotype colonisation compared to a simple culture and latex sweep method. The impacts of this on descriptions of pneumococcal serotype distributions and colonisation dynamics in infancy are not clear. METHODS: 8,736 NPS collected from infants enrolled into a longitudinal study were processed to evaluate the field utility of the latex sweep method. 1,107 had previously been cultured by WHO methodology. Additionally, colonisation results were compared in 100 matched pairs of infants, where swabs from an individual were cultured either by WHO or latex sweep method. RESULTS: In 1,107 swabs cultured by both methods, the latex sweep method was three times more likely to detect colonisation with multiple pneumococcal serotypes than the WHO method (p<0.001). At least one common serotype was identified in 91.2% of swabs from which typeable pneumococci were detected by both methods. Agreement improved with increasing colonisation density (p = 0.03). Estimates of age at first pneumococcal acquisition and colonisation duration were not affected by culture/serotyping method. However, a greater number of serotype carriage episodes were detected in infants cultured by latex sweep (p = 0.03). The overall rate of non-vaccine type pneumococcal acquisition was also greater in infants cultured by latex sweep (p = 0.04). CONCLUSIONS: Latex sweep serotyping was feasible to perform on a large specimen collection. Multiple serotype colonisation detection was significantly improved compared with WHO methodology. However, use of the latex sweep method is unlikely to significantly alter colonisation study serotype distribution or colonisation dynamics results.

Nacher M, Guérin PJ, Demar-Pierre M, Djossou F, Nosten F, Carme B. 2013. Made in Europe: will artemisinin resistance emerge in French Guiana? Malar J, 12 (1), pp. 152. | Show Abstract | Read more

Resistance to artemisinin casts a shadow on the fight against malaria. The importance of illegal gold miners and of malaria in isolated regions of French Guiana constitutes a threat that endangers the fight against malaria in the Amazon. The hurdles of French laws and the remoteness of the territory from France make it impossible for the system to adapt to the problem of total inaccessibility of an important part of the malaria problem. Transmission is high in these areas and gold miners self-medicate with erratic regimens of artemisinin combinations, thus creating perfect conditions for the emergence of resistance. What needs to be done is being done, but within the limits of national law, with some results. However, facing the same difficult problem, Suriname shows more flexibility and is doing much better than French Guiana despite having lower resources. Local authorities in French Guiana cannot overrule the laws that block appropriate malaria care from reaching a third of malaria-exposed persons. Thus the health authorities in France should take immediate calibrated legislative and financial measures to avoid a predictable disaster.

Macareo L, Lwin KM, Cheah PY, Yuentrakul P, Miller RS, Nosten F. 2013. Triangular test design to evaluate tinidazole in the prevention of Plasmodium vivax relapse. Malar J, 12 (1), pp. 173. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: There are very few drugs that prevent the relapse of Plasmodium vivax malaria in man. Tinidazole is a 5-nitroimidazole approved in the USA for the treatment of indications including amoebiasis and giardiasis. In the non-human primate relapsing Plasmodium cynomolgi/macaque malaria model, tinidazole cured one of six macaques studied with an apparent mild delay to relapse in the other five of 14-28 days compared to 11-12 days in controls. One study has demonstrated activity against P. vivax in man. Presented here are the results of a pilot phase II, randomized, open-label study conducted along the Thai-Myanmar border designed to evaluate the efficacy of tinidazole to prevent relapse of P. vivax when administered with chloroquine. METHODS: This study utilized a modified triangular test sequential analysis which allows repeated statistical evaluation during the course of enrolment while maintaining a specified power and type 1 error and minimizing recruitment of subjects. Enrolment was to be halted when a pre-specified success/failure ratio was surpassed. The study was designed to have a 5% type 1 error and 90% power to show whether tinidazole would produce a relapse rate of less than 20% or greater than 45% through Day 63 of weekly follow-up after initiation of treatment and initial parasite clearance with 3 days of an oral weight based dosing of chloroquine and five days of 2 grams/day of tinidazole. RESULTS: All subjects cleared their parasitaemia by Day 3. Six of the first seven subjects treated with tinidazole relapsed prior to Day 63 (average Day 48.3 (range 42-56)). This exceeded the upper boundary of the triangular test and enrolment to receive tinidazole was halted. A concurrent cohort of five subjects definitively treated with standard doses of primaquine and chloroquine (historically 100% effective) showed no episodes of recurrent P. vivax parasitaemia during the 63-day protocol specified follow-up period. CONCLUSIONS: Tinidazole is ineffective in preventing relapse of P. vivax at the dose used. The macaque relapsing model appeared to correctly predict outcome in humans. Use of the modified triangular test allowed minimal enrolment and limited unnecessary exposure to the study drug and reduced costs. This adds weight to the ethical and economic advantages of this study design to evaluate similarly situated drugs. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00811096.

Lee WC, Russell B, Lau YL, Fong MY, Chu C, Sriprawat K, Suwanarusk R, Nosten F, Renia L. 2013. Giemsa-stained wet mount based method for reticulocyte quantification: a viable alternative in resource limited or malaria endemic settings. PLoS One, 8 (4), pp. e60303. | Show Abstract | Read more

The quantity of circulating reticulocytes is an important indicator of erythropoietic activity in response to a wide range of haematological pathologies. While most modern laboratories use flow cytometry to quantify reticulocytes, most field laboratories still rely on 'subvital' staining. The specialist 'subvital' stains, New Methylene Blue (NMB) and Brilliant Crésyl Blue are often difficult to procure, toxic, and show inconsistencies between batches. Here we demonstrate the utility of Giemsa's stain (commonly used microbiology and parasitology) in a 'subvital' manner to provide an accurate method to visualize and count reticulocytes in blood samples from normal and malaria-infected individuals.

Boel ME, Rijken MJ, Leenstra T, Phyo AP, Pimanpanarak M, Keereecharoen NL, Proux S, Laochan N et al. 2013. Malaria in the post-partum period; a prospective cohort study. PLoS One, 8 (3), pp. e57890. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Several studies have shown a prolonged or increased susceptibility to malaria in the post-partum period. A matched cohort study was conducted to evaluate prospectively the susceptibility to malaria of post-partum women in an area where P.falciparum and P.vivax are prevalent. METHODS: In an area of low seasonal malaria transmission on the Thai-Myanmar border pregnant women attending antenatal clinics were matched to a non-pregnant, non-post-partum control and followed up prospectively until 12 weeks after delivery. RESULTS: Post-partum women (n = 744) experienced significantly less P.falciparum episodes than controls (hazard ratio (HR) 0.39 (95%CI 0.21-0.72) p = 0.003) but significantly more P.vivax (HR 1.34 (1.05-1.72) p = 0.018). The reduced risk of falciparum malaria was accounted for by reduced exposure, whereas a history of P.vivax infection during pregnancy was a strong risk factor for P.vivax in post-partum women (HR 13.98 (9.13-21.41), p<0.001). After controlling for effect modification by history of P.vivax, post-partum women were not more susceptible to P.vivax than controls (HR: 0.33 (0.21-0.51), p<0.001). Genotyping of pre-and post-partum infections [Formula in text] showed that each post-partum P.falciparum was a newly acquired infection. CONCLUSIONS: In this area of low seasonal malaria transmission post-partum women were less likely to develop falciparum malaria but more likely to develop vivax malaria than controls. This was explained by reduced risk of exposure and increased risk of relapse, respectively. There was no evidence for altered susceptibility to malaria in the post-partum period. The treatment of vivax malaria during and immediately after pregnancy needs to be improved.

Bitencourt AR, Vicentin EC, Jimenez MC, Ricci R, Leite JA, Costa FT, Ferreira LC, Russell B et al. 2013. Antigenicity and immunogenicity of Plasmodium vivax merozoite surface protein-3. PLoS One, 8 (2), pp. e56061. | Show Abstract | Read more

A recent clinical trial in African children demonstrated the potential utility of merozoite surface protein (MSP)-3 as a vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum malaria. The present study evaluated the use of Plasmodium vivax MSP-3 (PvMSP-3) as a target antigen in vaccine formulations against malaria caused by P. vivax. Recombinant proteins representing MSP-3α and MSP-3β of P. vivax were expressed as soluble histidine-tagged bacterial fusions. Antigenicity during natural infection was evaluated by detecting specific antibodies using sera from individuals living in endemic areas of Brazil. A large proportion of infected individuals presented IgG antibodies to PvMSP-3α (68.2%) and at least 1 recombinant protein representing PvMSP-3β (79.1%). In spite of the large responder frequency, reactivity to both antigens was significantly lower than was observed for the immunodominant epitope present on the 19-kDa C-terminal region of PvMSP-1. Immunogenicity of the recombinant proteins was studied in mice in the absence or presence of different adjuvant formulations. PvMSP-3β, but not PvMSP-3α, induced a TLR4-independent humoral immune response in the absence of any adjuvant formulation. The immunogenicity of the recombinant antigens were also tested in formulations containing different adjuvants (Alum, Salmonella enterica flagellin, CpG, Quil A,TiterMax® and incomplete Freunds adjuvant) and combinations of two adjuvants (Alum plus flagellin, and CpG plus flagellin). Recombinant PvMSP-3α and PvMSP-3β elicited higher antibody titers capable of recognizing P. vivax-infected erythrocytes harvested from malaria patients. Our results confirm that P. vivax MSP-3 antigens are immunogenic during natural infection, and the corresponding recombinant proteins may be useful in elucidating their vaccine potential.

Auburn S, Marfurt J, Maslen G, Campino S, Ruano Rubio V, Manske M, Machunter B, Kenangalem E et al. 2013. Effective preparation of Plasmodium vivax field isolates for high-throughput whole genome sequencing. PLoS One, 8 (1), pp. e53160. | Show Abstract | Read more

Whole genome sequencing (WGS) of Plasmodium vivax is problematic due to the reliance on clinical isolates which are generally low in parasitaemia and sample volume. Furthermore, clinical isolates contain a significant contaminating background of host DNA which confounds efforts to map short read sequence of the target P. vivax DNA. Here, we discuss a methodology to significantly improve the success of P. vivax WGS on natural (non-adapted) patient isolates. Using 37 patient isolates from Indonesia, Thailand, and travellers, we assessed the application of CF11-based white blood cell filtration alone and in combination with short term ex vivo schizont maturation. Although CF11 filtration reduced human DNA contamination in 8 Indonesian isolates tested, additional short-term culture increased the P. vivax DNA yield from a median of 0.15 to 6.2 ng µl(-1) packed red blood cells (pRBCs) (p = 0.001) and reduced the human DNA percentage from a median of 33.9% to 6.22% (p = 0.008). Furthermore, post-CF11 and culture samples from Thailand gave a median P. vivax DNA yield of 2.34 ng µl(-1) pRBCs, and 2.65% human DNA. In 22 P. vivax patient isolates prepared with the 2-step method, we demonstrate high depth (median 654X coverage) and breadth (≥89%) of coverage on the Illumina GAII and HiSeq platforms. In contrast to the A+T-rich P. falciparum genome, negligible bias was observed in coverage depth between coding and non-coding regions of the P. vivax genome. This uniform coverage will greatly facilitate the detection of SNPs and copy number variants across the genome, enabling unbiased exploration of the natural diversity in P. vivax populations.

Turner C, Turner P, Carrara V, Burgoine K, Tha Ler Htoo S, Watthanaworawit W, Day NP, White NJ, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2013. High rates of pneumonia in children under two years of age in a South East Asian refugee population. PLoS One, 8 (1), pp. e54026. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: There are an estimated 150 million episodes of childhood pneumonia per year, with 11-20 million hospital admissions and 1.575 million deaths. Refugee children are particularly vulnerable, with poorly defined pneumonia epidemiology. METHODS: We followed a birth cohort of 955 refugee infants, born over a one-year period, until two years of age. Clinical and radiographic pneumonia were diagnosed according to WHO criteria. Detailed characteristics were collected to determine risk factors for clinical, radiological and multiple episodes of pneumonia. Investigations were taken during a pneumonia episode to help determine or to infer an aetiological diagnosis. FINDINGS: The incidence of clinical pneumonia was 0.73 (95% CI 0.70-0.75) episodes per child year (/CY) and of radiological primary endpoint pneumonia (PEP) was 0.22/CY (95% CI 0.20-0.24). The incidence of pneumonia without severe signs was 0.50/CY (95% CI 0.48-0.53), severe pneumonia 0.15/CY (95% CI 0.13-0.17) and very severe pneumonia 0.06/CY (0.05-0.07). Virus was detected, from a nasopharyngeal aspirate, in 61.3% of episodes. A reduced volume of living space per person (IRR 0.99, 95% CI 0.99-1.0, p = 0.003) and young maternal age (IRR 1.59, 95% CI 1.12-2.27, p = 0.01) were risk factors for developing pneumonia. The risk of a child having >1 episode of pneumonia was increased by having a shorter distance to the next house (IRR 0.86, 95% CI 0.74-1.00, p = 0.04). Infants were at risk of having an episode of PEP if there was a shorter distance from stove to bed (IRR 0.89, 95% CI 0.80-0.99, p = 0.03). Raised CRP and neutrophil values were associated with PEP. CONCLUSIONS: There was a high incidence of pneumonia in young children in this SE Asian refugee population. Viral infections were important, however CXR and non-specific marker findings suggested that bacteria may be involved in up to a third of cases.

Lwin KM, Peto TJ, White NJ, Day NPJ, Nosten F, Parker M, Cheah PY. 2013. The practicality and sustainability of a community advisory board at a large medical research unit on the Thai-Myanmar border Health, 05 (02), pp. 229-236. | Read more

Takala-Harrison S, Clark TG, Jacob CG, Cummings MP, Miotto O, Dondorp AM, Fukuda MM, Nosten F et al. 2013. Genetic loci associated with delayed clearance of Plasmodium falciparum following artemisinin treatment in Southeast Asia. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 110 (1), pp. 240-245. | Show Abstract | Read more

The recent emergence of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria in western Cambodia could threaten prospects for malaria elimination. Identification of the genetic basis of resistance would provide tools for molecular surveillance, aiding efforts to contain resistance. Clinical trials of artesunate efficacy were conducted in Bangladesh, in northwestern Thailand near the Myanmar border, and at two sites in western Cambodia. Parasites collected from trial participants were genotyped at 8,079 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) using a P. falciparum-specific SNP array. Parasite genotypes were examined for signatures of recent positive selection and association with parasite clearance phenotypes to identify regions of the genome associated with artemisinin resistance. Four SNPs on chromosomes 10 (one), 13 (two), and 14 (one) were significantly associated with delayed parasite clearance. The two SNPs on chromosome 13 are in a region of the genome that appears to be under strong recent positive selection in Cambodia. The SNPs on chromosomes 10 and 13 lie in or near genes involved in postreplication repair, a DNA damage-tolerance pathway. Replication and validation studies are needed to refine the location of loci responsible for artemisinin resistance and to understand the mechanism behind it; however, two SNPs on chromosomes 10 and 13 may be useful markers of delayed parasite clearance in surveillance for artemisinin resistance in Southeast Asia.

White AL, Carrara VI, Paw MK, Malika, Dahbu C, Gross MM, Stuetz W, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2012. High initiation and long duration of breastfeeding despite absence of early skin-to-skin contact in Karen refugees on the Thai-Myanmar border: a mixed methods study. Int Breastfeed J, 7 (1), pp. 19. | Show Abstract | Read more

UNLABELLED: BACKGROUND: Early skin-to-skin contact (SSC) after birth is recommended as part of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) baby friendly health initiative to promote optimum breastfeeding. This paper reports rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration in a low resource environment, where early SSC is not practised, and explores views of pregnant women and midwives surrounding breastfeeding and swaddling. METHODS: Data from records from a single hospital on the Thai-Myanmar border where refugee women gave birth during a one-year period (2010) were used to determine breastfeeding initiation rates and the time of the first breastfeed, and duration of breastfeeding of the previous alive child in multigravidae. Focus group discussions (FGD) were conducted to obtain information from pregnant women attending antenatal care about their intended or previous duration of breastfeeding and views on breastfeeding. Interviews with local midwives explored reasons for high rates of breastfeeding in this setting and the practice of newborn swaddling. RESULTS: Of 1404 live births in 2010 in Maela refugee camp there were 982 evaluable mother-newborn pairs, including 80 infants born before 37 weeks gestation. Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour after birth and exclusive breastfeeding at discharge in term mother-newborn pairs was 91.2% (823/902) and 99.3% (896/902); and before 37 weeks gestation, 48.8% (39/80) and 98.8% (79/80). Reported duration of previous breastfeeding was 19 (range 2 to 72) months.During FGD all primigravidae (n = 17) intended to breastfeed and all multigravidae (n = 33) had previously breastfed; expected or previous duration of feeding was for more than one year or longer. The major theme identified during FGD was breastfeeding is "good". Women stated their intention to breastfeed with certainty. This certainty was echoed during the interviews with midwifery staff. SSC requires a delay in early swaddling that in Karen people, with animistic beliefs, could risk loss of the spirit of the newborn or attract malevolent spirits. CONCLUSIONS: In a population with a strong culture of breastfeeding and robust breastfeeding practices, high rates of initiation and duration of breastfeeding were found despite a lack of early skin-to-skin contact. Local preferences, traditions and practices that protect, support and maintain high rates of breastfeeding should be promoted.

Hoglund RM, Adam I, Hanpithakpong W, Ashton M, Lindegardh N, Day NP, White NJ, Nosten F, Tarning J. 2012. A population pharmacokinetic model of piperaquine in pregnant and non-pregnant women with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Sudan. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 398. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of developing a malaria infection and a higher risk of developing severe malaria. The pharmacokinetic properties of many anti-malarials are also altered during pregnancy, often resulting in a decreased drug exposure. Piperaquine is a promising anti-malarial partner drug used in a fixed-dose combination with dihydroartemisinin. The aim of this study was to investigate the population pharmacokinetics of piperaquine in pregnant and non-pregnant Sudanese women with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. METHOD: Symptomatic patients received a standard dose regimen of the fixed dose oral piperaquine-dihydroartemisinin combination treatment. Densely sampled plasma aliquots were collected and analysed using a previously described LC-MS/MS method. Data from 12 pregnant and 12 non-pregnant women were analysed using nonlinear mixed-effects modelling. A Monte Carlo Mapped Power (MCMP) analysis was conducted based on a previously published study to evaluate the power of detecting covariates in this relatively small study. RESULTS: A three-compartment disposition model with a transit-absorption model described the observed data well. Body weight was added as an allometric function on all clearance and volume parameters. A statistically significant decrease in estimated terminal piperaquine half-life in pregnant compared with non-pregnant women was found, but there were no differences in post-hoc estimates of total piperaquine exposure. The MCMP analysis indicated a minimum of 13 pregnant and 13 non-pregnant women were required to identify pregnancy as a covariate on relevant pharmacokinetic parameters (80% power and p=0.05). Pregnancy was, therefore, evaluated as a categorical and continuous covariate (i.e. estimate gestational age) in a full covariate approach. Using this approach pregnancy was not associated with any major change in piperaquine elimination clearance. However, a trend of increasing elimination clearance with increasing gestational age could be seen. CONCLUSIONS: The population pharmacokinetic properties of piperaquine were well described by a three-compartment disposition model in pregnant and non-pregnant women with uncomplicated malaria. The modelling approach showed no major difference in piperaquine exposure between the two groups and data presented here do not warrant a dose adjustment in pregnancy in this vulnerable population.

Fowkes FJ, McGready R, Johnstone-Robertson S, Nosten F, Beeson JG. 2013. Antibody boosting and longevity following tetanus immunization during pregnancy. Clin Infect Dis, 56 (5), pp. 749-750. | Read more

Das D, Tripura R, Phyo AP, Lwin KM, Tarning J, Lee SJ, Hanpithakpong W, Stepniewska K et al. 2013. Effect of high-dose or split-dose artesunate on parasite clearance in artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria. Clin Infect Dis, 56 (5), pp. e48-e58. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The emergence of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinins on the Cambodian and Myanmar-Thai borders poses severe threats to malaria control. We investigated whether increasing or splitting the dose of the short-half-life drug artesunate improves parasite clearance in falciparum malaria in the 2 regions. METHODS: In Pailin, western Cambodia (from 2008 to 2010), and Wang Pha, northwestern Thailand (2009-2010), patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were randomized to oral artesunate 6 mg/kg/d as a once-daily or twice-daily dose for 7 days, or artesunate 8 mg/kg/d as a once-daily or twice-daily dose for 3 days, followed by mefloquine. Parasite clearance and recrudescence for up to 63 days of follow-up were assessed. RESULTS: A total of 159 patients were enrolled. Overall median (interquartile range [IQR]) parasitemia half-life (half-life) was 6.03 (4.89-7.28) hours in Pailin versus 3.42 (2.20-4.85) hours in Wang Pha (P = .0001). Splitting or increasing the artesunate dose did not shorten half-life in either site. Pharmacokinetic profiles of artesunate and dihydroartemisinin were similar between sites and did not correlate with half-life. Recrudescent infections occurred in 4 of 79 patients in Pailin and 5 of 80 in Wang Pha and was not different between treatment arms (P = .68). CONCLUSIONS: Increasing the artesunate treatment dose up to 8 mg/kg/d or splitting the dose does not improve parasite clearance in either artemisinin resistant or more sensitive infections with P. falciparum. Clinical Trials Registration. ISRCTN15351875.

Nkhoma SC, Nair S, Al-Saai S, Ashley E, McGready R, Phyo AP, Nosten F, Anderson TJ. 2013. Population genetic correlates of declining transmission in a human pathogen. Mol Ecol, 22 (2), pp. 273-285. | Show Abstract | Read more

Pathogen control programs provide a valuable, but rarely exploited, opportunity to directly examine the relationship between population decline and population genetics. We investigated the impact of an ~12-fold decline in transmission on the population genetics of Plasmodium falciparum infections (n = 1731) sampled from four clinics on the Thai-Burma border over 10 years and genotyped using 96 genome-wide SNPs. The most striking associated genetic change was a reduction in the frequency of infections containing multiple parasite genotypes from 63% in 2001 to 14% in 2010 (P = 3 × 10(-15)). Two measures of the clonal composition of populations (genotypic richness and the β-parameter of the Pareto distribution) declined over time as more people were infected by parasites with identical multilocus genotypes, consistent with increased selfing and a reduction in the rate at which multilocus genotypes are broken apart by recombination. We predicted that the reduction in transmission, multiple clone carriage and outbreeding would be mirrored by an increased influence of genetic drift. However, geographical differentiation and expected heterozygosity remained stable across the sampling period. Furthermore, N(e) estimates derived from allele frequencies fluctuation between years remained high (582 to ∞) and showed no downward trend. These results demonstrate how genetic data can compliment epidemiological assessments of infectious disease control programs. The temporal changes in a single declining population parallel to those seen in comparisons of parasite genetics in regions of differing endemicity, strongly supporting the notion that reduced opportunity for outbreeding is the key driver of these patterns.

Hwang J, Jaroensuk J, Leimanis ML, Russell B, McGready R, Day N, Snounou G, Nosten F, Imwong M. 2012. Long-term storage limits PCR-based analyses of malaria parasites in archival dried blood spots. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 339. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Blood samples collected in epidemiological and clinical investigations and then stored, often at room temperature, as blood spots dried on a filter paper have become one of the most popular source of material for further molecular analyses of malaria parasites. The dried blood spots are often archived so that they can be used for further retrospective investigations of parasite prevalence, or as new genetic markers come to the fore. However, the suitability of the template obtained from dried blood spots that have been stored for long periods for DNA amplification is not known. METHODS: DNA from 267 archived blood spots collected over a period of 12 years from persons with microscopically confirmed Plasmodium falciparum infection was purified by one of two methods, Chelex and Qiagen columns. These templates were subjected to highly sensitive nested PCR amplification targeting three parasite loci that differ in length and/or copy number. RESULTS: When a 1.6 kb fragment of the parasites' small subunit ribosomal RNA was targeted (primary amplification), the efficiency of P. falciparum detection decreased in samples archived for more than six years, reaching very low levels for those stored for more than 10 years. Positive amplification was generally obtained more often with Qiagen-extracted templates. P. falciparum could be detected in 32 of the 40 negative Qiagen-extracted templates when a microsatellite of about 180 bp was targeted. The remaining eight samples gave a positive amplification when a small region of 238 bp of the higher copy number (20 to 200) mitochondrial genome was targeted. CONCLUSIONS: The average length of DNA fragments that can be recovered from dried blood spots decreases with storage time. Recovery of the DNA is somewhat improved, especially in older samples, by the use of a commercial DNA purification column, but targets larger than 1.5 kb are unlikely to be present 10 years after the initial blood collection, when the average length of the DNA fragments present is likely to be around a few hundred bp. In conclusion, the utility of archived dried blood spots for molecular analyses decreases with storage time.

Russell B, Suwanarusk R, Malleret B, Costa FT, Snounou G, Kevin Baird J, Nosten F, Rénia L. 2012. Human ex vivo studies on asexual Plasmodium vivax: the best way forward. Int J Parasitol, 42 (12), pp. 1063-1070. | Show Abstract | Read more

The lack of a continuous culture method for Plasmodium vivax has given the impression that investigations on this important species are severely curtailed. However, the use of new or improved ex vivo methods and tools to study fresh and thawed isolates from vivax malaria patients is currently providing useful data on P. vivax, such as sensitivity to antimalarial drugs, invasion mechanisms and pathobiology. This review discusses a practical framework for conducting ex vivo studies on the asexual erythrocytic stages of P. vivax and considers the synergies between ex vivo defined phenotypes, ex vivo derived 'omic' studies and in vivo clinical studies.

Preston MD, Manske M, Horner N, Assefa S, Campino S, Auburn S, Zongo I, Ouedraogo JB, Nosten F, Anderson T, Clark TG. 2012. VarB: a variation browsing and analysis tool for variants derived from next-generation sequencing data. Bioinformatics, 28 (22), pp. 2983-2985. | Show Abstract | Read more

SUMMARY: There is an immediate need for tools to both analyse and visualize in real-time single-nucleotide polymorphisms, insertions and deletions, and other structural variants from new sequence file formats. We have developed VarB software that can be used to visualize variant call format files in real time, as well as identify regions under balancing selection and informative markers to differentiate user-defined groups (e.g. populations). We demonstrate its utility using sequence data from 50 Plasmodium falciparum isolates comprising two different continents and confirm known signals from genomic regions that contain important antigenic and anti-malarial drug-resistance genes. AVAILABILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION: The C++-based software VarB and user manual are available from www.pathogenseq.org/varb. CONTACT: taane.clark@lshtm.ac.uk

Ezard N, Thiptharakun S, Nosten F, Rhodes T, McGready R. 2012. Risky alcohol use among reproductive-age men, not women, in Mae La refugee camp, Thailand, 2009. Confl Health, 6 (1), pp. 7. | Show Abstract | Read more

UNLABELLED: BACKGROUND: Globally, alcohol use contributes to close to 4% of all deaths and is a leading cause of ill health and premature death among men of reproductive age. Problem alcohol use is an unaddressed public health issue among populations displaced by conflict. Assessing the magnitude of the problem and identifying affected groups and risk behaviours is difficult in mobile and unstable populations. METHODS: From 15-28 December 2009 we conducted a simple rapid screening test of risky alcohol use using the single item modified Short Assessment Screening Questionnaire (mSASQ) by all women currently enrolled in the antenatal care clinic in Mae La refugee camp, a long standing displaced setting on the Thai Burma border. Women self- reported and gave a secondary report of their male partners. Gender differences in alcohol use were further explored in semi-structured interviews with camp residents on attitudes, behaviours, and beliefs regarding alcohol and analysed thematically. RESULTS: Of 636 women screened in the antenatal clinic, almost none (0.2%, 95CI 0.0-0.9%) reported risky alcohol use prior to pregnancy, whereas around a quarter (24.4%, 95CI 21.2-27.9%) reported risky alcohol use by their male partners. Interviews with 97 camp residents described strong social controls against women's alcohol use and men's drinking to intoxication, despite a dominant perception that the social context of life in displacement promoted alcohol use and that controls are loosening. CONCLUSIONS: As a stigmatised behaviour, alcohol use is difficult to assess, particularly in the context of highly mobile adult male populations: the simple assessment methods here show that it is feasible to obtain adequate data for the purposes of intervention design. The data suggest that risky drinking is common and normalised among men, but that the population may have been partially protected from rapid rises in problem alcohol use observed in nation-wide data from Thailand. The changing social context contains vulnerabilities that might promote problem alcohol use: further investigation, ongoing monitoring, and development of targeted interventions are warranted.

Fowkes FJ, McGready R, Cross NJ, Hommel M, Simpson JA, Elliott SR, Richards JS, Lackovic K et al. 2012. New insights into acquisition, boosting, and longevity of immunity to malaria in pregnant women. J Infect Dis, 206 (10), pp. 1612-1621. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: How antimalarial antibodies are acquired and maintained during pregnancy and boosted after reinfection with Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax is unknown. METHODS: A nested case-control study of 467 pregnant women (136 Plasmodium-infected cases and 331 uninfected control subjects) in northwestern Thailand was conducted. Antibody levels to P. falciparum and P. vivax merozoite antigens and the pregnancy-specific PfVAR2CSA antigen were determined at enrollment (median 10 weeks gestation) and throughout pregnancy until delivery. RESULTS: Antibodies to P. falciparum and P. vivax were highly variable over time, and maintenance of high levels of antimalarial antibodies involved highly dynamic responses resulting from intermittent exposure to infection. There was evidence of boosting with each successive infection for P. falciparum responses, suggesting the presence of immunological memory. However, the half-lives of Plasmodium antibody responses were relatively short, compared with measles (457 years), and much shorter for merozoite responses (0.8-7.6 years), compared with PfVAR2CSA responses (36-157 years). The longer half-life of antibodies to PfVAR2CSA suggests that antibodies acquired in one pregnancy may be maintained to protect subsequent pregnancies. CONCLUSIONS: These findings may have important practical implications for predicting the duration of vaccine-induced responses by candidate antigens and supports the development of malaria vaccines to protect pregnant women.

Turner P, Willemse C, Phakaudom K, Zin TW, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. Aeromonas spp. bacteremia in pregnant women, Thailand-Myanmar border, 2011. Emerg Infect Dis, 18 (9), pp. 1522-1523. | Read more

Tarning J, Chotsiri P, Jullien V, Rijken MJ, Bergstrand M, Cammas M, McGready R, Singhasivanon P et al. 2012. Population pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic modeling of amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine in women with Plasmodium vivax malaria during and after pregnancy. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 56 (11), pp. 5764-5773. | Show Abstract | Read more

Amodiaquine is effective for the treatment of Plasmodium vivax malaria, but there is little information on the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of amodiaquine in pregnant women with malaria. This study evaluated the population pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of amodiaquine and its biologically active metabolite, desethylamodiaquine, in pregnant women with P. vivax infection and again after delivery. Twenty-seven pregnant women infected with P. vivax malaria on the Thai-Myanmar border were treated with amodiaquine monotherapy (10 mg/kg/day) once daily for 3 days. Nineteen women, with and without P. vivax infections, returned to receive the same amodiaquine dose postpartum. Nonlinear mixed-effects modeling was used to evaluate the population pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine. Amodiaquine plasma concentrations were described accurately by lagged first-order absorption with a two-compartment disposition model followed by a three-compartment disposition of desethylamodiaquine under the assumption of complete in vivo conversion. Body weight was implemented as an allometric function on all clearance and volume parameters. Amodiaquine clearance decreased linearly with age, and absorption lag time was reduced in pregnant patients. Recurrent malaria infections in pregnant women were modeled with a time-to-event model consisting of a constant-hazard function with an inhibitory effect of desethylamodiaquine. Amodiaquine treatment reduced the risk of recurrent infections from 22.2% to 7.4% at day 35. In conclusion, pregnancy did not have a clinically relevant impact on the pharmacokinetic properties of amodiaquine or desethylamodiaquine. No dose adjustments are required in pregnancy.

Tarning J, Kloprogge F, Piola P, Dhorda M, Muwanga S, Turyakira E, Nuengchamnong N, Nosten F et al. 2012. Population pharmacokinetics of Artemether and dihydroartemisinin in pregnant women with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Uganda. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 293. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria in pregnancy increases the risk of maternal anemia, abortion and low birth weight. Approximately 85.3 million pregnancies occur annually in areas with Plasmodium falciparum transmission. Pregnancy has been reported to alter the pharmacokinetic properties of many anti-malarial drugs. Reduced drug exposure increases the risk of treatment failure. The objective of this study was to evaluate the population pharmacokinetic properties of artemether and its active metabolite dihydroartemisinin in pregnant women with uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in Uganda. METHODS: Twenty-one women with uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy received the fixed oral combination of 80 mg artemether and 480 mg lumefantrine twice daily for three days. Artemether and dihydroartemisinin plasma concentrations after the last dose administration were quantified using liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass-spectroscopy. A simultaneous drug-metabolite population pharmacokinetic model for artemether and dihydroartemisinin was developed taking into account different disposition, absorption, error and covariate models. A separate modeling approach and a non-compartmental analysis (NCA) were also performed to enable a comparison with literature values and different modeling strategies. RESULTS: The treatment was well tolerated and there were no cases of recurrent malaria. A flexible absorption model with sequential zero-order and transit-compartment absorption followed by a simultaneous one-compartment disposition model for both artemether and dihydroartemisinin provided the best fit to the data. Artemether and dihydroartemisinin exposure was lower than that reported in non-pregnant populations. An approximately four-fold higher apparent volume of distribution for dihydroartemisinin was obtained by non-compartmental analysis and separate modeling compared to that from simultaneous modeling of the drug and metabolite. This highlights a potential pitfall when analyzing drug/metabolite data with traditional approaches. CONCLUSION: The population pharmacokinetic properties of artemether and dihydroartemisinin, in pregnant women with uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in Uganda, were described satisfactorily by a simultaneous drug-metabolite model without covariates. Concentrations of artemether and its metabolite dihydroartemisinin were relatively low in pregnancy compared to literature data. However, this should be interpreted with caution considered the limited literature available. Further studies in larger series are urgently needed for this vulnerable group.

John GK, Douglas NM, von Seidlein L, Nosten F, Baird JK, White NJ, Price RN. 2012. Primaquine radical cure of Plasmodium vivax: a critical review of the literature. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 280. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Primaquine has been the only widely available hypnozoitocidal anti-malarial drug for half a century. Despite this its clinical efficacy is poorly characterized resulting in a lack of consensus over the optimal regimen for the radical cure of Plasmodium vivax. METHODS: Published studies since 1950 of the use of primaquine regimens for preventing P. vivax relapse were reviewed. Data were extracted systematically from available papers. Primaquine regimens were categorized according to the total dose administered: very low (≤2.5 mg/kg), low (>2.5 mg/kg- < 5.0 mg/kg) and high (≥ 5.0 mg/kg). The risk of recurrent infection were summarized across geographical regions and the odds ratios between treatment regimens calculated after stratifying by total treatment dose and duration of study follow up. RESULTS: Data could be retrieved from 87 clinical trials presenting data in 59,735 patients enrolled into 156 treatment arms, conducted in 20 countries. There was marked heterogeneity in study design, particularly primaquine dosing and duration of follow up. The median rate of recurrence following very low dose of primaquine (n = 44) was 25% (range 0-90%) at 4-6 months, compared to 6.7 % (range 0-59%) following low dose primaquine (n = 82). High dose primaquine regimens were assessed in 28 treatment arms, and were associated with a median recurrence rate of 0% (Range: 0-15%) at one month. In 18 studies with control arms, the effectiveness of a very low dose primaquine regimen was no different from patients who did not receive primaquine (OR = 0.60, 95%CI 0.33-1.09, p = 0.09), whereas for the low dose regimens a significant difference was reported in 50% (6/12) of studies (overall OR = 0.14, 95%CI: 0.06-0.35, p < 0.001). Two studies enrolling 171 patients demonstrated high effectiveness of high dose primaquine compared to a control arm (OR = 0.03 (95%CI: 0.01-0.13); p < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Low dose regimens retain adequate efficacy in some areas, but this is not uniform. The efficacy and safety of pragmatic high dose primaquine regimens needs to be assessed in a range of endemic and geographical locations. Such studies will require a prolonged period of follow up and comparison with control arms to account for confounding factors.

Weerasuriya CK, Tan SO, Alexakis LC, Set AK, Rijken MJ, Martyn P, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. Evaluation of a surgical service in the chronic phase of a refugee camp: an example from the Thai-Myanmar border. Confl Health, 6 (1), pp. 5. | Show Abstract | Read more

UNLABELLED: BACKGROUND: Published literature on surgical care in refugees tends to focus on the acute ('emergent') phase of crisis situations. Here we posit that there is a substantial burden of non-acute morbidity amenable to surgical intervention among refugees in the 'chronic' phase of crisis situations. We describe surgery for non-acute conditions undertaken at Mae La Refugee Camp, Thailand over a two year period. METHODS: Surgery was performed by a general surgeon in a dedicated room of Mae La Refugee Camp over May 2005 to April 2007 with minimal instruments and staff. We obtained the equivalent costs for these procedures if they were done at the local Thai District General Hospital. We also acquired the list (and costs) of acute surgical referrals to the District General Hospital over September 2006 to December 2007. RESULTS: 855 operations were performed on 847 patients in Mae La Refugee Camp (60.1% sterilizations, 13.3% 'general surgery', 5.6% 'gynaecological surgery', 17.4% 'mass excisions', 3.5% 'other'). These procedures were worth 2,207,500 THB (75,683.33 USD) at costs quoted by the District General Hospital. Total cost encountered for these operations (including staff costs, consumables, anaesthesia and capital costs such as construction) equaled 1,280,000 THB (42,666 USD). Pertaining to acute surgical referrals to District General hospital: we estimate that 356,411.96 THB (11,880.40 USD) worth of operations over 14 months were potentially preventable if these cases had been operated at an earlier, non-acute state in Mae La Refugee Camp. CONCLUSIONS: A considerable burden of non-acute surgical morbidity exists in 'chronic' refugee situations. An in-house general surgical service is found to be cost-effective in relieving some of this burden and should be considered by policy makers as a viable intervention.

Cited:

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Scopus

Manske M, Miotto O, Campino S, Auburn S, Almagro-Garcia J, Maslen G, O'Brien J, Djimde A et al. 2012. Analysis of Plasmodium falciparum diversity in natural infections by deep sequencing Nature, 487 (7407), pp. 375-379. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria elimination strategies require surveillance of the parasite population for genetic changes that demand a public health response, such as new forms of drug resistance. Here we describe methods for the large-scale analysis of genetic variation in Plasmodium falciparum by deep sequencing of parasite DNA obtained from the blood of patients with malaria, either directly or after short-term culture. Analysis of 86,158 exonic single nucleotide polymorphisms that passed genotyping quality control in 227 samples from Africa, Asia and Oceania provides genome-wide estimates of allele frequency distribution, population structure and linkage disequilibrium. By comparing the genetic diversity of individual infections with that of the local parasite population, we derive a metric of within-host diversity that is related to the level of inbreeding in the population. An open-access web application has been established for the exploration of regional differences in allele frequency and of highly differentiated loci in the P.falciparum genome. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Chue AL, Moore RL, Cavey A, Ashley EA, Stepniewska K, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. Comparability of tympanic and oral mercury thermometers at high ambient temperatures. BMC Res Notes, 5 (1), pp. 356. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Body temperature can be measured in seconds with tympanic thermometers as opposed to minutes with mercury ones. The aim of this study was to compare tympanic and oral mercury thermometer measurements under high ambient field temperatures. RESULTS: Tympanic temperature (measured thrice by 3 operators) was compared to oral temperature measured once with a mercury-in-glass thermometer in 201 patients (aged ≥5 years), on the Thai-Myanmar border. Ambient temperature was measured with an electronic thermo-hygrometer. Participants had a mean [min-max] age of 27 [5-60] years and 42% (84) were febrile by oral thermometer. The mean difference in the mercury and tympanic temperature measurement for all observers/devices was 0.09 (95%CI 0.07-0.12)°C and intra-class correlation for repeat tympanic measurements was high (≥0.97) for each observer. Deviations in tympanic temperatures were not related to ambient temperature. CONCLUSION: Clinically significant differences were not observed between oral and tympanic temperature measurements at high ambient temperatures in a rural tropical setting.

Rijken MJ, de Wit MC, Mulder EJ, Kiricharoen S, Karunkonkowit N, Paw T, Visser GH, McGready R, Nosten FH, Pistorius LR. 2012. Effect of malaria in pregnancy on foetal cortical brain development: a longitudinal observational study. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 222. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria in pregnancy has a negative impact on foetal growth, but it is not known whether this also affects the foetal nervous system. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of malaria on foetal cortex development by three-dimensional ultrasound. METHODS: Brain images were acquired using a portable ultrasound machine and a 3D ultrasound transducer. All recordings were analysed, blinded to clinical data, using the 4D view software package. The foetal supra-tentorial brain volume was determined and cortical development was qualitatively followed by scoring the appearance and development of six sulci. Multilevel analysis was used to study brain volume and cortical development in individual foetuses. RESULTS: Cortical grading was possible in 161 out of 223 (72%) serial foetal brain images in pregnant women living in a malaria endemic area. There was no difference between foetal cortical development or brain volumes at any time in pregnancy between women with immediately treated malaria infections and non-infected pregnancies. CONCLUSION: The percentage of images that could be graded was similar to other neuro-sonographic studies. Maternal malaria does not have a gross effect on foetal brain development, at least in this population, which had access to early detection and effective treatment of malaria.

Adam I, Tarning J, Lindegardh N, Mahgoub H, McGready R, Nosten F. 2012. Pharmacokinetics of piperaquine in pregnant women in Sudan with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 87 (1), pp. 35-40. | Show Abstract | Read more

The pharmacokinetic properties of piperaquine were investigated in 12 pregnant and 12 well-matched, non-pregnant women receiving a three-day oral fixed dose combination regimen of dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine for treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum at New Halfa Hospital in eastern Sudan. Frequent venous plasma samples were drawn from the patients over a 63-day period and a complete concentration-time profile was collected for 7 pregnant and 11 non-pregnant patients. Piperaquine was quantified using a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry method. Pregnant women had a significantly higher total drug exposure (median area under the curve [range] = 1,770 [1,200-5,600] hr × ng/mL versus 858 [325-2,370] hr × ng/mL; P = 0.018) and longer time to maximal concentration (4.00 [1.50-4.03] hr versus 1.50 [0.500-8.00] hr; P = 0.02) after the first dose compared with non-pregnant women. There was no other significant difference observed in piperaquine pharmacokinetics between pregnant and non-pregnant women, including no difference in total drug exposure or maximum concentration. The overall pharmacokinetic properties of piperaquine in this study were consistent with previously published reports in non-pregnant patients.

Harrington W, McGready R, Muehlenbachs A, Fried M, Nosten F, Duffy P. 2012. Intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine: the times they are a-changin'. Clin Infect Dis, 55 (7), pp. 1025-1026. | Read more

Turner C, Turner P, Cararra V, Htoo STL, Watthanaworawit W, Day N, White N, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2012. The epidemiology of pneumonia in a birth cohort of children living on the Thai-Myanmar border INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, 16 pp. E13-E13. | Read more

Muehlenbachs A, Nabasumba C, McGready R, Turyakira E, Tumwebaze B, Dhorda M, Nyehangane D, Nalusaji A, Nosten F, Guerin PJ, Piola P. 2012. Artemether-lumefantrine to treat malaria in pregnancy is associated with reduced placental haemozoin deposition compared to quinine in a randomized controlled trial. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 150. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Data on efficacy of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) to treat Plasmodium falciparum during pregnancy in sub-Saharan Africa is scarce. A recent open label, randomized controlled trial in Mbarara, Uganda demonstrated that artemether-lumefantrine (AL) is not inferior to quinine to treat uncomplicated malaria in pregnancy. Haemozoin can persist in the placenta following clearance of parasites, however there is no data whether ACT can influence the amount of haemozoin or the dynamics of haemozoin clearance. METHODS: Women attending antenatal clinics with weekly screening and positive blood smears by microscopy were eligible to participate in the trial and were followed to delivery. Placental haemozoin deposition and inflammation were assessed by histology. To determine whether AL was associated with increased haemozoin clearance, population haemozoin clearance curves were calculated based on the longitudinal data. RESULTS: Of 152 women enrolled in each arm, there were 97 and 98 placental biopsies obtained in the AL and quinine arms, respectively. AL was associated with decreased rates of moderate to high grade haemozoin deposition (13.3% versus 25.8%), which remained significant after correcting for gravidity, time of infection, re-infection, and parasitaemia. The amount of haemozoin proportionately decreased with the duration of time between treatment and delivery and this decline was greater in the AL arm. Haemozoin was not detected in one third of biopsies and the prevalence of inflammation was low, reflecting the efficacy of antenatal care with early detection and prompt treatment of malaria. CONCLUSIONS: Placental haemozoin deposition was decreased in the AL arm demonstrating a relationship between pharmacological properties of drug to treat antenatal malaria and placental pathology at delivery. Histology may be considered an informative outcome for clinical trials to evaluate malaria control in pregnancy. TRIAL REGISTRATION: REGISTRY: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00495508.

Veiga MI, Ferreira PE, Malmberg M, Jörnhagen L, Björkman A, Nosten F, Gil JP. 2012. pfmdr1 amplification is related to increased Plasmodium falciparum in vitro sensitivity to the bisquinoline piperaquine. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 56 (7), pp. 3615-3619. | Show Abstract | Read more

The 4-aminoquinoline bisquinoline piperaquine is an important partner drug in one of the presently recommended artemisinin combination therapies. Recent clinical trials have confirmed its high efficacy in combination with dihydroartemisinin. Resistance to piperaquine alone has, however, been documented. Amplification in copy number of the Plasmodium falciparum multidrug resistance locus on chromosome 5, containing the pfmdr1 gene, has been shown to confer resistance to structurally unrelated antimalarials. Through the determination of the 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC(50)s) and IC(90)s for piperaquine and chloroquine in a set of 46 adapted P. falciparum cultures originating from the Thai-Burmese border, we have characterized the regions around the pfmdr1 gene and identified a significant association between the presence of pfmdr1 duplications and enhanced sensitivity to piperaquine (P = 0.005 for IC(50) and P = 0.002 for IC(90)) and chloroquine, reaching statistical significance at IC(90)s (P = 0.026). These results substantiate the potential importance of pfmdr1 copy number amplifications in the efficacy of the combination therapy piperaquine-dihydroartemisinin. It supports the rational use of 4-aminoquinolines and artemisinin-based compounds, as they independently select for mutually incompatible combinations of mutations.

Boel ME, Rijken MJ, Brabin BJ, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. The epidemiology of postpartum malaria: a systematic review. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 114. | Show Abstract | Read more

Pregnant women are more susceptible to malaria than their non-pregnant counterparts. Less is known about the risk of malaria in the postpartum period. The epidemiology of postpartum malaria was systematically reviewed. Eleven articles fitted the inclusion criteria. Of the 10 studies that compared malaria data from the postpartum period with pregnancy data, nine studies suggested that the risk for malaria infection decreased after delivery. All three studies that compared postpartum data with non-pregnant non-postpartum women concluded that the risk did not return to pre-pregnancy levels immediately after delivery. The results of this review have to be carefully interpreted, as the majority of studies were not designed to study postpartum malaria, and there was large variability in study designs and reported outcomes. Current evidence suggests an effort should be made to detect and radically cure malaria during pregnancy so that women do not enter the postpartum period with residual parasites.

Ch'ng JH, Renia L, Nosten F, Tan KS. 2012. Can we teach an old drug new tricks? Trends Parasitol, 28 (6), pp. 220-224. | Show Abstract | Read more

Although resistance to chloroquine (CQ) has relegated it from modern chemotherapeutic strategies to treat Plasmodium falciparum malaria, new evidence suggests that higher doses of the drug may exert a different killing mechanism and offers this drug a new lease of life. Whereas the established antimalarial mechanisms of CQ are usually associated with nanomolar levels of the drug, micromolar levels of CQ trigger a distinct cell death pathway involving the permeabilization of the digestive vacuole of the parasite and a release of hydrolytic enzymes. In this paper, we propose that this pathway is a promising antimalarial strategy and suggest that revising the CQ treatment regimen may elevate blood drug levels to trigger this pathway without increasing the incidence of adverse reactions.

Pratt B, Zion D, Lwin KM, Cheah PY, Nosten F, Loff B. 2012. Closing the translation gap for justice requirements in international research. J Med Ethics, 38 (9), pp. 552-558. | Show Abstract | Read more

Bioethicists have long debated the content of sponsors and researchers' obligations of justice in international clinical research. However, there has been little empirical investigation as to whether and how obligations of responsiveness, ancillary care, post-trial benefits and research capacity strengthening are upheld in low- and middle-income country settings. In this paper, the authors argue that research ethics guidelines need to be more informed by international research practice. Practical guidance on how to fulfil these obligations is needed if research groups and other actors are to successfully translate them into practice because doing so is often a complicated, context-specific process. Case study research methods offer one avenue for collecting data to develop this guidance. The authors describe how such methods have been used in relation to the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit's vivax malaria treatment (VHX) trial (NCT01074905). Relying on the VHX trial example, the paper shows how information can be gathered from not only international clinical researchers but also trial participants, community advisory board members and research funder representatives in order to: (1) measure evidence of responsiveness, provision of ancillary care, access to post-trial benefits and research capacity strengthening in international clinical research; and (2) identify the contextual factors and roles and responsibilities that were instrumental in the fulfilment of these ethical obligations. Such empirical work is necessary to inform the articulation of obligations of justice in international research and to develop guidance on how to fulfil them in order to facilitate better adherence to guidelines' requirements.

Nkhoma SC, Nair S, Cheeseman IH, Rohr-Allegrini C, Singlam S, Nosten F, Anderson TJ. 2012. Close kinship within multiple-genotype malaria parasite infections. Proc Biol Sci, 279 (1738), pp. 2589-2598. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria infections containing multiple parasite genotypes are ubiquitous in nature, and play a central role in models of recombination, intra-host dynamics, virulence, sex ratio, immunity and drug resistance evolution in Plasmodium. While these multiple infections (MIs) are often assumed to result from superinfection (bites from multiple infected mosquitoes), we know remarkably little about their composition or generation. We isolated 336 parasite clones from eight patients from Malawi (high transmission) and six from Thailand (low transmission) by dilution cloning. These were genotyped using 384 single-nucleotide polymorphisms, revealing 22 independent haplotypes in Malawi (2-6 per MI) and 15 in Thailand (2-5 per MI). Surprisingly, all six patients from Thailand and six of eight from Malawi contained related haplotypes, and haplotypes were more similar within- than between-infections. These results argue against a simple superinfection model. Instead, the observed kinship patterns may be explained by inoculation of multiple related haploid sporozoites from single mosquito bites, by immune suppression of parasite subpopulations within infections, and serial transmission of related parasites between people. That relatedness is maintained in endemic areas in the face of repeated bites from infected mosquitoes has profound implications for understanding malaria transmission, immunity and intra-host dynamics of co-infecting parasite genotypes.

Turner C, Turner P, Po L, Maner N, De Zoysa A, Afshar B, Efstratiou A, Heath PT, Nosten F. 2012. Group B streptococcal carriage, serotype distribution and antibiotic susceptibilities in pregnant women at the time of delivery in a refugee population on the Thai-Myanmar border. BMC Infect Dis, 12 (1), pp. 34. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the leading cause of neonatal sepsis in the developed world. Little is known about its epidemiology in the developing world, where the majority of deaths from neonatal infections occur. Maternal carriage of GBS is a prerequisite for the development of early onset GBS neonatal sepsis but there is a paucity of carriage data published from the developing world, in particular South East Asia. METHODS: We undertook a cross sectional study over a 13 month period in a remote South East Asian setting on the Thai-Myanmar border. During labour, 549 mothers had a combined vaginal rectal swab taken for GBS culture. All swabs underwent both conventional culture as well as PCR for GBS detection. Cultured GBS isolates were serotyped by latex agglutination, those that were negative or had a weak positive reaction and those that were PCR positive but culture negative were additionally tested using multiplex PCR based on the detection of GBS capsular polysaccharide genes. RESULTS: The GBS carriage rate was 12.0% (95% CI: 9.4-15.0), with 8.6% positive by both culture and PCR and an additional 3.5% positive by PCR alone. Serotypes, Ia, Ib, II, III, IV, V, VI and VII were identified, with II the predominant serotype. All GBS isolates were susceptible to penicillin, ceftriaxone and vancomycin and 43/47 (91.5%) were susceptible to erythromycin and clindamycin. CONCLUSIONS: GBS carriage is not uncommon in pregnant women living on the Thai-Myanmar border with a large range of serotypes represented.

Rijken MJ, Mulder EJ, Papageorghiou AT, Thiptharakun S, Wah N, Paw TK, Dwell SL, Visser GH, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2012. Quality of ultrasound biometry obtained by local health workers in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol, 40 (2), pp. 151-157. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: In a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border, accurate dating of pregnancy relies on ultrasound measurements obtained by locally trained health workers. The aim of this study was to substantiate the accuracy of fetal biometry measurements performed by locally trained health workers by comparing derived reference equations with those published for Asian and European hospitals. METHODS: This prospective observational study included 1090 women who had a dating crown-rump length (CRL) scan and one study-appointed ultrasound biometry scan between 16 and 40 weeks of gestation. The average of two measurements of each of biparietal diameter, head circumference, abdominal circumference and femur length was used in a polynomial regression model for the mean and SD against gestational age (GA). The biometry equations obtained were compared with published equations of professional sonographers from Asian and European hospitals by evaluation of the SD and Z-scores of differences between models. RESULTS: Reference equations of biometric parameters were found to fit cubic polynomial models. The observed SD values, for any given GA, of fetal biometric measurements obtained by locally trained health workers were lower than those previously reported by centers with professional sonographers. For nearly the entire GA range considered, the mean values of the Asian and European equations for all four biometric measurements were within the 90% expected range (mean ± 1.645 SD) of our equations. CONCLUSION: Locally trained health workers in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border can obtain measurements that are associated with low SD values and within the normal limits of published Asian and European equations. The fact that the SD values were lower than in other studies may be explained by the use of the average of two measurements, CRL dating or motivation of the locally trained sonographers.

Tarning J, Zongo I, Somé FA, Rouamba N, Parikh S, Rosenthal PJ, Hanpithakpong W, Jongrak N et al. 2012. Population pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of piperaquine in children with uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Clin Pharmacol Ther, 91 (3), pp. 497-505. | Show Abstract | Read more

Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is being increasingly used as a first-line artemisinin combination treatment for malaria. The aim of this study was to describe the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of piperaquine in 236 children with uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Burkina Faso. They received a standard body weight-based oral 3-day fixed-dose dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine regimen. Capillary plasma concentration-time profiles were characterized using nonlinear mixed-effects modeling. The population pharmacokinetics of piperaquine were described accurately by a two-transit-compartment absorption model and a three-compartment distribution model. Body weight was a significant covariate affecting clearance and volume parameters. The individually predicted day 7 capillary plasma concentration of piperaquine was an important predictor (P < 0.0001) of recurrent malaria infection after treatment. Young children (2-5 years of age) received a significantly higher body weight-normalized dose than older children (P = 0.025) but had significantly lower day 7 piperaquine concentrations (P = 0.024) and total piperaquine exposures (P = 0.021), suggesting that an increased dose regimen for young children should be evaluated.

Tarning J, Rijken MJ, McGready R, Phyo AP, Hanpithakpong W, Day NP, White NJ, Nosten F, Lindegardh N. 2012. Population pharmacokinetics of dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine in pregnant and nonpregnant women with uncomplicated malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 56 (4), pp. 1997-2007. | Show Abstract | Read more

Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to malaria. The pharmacokinetic properties of antimalarial drugs are often affected by pregnancy, resulting in lower drug concentrations and a consequently higher risk of treatment failure. The objective of this study was to evaluate the population pharmacokinetic properties of piperaquine and dihydroartemisinin in pregnant and nonpregnant women with uncomplicated malaria. Twenty-four pregnant and 24 matched nonpregnant women on the Thai-Myanmar boarder were treated with a standard fixed oral 3-day treatment, and venous plasma concentrations of both drugs were measured frequently for pharmacokinetic evaluation. Population pharmacokinetics were evaluated with nonlinear mixed-effects modeling. The main pharmacokinetic finding was an unaltered total exposure to piperaquine but reduced exposure to dihydroartemisinin in pregnant compared to nonpregnant women with uncomplicated malaria. Piperaquine was best described by a three-compartment disposition model with a 45% higher elimination clearance and a 47% increase in relative bioavailability in pregnant women compared with nonpregnant women. The resulting net effect of pregnancy was an unaltered total exposure to piperaquine but a shorter terminal elimination half-life. Dihydroartemisinin was best described by a one-compartment disposition model with a 38% lower relative bioavailability in pregnant women than nonpregnant women. The resulting net effect of pregnancy was a decreased total exposure to dihydroartemisinin. The shorter terminal elimination half-life of piperaquine and lower exposure to dihydroartemisinin will shorten the posttreatment prophylactic effect and might affect cure rates. The clinical impact of these pharmacokinetic findings in pregnant women with uncomplicated malaria needs to be evaluated in larger series.

Rijken MJ, Moroski WE, Kiricharoen S, Karunkonkowit N, Stevenson G, Ohuma EO, Noble JA, Kennedy SH, McGready R, Papageorghiou AT, Nosten FH. 2012. Effect of malaria on placental volume measured using three-dimensional ultrasound: a pilot study. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 5. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The presence of malaria parasites and histopathological changes in the placenta are associated with a reduction in birth weight, principally due to intrauterine growth restriction. The aim of this study was to examine the feasibility of studying early pregnancy placental volumes using three-dimensional (3D) ultrasound in a malaria endemic area, as a small volume in the second trimester may be an indicator of intra-uterine growth restriction and placental insufficiency. METHODS: Placenta volumes were acquired using a portable ultrasound machine and a 3D ultrasound transducer and estimated using the Virtual Organ Computer-aided AnaLysis (VOCAL) image analysis software package. Intra-observer reliability and limits of agreement of the placenta volume measurements were calculated. Polynomial regression models for the mean and standard deviation as a function of gestational age for the placental volumes of uninfected women were created and tested. Based on these equations each measurement was converted into a z -score. The z-scores of the placental volumes of malaria infected and uninfected women were then compared. RESULTS: Eighty-four women (uninfected = 65; infected = 19) with a posterior placenta delivered congenitally normal, live born, single babies. The mean placental volumes in the uninfected women were modeled to fit 5th, 10th, 50th, 90th and 95th centiles for 14-24 weeks' gestation. Most placenta volumes in the infected women were below the 50th centile for gestational age; most of those with Plasmodium falciparum were below the 10th centile. The 95% intra-observer limits of agreement for first and second measurements were ± 37.0 mL and ± 25.4 mL at 30 degrees and 15 degrees rotation respectively. CONCLUSION: The new technique of 3D ultrasound volumetry of the placenta may be useful to improve our understanding of the pathophysiological constraints on foetal growth caused by malaria infection in early pregnancy.

Russell B, Suwanarusk R, Malleret B, Costa FTM, Snounou G, Kevin Baird J, Nosten F, Rénia L. 2012. Human ex vivo studies on asexual Plasmodium vivax: The best way forward International Journal for Parasitology, 42 (12), pp. 1063-1070. | Show Abstract | Read more

The lack of a continuous culture method for Plasmodium vivax has given the impression that investigations on this important species are severely curtailed. However, the use of new or improved ex vivo methods and tools to study fresh and thawed isolates from vivax malaria patients is currently providing useful data on P. vivax, such as sensitivity to antimalarial drugs, invasion mechanisms and pathobiology. This review discusses a practical framework for conducting ex vivo studies on the asexual erythrocytic stages of P. vivax and considers the synergies between ex vivo defined phenotypes, ex vivo derived 'omic' studies and in vivo clinical studies. © 2012 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc.

Turner C, Turner P, Cararra V, Eh Lwe N, Watthanaworawit W, Day NP, White NJ, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2012. A high burden of respiratory syncytial virus associated pneumonia in children less than two years of age in a South East Asian refugee population. PLoS One, 7 (11), pp. e50100. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Pneumonia is a major cause of childhood mortality and morbidity approximately 1.6 million deaths and 150 million episodes occur annually in children <5 years. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) may be responsible for up to 25% of cases and 12% of deaths making it an important potential vaccine target, although data from South East Asia is scarce. METHODS: We followed a birth cohort of Burmese refugee children, born over a one year period, for two years. Pneumonia episodes were diagnosed using WHO criteria. A chest radiograph, nasopharyngeal aspirate and non-specific markers of infection were taken during each episode. RESULTS: The incidence of RSV-associated pneumonia was 0.24 (95% CI 0.22-0.26) episodes per child year. All children with pneumonia received antibiotic treatment, following WHO guidelines. The highest incidence was in the 2-12 month age group. The commonest diagnosis in a child with RSV-associated pneumonia was non-severe pneumonia (239/362:66.0%), however the incidence of RSV-associated severe or very severe pneumonia was 0.08 (95% CI 0.01-0.10) episodes per child year. Birth in the wet season increased the risk of severe disease in children who had their first episode of RSV-associated pneumonia aged 2-11 months (OR 28.7, 95% CI 6.6-125.0, p<0.001). RSV episodes were highly seasonal being responsible for 80.0% of all the pneumonia episodes occurring each October and November over the study period. CONCLUSIONS: There was a high incidence of RSV associated pneumonia in this refugee population. Interventions to prevent RSV infection have the potential to reduce the incidence of clinically diagnosed pneumonia and hence unnecessary antibiotic usage in this population.

Klein K, Aarons L, Ter Kuile FO, Nosten F, White NJ, Edstein MD, Teja-Isavadharm P. 2012. Population pharmacokinetics of halofantrine in healthy volunteers and patients with symptomatic falciparum malaria Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 64 (11), pp. 1603-1613. | Show Abstract | Read more

Aims To investigate the population pharmacokinetics of the antimalarial halofantrine (HF) in healthy volunteers and patients with symptomatic falciparum malaria. Methods Healthy volunteer data were obtained from six volunteers who received three different doses of HF (250, 500 and 1000 mg) after an overnight fast with a washout period of at least 6 weeks between doses. Patient data (n = 188) were obtained from randomised controlled trials conducted on the Thai-Burmese border in the early 1990s. They were either assigned to receive a total HF dose of 24 mg/kg (8 mg/kg every 6 h for 24 h) or 72 mg/kg (8 mg/kg every 6 to 10 h for 3 days). The population pharmacokinetics of HF were evaluated using non-linear mixed effects modelling with a two-compartment model with first-order absorption. Key findings The population estimates of apparent clearance (CL), volume of compartment one (V1), distributional clearance (CLD) and volume of compartment two (V2) of HF in healthy volunteers were 2453 l/day (102 l/h), 2386 l, 716 l/day (29.8 l/h) and 2641 l, respectively. The population estimates of the PK parameters in patients were 429 l/day (17.9 l/h), 729 l, 178 l/day (7.42 l/h) and 1351 l, respectively. All PK parameters were significantly related to body weight and some were related to sex, sampling method, pre-treatment parasite density and whether patients vomited or not. When the two datasets were analysed jointly using a maximum likelihood method, the population estimates in patients were 196 l/day (8.17 l/h), 161 l, 65 l/day (2.71 l/h) and 89 l, respectively, and the parameters were significantly related to body weight and sex. Bayesian analysis of the patient data, with a diffuse prior based on the healthy volunteer data analysis results, yielded the population estimates 354 l/day (14.8 l/h), 728 l, 162 l/day (6.75 l/h) and 1939 l, respectively. Conclusions The pharmacokinetic properties of HF in patients with malaria are affected by several demographic variables as well as other relevant covariates. Apparent differences between the healthy volunteer and the patient data analysis results are not entirely due to differences in bioavailability. For the patient data analysis, the Bayesian method was preferred, as the fitting procedure was more stable, allowing random effects to be estimated for all four dispositional parameters. © 2012 Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

Nosten F, Phillips-Howard PA, ter Kuile FO. 2012. Other 4-methanolquinolines, amyl alcohols and phentathrenes: Mefloquine, lumefantrine and halofantrine Milestones in Drug Therapy, 41 pp. 95-111. | Show Abstract | Read more

This chapter describes mefloquine, pyronaridine, halofantrine, piperaquine and lumefantrine under the broader title of the 4-methanolquinolines, amyl alcohols and phentathrenes. We provide a brief resume of each drug, in terms of their chemical properties, formulae, pharmacokinetics, clinical indications for use, and their efficacy and safety. Recognizing the limited number of antimalarials available, and in the developmental pipeline, attention is focussed on describing the history of each drug and how their indications have evolved as data on safety in human populations accumulates over time, and how patterns of use have changed with growing multiple drug resistance. Their combined use with the artemisinin derivatives is briefly described and readers are recommended to consult other chapters in this book which more fully describe such combinations. © Springer Basel AG 2012.

McGready R, Nosten F. 2012. Proxies and prevention of malaria in pregnancy. Lancet Infect Dis, 12 (12), pp. 902-903. | Read more

Boel ME, Rijken MJ, Pimanpanarak M, Keereecharoen NL, Proux S, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. No association of phenotypic ABO blood group and malaria during pregnancy. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 87 (3), pp. 447-449. | Show Abstract | Read more

In a few small studies an association between blood group O and placental malaria has been described. The relationship between blood group and malaria in pregnancy (Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum) was analyzed in 1,468 women from three longitudinal cohort studies in which weekly malaria screening was done systematically during pregnancy. One-third of women (447 of 1,468) had at least one malaria infection in pregnancy. The ABO blood group phenotype was not associated with the species of infection, frequency of malaria attacks, symptoms of malaria, hematocrit, or parasitemia during pregnancy.

Lwin KM, Phyo AP, Tarning J, Hanpithakpong W, Ashley EA, Lee SJ, Cheah P, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Lindegårdh N, Nosten F. 2012. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of monthly versus bimonthly dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine chemoprevention in adults at high risk of malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 56 (3), pp. 1571-1577. | Show Abstract | Read more

Intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) is increasingly used to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality in children and pregnant women. The efficacy of IPT depends on the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of the antimalarial drugs used. Healthy adult male volunteers whose occupation put them at high risk of malaria on the Northwest border of Thailand were randomized to receive a 3-day-treatment dose of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine monthly (DPm) or every 2 months (DPalt) or an identical placebo with or without fat (6.4 g/dose) over a 9-month period. All volunteers were monitored weekly. One thousand adults were recruited. Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine was well tolerated. There were 114 episodes of malaria (49 Plasmodium falciparum, 63 P. vivax, and 2 P. ovale). The protective efficacy against all malaria at 36 weeks was 98% (95% confidence interval [CI], 96% to 99%) in the DPm group and 86% (95% CI, 81% to 90%) in the DPalt group (for both, P < 0.0001 compared to the placebo group). As a result, the placebo group also had lower hematocrits during the study (P < 0.0001). Trough plasma piperaquine concentrations were the main determinant of efficacy; no malaria occurred in participants with a trough concentration above 31 ng/ml. Neither plasma piperaquine concentration nor efficacy was influenced by the coadministration of fat. DPm is safe to use and is effective in the prevention of malaria in adult males living in an area where P. vivax and multidrug-resistant P. falciparum malaria are endemic.

Turner P, Turner C, Jankhot A, Helen N, Lee SJ, Day NP, White NJ, Nosten F, Goldblatt D. 2012. A longitudinal study of Streptococcus pneumoniae carriage in a cohort of infants and their mothers on the Thailand-Myanmar border. PLoS One, 7 (5), pp. e38271. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Pneumococcal disease is a major cause of childhood death. Almost a third of the world's children live in Southeast Asia, but there are few data from the region on pneumococcal colonization or disease. Our aim was to document the dynamics of pneumococcal carriage in a rural SE Asian birth cohort. METHODS: We studied 234 Karen mother-infant pairs in Northwestern Thailand. Infants were followed from birth and nasopharyngeal swabs were taken from mother and infant at monthly intervals until 24 months old. RESULTS: 8,386 swabs were cultured and 4,396 pneumococci characterized. Infants became colonized early (median 45.5 days; 95% confidence interval [CI] 44.5-46.0) and by 24 months had a median of seven (range 0-15) carriage episodes. Maternal smoking and young children in the house were associated with earlier colonization (hazard ratio [HR] 1.5 (95% CI 1.1-2.1) and 1.4 (95% CI 1.0-1.9)). For the four commonest serotypes and non-typeable pneumococci, previous exposure to homologous or heterologous serotypes resulted in an extended interval to reacquisition of the same serotype. Previous colonization by serotypes 14 and 19F was also associated with reduced carriage duration if subsequently reacquired (HR [first reacquisition] 4.1 (95% CI 1.4-12.6) and 2.6 (1.5-4.7)). Mothers acquired pneumococci less frequently, and carried them for shorter periods, than infants (acquisition rate 0.5 vs. 1.1 /100 person-days, p<0.001; median duration 31.0 vs. 60.5 days, p = 0.001). 55.8% of pneumococci from infants were vaccine serotypes (13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, PCV13), compared with 27.5% from mothers (p<0.001). Non-typeable pneumococcal carriage was common, being carried at least once by 55.1% of infants and 32.0% of mothers. CONCLUSIONS: Pneumococcal carriage frequency and duration are influenced by previous exposure to both homologous and heterologous serotypes. These data will inform vaccination strategies in this population.

Cheeseman IH, Miller BA, Nair S, Nkhoma S, Tan A, Tan JC, Al Saai S, Phyo AP et al. 2012. A major genome region underlying artemisinin resistance in malaria. Science, 336 (6077), pp. 79-82. | Show Abstract | Read more

Evolving resistance to artemisinin-based compounds threatens to derail attempts to control malaria. Resistance has been confirmed in western Cambodia and has recently emerged in western Thailand, but is absent from neighboring Laos. Artemisinin resistance results in reduced parasite clearance rates (CRs) after treatment. We used a two-phase strategy to identify genome region(s) underlying this ongoing selective event. Geographical differentiation and haplotype structure at 6969 polymorphic single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 91 parasites from Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos identified 33 genome regions under strong selection. We screened SNPs and microsatellites within these regions in 715 parasites from Thailand, identifying a selective sweep on chromosome 13 that shows strong association (P = 10(-6) to 10(-12)) with slow CRs, illustrating the efficacy of targeted association for identifying the genetic basis of adaptive traits.

Turner P, Melchiorre S, Moschioni M, Barocchi MA, Turner C, Watthanaworawit W, Kaewcharernnet N, Nosten F, Goldblatt D. 2012. Assessment of Streptococcus pneumoniae pilus islet-1 prevalence in carried and transmitted isolates from mother-infant pairs on the Thailand-Burma border Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 18 (10), pp. 970-975. | Show Abstract | Read more

Streptococcus pneumoniae pilus islet-1 (PI-1)-encoded pilus enhances in vitro adhesion to the respiratory epithelium and may contribute to pneumococcal nasopharyngeal colonization and transmission. The pilus subunits are regarded as potential protein vaccine candidates. In this study, we sought to determine PI-1 prevalence in carried pneumococcal isolates and explore its relationship with transmissibility or carriage duration. We studied 896 pneumococcal isolates collected during a longitudinal carriage study that included monthly nasopharyngeal swabbing of 234 infants and their mothers between the ages of 1 and 24 months. These were cultured according to the WHO pneumococcal carriage detection protocol. PI-1 PCR and genotyping by multilocus sequence typing were performed on isolates chosen according to specific carriage and transmission definitions. Overall, 35.2% of the isolates were PI-1-positive, but PI-1 presence was restricted to ten of the 34 serotypes studied and was most frequently associated with serotypes 19F and 23F; 47.5% of transmitted and 43.3% of non-transmitted isolates were PI-1-positive (OR 1.2; 95% CI 0.8-1.7; p0.4). The duration of first-ever infant pneumococcal carriage was significantly longer with PI-1-positive organisms, but this difference was not significant at the individual serotype level. In conclusion, PI-1 is commonly found in pneumococcal carriage isolates, but does not appear to be associated with pneumococcal transmissibility or carriage duration. © 2011 The Authors. Clinical Microbiology and Infection © 2011 European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

McGready R, Boel M, Rijken MJ, Ashley EA, Cho T, Moo O, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M et al. 2012. Effect of early detection and treatment on malaria related maternal mortality on the north-western border of Thailand 1986-2010. PLoS One, 7 (7), pp. e40244. | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Maternal mortality is high in developing countries, but there are few data in high-risk groups such as migrants and refugees in malaria-endemic areas. Trends in maternal mortality were followed over 25 years in antenatal clinics prospectively established in an area with low seasonal transmission on the north-western border of Thailand. METHODS AND FINDINGS: All medical records from women who attended the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit antenatal clinics from 12(th) May 1986 to 31(st) December 2010 were reviewed, and maternal death records were analyzed for causality. There were 71 pregnancy-related deaths recorded amongst 50,981 women who attended antenatal care at least once. Three were suicide and excluded from the analysis as incidental deaths. The estimated maternal mortality ratio (MMR) overall was 184 (95%CI 150-230) per 100,000 live births. In camps for displaced persons there has been a six-fold decline in the MMR from 499 (95%CI 200-780) in 1986-90 to 79 (40-170) in 2006-10, p<0.05. In migrants from adjacent Myanmar the decline in MMR was less significant: 588 (100-3260) to 252 (150-430) from 1996-2000 to 2006-2010. Mortality from P. falciparum malaria in pregnancy dropped sharply with the introduction of systematic screening and treatment and continued to decline with the reduction in the incidence of malaria in the communities. P. vivax was not a cause of maternal death in this population. Infection (non-puerperal sepsis and P. falciparum malaria) accounted for 39.7 (27/68) % of all deaths. CONCLUSIONS: Frequent antenatal clinic screening allows early detection and treatment of falciparum malaria and substantially reduces maternal mortality from P. falciparum malaria. No significant decline has been observed in deaths from sepsis or other causes in refugee and migrant women on the Thai-Myanmar border.

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Phyo AP, Nkhoma S, Stepniewska K, Ashley EA, Nair S, McGready R, Moo CL, Al-Saai S et al. 2012. Emergence of artemisinin-resistant malaria on the western border of Thailand: A longitudinal study The Lancet, 379 (9830), pp. 1960-1966. | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria has arisen in western Cambodia. A concerted international eff ort is underway to contain artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum, but containment strategies are dependent on whether resistance has emerged elsewhere. We aimed to establish whether artemisinin resistance has spread or emerged on the Thailand-Myanmar (Burma) border. Methods In malaria clinics located along the northwestern border of Thailand, we measured six hourly parasite counts in patients with uncomplicated hyperparasitaemic falciparum malaria (≤4% infected red blood cells) who had been given various oral artesunate-containing regimens since 2001. Parasite clearance half-lives were estimated and parasites were genotyped for 93 single nucleotide polymorphisms. Findings 3202 patients were studied between 2001 and 2010. Parasite clearance half-lives lengthened from a geometric mean of 2·6 h (95% CI 2·5-2·7) in 2001, to 3·7 h (3·6-3·8) in 2010, compared with a mean of 5·5 h (5·2-5·9) in 119 patients in western Cambodia measured between 2007 and 2010. The proportion of slow-clearing infections (half-life ≤6·2 h) increased from 0·6% in 2001, to 20% in 2010, compared with 42% in western Cambodia between 2007 and 2010. Of 1583 infections genotyped, 148 multilocus parasite genotypes were identifi ed, each of which infected between two and 13 patients. The proportion of variation in parasite clearance attributable to parasite genetics increased from 30% between 2001 and 2004, to 66% between 2007 and 2010. Interpretation Genetically determined artemisinin resistance in P falciparum emerged along the Thailand-Myanmar border at least 8 years ago and has since increased substantially. At this rate of increase, resistance will reach rates reported in western Cambodia in 2-6 years.

Kosaisavee V, Lek-Uthai U, Suwanarusk R, Grüner AC, Russell B, Nosten F, Rénia L, Snounou G. 2012. Genetic diversity in new members of the reticulocyte binding protein family in Thai Plasmodium vivax isolates. PLoS One, 7 (3), pp. e32105. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium vivax merozoites specifically invade reticulocytes. Until recently, two reticulocyte-binding proteins (Pvrbp1 and Pvrbp2) expressed at the apical pole of the P. vivax merozoite were considered to be involved in reticulocyte recognition. The genome sequence recently obtained for the Salvador I (Sal-I) strain of P. vivax revealed additional genes in this family, and in particular Pvrbp2a, Pvrbp2b (Pvrbp2 has been renamed as Pvrbp2c) and two pseudogenes Pvrbp2d and Pvrbp3. It had been previously found that Pvrbp2c is substantially more polymorphic than Pvrbp1. The primary goal of this study was to ascertain the level of polymorphism of these new genes. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The sequence of the Pvrbp2a, Pvrbp2b, Pvrbp2d and Pvrbp3 genes were obtained by amplification/cloning using DNA purified from four isolates collected from patients that acquired the infection in the four cardinal regions of Thailand (west, north, south and east). An additional seven isolates from western Thailand were analyzed for gene copy number variation. There were significant polymorphisms exhibited by these genes (compared to the reference Sal-I strain) with the ratio of mutations leading to a non-synonymous or synonymous amino acid change close to 3∶1 for Pvrbp2a and Pvrbp2b. Although the degree of polymorphism exhibited by these two genes was higher than that of Pvrbp1, it did not reach the exceptional diversity noted for Pvrbp2c. It was interesting to note that variations in the copy number of Pvrbp2a and Pvrbp2b occurred in some isolates. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The evolution of different members of the Pvrbp2 family and their relatively high degree of polymorphism suggests that the proteins encoded by these genes are important for parasite survival and are under immune selection. Our data also shows that there are highly conserved regions in rbp2a and rbp2b, which might provide suitable targets for future vaccine development against the blood stage of P. vivax.

Chue AL, Carrara VI, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M, Wiladphaingern J, van Vugt M, Lee SJ, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. Is areca innocent? The effect of areca (betel) nut chewing in a population of pregnant women on the Thai-Myanmar border. Int Health, 4-172 (3), pp. 204-209. | Show Abstract | Read more

Eight manuscripts have specifically examined the effects of areca (betel) nut use in pregnant women, seven of which have documented adverse effects on birth weight, newborn neurological status, gender ratio and pregnancy outcomes such as anaemia and miscarriage following areca nut use during pregnancy. A retrospective cohort analysis of migrant and refugee pregnant women attending antenatal clinics along the Thai-Myanmar border (July 1997 to November 2006) was conducted to examine the adverse effects of areca nut use routinely recorded on enrolment. Of 7685 women, 2284 (29.7%) never used areca or smoked (cheroots), 2484 (32.3%) only used areca, 438 (5.7%) only smoked cheroots and 2479 (32.3%) used both areca and cheroots. Pieces of ripe areca nut in a leaf with lime, without tobacco, were used particularly among older multigravid women. Adverse pregnancy effects were not observed in areca nut users compared with non-users. Smoking, but not areca nut use, had a dose-related effect on miscarriage. Areca nut use in conjunction with smoking reduced the adverse effects of smoking on birth weight, further supporting a lack of effect of areca nut. Areca (betel) nut-related adverse pregnancy outcomes were not observed in this population, whereas smoking was clearly harmful. Differences from previous reports may result from the amount or types of areca nut, or quid content, consumed between countries. Smoking, but not areca nut, reduction is likely to improve pregnancy outcomes on the Thai-Myanmar border.

Rijken MJ, McGready R, Boel ME, Poespoprodjo R, Singh N, Syafruddin D, Rogerson S, Nosten F. 2012. Malaria in pregnancy in the Asia-Pacific region. Lancet Infect Dis, 12 (1), pp. 75-88. | Show Abstract | Read more

Most pregnant women at risk of for infection with Plasmodium vivax live in the Asia-Pacific region. However, malaria in pregnancy is not recognised as a priority by many governments, policy makers, and donors in this region. Robust data for the true burden of malaria throughout pregnancy are scarce. Nevertheless, when women have little immunity, each infection is potentially fatal to the mother, fetus, or both. WHO recommendations for the control of malaria in pregnancy are largely based on the situation in Africa, but strategies in the Asia-Pacific region are complicated by heterogeneous transmission settings, coexistence of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax parasites, and different vectors. Most knowledge of the epidemiology, effect, treatment, and prevention of malaria in pregnancy in the Asia-Pacific region comes from India, Papua New Guinea, and Thailand. Improved estimates of the morbidity and mortality of malaria in pregnancy are urgently needed. When malaria in pregnancy cannot be prevented, accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment are needed to avert dangerous symptomatic disease and to reduce effects on fetuses.

Stuetz W, Carrara VI, McGready R, Lee SJ, Erhardt JG, Breuer J, Biesalski HK, Nosten FH. 2012. Micronutrient status in lactating mothers before and after introduction of fortified flour: Cross-sectional surveys in Maela refugee camp European Journal of Nutrition, 51 (4), pp. 425-434. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background Deficiency of micronutrients is common in refugee populations. Objectives Identify deficiencies and whether provided supplements and wheat flour fortified with 10 micronutrients impacts upon status among breast-feeding women from Maela refugee camp. Methods Two sequential cross-sectional studies were conducted in different groups of lactating mothers at 12 weeks postpartum. The first survey was before and the second 4-5 months after micronutrient fortified flour (MFF) had been provided to the camp (in addition to the regular food basket). Iron status and micronutrients were measured in serum, whole blood, and in breast milk samples. Results Iron and zinc deficiency and anemia were highly prevalent while low serum retinol and thiamine deficiency were rarely detected. Iron and zinc deficiency were associated with anemia, and their proportions were significantly lower after the introduction of MFF (21 vs. 35% with soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR)>8.5 mg/L, P = 0.042, and 50 vs. 73% with serum zinc<0.66 mg/L, P = 0.001). Serum sTfR, whole-blood thiamine diphosphate (TDP) and serum β-carotene were significant predictors (P<0.001) of milk iron, thiamine and β-carotene, respectively. Lower prevalence of iron deficiency in the MFF group was associated with significantly higher iron and thiamine in breast milk. Conclusions High whole-blood TDP and breast milk thiamine reflected good compliance to provided thiamine; high prevalence of iron deficiency suggested insufficient dietary iron and low acceptance to ferrous sulfate supplements. MFF as an additional food ration in Maela refugee camp seemed to have an effect in reducing both iron and zinc deficiency postpartum. © Springer-Verlag 2012.

Klein K, Aarons L, Ter Kuile FO, Nosten F, White NJ, Edstein MD, Teja-Isavadharm P. 2012. Population pharmacokinetics of halofantrine in healthy volunteers and patients with symptomatic falciparum malaria. J Pharm Pharmacol, 64 (11), pp. 1603-1613. | Show Abstract | Read more

AIMS: To investigate the population pharmacokinetics of the antimalarial halofantrine (HF) in healthy volunteers and patients with symptomatic falciparum malaria. METHODS: Healthy volunteer data were obtained from six volunteers who received three different doses of HF (250, 500 and 1000 mg) after an overnight fast with a washout period of at least 6 weeks between doses. Patient data (n = 188) were obtained from randomised controlled trials conducted on the Thai-Burmese border in the early 1990s. They were either assigned to receive a total HF dose of 24 mg/kg (8 mg/kg every 6 h for 24 h) or 72 mg/kg (8 mg/kg every 6 to 10 h for 3 days). The population pharmacokinetics of HF were evaluated using non-linear mixed effects modelling with a two-compartment model with first-order absorption. KEY FINDINGS: The population estimates of apparent clearance (CL), volume of compartment one (V1), distributional clearance (CLD) and volume of compartment two (V2) of HF in healthy volunteers were 2453 l/day (102 l/h), 2386 l, 716 l/day (29.8 l/h) and 2641 l, respectively. The population estimates of the PK parameters in patients were 429 l/day (17.9 l/h), 729 l, 178 l/day (7.42 l/h) and 1351 l, respectively. All PK parameters were significantly related to body weight and some were related to sex, sampling method, pre-treatment parasite density and whether patients vomited or not. When the two datasets were analysed jointly using a maximum likelihood method, the population estimates in patients were 196 l/day (8.17 l/h), 161 l, 65 l/day (2.71 l/h) and 89 l, respectively, and the parameters were significantly related to body weight and sex. Bayesian analysis of the patient data, with a diffuse prior based on the healthy volunteer data analysis results, yielded the population estimates 354 l/day (14.8 l/h), 728 l, 162 l/day (6.75 l/h) and 1939 l, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The pharmacokinetic properties of HF in patients with malaria are affected by several demographic variables as well as other relevant covariates. Apparent differences between the healthy volunteer and the patient data analysis results are not entirely due to differences in bioavailability. For the patient data analysis, the Bayesian method was preferred, as the fitting procedure was more stable, allowing random effects to be estimated for all four dispositional parameters.

Rijken MJ, Gilder ME, Thwin MM, Ladda Kajeechewa HM, Wiladphaingern J, Lwin KM, Jones C, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. Refugee and migrant women's views of antenatal ultrasound on the Thai Burmese border: a mixed methods study. PLoS One, 7 (4), pp. e34018. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Antenatal ultrasound suits developing countries by virtue of its versatility, relatively low cost and safety, but little is known about women's or local provider's perspectives of this upcoming technology in such settings. This study was undertaken to better understand how routine obstetric ultrasound is experienced in a displaced Burmese population and identify barriers to its acceptance by local patients and providers. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Qualitative (30 observations, 19 interviews, seven focus group discussions) and quantitative methods (questionnaire survey with 644 pregnant women) were used to provide a comprehensive understanding along four major themes: safety, emotions, information and communication, and unintended consequences of antenatal ultrasound in refugee and migrant clinics on the Thai Burmese border. One of the main concerns expressed by women was the danger of childbirth which they mainly attributed to fetal malposition. Both providers and patients recognized ultrasound as a technology improving the safety of pregnancy and delivery. A minority of patients experienced transitory shyness or anxiety before the ultrasound, but reported that these feelings could be ameliorated with improved patient information and staff communication. Unintended consequences of overuse and gender selective abortions in this population were not common. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The results of this study are being used to improve local practice and allow development of explanatory materials for this population with low literacy. We strongly encourage facilities introducing new technology in resource poor settings to assess acceptability through similar inquiry.

Stuetz W, Carrara VI, McGready R, Lee SJ, Biesalski HK, Nosten FH. 2012. Thiamine diphosphate in whole blood, thiamine and thiamine monophosphate in breast-milk in a refugee population. PLoS One, 7 (6), pp. e36280. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The provision of high doses of thiamine may prevent thiamine deficiency in the post-partum period of displaced persons. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The study aimed to evaluate a supplementation regimen of thiamine mononitrate (100 mg daily) at the antenatal clinics in Maela refugee camp. Women were enrolled during antenatal care and followed after delivery. Samples were collected at 12 weeks post partum. Thiamine diphosphate (TDP) in whole blood and thiamine in breast-milk of 636 lactating women were measured. Thiamine in breast-milk consisted of thiamine monophosphate (TMP) in addition to thiamine, with a mean TMP to total thiamine ratio of 63%. Mean whole blood TDP (130 nmol/L) and total thiamine in breast-milk (755 nmol/L) were within the upper range reported for well-nourished women. The prevalence of women with low whole blood TDP (<65 nmol/L) was 5% and with deficient breast-milk total thiamine (<300 nmol/L) was 4%. Whole blood TDP predicted both breast-milk thiamine and TMP (R(2) = 0.36 and 0.10, p<0.001). A ratio of TMP to total thiamine ≥63% was associated with a 7.5 and 4-fold higher risk of low whole blood TDP and deficient total breast-milk thiamine, respectively. Routine provision of daily 100 mg of thiamine mononitrate post-partum compared to the previous weekly 10 mg of thiamine hydrochloride resulted in significantly higher total thiamine in breast-milk. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Thiamine supplementation for lactating women in Maela refugee camp is effective and should be continued. TMP and its ratio to total thiamine in breast-milk, reported for the first time in this study, provided useful information on thiamine status and should be included in future studies of breast-milk thiamine.

Rijken MJ, Papageorghiou AT, Thiptharakun S, Kiricharoen S, Dwell SL, Wiladphaingern J, Pimanpanarak M, Kennedy SH, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. Ultrasound evidence of early fetal growth restriction after maternal malaria infection. PLoS One, 7 (2), pp. e31411. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Intermittent preventive treatment (IPT), the main strategy to prevent malaria and reduce anaemia and low birthweight, focuses on the second half of pregnancy. However, intrauterine growth restriction may occur earlier in pregnancy. The aim of this study was to measure the effects of malaria in the first half of pregnancy by comparing the fetal biparietal diameter (BPD) of infected and uninfected women whose pregnancies had been accurately dated by crown rump length (CRL) before 14 weeks of gestation. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In 3,779 women living on the Thai-Myanmar border who delivered a normal singleton live born baby between 2001-10 and who had gestational age estimated by CRL measurement <14 weeks, the observed and expected BPD z-scores (<24 weeks) in pregnancies that were (n = 336) and were not (n = 3,443) complicated by malaria between the two scans were compared. The mean (standard deviation) fetal BPD z-scores in women with Plasmodium (P) falciparum and/or P.vivax malaria infections were significantly lower than in non-infected pregnancies; -0.57 (1.13) versus -0.10 (1.17), p<0.001. Even a single or an asymptomatic malaria episode resulted in a significantly lower z-score. Fetal female sex (p<0.001) and low body mass index (p = 0.01) were also independently associated with a smaller BPD in multivariate analysis. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Despite early treatment in all positive women, one or more (a)symptomatic P.falciparum or P.vivax malaria infections in the first half of pregnancy result in a smaller than expected mid-trimester fetal head diameter. Strategies to prevent malaria in pregnancy should include early pregnancy.

Borlon C, Russell B, Sriprawat K, Suwanarusk R, Erhart A, Renia L, Nosten F, D'Alessandro U. 2012. Cryopreserved Plasmodium vivax and cord blood reticulocytes can be used for invasion and short term culture. Int J Parasitol, 42 (2), pp. 155-160. | Show Abstract | Read more

The establishment of a Plasmodium vivaxin vitro culture system is critical for the development of new vaccine, drugs and diagnostic tests. Although short-term cultures have been successfully set up, their reproducibility in laboratories without direct access to P. vivax-infected patients has been limited by the need for fresh parasite isolates. We explored the possibility of using parasite isolates and reticulocytes, both cryopreserved, to perform invasion and initiate short-term culture. Invasion results obtained with both cryopreserved isolates and reticulocytes were similar to those obtained with fresh samples. This method should be easily replicated in laboratories outside endemic areas and will substantially contribute to the development of a continuous P. vivax culture. In addition, this model could be used for testing vaccine candidates as well as for studying invasion-specific molecular mechanisms.

Imwong M, Boel ME, Pagornrat W, Pimanpanarak M, McGready R, Day NP, Nosten F, White NJ. 2012. The first Plasmodium vivax relapses of life are usually genetically homologous. J Infect Dis, 205 (4), pp. 680-683. | Show Abstract | Read more

In a prospective infant cohort, 21 infants developed Plasmodium vivax malaria during their first year. Twelve of their mothers also had vivax malaria in the corresponding pregnancies or postpartum period. The genotypes of the maternal and infant infections were all different. Eight of the 12 mothers and 9 of the 21 infants had recurrent infections. Relapse parasite genotypes were different to the initial infection in 13 of 20 (65%) mothers compared with 5 of 24 (21%) infants (P = .02). The first P. vivax relapses of life are usually genetically homologous, whereas relapse in adults may result from activation of heterologous latent hypnozoites acquired from previous inoculations.

Prajapati SK, Joshi H, Shalini S, Patarroyo MA, Suwanarusk R, Kumar A, Sharma SK, Eapen A et al. 2011. Plasmodium vivax lineages: geographical distribution, tandem repeat polymorphism, and phylogenetic relationship. Malar J, 10 (1), pp. 374. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Multi-drug resistance and severe/complicated cases are the emerging phenotypes of vivax malaria, which may deteriorate current anti-malarial control measures. The emergence of these phenotypes could be associated with either of the two Plasmodium vivax lineages. The two lineages had been categorized as Old World and New World, based on geographical sub-division and genetic and phenotypical markers. This study revisited the lineage hypothesis of P. vivax by typing the distribution of lineages among global isolates and evaluated their genetic relatedness using a panel of new mini-satellite markers. METHODS: 18S SSU rRNA S-type gene was amplified from 420 Plasmodium vivax field isolates collected from different geographical regions of India, Thailand and Colombia as well as four strains each of P. vivax originating from Nicaragua, Panama, Thailand (Pak Chang), and Vietnam (ONG). A mini-satellite marker panel was then developed to understand the population genetic parameters and tested on a sample subset of both lineages. RESULTS: 18S SSU rRNA S-type gene typing revealed the distribution of both lineages (Old World and New World) in all geographical regions. However, distribution of Plasmodium vivax lineages was highly variable in every geographical region. The lack of geographical sub-division between lineages suggests that both lineages are globally distributed. Ten mini-satellites were scanned from the P. vivax genome sequence; these tandem repeats were located in eight of the chromosomes. Mini-satellites revealed substantial allelic diversity (7-21, AE = 14.6 ± 2.0) and heterozygosity (He = 0.697-0.924, AE = 0.857 ± 0.033) per locus. Mini-satellite comparison between the two lineages revealed high but similar pattern of genetic diversity, allele frequency, and high degree of allele sharing. A Neighbour-Joining phylogenetic tree derived from genetic distance data obtained from ten mini-satellites also placed both lineages together in every cluster. CONCLUSIONS: The global lineage distribution, lack of genetic distance, similar pattern of genetic diversity, and allele sharing strongly suggested that both lineages are a single species and thus new emerging phenotypes associated with vivax malaria could not be clearly classified as belonging to a particular lineage on basis of their geographical origin.

McGready R, Lee SJ, Wiladphaingern J, Ashley EA, Rijken MJ, Boel M, Simpson JA, Paw MK et al. 2012. Adverse effects of falciparum and vivax malaria and the safety of antimalarial treatment in early pregnancy: a population-based study. Lancet Infect Dis, 12 (5), pp. 388-396. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The effects of malaria and its treatment in the first trimester of pregnancy remain an area of concern. We aimed to assess the outcome of malaria-exposed and malaria-unexposed first-trimester pregnancies of women from the Thai-Burmese border and compare outcomes after chloroquine-based, quinine-based, or artemisinin-based treatments. METHODS: We analysed all antenatal records of women in the first trimester of pregnancy attending Shoklo Malaria Research Unit antenatal clinics from May 12, 1986, to Oct 31, 2010. Women without malaria in pregnancy were compared with those who had a single episode of malaria in the first trimester. The association between malaria and miscarriage was estimated using multivariable logistic regression. FINDINGS: Of 48,426 pregnant women, 17,613 (36%) met the inclusion criteria: 16,668 (95%) had no malaria during the pregnancy and 945 (5%) had a single episode in the first trimester. The odds of miscarriage increased in women with asymptomatic malaria (adjusted odds ratio 2·70, 95% CI 2·04-3·59) and symptomatic malaria (3·99, 3·10-5·13), and were similar for Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. Other risk factors for miscarriage included smoking, maternal age, previous miscarriage, and non-malaria febrile illness. In women with malaria, additional risk factors for miscarriage included severe or hyperparasitaemic malaria (adjusted odds ratio 3·63, 95% CI 1·15-11·46) and parasitaemia (1·49, 1·25-1·78 for each ten-fold increase in parasitaemia). Higher gestational age at the time of infection was protective (adjusted odds ratio 0·86, 95% CI 0·81-0·91). The risk of miscarriage was similar for women treated with chloroquine (92 [26%] of 354), quinine (95 [27%) of 355), or artesunate (20 [31%] of 64; p=0·71). Adverse effects related to antimalarial treatment were not observed. INTERPRETATION: A single episode of falciparum or vivax malaria in the first trimester of pregnancy can cause miscarriage. No additional toxic effects associated with artesunate treatment occurred in early pregnancy. Prospective studies should now be done to assess the safety and efficacy of artemisinin combination treatments in early pregnancy.

Hongsibsong S, Wipasa J, Pattarawarapan M, Chantara S, Stuetz W, Nosten F, Prapamontol T. 2012. Development and application of an indirect competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the detection of p,p'-DDE in human milk and comparison of the results against GC-ECD. J Agric Food Chem, 60 (1), pp. 16-22. | Show Abstract | Read more

1,1-Dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl) ethylene (p,p'-DDE) is the major metabolite of insecticide 2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)-1,1,1-trichloroethane (p,p'-DDT) and a persistent organic pollutant (POPs) with concerns regarding its bioaccumulation and persistence in the environment and food chain. In the present study, an indirect competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay (ic-ELISA) specific for the detection of p,p'-DDE is described. In hapten synthesis, 2,2'-bis(4-chlorophenyl)ethanol and glutaric anhydride were used as precursor and spacer arm, respectively. The hapten was then conjugated to bovine serum albumin (BSA) as immunogen for mouse immunization and also conjugated to ovalbumin as coating antigen for ELISA. The developed ic-ELISA was used for detecting p,p'-DDE in human milk samples and validated against the results from conventional gas chromatography-electron capture detection (GC-ECD). Coefficients of variation (%CV) of ELISA were 5.7-10.4% for intra-assay and 10.6-19.6% for interassay variations. The Pearson correlation coefficient of p,p'-DDE concentrations between ic-ELISA and GC-ECD was r = 0.766, which was in an acceptable range. The results indicate that the developed assay could be an alternative analytical tool for monitoring p,p'-DDE in lipimic matrices such as human milk.

Phyo AP, Lwin KM, Price RN, Ashley EA, Russell B, Sriprawat K, Lindegardh N, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F. 2011. Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine versus chloroquine in the treatment of Plasmodium vivax malaria in Thailand: a randomized controlled trial. Clin Infect Dis, 53 (10), pp. 977-984. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Chloroquine (CQ) remains the treatment of choice for Plasmodium vivax malaria. Initially confined to parts of Indonesia and Papua, resistance of P. vivax to CQ seems to be spreading, and alternative treatments are required. METHODS: We conducted a randomized controlled study to compare the efficacy and the tolerability of CQ and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) in 500 adults and children with acute vivax malaria on the Northwestern border of Thailand. RESULTS: Both drugs were well tolerated. Fever and parasite clearance times were slower in the CQ than in the DP group (P < .001). By day 28, recurrent infections had emerged in 18 of 207 CQ recipients compared with 5 of 230 treated with DP (relative risk, 4.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.51-10.58; P = .0046). The cumulative risk of recurrence with P. vivax at 9 weeks was 79.1% (95% CI, 73.5%-84.8%) in patients treated with CQ compared with 54.9% (95% CI, 48.2%-61.6%) in those receiving DP (hazard ratio [HR], 2.27; 95% CI, 1.8-2.9; P < .001). Children <5 years old were at greater risk of recurrent P. vivax infection (74.4%; 95% CI, 63.2%-85.6%) than older patients (55.3% [95% CI, 50.2%-60.4%]; HR, 1.58 [95% CI, 1.1-2.2]; P = .005). In vitro susceptibility testing showed that 13% of the tested isolates had a CQ median inhibitory concentration >100 nmol/L, suggesting reduced susceptibility. CONCLUSIONS: The efficacy of CQ in the treatment of P. vivax infections is declining on the Thai-Myanmar border. DP is an effective alternative treatment.

Proux S, Suwanarusk R, Barends M, Zwang J, Price RN, Leimanis M, Kiricharoen L, Laochan N, Russell B, Nosten F, Snounou G. 2011. Considerations on the use of nucleic acid-based amplification for malaria parasite detection. Malar J, 10 (1), pp. 323. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Nucleic acid amplification provides the most sensitive and accurate method to detect and identify pathogens. This is primarily useful for epidemiological investigations of malaria because the infections, often with two or more Plasmodium species present simultaneously, are frequently associated with microscopically sub-patent parasite levels and cryptic mixed infections. Numerous distinct equally adequate amplification-based protocols have been described, but it is unclear which to select for epidemiological surveys. Few comparative studies are available, and none that addresses the issue of inter-laboratory variability. METHODS: Blood samples were collected from patients attending malaria clinics on the Thai-Myanmar border. Frozen aliquots from 413 samples were tested independently in two laboratories by nested PCR assay. Dried blood spots on filter papers from the same patients were also tested by the nested PCR assay in one laboratory and by a multiplex PCR assay in another. The aim was to determine which protocol best detected parasites below the sensitivity level of microscopic examination. RESULTS: As expected PCR-based assays detected a substantial number of infected samples, or mixed infections, missed by microscopy (27 and 42 for the most sensitive assay, respectively). The protocol that was most effective at detecting these, in particular mixed infections, was a nested PCR assay with individual secondary reactions for each of the species initiated with a template directly purified from the blood sample. However, a lesser sensitivity in detection was observed when the same protocol was conducted in another laboratory, and this significantly altered the data obtained on the parasite species distribution. CONCLUSIONS: The sensitivity of a given PCR assay varies between laboratories. Although, the variations are relatively minor, they primarily diminish the ability to detect low-level and mixed infections and are sufficient to obviate the main rationale to use PCR assays rather than microscopy or rapid diagnostic tests. The optimal approach to standardise methodologies is to provide PCR template standards. These will help researchers in different settings to ensure that the nucleic acid amplification protocols they wish to use provide the requisite level of sensitivity, and will permit comparison between sites.

Malleret B, Claser C, Ong AS, Suwanarusk R, Sriprawat K, Howland SW, Russell B, Nosten F, Rénia L. 2011. A rapid and robust tri-color flow cytometry assay for monitoring malaria parasite development. Sci Rep, 1 pp. 118. | Show Abstract | Read more

Microscopic examination of Giemsa-stained thin blood smears remains the gold standard method used to quantify and stage malaria parasites. However, this technique is tedious, and requires trained microscopists. We have developed a fast and simple flow cytometry method to quantify and stage, various malaria parasites in red blood cells in whole blood or in vitro cultured Plasmodium falciparum. The parasites were stained with dihydroethidium and Hoechst 33342 or SYBR Green I and leukocytes were identified with an antibody against CD45. Depending on the DNA stains used, samples were analyzed using different models of flow cytometers. This protocol, which does not require any washing steps, allows infected red blood cells to be distinguished from leukocytes, as well as allowing non-infected reticulocytes and normocytes to be identified. It also allows assessing the proportion of parasites at different developmental stages. Lastly, we demonstrate how this technique can be applied to antimalarial drug testing.

Turner C, Aye Mya Thein N, Turner P, Nosten F, White NJ. 2012. Rectal pH in well and unwell infants. J Trop Pediatr, 58 (4), pp. 311-313. | Show Abstract | Read more

Prompt antibiotic treatment for infants with sepsis has the potential to save lives. A rectal formulation of an antibiotic could be used at a village level before referral to hospital. The development of such a preparation needs to take into account the rectal pH of infants that will affect drug partitioning and absorption. Rectal pH measurements were taken in 100 well and 45 unwell infants. We also measured rectal pH in 14 infants sequentially over the course of their illness. The mean rectal pH was 6.75 with no significant difference in well or unwell infants. The mean (95% CI) rectal pH of well neonates was significantly lower than that of older infants (>28 days): 6.47 (6.29-6.65) vs. 6.90 (6.68 to 7.12) p = 0.003.

McGready R, Phyo AP, Rijken MJ, Tarning J, Lindegardh N, Hanpithakpon W, Than HH, Hlaing N et al. 2012. Artesunate/dihydroartemisinin pharmacokinetics in acute falciparum malaria in pregnancy: absorption, bioavailability, disposition and disease effects. Br J Clin Pharmacol, 73 (3), pp. 467-477. | Show Abstract | Read more

AIM: To determine if reported lower plasma concentrations of artemisinin derivatives for malaria in pregnancy result from reduced oral bioavailability, expanded volume of distribution or increased clearance. METHODS: In a sequentially assigned crossover treatment study, pregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria received i.v. artesunate (i.v. ARS) (4mgkg(-1) ) on the first day and oral ARS (4mgkg(-1) ) on the second, or, oral on the first and i.v. on the second, in both groups followed by oral ARS (4mgkg(-1) day(-1) ) for 5 days. Plasma concentrations of ARS and dihyroartemisinin (DHA) were measured by liquid chromatography-mass-spectrometry on days 0, 1, 2 and 6. Controls were the same women restudied when healthy (3 months post partum). RESULTS: I.v. ARS administration resulted in similar ARS and DHA pharmacokinetics in pregnant women with malaria (n= 20) and in controls (n= 14). Oral administration resulted in higher total drug exposure in pregnancy [AUC (95% CI) in (ngml(-1) h)/(mgkg(-1) )] of 55.1 (30.1, 100.0) vs. 26.5 (12.2, 54.3) for ARS, P= 0.002 and 673 (386, 1130) vs. 523 (351, 724) for DHA, P= 0.007. The corresponding median absolute oral bioavailability (F%) was 21.7 (12.6, 75.1) vs. 9.9 (6.0, 36.81) for ARS (P= 0.046) and 77.0 (42.2, 129) vs. 72.7 (42.0, 87.7) for DHA, P= 0.033. Total DHA exposure was lower at day 6 in pregnant women with malaria (P < 0.001) compared with day 0 or 1, but not in the controls (P= 0.084). CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the effects of malaria on oral ARS drug disposition are greater than those of pregnancy. This probably results from a disease related reduction in first pass metabolism. The data are reassuring regarding current dosing recommendations.

Rijken MJ, McGready R, Phyo AP, Lindegardh N, Tarning J, Laochan N, Than HH, Mu O et al. 2011. Pharmacokinetics of dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine in pregnant and nonpregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 55 (12), pp. 5500-5506. | Show Abstract | Read more

Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is a fixed-dose artemisinin-based combination treatment. Some antimalarials have altered pharmacokinetics in pregnancy. Pregnant women in the 2nd or 3rd trimester and matched nonpregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were treated with a total of 6.4 mg/kg of body weight dihydroartemisinin and 51.2 mg/kg piperaquine once daily for 3 days. Venous blood samples were drawn at prespecified time points over 9 weeks. Plasma dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine concentrations were analyzed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Piperaquine and dihydroartemisinin pharmacokinetics were well described. There were no significant differences in total piperaquine exposure (P = 0.80) or drug exposure during the terminal elimination phase (72 h to infinity) (P = 0.64) between the two groups. The apparent volume of distribution of piperaquine was significantly smaller (602 liters/kg versus 877 liters/kg) in pregnant women than in nonpregnant women (P = 0.0057), and the terminal elimination half-life was significantly shorter (17.8 days versus 25.6 days; P = 0.0023). Dihydroartemisinin exposure after the first dose was significantly lower (844 h × ng/ml versus 1,220 h × ng/ml, P = 0.0021) in pregnant women, but there were no significant differences in total dihydroartemisinin exposure or maximum concentrations between the two groups. There were no significant differences in any pharmacokinetic parameters between the second and third trimester. These results obtained through noncompartmental analysis suggest that in the treatment of falciparum malaria, there are no clinically important differences in the pharmacokinetics of dihydroartemisinin or piperaquine between pregnant and nonpregnant women. However, a more detailed analysis using population pharmacokinetic modeling is needed to fully investigate the differences found for some of the pharmacokinetic parameters, such as the terminal half-life.

White LJ, Lee SJ, Stepniewska K, Simpson JA, Dwell SL, Arunjerdja R, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. Estimation of gestational age from fundal height: a solution for resource-poor settings. J R Soc Interface, 9 (68), pp. 503-510. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many women in resource-poor settings lack access to reliable gestational age assessment because they do not know their last menstrual period; there is no ultrasound (US) and methods of newborn gestational age dating are not practised by birth attendants. A bespoke multiple-measures model was developed to predict the expected date of delivery determined by US. The results are compared with both a linear and a nonlinear model. Prospectively collected early US and serial symphysis-pubis fundal height (SFH) data were used in the models. The data were collected from Karen and Burmese women attending antenatal care on the Thai-Burmese border. The multiple-measures model performed best, resulting in a range of accuracy depending on the number of SFH measures recorded per mother (for example six SFH measurements resulted in a prediction accuracy of ±2 weeks). SFH remains the proxy for gestational age in much of the resource-poor world. While more accurate measures should be encouraged, we demonstrate that a formula that incorporates at least three SFH measures from an individual mother and the slopes between them provide a significant increase in the accuracy of prediction compared with the linear and nonlinear formulae also using multiple SFH measures.

Mok S, Imwong M, Mackinnon MJ, Sim J, Ramadoss R, Yi P, Mayxay M, Chotivanich K et al. 2011. Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum is associated with an altered temporal pattern of transcription. BMC Genomics, 12 (1), pp. 391. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum malaria has emerged in Western Cambodia. This is a major threat to global plans to control and eliminate malaria as the artemisinins are a key component of antimalarial treatment throughout the world. To identify key features associated with the delayed parasite clearance phenotype, we employed DNA microarrays to profile the physiological gene expression pattern of the resistant isolates. RESULTS: In the ring and trophozoite stages, we observed reduced expression of many basic metabolic and cellular pathways which suggests a slower growth and maturation of these parasites during the first half of the asexual intraerythrocytic developmental cycle (IDC). In the schizont stage, there is an increased expression of essentially all functionalities associated with protein metabolism which indicates the prolonged and thus increased capacity of protein synthesis during the second half of the resistant parasite IDC. This modulation of the P. falciparum intraerythrocytic transcriptome may result from differential expression of regulatory proteins such as transcription factors or chromatin remodeling associated proteins. In addition, there is a unique and uniform copy number variation pattern in the Cambodian parasites which may represent an underlying genetic background that contributes to the resistance phenotype. CONCLUSIONS: The decreased metabolic activities in the ring stages are consistent with previous suggestions of higher resilience of the early developmental stages to artemisinin. Moreover, the increased capacity of protein synthesis and protein turnover in the schizont stage may contribute to artemisinin resistance by counteracting the protein damage caused by the oxidative stress and/or protein alkylation effect of this drug. This study reports the first global transcriptional survey of artemisinin resistant parasites and provides insight to the complexities of the molecular basis of pathogens with drug resistance phenotypes in vivo.

Biot C, Nosten F, Fraisse L, Ter-Minassian D, Khalife J, Dive D. 2011. The antimalarial ferroquine: from bench to clinic. Parasite, 18 (3), pp. 207-214. | Show Abstract | Read more

Ferroquine (FQ, SSR97193) is currently the most advanced organo-metallic drug candidate and about to complete phase II clinical trials as a treatment for uncomplicated malaria. This ferrocene-containing compound is active against both chloroquine-susceptible and chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax strains and/or isolates. This article focuses on the discovery of FQ, its antimalarial activity, the hypothesis of its mode of action, the current absence of resistance in vitro and recent clinical trials.

Canavati S, Plugge E, Suwanjatuporn S, Sombatrungjaroen S, Nosten F. 2011. Barriers to immunization among children of migrant workers from Myanmar living in Tak province, Thailand. Bull World Health Organ, 89 (7), pp. 528-531. | Show Abstract | Read more

PROBLEM: Immunization is a cost-effective means of improving child survival but implementation of programmes in low- and middle-income countries is variable. Children of migrants are less likely to be immunized. APPROACH: The qualitative study aimed to identify barriers to the successful implementation of migrant immunization programmes in Tak province, Thailand. We ran a total of 53 focus groups involving 371 participants in three sites. LOCAL SETTING: Tak province in Thailand borders Myanmar and has an estimated 200,000 migrants from Myanmar. Vaccine-preventable diseases are a documented cause of morbidity in this population but there is no systematic or coordinated immunization programme in the area. RELEVANT CHANGES: As a result of the findings, the subsequent immunization campaign targeted children in school to overcome those barriers of distance to immunization services, fear of arrest, not remembering immunization appointments, and the disruption of parental work. The campaigns also included immunization education for both parents and teachers. LESSONS LEARNT: Migrant parents identified similar barriers to accessing childhood immunization programmes as migrant populations elsewhere in the world, although a unique barrier identified by parents from Myanmar was "fear of arrest". The subsequent school-based strategy to overcome these barriers appears to be effective.

Rijken MJ, McGready R, Jullien V, Tarning J, Lindegardh N, Phyo AP, Win AK, Hsi P et al. 2011. Pharmacokinetics of amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine in pregnant and postpartum women with Plasmodium vivax malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 55 (9), pp. 4338-4342. | Show Abstract | Read more

In order to study the pharmacokinetic properties of amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine during pregnancy, 24 pregnant women in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy and with Plasmodium vivax malaria were treated with amodiaquine (10 mg/kg of body weight/day) for 3 days. The same women were studied again at 3 months postpartum. Plasma was analyzed for amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine by use of a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method. Individual concentration-time data were evaluated using noncompartmental analysis. There were no clinically relevant differences in the pharmacokinetics of amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine between pregnant (n = 24) and postpartum (n = 18) women. The results suggest that the current amodiaquine dosing regimen is adequate for the treatment of P. vivax infections during pregnancy.

Carrara VI, Hogan C, De Pree C, Nosten F, McGready R. 2011. Improved pregnancy outcome in refugees and migrants despite low literacy on the Thai-Burmese border: results of three cross-sectional surveys. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 11 (1), pp. 45. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Maternal and infant health has been associated with maternal education level, which is highly associated with literacy. We aimed at estimating literacy rates among reproductive age women attending antenatal clinics in camps for refugees and in migrant clinics in Tak province, north-western Thailand, to determine whether illiteracy had an impact on birth outcomes. METHODS: Three reading assessments were conducted using an identical method each time, in 1995-97, 2003 and 2008. Midwives chose at random one of four pre-set sentences. Each woman was asked to read aloud and scoring was based on a "pass/fail" system. Pregnancy outcomes were compared with maternal literacy rate. RESULTS: Overall, 47% (1149/2424) of women were able to read. A significant improvement was observed among migrant (34% in 2003 vs. 46% in 2008, p = 0.01), but not refugee (47% in 1995-97, 49% in 2003, and 51% in 2008) women. Literate women were significantly more likely to be of non-Karen ethnicity, primigravidae, non-smokers, to remain free from malaria during pregnancy and to deliver in a health clinic. Significant improvements in pregnancy outcome (reductions in premature births, low birth weight newborns and neonatal death) between 1995-97 and 2003 were unrelated to literacy. CONCLUSIONS: Significant reductions in poor pregnancy outcome over time have not been driven by changes in literacy rates, which have remained low. Access to early diagnosis and treatment of malaria in this population, and delivery with skilled birth attendants, despite ongoing low literacy, appears to have played a significant role.

Rijken MJ, Boel ME, Russell B, Imwong M, Leimanis ML, Phyo AP, Muehlenbachs A, Lindegardh N et al. 2011. Chloroquine resistant vivax malaria in a pregnant woman on the western border of Thailand. Malar J, 10 (1), pp. 113. | Show Abstract | Read more

Chloroquine (CQ) resistant vivax malaria is spreading. In this case, Plasmodium vivax infections during pregnancy and in the postpartum period were not satisfactorily cleared by CQ, despite adequate drug concentrations. A growth restricted infant was delivered. Poor susceptibility to CQ was confirmed in-vitro and molecular genotyping was strongly suggestive of true recrudescence of P. vivax. This is the first clinically and laboratory confirmed case of two high-grade CQ resistant vivax parasite strains from Thailand.

Muehlenbachs A, Fried M, McGready R, Nosten F, Duffy PE. 2011. Response to ordi et Al. J Infect Dis, 203 (11), pp. 1695-1696. | Read more

Turner P, Turner C, Kaewcharernnet N, Mon NY, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2011. A prospective study of urinary pneumococcal antigen detection in healthy Karen mothers with high rates of pneumococcal nasopharyngeal carriage. BMC Infect Dis, 11 (1), pp. 108. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Detection of Streptococcus pneumoniae C-polysaccharide in urine is a useful rapid diagnostic test for pneumococcal infections in adults. In young children, high rates of false positive results have been documented due to detection of concurrent nasopharyngeal pneumococcal carriage. The relationship between pneumococcal carriage and urinary antigen detection in adults from developing countries with high pneumococcal carriage prevalence has not been well established. METHODS: We nested an evaluation of the BinaxNOW S. pneumoniae test within a longitudinal mother-infant pneumococcal carriage study in Karen refugees on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Paired urine and nasopharyngeal swab specimens were collected from 98 asymptomatic women at a routine study follow-up visit. The urine specimens were analyzed with the BinaxNOW test and the nasopharyngeal swabs were semi-quantitatively cultured to identify pneumococcal colonization. RESULTS: 24/98 (25%) women were colonized by S. pneumoniae but only three (3%) had a positive BinaxNOW urine test. The sensitivity of the BinaxNOW test for detection of pneumococcal colonization was 4.2% (95% CI: 0.1-21.1%) with a specificity of 97.3% (95% CI: 90.6-99.7%). Pneumococcal colonization was not associated with having a positive BinaxNOW test (odds ratio 1.6; 95% CI: 0.0-12.7; p=0.7). CONCLUSIONS: Significant numbers of false positive results are unlikely to be encountered when using the BinaxNOW test to diagnose pneumococcal infection in adults from countries with moderate to high rates of pneumococcal colonization.

Turner P, Po L, Turner C, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2011. Detection of respiratory viruses by PCR assay of nasopharyngeal swabs stored in skim milk-tryptone-glucose-glycerol transport medium. J Clin Microbiol, 49 (6), pp. 2311-2313. | Show Abstract | Read more

We analyzed 129 paired nasopharyngeal aspirates (stored in viral transport medium [VTM]) and nasopharyngeal swabs (stored in skim milk-tryptone-glucose-glycerol [STGG] bacterial transport and storage medium) using PCRs to detect adenoviruses, influenza virus A or B, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Overall, swabs stored in STGG medium without antimicrobials were found to be an acceptable alternative to aspirates stored in antimicrobial-containing VTM, with PCR agreement of 90.2% (kappa of 0.8).

Turner P, Hinds J, Turner C, Jankhot A, Gould K, Bentley SD, Nosten F, Goldblatt D. 2011. Improved detection of nasopharyngeal cocolonization by multiple pneumococcal serotypes by use of latex agglutination or molecular serotyping by microarray. J Clin Microbiol, 49 (5), pp. 1784-1789. | Show Abstract | Read more

Identification of Streptococcus pneumoniae in the nasopharynx is critical for an understanding of transmission, estimates of vaccine efficacy, and possible replacement disease. Conventional nasopharyngeal swab (NPS) culture and serotyping (the WHO protocol) is likely to underestimate multiple-serotype carriage. We compared the WHO protocol with methods aimed at improving cocolonization detection. One hundred twenty-five NPSs from an infant pneumococcal-carriage study, containing ≥ 1 serotype by WHO culture, were recultured in duplicate. A sweep of colonies from one plate culture was serotyped by latex agglutination. DNA extracted from the second plate was analyzed by S. pneumoniae molecular-serotyping microarray. Multiple serotypes were detected in 11.2% of the swabs by WHO culture, 43.2% by sweep serotyping, and 48.8% by microarray. Sweep and microarray were more likely to detect multiple serotypes than WHO culture (P < 0.0001). Cocolonization detection rates were similar between microarray and sweep, but the microarray identified the greatest number of serotypes. A common serogroup type was identified in 95.2% of swabs by all methods. WHO methodology significantly underestimates multiple-serotype carriage compared to these alternate methods. Sweep serotyping is cost-effective and field deployable but may fail to detect serotypes at low abundance, whereas microarray serotyping is more costly and technology dependent but may detect these additional minor carried serotypes.

Douglas NM, Nosten F, Ashley EA, Phaiphun L, van Vugt M, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Price RN. 2011. Plasmodium vivax recurrence following falciparum and mixed species malaria: risk factors and effect of antimalarial kinetics. Clin Infect Dis, 52 (5), pp. 612-620. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium vivax malaria commonly follows treatment of falciparum malaria in regions of co-endemicity. This is an important cause of preventable morbidity. METHODS: We examined the factors contributing to the risk of recurrence of P. vivax infection after treatment of acute falciparum malaria in a series of clinical trials conducted on the Thai-Myanmar border from 1991 through 2005. RESULTS: Overall, 10,549 patients (4960 children aged <15 years and 5589 adults) were treated for falciparum malaria; of these patients, 9385 (89.0%) had Plasmodium falciparum monoinfection and 1164 (11.0%) had mixed P. falciparum/P. vivax infections according to microscopic examinations performed at screening. The cumulative proportion of patients with P. falciparum infection recurrence by day 63 was 21.5% (95% confidence interval [CI], 20.3%-22.8%), and the cumulative proportion with P. vivax infection recurrence was 31.5% (95% CI, 30.1%-33.0%). Significant risk factors for P. vivax infection recurrence were mixed infection at enrollment, male sex, younger age, lower hematocrit, higher asexual P. falciparum parasite density (P < .001 for all factors), and P. falciparum gametocytemia at enrollment (P = .001). By day 63, the cumulative risk of vivax malaria after P. falciparum monoinfection was 51.1% (95% CI, 46.1%-56.2%) after treatment with rapidly eliminated drugs (t(1/2) <1 day), 35.3% (95% CI, 31.8%-39.0%) after treatment with intermediate half-life drugs (t(1/2) 1-7 days), and 19.6% (95% CI, 18.1%-21.3%) after treatment with slowly eliminated drugs (t(1/2) > 7 days) (P < .001, by test for trend). Artemisinin-based combinations containing mefloquine or piperaquine, compared with the artemether-lumefantrine and artesunate-atovaquone-proguanil combinations, were associated with a 3.6-fold to 4.2-fold lower adjusted hazard ratio for P. vivax infection recurrence within 63 days after pure or mixed P. falciparum infections (P < .001, for comparisons with artesunate-mefloquine). CONCLUSIONS: On the Thai-Myanmar border, P. vivax is the most common cause of parasitological failure after treatment for falciparum malaria. Slowly eliminated antimalarials reduce the risk of early P. vivax infection recurrence.

Rijken MJ, Rijken JA, Papageorghiou AT, Kennedy SH, Visser GH, Nosten F, McGready R. 2011. Malaria in pregnancy: the difficulties in measuring birthweight. BJOG, 118 (6), pp. 671-678. | Show Abstract | Read more

Recommendations for interventions to control malaria in pregnancy are often based on studies using birthweight as the primary endpoint. Differences in birthweight may be attributable partly to methodological difficulties. We performed a structured search of the literature using 'malaria', 'pregnancy' and 'birth weight' as search terms. Of the clinical trials reporting birthweight, only 33% (14/43) gave information about the timing of the measurement and details on the scales used. Seventy seven per cent explained how gestational age was estimated. We propose a standardised method for the measurement and reporting of birthweight in future studies.

Russell B, Suwanarusk R, Borlon C, Costa FT, Chu CS, Rijken MJ, Sriprawat K, Warter L et al. 2011. A reliable ex vivo invasion assay of human reticulocytes by Plasmodium vivax. Blood, 118 (13), pp. e74-e81. | Show Abstract | Read more

Currently, there are no reliable RBC invasion assays to guide the discovery of vaccines against Plasmodium vivax, the most prevalent malaria parasite in Asia and South America. Here we describe a protocol for an ex vivo P vivax invasion assay that can be easily deployed in laboratories located in endemic countries. The assay is based on mixing enriched cord blood reticulocytes with matured, trypsin-treated P vivax schizonts concentrated from clinical isolates. The reliability of this assay was demonstrated using a large panel of P vivax isolates freshly collected from patients in Thailand.

Annerberg A, Lwin KM, Lindegardh N, Khrutsawadchai S, Ashley E, Day NP, Singhasivanon P, Tarning J, White NJ, Nosten F. 2011. A small amount of fat does not affect piperaquine exposure in patients with malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 55 (9), pp. 3971-3976. | Show Abstract | Read more

Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is a new, highly effective, and well-tolerated combination treatment for uncomplicated falciparum malaria. The lipophilic characteristic of piperaquine suggests that administration together with fat will increase the oral bioavailability of the drug, and this has been reported for healthy volunteers. This pharmacokinetic study monitored 30 adult patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria for 4.5 months to evaluate the effects of the concomitant intake of fat on the total piperaquine exposure. The fixed-drug combination of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine was given with water to fasting patients (n = 15) or was coadministered with 200 ml milk containing 6.4 g fat (n = 15). The drug combination was generally well tolerated, and there were no severe adverse effects reported for either group during the study. Total piperaquine exposure (area under the concentration-time curve from zero to infinity [AUC(0-∞)]; results are given as medians [ranges]) were not statistically different between fed (29.5 h · μg/ml [20.6 to 58.7 h · μg/ml]) and fasting (23.9 h · μg/ml [11.9 to 72.9 h · μg/ml]) patients, but the interindividual variation was reduced in the fed group. Overall, none of the pharmacokinetic parameters differed statistically between the groups. Total piperaquine exposure correlated well with the day 7 concentrations in the fasted group, but the fed group showed a poor correlation. In conclusion, the coadministration of 6.4 g fat did not have any significant effect on piperaquine pharmacokinetics in the treatment of uncomplicated malaria.

Bouillet LÉ, Dias MO, Dorigo NA, Moura AD, Russell B, Nosten F, Renia L, Braga EM et al. 2011. Long-term humoral and cellular immune responses elicited by a heterologous Plasmodium vivax apical membrane antigen 1 protein prime/adenovirus boost immunization protocol. Infect Immun, 79 (9), pp. 3642-3652. | Show Abstract | Read more

Apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA-1) is an invasion-related Plasmodium antigen that is expressed during both intracellular and extracellular asexual stages of the parasite's life cycle, making it an ideal target for induction of humoral and cellular immune responses that can protect against malaria. We show here that when it is administered as a recombinant protein (P) in Montanide ISA720 adjuvant, followed by a recombinant human type 5 adenovirus (Ad), intense and long-lasting Plasmodium vivax AMA-1-specific antibody responses (including both IgG1 and IgG2a), as well as proliferative memory T cell responses, can be detected in immunized mice. Memory T cells displayed both central (CD44(hi) CD62L(hi)) and effector (CD44(hi) CD62L(lo)) phenotypes, with the central memory phenotype prevailing (56% of AMA-1-specific proliferating cells). Considering the main traits of the memory immune responses induced against AMA-1, this particular sequence of immunogens (P followed by Ad), but no others (Ad/Ad, Ad/P, or P/P), displayed an optimal synergistic effect. These results give further support to the need for preclinical studies of P. vivax vaccine candidate AMA-1 administered in prime/boost protocols that include recombinant proteins and adenoviral vectors.

Imwong M, Russell B, Suwanarusk R, Nzila A, Leimanis ML, Sriprawat K, Kaewpongsri S, Phyo AP, Snounou G, Nosten F, Renia L. 2011. Methotrexate is highly potent against pyrimethamine-resistant Plasmodium vivax. J Infect Dis, 203 (2), pp. 207-210. | Show Abstract | Read more

Resistance of vivax malaria to treatment with antifolates, such as pyrimethamine (Pyr), is spreading as mutations in the dihydrofolatereductase (dhfr) genes are selected and disseminated. We tested the antitumor drug methotrexate (MTX), a potent competitive inhibitor of dhfr, against 11 Plasmodium vivax isolates ex vivo, 10 of which had multiple dhfr mutations associated with Pyr resistance. Despite high-grade resistance to Pyr (median 50% inhibitory concentration [IC₅₀], 13,345 nM), these parasites were all highly susceptible to MTX (median IC₅₀, 2.6 nM). Given its potency against Pyr-resistant P. vivax, the antimalarial potential of MTX deserves further investigation.

Veiga MI, Ferreira PE, Jörnhagen L, Malmberg M, Kone A, Schmidt BA, Petzold M, Björkman A, Nosten F, Gil JP. 2011. Novel polymorphisms in Plasmodium falciparum ABC transporter genes are associated with major ACT antimalarial drug resistance. PLoS One, 6 (5), pp. e20212. | Show Abstract | Read more

Chemotherapy is a critical component of malaria control. However, the most deadly malaria pathogen, Plasmodium falciparum, has repeatedly mounted resistance against a series of antimalarial drugs used in the last decades. Southeast Asia is an epicenter of emerging antimalarial drug resistance, including recent resistance to the artemisinins, the core component of all recommended antimalarial combination therapies. Alterations in the parasitic membrane proteins Pgh-1, PfCRT and PfMRP1 are believed to be major contributors to resistance through decreasing intracellular drug accumulation. The pfcrt, pfmdr1 and pfmrp1 genes were sequenced from a set of P.falciparum field isolates from the Thai-Myanmar border. In vitro drug susceptibility to artemisinin, dihydroartemisinin, mefloquine and lumefantrine were assessed. Positive correlations were seen between the in vitro susceptibility responses to artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin and the responses to the arylamino-alcohol quinolines lumefantrine and mefloquine. The previously unstudied pfmdr1 F1226Y and pfmrp1 F1390I SNPs were associated significantly with artemisinin, mefloquine and lumefantrine in vitro susceptibility. A variation in pfmdr1 gene copy number was also associated with parasite drug susceptibility of artemisinin, mefloquine and lumefantrine. Our work unveils new candidate markers of P. falciparum multidrug resistance in vitro, while contributing to the understanding of subjacent genetic complexity, essential for future evidence-based drug policy decisions.

McGready R, White NJ, Nosten F. 2011. Parasitological efficacy of antimalarials in the treatment and prevention of falciparum malaria in pregnancy 1998 to 2009: a systematic review. BJOG, 118 (2), pp. 123-135. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Pregnant women are at increased risk from malaria. Resistance to all classes of antimalarials has affected the treatment and prevention of malaria in pregnancy. OBJECTIVES: To review the therapeutic efficacy of antimalarials used for treatment and intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) in pregnancy. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched MEDLINE and the Cochrane Library between January 1998 and December 2009 for publications using the medical subject headings: efficacy, antimalarials, malaria, pregnancy, pharmacokinetics, treatment, IPT and placenta positive. In May 2010 we searched the register of clinical trials (http://clinicaltrials.gov/) and of WHO (http://apps.who.int/trialsearch/) using 'malaria', and 'pregnancy' and 'treatment'. SELECTION CRITERIA: We identified 233 abstracts, reviewed 83 full text articles and included 60 studies. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors entered extracted data to an excel spreadsheet. MAIN RESULTS: Parasitological failure rates, placenta positivity rates (assessed by microscopy) or both were reported in 44% (21/48), 46% (22/48) and 10% (5/48) of articles, respectively. Most pharmacokinetic studies (9/12) suggested dose optimisation. In 23 treatment studies 17 different antimalarial drugs were delivered in 53 study arms; 43.4% (23/53) reported a failure rate of < 5%; 83.3% of sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) arms and 9% of artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) arms had failure rates ≥ 10%. Placenta-positive rates (mostly reported in the context of IPT in pregnancy) were > 10% in 68% (23/34) of SP trial arms and > 15% in all seven chloroquine arms. The ACT provided lower parasitological failure and gametocyte carriage rates. AUTHOR'S CONCLUSIONS: Drugs used in pregnancy should aim for 95% efficacy but many currently deployed regimens are associated with much lower cure rates.

Campino S, Auburn S, Kivinen K, Zongo I, Ouedraogo JB, Mangano V, Djimde A, Doumbo OK et al. 2011. Population genetic analysis of Plasmodium falciparum parasites using a customized Illumina GoldenGate genotyping assay. PLoS One, 6 (6), pp. e20251. | Show Abstract | Read more

The diversity in the Plasmodium falciparum genome can be used to explore parasite population dynamics, with practical applications to malaria control. The ability to identify the geographic origin and trace the migratory patterns of parasites with clinically important phenotypes such as drug resistance is particularly relevant. With increasing single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) discovery from ongoing Plasmodium genome sequencing projects, a demand for high SNP and sample throughput genotyping platforms for large-scale population genetic studies is required. Low parasitaemias and multiple clone infections present a number of challenges to genotyping P. falciparum. We addressed some of these issues using a custom 384-SNP Illumina GoldenGate assay on P. falciparum DNA from laboratory clones (long-term cultured adapted parasite clones), short-term cultured parasite isolates and clinical (non-cultured isolates) samples from East and West Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania. Eighty percent of the SNPs (n = 306) produced reliable genotype calls on samples containing as little as 2 ng of total genomic DNA and on whole genome amplified DNA. Analysis of artificial mixtures of laboratory clones demonstrated high genotype calling specificity and moderate sensitivity to call minor frequency alleles. Clear resolution of geographically distinct populations was demonstrated using Principal Components Analysis (PCA), and global patterns of population genetic diversity were consistent with previous reports. These results validate the utility of the platform in performing population genetic studies of P. falciparum.

Kaewpongsri S, Sriprawat K, Suwanarusk R, Kyle DE, Lek-Uthai U, Leimanis M, Lwin KM, Phyo AP et al. 2011. The presence of leukocytes in ex vivo assays significantly increases the 50-percent inhibitory concentrations of artesunate and chloroquine against Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 55 (3), pp. 1300-1304. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium species ex vivo sensitivity assay protocols differ in the requirement for leukocyte removal before culturing. This study shows that the presence of leukocytes significantly increases the 50% inhibitory concentration (IC₅₀) of P. vivax and P. falciparum to artesunate and chloroquine relative to results with the paired leukocyte-free treatment. Although leukocyte removal is not an essential requirement for the conduct of ex vivo assays, its use has important implications for the interpretation of temporal and spatial antimalarial sensitivity data.

Burgoine KL, Bancone G, Nosten F. 2010. The reality of using primaquine. Malar J, 9 (1), pp. 376. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Primaquine is currently the only medication used for radical cure of Plasmodium vivax infection. Unfortunately, its use is not without risk. Patients with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency have an increased susceptibility to haemolysis when given primaquine. This potentially fatal clinical syndrome can be avoided if patients are tested for G6PD deficiency and adequately informed before being treated. CASE PRESENTATION: A 35-year old male presented to our clinic on the Thai-Burmese border with a history and clinical examination consistent with intravascular haemolysis. The patient had been prescribed primaquine and chloroquine four days earlier for a P. vivax infection. The medication instructions had not been given in a language understood by the patient and he had not been tested for G6PD deficiency. The patient was not only G6PD deficient but misunderstood the instructions and took all his primaquine tablets together. With appropriate treatment the patient recovered and was discharged home a week later. CONCLUSIONS: Whilst primaquine remains the drug of choice to eradicate hypnozoites and control P. vivax transmission, the risks associated with its use must be minimized during its deployment. In areas where P. vivax exists, patients should be tested for G6PD deficiency and adequately informed before administration of primaquine.

Saralamba S, Pan-Ngum W, Maude RJ, Lee SJ, Tarning J, Lindegårdh N, Chotivanich K, Nosten F 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.

McGready R, Wuthiekanun V, Ashley EA, Tan SO, Pimanpanarak M, Viladpai-Nguen SJ, Jesadapanpong W, Blacksell SD et al. 2010. Diagnostic and treatment difficulties of pyelonephritis in pregnancy in resource-limited settings. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 83 (6), pp. 1322-1329. | Show Abstract | Read more

Limited microbiology services impede adequate diagnosis and treatment of common infections such as pyelonephritis in resource-limited settings. Febrile pregnant women attending antenatal clinics at Shoklo Malaria Research Unit were offered urine dipstick, sediment microscopy, urine culture, and a 5-mL blood culture. The incidence of pyelonephritis was 11/1,000 deliveries (N = 53 in 4,819 pregnancies) between January 7, 2004 and May 17, 2006. Pyelonephritis accounted for 20.2% (41/203) of fever cases in pregnancy. Escherichia coli was the most commonly isolated pathogen: 87.5% (28/32) of organisms cultured. Susceptibility of E. coli to ampicillin (14%), cotrimoxazole (21%), and amoxicillin-clavulanic acid (48%) was very low. E. coli was susceptible to ceftriaxone and ciprofloxacin. The rate of extended spectrum β-lactamase (4.2%; 95% confidence interval = 0.7-19.5) was low. The rate and causes of pyelonephritis in pregnant refugee and migrant women were comparable with those described in developed countries. Diagnostic innovation in microbiology that permits affordable access is a high priority for resource-poor settings.

Watthanaworawit W, Turner P, Turner CL, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Jarman RG, Blacksell SD, Nosten FH. 2011. A prospective evaluation of diagnostic methodologies for the acute diagnosis of dengue virus infection on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 105 (1), pp. 32-37. | Show Abstract | Read more

Clinically useful diagnostic tests of dengue virus infection are lacking. We prospectively evaluated the performance of real-time reverse transcriptase (rRT)-PCR, NS-1 antigen and IgM antibody tests to confirm dengue virus infection in acute blood specimens from 162 patients presenting with undifferentiated febrile illness compatible with dengue infection. rRT-PCR was the most sensitive test (89%) and potentially could be used as a single test for confirmation of dengue infection. NS-1 antigen and IgM antibody were not sufficiently sensitive to be used as a single confirmatory test with sensitivities of 54% and 17% respectively. The specificities of rRT-PCR, NS-1 antigen and IgM antibody tests were 96%, 100% and 88% respectively. Combining NS-1 and rRT-PCR or the combination of all three tests resulted in the highest sensitivity (93%) but specificities dropped to 96% and 83% respectively. We conclude that at least the combination of two tests, either agent detection (rRT-PCR) or antigen detection (NS-1) plus IgM antibody detection should be used for laboratory confirmation of dengue infection.

Muehlenbachs A, Fried M, McGready R, Harrington WE, Mutabingwa TK, Nosten F, Duffy PE. 2010. A novel histological grading scheme for placental malaria applied in areas of high and low malaria transmission. J Infect Dis, 202 (10), pp. 1608-1616. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes sequester in the placenta and elicit an inflammatory response that is harmful to both fetus and mother. Histologic measurements during placental malaria might provide surrogate end points for interventional trials, but existing histologic schemes capture limited complexity and are not consistently used among study sites. METHODS: Using frozen-section histologic evaluation in Tanzania (high-transmission area), we established a novel grading scheme to separately quantify inflammation and pigment deposition during placental malaria (n = 102). To generalize this method, formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded placental samples from Karen women in Thailand (low-transmission area) were selected from among women with documented antenatal parasitemia who were near term (n = 18). RESULTS: In the Tanzanian cohort, the inflammation and pigment-deposition scores were independently associated with birth weight, and the inflammation score was associated with chemokine levels. In the smaller cohort from Thailand, both inflammation and pigment scores were associated with birth weight, and the pigment score had an inverse trend with the number of antenatal clinic visits. CONCLUSIONS: This semiquantitative pathological grading scheme is simple to implement and captures information that is associated with outcomes in Asia and Africa; therefore, it should facilitate the comparison and standardization of results among clinical trials across areas of differing endemicity.

Nosten F. 2010. Waking the sleeping beauty. J Infect Dis, 202 (9), pp. 1300-1301. | Read more

Rottmann M, McNamara C, Yeung BK, Lee MC, Zou B, Russell B, Seitz P, Plouffe DM et al. 2010. Spiroindolones, a potent compound class for the treatment of malaria. Science, 329 (5996), pp. 1175-1180. | Show Abstract | Read more

Recent reports of increased tolerance to artemisinin derivatives--the most recently adopted class of antimalarials--have prompted a need for new treatments. The spirotetrahydro-beta-carbolines, or spiroindolones, are potent drugs that kill the blood stages of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax clinical isolates at low nanomolar concentration. Spiroindolones rapidly inhibit protein synthesis in P. falciparum, an effect that is ablated in parasites bearing nonsynonymous mutations in the gene encoding the P-type cation-transporter ATPase4 (PfATP4). The optimized spiroindolone NITD609 shows pharmacokinetic properties compatible with once-daily oral dosing and has single-dose efficacy in a rodent malaria model.

Turner P, Turner CL, Watthanaworawit W, Carrara VI, Kapella BK, Painter J, Nosten FH. 2010. Influenza in refugees on the Thailand-Myanmar border, May-October 2009. Emerg Infect Dis, 16 (9), pp. 1366-1372. | Show Abstract | Read more

We describe the epidemiology of influenza virus infections in refugees in a camp in rural Southeast Asia during May-October 2009, the first 6 months after identification of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in Thailand. Influenza A viruses were detected in 20% of patients who had influenza-like illness and in 23% of those who had clinical pneumonia. Seasonal influenza A (H1N1) was the predominant virus circulating during weeks 26-33 (June 25-August 29) and was subsequently replaced by the pandemic strain. A review of passive surveillance for acute respiratory infection did not show an increase in acute respiratory tract infection incidence associated with the arrival of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in the camp.

Anderson TJC, Williams JT, Nair S, Sudimack D, Barends M, Jaidee A, Price RN, Nosten F. 2010. Inferred relatedness and heritability in malaria parasites Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 277 (1693), pp. 2531-2540. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria parasites vary in phenotypic traits of biomedical or biological interest such as growth rate, virulence, sex ratio and drug resistance, and there is considerable interest in identifying the genes that underlie this variation. An important first step is to determine trait heritability (H(2)). We evaluate two approaches to measuring H(2) in natural parasite populations using relatedness inferred from genetic marker data. We collected single-clone Plasmodium falciparum infections from 185 patients from the Thailand-Burma border, monitored parasite clearance following treatment with artemisinin combination therapy (ACT), measured resistance to six antimalarial drugs and genotyped parasites using 335 microsatellites. We found strong relatedness structure. There were 27 groups of two to eight clonally identical (CI) parasites, and 74 per cent of parasites showed significant relatedness to one or more other parasites. Initially, we used matrices of allele sharing and variance components (VC) methods to estimate H(2). Inhibitory concentrations (IC(50)) for six drugs showed significant H(2) (0.24 to 0.79, p = 0.06 to 2.85 x 10(-9)), demonstrating that this study design has adequate power. However, a phenotype of current interest--parasite clearance following ACT--showed no detectable heritability (H(2) = 0-0.09, ns) in this population. The existence of CI parasites allows the use of a simple ANOVA approach for quantifying H(2), analogous to that used in human twin studies. This gave similar results to the VC method and requires considerably less genotyping information. We conclude (i) that H(2) can be effectively measured in malaria parasite populations using minimal genotype data, allowing rational design of genome-wide association studies; and (ii) while drug response (IC(50)) shows significant H(2), parasite clearance following ACT was not heritable in the population studied.

Li A, Russell B, Renia L, Lek-Uthai U, Nosten F, Lim CT. 2010. High density of 'spiky' excrescences covering the surface of an erythrocyte infected with Plasmodium malariae. Br J Haematol, 151 (1), pp. 1. | Read more

Douglas NM, Anstey NM, Angus BJ, Nosten F, Price RN. 2010. Artemisinin combination therapy for vivax malaria. Lancet Infect Dis, 10 (6), pp. 405-416. | Show Abstract | Read more

Early parasitological diagnosis and treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are key components of worldwide malaria elimination programmes. In general, use of ACTs has been limited to patients with falciparum malaria whereas blood-stage infections with Plasmodium vivax are mostly still treated with chloroquine. We review the evidence for the relative benefits and disadvantages of the existing separate treatment approach versus a unified ACT-based strategy for treating Plasmodium falciparum and P vivax infections in regions where both species are endemic (co-endemic). The separate treatment scenario is justifiable if P vivax remains sensitive to chloroquine and diagnostic tests reliably distinguish P vivax from P falciparum. However, with the high number of misdiagnoses in routine practice and the rise and spread of chloroquine-resistant P vivax, there might be a compelling rationale for a unified ACT-based strategy for vivax and falciparum malaria in all co-endemic regions. Analyses of the cost-effectiveness of ACTs for both Plasmodium species are needed to assess the role of these drugs in the control and elimination of vivax malaria.

Sutherland CJ, Tanomsing N, Nolder D, Oguike M, Jennison C, Pukrittayakamee S, Dolecek C, Hien TT et al. 2010. Two nonrecombining sympatric forms of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium ovale occur globally. J Infect Dis, 201 (10), pp. 1544-1550. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria in humans is caused by apicomplexan parasites belonging to 5 species of the genus Plasmodium. Infections with Plasmodium ovale are widely distributed but rarely investigated, and the resulting burden of disease is not known. Dimorphism in defined genes has led to P. ovale parasites being divided into classic and variant types. We hypothesized that these dimorphs represent distinct parasite species. METHODS: Multilocus sequence analysis of 6 genetic characters was carried out among 55 isolates from 12 African and 3 Asia-Pacific countries. RESULTS: Each genetic character displayed complete dimorphism and segregated perfectly between the 2 types. Both types were identified in samples from Ghana, Nigeria, São Tomé, Sierra Leone, and Uganda and have been described previously in Myanmar. Splitting of the 2 lineages is estimated to have occurred between 1.0 and 3.5 million years ago in hominid hosts. CONCLUSIONS: We propose that P. ovale comprises 2 nonrecombining species that are sympatric in Africa and Asia. We speculate on possible scenarios that could have led to this speciation. Furthermore, the relatively high frequency of imported cases of symptomatic P. ovale infection in the United Kingdom suggests that the morbidity caused by ovale malaria has been underestimated.

Imwong M, Dondorp AM, Nosten F, Yi P, Mungthin M, Hanchana S, Das D, Phyo AP et al. 2010. Exploring the contribution of candidate genes to artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 54 (7), pp. 2886-2892. | Show Abstract | Read more

The reduced in vivo sensitivity of Plasmodium falciparum has recently been confirmed in western Cambodia. Identifying molecular markers for artemisinin resistance is essential for monitoring the spread of the resistant phenotype and identifying the mechanisms of resistance. Four candidate genes, including the P. falciparum mdr1 (pfmdr1) gene, the P. falciparum ATPase6 (pfATPase6) gene, the 6-kb mitochondrial genome, and ubp-1, encoding a deubiquitinating enzyme, of artemisinin-resistant P. falciparum strains from western Cambodia were examined and compared to those of sensitive strains from northwestern Thailand, where the artemisinins are still very effective. The artemisinin-resistant phenotype did not correlate with pfmdr1 amplification or mutations (full-length sequencing), mutations in pfATPase6 (full-length sequencing) or the 6-kb mitochondrial genome (full-length sequencing), or ubp-1 mutations at positions 739 and 770. The P. falciparum CRT K76T mutation was present in all isolates from both study sites. The pfmdr1 copy numbers in western Cambodia were significantly lower in parasite samples obtained in 2007 than in those obtained in 2005, coinciding with a local change in drug policy replacing artesunate-mefloquine with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine. Artemisinin resistance in western Cambodia is not linked to candidate genes, as was suggested by earlier studies.

Crawley J, Chu C, Mtove G, Nosten F. 2010. Malaria in children. Lancet, 375 (9724), pp. 1468-1481. | Show Abstract | Read more

The past decade has seen an unprecedented surge in political commitment and international funding for malaria control. Coverage with existing control methods (ie, vector control and artemisinin-based combination therapy) is increasing, and, in some Asian and African countries, childhood morbidity and mortality from malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum are starting to decline. Consequently, there is now renewed interest in the possibility of malaria elimination. But the ability of the parasite to develop resistance to antimalarial drugs and increasing insecticide resistance of the vector threaten to reduce and even reverse current gains. Plasmodium vivax, with its dormant liver stage, will be particularly difficult to eliminate, and access to effective and affordable treatment at community level is a key challenge. New drugs and insecticides are needed urgently, while use of an effective vaccine as part of national malaria control programmes remains an elusive goal. This Seminar, which is aimed at clinicians who manage children with malaria, especially in resource-poor settings, discusses present knowledge and controversies in relation to the epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of malaria in children.

Nosten FH. 2010. Pyronaridine-artesunate for uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Lancet, 375 (9724), pp. 1413-1414. | Read more

Anderson TJ, Williams JT, Nair S, Sudimack D, Barends M, Jaidee A, Price RN, Nosten F. 2010. Inferred relatedness and heritability in malaria parasites. Proc Biol Sci, 277 (1693), pp. 2531-2540. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria parasites vary in phenotypic traits of biomedical or biological interest such as growth rate, virulence, sex ratio and drug resistance, and there is considerable interest in identifying the genes that underlie this variation. An important first step is to determine trait heritability (H(2)). We evaluate two approaches to measuring H(2) in natural parasite populations using relatedness inferred from genetic marker data. We collected single-clone Plasmodium falciparum infections from 185 patients from the Thailand-Burma border, monitored parasite clearance following treatment with artemisinin combination therapy (ACT), measured resistance to six antimalarial drugs and genotyped parasites using 335 microsatellites. We found strong relatedness structure. There were 27 groups of two to eight clonally identical (CI) parasites, and 74 per cent of parasites showed significant relatedness to one or more other parasites. Initially, we used matrices of allele sharing and variance components (VC) methods to estimate H(2). Inhibitory concentrations (IC(50)) for six drugs showed significant H(2) (0.24 to 0.79, p = 0.06 to 2.85 x 10(-9)), demonstrating that this study design has adequate power. However, a phenotype of current interest--parasite clearance following ACT--showed no detectable heritability (H(2) = 0-0.09, ns) in this population. The existence of CI parasites allows the use of a simple ANOVA approach for quantifying H(2), analogous to that used in human twin studies. This gave similar results to the VC method and requires considerably less genotyping information. We conclude (i) that H(2) can be effectively measured in malaria parasite populations using minimal genotype data, allowing rational design of genome-wide association studies; and (ii) while drug response (IC(50)) shows significant H(2), parasite clearance following ACT was not heritable in the population studied.

Nair S, Nkhoma S, Nosten F, Mayxay M, French N, Whitworth J, Anderson T. 2010. Genetic changes during laboratory propagation: copy number At the reticulocyte-binding protein 1 locus of Plasmodium falciparum. Mol Biochem Parasitol, 172 (2), pp. 145-148. | Show Abstract | Read more

Comparative genomic hybridization studies have revealed elevated copy number (CN) at the reticulocyte-binding protein 1 gene (PfRh1) in fast growing lab-adapted parasites, while genetic manipulation demonstrates a causal link between cell invasion and PfRh1 CN. We therefore examined PfRh1 copy number variation (CNV) in 202 single clone parasite isolates from four countries to quantify the extent of CNV within natural populations. Surprisingly, we found that no natural parasite infections showed elevated CN. In contrast, 4/28 independent laboratory reference strains show elevated CN. One possibility is that amplification of PfRh1 (or neighboring loci) is selected during laboratory culture. In the case of FCR3 group of parasites, clone trees show that PfRh1 amplification arose in laboratory lines following establishment in culture. These data show that CNV at PfRh1 is rare or non-existent in natural populations, but can arise during laboratory propagation. We conclude that PfRh1 CNV is not an important determinant of gene expression, cell invasion or growth rate in natural parasite populations.

Leimanis ML, Jaidee A, Sriprawat K, Kaewpongsri S, Suwanarusk R, Barends M, Phyo AP, Russell B, Renia L, Nosten F. 2010. Plasmodium vivax susceptibility to ferroquine. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 54 (5), pp. 2228-2230. | Show Abstract | Read more

The novel organometallic chloroquine analog ferroquine (SSR 97193) is effective against chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum. The ex vivo efficacy of ferroquine against Plasmodium vivax isolates was tested. Ferroquine has a potent ex vivo effect on P. vivax schizont maturation (median 50% inhibitory concentration, 15 nM; n = 42). No significant cross-sensitivity between ferroquine and other antimalarials was detected. This drug may be a suitable replacement for chloroquine in the treatment of drug-resistant P. vivax malaria.

Stepniewska K, Ashley E, Lee SJ, Anstey N, Barnes KI, Binh TQ, D'Alessandro U, Day NP et al. 2010. In vivo parasitological measures of artemisinin susceptibility. J Infect Dis, 201 (4), pp. 570-579. | Show Abstract | Read more

Parasite clearance data from 18,699 patients with falciparum malaria treated with an artemisinin derivative in areas of low (n=14,539), moderate (n=2077), and high (n=2083) levels of malaria transmission across the world were analyzed to determine the factors that affect clearance rates and identify a simple in vivo screening measure for artemisinin resistance. The main factor affecting parasite clearance time was parasite density on admission. Clearance rates were faster in high-transmission settings and with more effective partner drugs in artemisinin-based combination treatments (ACTs). The result of the malaria blood smear on day 3 (72 h) was a good predictor of subsequent treatment failure and provides a simple screening measure for artemisinin resistance. Artemisinin resistance is highly unlikely if the proportion of patients with parasite densities of <100,000 parasites/microL given the currently recommended 3-day ACT who have a positive smear result on day 3 is <3%; that is, for n patients the observed number with a positive smear result on day 3 does not exceed (n + 60)/24.

McGready R, Nosten F. 2010. Which Drug is Effective and Safe for Acute Malaria in Pregnancy? Reviewing the Evidence DRUG DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH, 71 (1), pp. 56-68. | Show Abstract | Read more

During pregnancy, a woman living or travelling in a malaria endemic area is more at risk of contracting the disease and developing a severe infection and dying than a non-pregnant woman. Despite this increased morbidity and mortality in pregnancy, there are almost no studies on which to base recommendations on the use of antimalarial drugs in this vulnerable group. This is because, paradoxically, the emphasis is often put on the safety of the unborn child rather than that of the infested mother. As a result of this neglect, tens of thousands of pregnant women (and their fetuses) are dying every year of a very preventable and treatable infection. In recent years, some trials have been conducted, especially in areas of high resistance in Plasmodium falciparum in South East Asia. The results show that quinine plus clindamycin is the treatment of choice in the first trimester, while artemisinin treatment should be used in the second and third trimesters in the treatment of uncomplicated malaria. For severe malaria, parenteral artesunate is the treatment of choice. However these studies have also shown that the pharmacokinetic properties of most antimalarials are altered during gestation and that the doses used in non-pregnant adults are often not adapted to pregnancy. Urgent efforts are required to optimize the treatment of malaria in pregnancy. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Hanson J, Lee SJ, Mohanty S, Faiz MA, Anstey NM, Charunwatthana P, Yunus EB, Mishra SK et al. 2010. A simple score to predict the outcome of severe malaria in adults. Clin Infect Dis, 50 (5), pp. 679-685. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: World Health Organization treatment guidelines recommend that adults with severe malaria be admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU). However, ICU facilities are limited in the resource-poor settings where most malaria occurs. Identification of patients at greater risk of complications may facilitate their triage and resource allocation. METHODS: With use of data from a trial conducted in Southeast Asia (n=868), a logistic regression model was built to identify independent predictors of mortality among adults with severe malaria. A scoring system based on this model was tested in the original dataset and then validated in 2 series from Bangladesh (n=188) and Vietnam (n=292). RESULTS: Acidosis (base deficit) and cerebral malaria (measured as Glasgow Coma Score) were the main independent predictors of outcome. The 5-point Coma Acidosis Malaria (CAM) score was simply derived from these 2 variables. Mortality increased steadily with increasing score. A CAM score <2 predicted survival with a positive predictive value (PPV) of 95.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 93%- 97.7%). Of the 14 of 331 patients who died with a CAM score <2, 11 (79%) had renal failure and death occurred late after hospital admission (median, 108 h; range, 40-360 h). Substitution of plasma bicarbonate as the measure of acidosis only slightly reduced the prognostic value of the model. Use of respiratory rate was inferior, but a score <2 still predicted survival with a PPV of 92.2% (95% CI, 89.1%-94.7%). CONCLUSIONS: Patients with a CAM score <2 at hospital admission may be safely treated in a general ward, provided that renal function can be monitored.

Piola P, Nabasumba C, Turyakira E, Dhorda M, Lindegardh N, Nyehangane D, Snounou G, Ashley EA, McGready R, Nosten F, Guerin PJ. 2010. Efficacy and safety of artemether-lumefantrine compared with quinine in pregnant women with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria: an open-label, randomised, non-inferiority trial. Lancet Infect Dis, 10 (11), pp. 762-769. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria in pregnancy is associated with maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. In 2006, WHO recommended use of artemisinin-based combination treatments during the second or third trimesters, but data on efficacy and safety in Africa were scarce. We aimed to assess whether artemether-lumefantrine was at least as efficacious as oral quinine for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy in Mbarara, Uganda. METHODS: We did an open-label, randomised, non-inferiority trial between October, 2006, and May, 2009, at the antenatal clinics of the Mbarara University of Science and Technology Hospital in Uganda. Pregnant women were randomly assigned (1:1) by computer generated sequence to receive either quinine hydrochloride or artemether-lumefantrine, and were followed up weekly until delivery. Our primary endpoint was cure rate at day 42, confirmed by PCR. The non-inferiority margin was a difference in cure rate of 5%. Analysis of efficacy was for all randomised patients without study deviations that could have affected the efficacy outcome. This study was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00495508. FINDINGS: 304 women were randomly assigned, 152 to each treatment group. By day 42, 16 patients were lost to follow-up and 25 were excluded from the analysis. At day 42, 137 (99.3%) of 138 patients taking artemether-lumefantrine and 122 (97.6%) of 125 taking quinine were cured-difference 1.7% (lower limit of 95% CI -0.9). There were 290 adverse events in the quinine group and 141 in the artemether-lumefantrine group. INTERPRETATION: Artemisinin derivatives are not inferior to oral quinine for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in pregnancy and might be preferable on the basis of safety and efficacy. FUNDING: Médecins Sans Frontières and the European Commission.

McGready R, Ashley EA, Wuthiekanun V, Tan SO, Pimanpanarak M, Viladpai-Nguen SJ, Jesadapanpong W, Blacksell SD et al. 2010. Arthropod borne disease: the leading cause of fever in pregnancy on the Thai-Burmese border. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 4 (11), pp. e888. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Fever in pregnancy is dangerous for both mother and foetus. In the 1980's malaria was the leading cause of death in pregnant women in refugee camps on the Thai-Burmese border. Artemisinin combination therapy has significantly reduced the incidence of malaria in the population. The remaining causes of fever in pregnancy are not well documented. METHODOLOGY: Pregnant women attending antenatal care, where weekly screening for malaria is routine, were invited to have a comprehensive clinical and laboratory screen if they had fever. Women were admitted to hospital, treated and followed up weekly until delivery. A convalescent serum was collected on day 21. Delivery outcomes were recorded. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Febrile episodes (n = 438) occurred in 5.0% (409/8,117) of pregnant women attending antenatal clinics from 7-Jan-2004 to 17-May-2006. The main cause was malaria in 55.5% (227/409). A cohort of 203 (49.6% of 409) women had detailed fever investigations and follow up. Arthropod-borne (malaria, rickettsial infections, and dengue) and zoonotic disease (leptospirosis) accounted for nearly half of all febrile illnesses, 47.3% (96/203). Coinfection was observed in 3.9% (8/203) of women, mostly malaria and rickettsia. Pyelonephritis, 19.7% (40/203), was also a common cause of fever. Once malaria, pyelonephritis and acute respiratory illness are excluded by microscopy and/or clinical findings, one-third of the remaining febrile infections will be caused by rickettsia or leptospirosis. Scrub and murine typhus were associated with poor pregnancy outcomes including stillbirth and low birth weight. One woman died (no positive laboratory tests). CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: Malaria remains the leading cause of fever in pregnancy on the Thai-Burmese border. Scrub and murine typhus were also important causes of fever associated with poor pregnancy outcomes. Febrile pregnant women on the Thai-Burmese border who do not have malaria, pyelonephritis or respiratory tract infection should be treated with azithromycin, effective for typhus and leptospirosis.

Cheah PY, Lwin KM, Phaiphun L, Maelankiri L, Parker M, Day NP, White NJ, Nosten F. 2010. Community engagement on the Thai-Burmese border: rationale, experience and lessons learnt. Int Health, 2 (2), pp. 123-129. | Show Abstract | Read more

Community engagement is increasingly promoted in developing countries, especially in international health research, but there is little published experience. The Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) conducts research with refugees, migrant workers, displaced people, and day migrants on the Thai-Burmese border, and has recently facilitated the set up of the Tak Province Border Community Ethics Advisory Board (T-CAB). Valuable lessons have been learnt from consultation with the T-CAB especially in the area of participant recruitment and the informed consent process. A lot of new research questions have emerged from consultation with the T-CAB. This paper describes our experience, lessons learnt and the unique challenges faced working with the T-CAB from its initial conception to date. We conclude that consultation with the T-CAB has made improvements in our research in particular operational and ethical aspects of our studies.

Boel M, Carrara VI, Rijken M, Proux S, Nacher M, Pimanpanarak M, Paw MK, Moo O et al. 2010. Complex Interactions between soil-transmitted helminths and malaria in pregnant women on the Thai-Burmese border. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 4 (11), pp. e887. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Deworming is recommended by the WHO in girls and pregnant and lactating women to reduce anaemia in areas where hookworm and anaemia are common. There is conflicting evidence on the harm and the benefits of intestinal geohelminth infections on the incidence and severity of malaria, and consequently on the risks and benefits of deworming in malaria affected populations. We examined the association between geohelminths and malaria in pregnancy on the Thai-Burmese border. METHODOLOGY: Routine antenatal care (ANC) included active detection of malaria (weekly blood smear) and anaemia (second weekly haematocrit) and systematic reporting of birth outcomes. In 1996 stool samples were collected in cross sectional surveys from women attending the ANCs. This was repeated in 2007 when malaria incidence had reduced considerably. The relationship between geohelminth infection and the progress and outcome of pregnancy was assessed. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Stool sample examination (339 in 1996, 490 in 2007) detected a high prevalence of geohelminths 70% (578/829), including hookworm (42.8% (355)), A. lumbricoides (34.4% (285)) and T.trichuria (31.4% (250)) alone or in combination. A lower proportion of women (829) had mild (21.8% (181)) or severe (0.2% (2)) anaemia, or malaria 22.4% (186) (P.vivax monoinfection 53.3% (101/186)). A. lumbricoides infection was associated with a significantly decreased risk of malaria (any species) (AOR: 0.43, 95% CI: 0.23-0.84) and P.vivax malaria (AOR: 0.29, 95% CI: 0.11-0.79) whereas hookworm infection was associated with an increased risk of malaria (any species) (AOR: 1.66, 95% CI: 1.06-2.60) and anaemia (AOR: 2.41, 95% CI: 1.18-4.93). Hookworm was also associated with low birth weight (AOR: 1.81, 95% CI: 1.02-3.23). CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: A. lumbricoides and hookworm appear to have contrary associations with malaria in pregnancy.

Ashley EA, Stepniewska K, Lindegardh N, Annerberg A, Tarning J, McGready R, Phaiphun L, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F. 2010. Comparison of plasma, venous and capillary blood levels of piperaquine in patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 66 (7), pp. 705-712. | Show Abstract | Read more

PURPOSE: Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) is a fixed-dose artemisinin-based combination treatment. Field pharmacokinetic studies would be simplified and facilitated by being able to use small volume capillary assays rather than venous blood. The aim of this study was to describe the relationship between piperaquine concentrations measured in capillary blood, venous blood and venous plasma. METHODS: Samples of plasma, whole blood obtained by venesection and capillary blood were taken simultaneously from patients with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria treated with DP between 0 and 9 weeks after treatment. Piperaquine concentrations in venous and capillary samples were measured using solid phase extraction and analysis by liquid chromatography with ultraviolet detection. RESULTS: A total of 161 sets of the three measures were obtained from 54 patients. Piperaquine concentrations in the venous blood samples were approximately twofold higher and those in the capillary blood samples were threefold higher than the corresponding venous plasma concentrations. Capillary blood piperaquine concentrations were approximately 1.7-fold higher than venous blood concentrations, and this difference also increased with time. CONCLUSION: Differences in whole blood and plasma levels of piperaquine suggest compartmentalisation of the drug within blood cells, as also occurs with the structurally related quinoline chloroquine. The relationship between piperaquine concentrations in the venous plasma, venous blood and capillary blood is variable and unpredictable at low concentrations. However, within the range of concentrations usually present in patients between 3 and 21 days after treatment with currently recommended doses, the relationship between capillary and venous whole blood is predictable; consequently, capillary blood sampling can be used in field assessments.

Dondorp AM, Nosten F, White NJ. 2009. Artemisinin Resistance in Plasmodium falciparum Malaria REPLY NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, 361 (18), pp. 1808-1808.

Dondorp AM, Nosten F, Yi P, Das D, Phyo AP, Tarning J, Lwin KM, Ariey F et al. 2009. Artemisinin Resistance in Plasmodium falciparum Malaria (vol 361, pg 455, 2009) NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, 361 (17), pp. 1714-1714.

Nosten F. 2009. [Malaria in pregnancy: a therapeutic dilemma]. Med Sci (Paris), 25 (10), pp. 867-869. | Read more

Boel ME, Lee SJ, Rijken MJ, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M, Tan SO, Singhasivanon P, Nosten F, McGready R. 2009. Castor oil for induction of labour: not harmful, not helpful. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol, 49 (5), pp. 499-503. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Castor oil is one of the most popular drugs for induction of labour in a non-medical setting; however, published data on safety and effectiveness of this compound to induce labour remain sparse. AIM: To assess the safety and effectiveness of castor oil for induction of labour in pregnancies with an ultrasound estimated gestational at birth of more than 40 weeks. METHODS: Data were extracted from hospital-based records of all pregnant women who attended antenatal clinics on the Thai-Burmese border and who were more than 40 weeks pregnant. The effectiveness of castor oil to induce labour was expressed as time to birth and analysed with a Cox proportional hazards regression model. Measures associated with safety were fetal distress, meconium-stained amniotic fluid, tachysystole of the uterus, uterine rupture, abnormal maternal blood pressure during labour, Apgar scores, neonatal resuscitation, stillbirth, post-partum haemorrhage, severe diarrhoea and maternal death. Proportions were compared using Fisher's exact test. RESULTS: Of 612 women with a gestation of more than 40 weeks, 205 received castor oil for induction and 407 did not. The time to birth was not significantly different between the two groups (hazard ratio 0.99 (95% confidence interval: 0.81 to 1.20; n = 509)). Castor oil use was not associated with any harmful effects on the mother or fetus. CONCLUSIONS: Castor oil for induction of labour had no effect on time to birth nor were there any harmful effects observed in this large series. Our findings leave no justification for recommending castor oil for this purpose.

Rijken MJ, Lee SJ, Boel ME, Papageorghiou AT, Visser GH, Dwell SL, Kennedy SH, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F, McGready R. 2009. Obstetric ultrasound scanning by local health workers in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol, 34 (4), pp. 395-403. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: Ultrasound examination of the fetus is a powerful tool for assessing gestational age and detecting obstetric problems but is rarely available in developing countries. The aim of this study was to assess the intraobserver and interobserver agreement of fetal biometry by locally trained health workers in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border. METHODS: One expatriate doctor and four local health workers participated in the study, which included examinations performed on every fifth pregnant woman with a singleton pregnancy between 16 and 40 weeks' gestation, and who had undergone an early dating ultrasound scan, attending the antenatal clinic in Maela refugee camp. At each examination, two examiners independently measured biparietal diameter (BPD), head circumference (HC), abdominal circumference (AC) and femur length (FL), with one of the examiners obtaining duplicate measurements of each parameter. Intraobserver measurement error was assessed using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and interobserver error was assessed by the Bland and Altman 95% limits of agreement method. RESULTS: A total of 4188 ultrasound measurements (12 per woman) were obtained in 349 pregnancies at a median gestational age of 27 (range, 16-40) weeks in 2008. The ICC for BPD, HC, AC and FL was greater than 0.99 for all four trainees and the doctor (range, 0.996-0.998). For gestational ages between 18 and 24 weeks, interobserver 95% limits of agreement corresponding to differences in estimated gestational age of less than +/- 1 week were calculated for BPD, HC, AC and FL. Measurements by local health workers showed high levels of agreement with those of the expatriate doctor. CONCLUSIONS: Locally trained health workers working in a well organized unit with ongoing quality control can obtain accurate fetal biometry measurements for gestational age estimation. This experience suggests that training of local health workers in developing countries is possible and could allow effective use of obstetric ultrasound imaging.

Tarning J, McGready R, Lindegardh N, Ashley EA, Pimanpanarak M, Kamanikom B, Annerberg A, Day NP et al. 2009. Population pharmacokinetics of lumefantrine in pregnant women treated with artemether-lumefantrine for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 53 (9), pp. 3837-3846. | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemether-lumefantrine has become one of the most widely used antimalarial drugs in the world. The objective of this study was to determine the population pharmacokinetic properties of lumefantrine in pregnant women with uncomplicated multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria on the northwestern border of Thailand. Burmese and Karen women (n = 103) with P. falciparum malaria and in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy were treated with artemether-lumefantrine (80/480 mg) twice daily for 3 days. All patients provided five capillary plasma samples for drug quantification, and the collection times were randomly distributed over 14 days. The concentration-time profiles of lumefantrine were assessed by nonlinear mixed-effects modeling. The treatment failure rate (PCR-confirmed recrudescent infections at delivery) was high; 16.5% (95% confidence interval, 9.9 to 25.1). The population pharmacokinetics of lumefantrine were described well by a two-compartment open model with first-order absorption and elimination. The final model included interindividual variability in all pharmacokinetic parameters and a linear covariate relationship between the estimated gestational age and the central volume of distribution. A high proportion of all women (40%, 41/103) had day 7 capillary plasma concentrations of <355 ng/ml (which corresponds to approximately <280 ng/ml in venous plasma), a threshold previously associated with an increased risk of therapeutic failure in nonpregnant patients in this area. Predictive modeling suggests that a twice-daily regimen given for 5 days would be preferable in later pregnancy. In conclusion, altered pharmacokinetic properties of lumefantrine contribute to the high rates of failure of artemether-lumefantrine treatment in later pregnancy. Dose optimization is urgently needed.

Dondorp AM, Nosten F, Yi P, Das D, Phyo AP, Tarning J, Lwin KM, Ariey F et al. 2009. Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. N Engl J Med, 361 (5), pp. 455-467. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin-based combination therapies are the recommended first-line treatments of falciparum malaria in all countries with endemic disease. There are recent concerns that the efficacy of such therapies has declined on the Thai-Cambodian border, historically a site of emerging antimalarial-drug resistance. METHODS: In two open-label, randomized trials, we compared the efficacies of two treatments for uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Pailin, western Cambodia, and Wang Pha, northwestern Thailand: oral artesunate given at a dose of 2 mg per kilogram of body weight per day, for 7 days, and artesunate given at a dose of 4 mg per kilogram per day, for 3 days, followed by mefloquine at two doses totaling 25 mg per kilogram. We assessed in vitro and in vivo Plasmodium falciparum susceptibility, artesunate pharmacokinetics, and molecular markers of resistance. RESULTS: We studied 40 patients in each of the two locations. The overall median parasite clearance times were 84 hours (interquartile range, 60 to 96) in Pailin and 48 hours (interquartile range, 36 to 66) in Wang Pha (P<0.001). Recrudescence confirmed by means of polymerase-chain-reaction assay occurred in 6 of 20 patients (30%) receiving artesunate monotherapy and 1 of 20 (5%) receiving artesunate-mefloquine therapy in Pailin, as compared with 2 of 20 (10%) and 1 of 20 (5%), respectively, in Wang Pha (P=0.31). These markedly different parasitologic responses were not explained by differences in age, artesunate or dihydroartemisinin pharmacokinetics, results of isotopic in vitro sensitivity tests, or putative molecular correlates of P. falciparum drug resistance (mutations or amplifications of the gene encoding a multidrug resistance protein [PfMDR1] or mutations in the gene encoding sarco-endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase6 [PfSERCA]). Adverse events were mild and did not differ significantly between the two treatment groups. CONCLUSIONS: P. falciparum has reduced in vivo susceptibility to artesunate in western Cambodia as compared with northwestern Thailand. Resistance is characterized by slow parasite clearance in vivo without corresponding reductions on conventional in vitro susceptibility testing. Containment measures are urgently needed. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00493363, and Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN64835265.)

McGready R, Blacksell SD, Luksameetanasan R, Wuthiekanun V, Jedsadapanpong W, Day NP, Nosten F. 2010. First report of an Orientia tsutsugamushi type TA716-related scrub typhus infection in Thailand. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis, 10 (2), pp. 191-193. | Show Abstract | Read more

Orientia tsutsugamushi causes scrub typhus and is a rural zoonosis endemic in the Asia Pacific region. This is the first report of O. tsutsugamushi TA716-like strain in a human in Thailand. The patient was in the 1st trimester of pregnancy when she developed scrub typhus. The O. tsutsugamushi strain TA716 was detected from her admission blood sample, and the pregnancy ended in spontaneous abortion. The effects of scrub typhus in pregnant women and the pregnancy outcome are sparsely documented in the published medical literature. Improved clinical recognition and laboratory diagnosis will be essential to better define the morbidity caused by this zoonosis especially in pregnancy.

Price RN, Dorsey G, Nosten F. 2009. Antimalarial therapies in children from Papua New Guinea. N Engl J Med, 360 (12), pp. 1254. | Read more

Lubell Y, Yeung S, Dondorp AM, Day NP, Nosten F, Tjitra E, Abul Faiz M, Yunus EB et al. 2009. Cost-effectiveness of artesunate for the treatment of severe malaria. Trop Med Int Health, 14 (3), pp. 332-337. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To explore the cost-effectiveness of artesunate against quinine based principally on the findings of a large multi-centre trial carried out in Southeast Asia. METHODS: Trial data were used to compare mortality of patients with severe malaria, treated with either artesunate or quinine. This was combined with retrospectively collected cost data to estimate the incremental cost per death averted with the use of artesunate instead of quinine. RESULTS: The incremental cost per death averted using artesunate was approximately 140 USD. Artesunate maintained this high level of cost-effectiveness also when allowing for the uncertainty surrounding the cost and effectiveness assessments. CONCLUSION: This analysis confirms the vast superiority of artesunate for treatment of severe malaria from an economic as well as a clinical perspective.

Wang Y, Nair S, Nosten F, Anderson TJ. 2009. Multiple displacement amplification for malaria parasite DNA. J Parasitol, 95 (1), pp. 253-255. | Show Abstract | Read more

Multiple displacement amplification (MDA) using Phi29 has proved to be an efficient, high-fidelity method for whole genome amplification in many organisms. This project was designed to evaluate this approach for use with the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. In particular, we were concerned that the AT richness and presence of contaminating human DNA could limit efficiency of MDA in this system. We amplified 60 DNA samples using phi29 and scored 14 microsatellites, 9 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and gene copy number at GTP-cyclohydrolase I both before and after MDA. We observed 100% concordance in 829 microsatellite genotypes and in 499 SNP genotypes. Furthermore, copy number estimates for the GTP-cyclohydrolase I gene were correlated (r(2) = 0.67) in pre- and postamplification samples. These data confirm that MDA permits scoring of a range of different types of polymorphisms in P. falciparum malaria and can be used to extend the life of valuable DNA stocks.

Carrara VI, Zwang J, Ashley EA, Price RN, Stepniewska K, Barends M, Brockman A, Anderson T et al. 2009. Changes in the treatment responses to artesunate-mefloquine on the northwestern border of Thailand during 13 years of continuous deployment. PLoS One, 4 (2), pp. e4551. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin combination treatments (ACT) are recommended as first line treatment for falciparum malaria throughout the malaria affected world. We reviewed the efficacy of a 3-day regimen of mefloquine and artesunate regimen (MAS(3)), over a 13 year period of continuous deployment as first-line treatment in camps for displaced persons and in clinics for migrant population along the Thai-Myanmar border. METHODS AND FINDINGS: 3,264 patients were enrolled in prospective treatment trials between 1995 and 2007 and treated with MAS(3). The proportion of patients with parasitaemia persisting on day-2 increased significantly from 4.5% before 2001 to 21.9% since 2002 (p<0.001). Delayed parasite clearance was associated with increased risk of developing gametocytaemia (AOR = 2.29; 95% CI, 2.00-2.69, p = 0.002). Gametocytaemia on admission and carriage also increased over the years (p = 0.001, test for trend, for both). MAS(3) efficacy has declined slightly but significantly (Hazards ratio 1.13; 95% CI, 1.07-1.19, p<0.001), although efficacy in 2007 remained well within acceptable limits: 96.5% (95% CI, 91.0-98.7). The in vitro susceptibility of P. falciparum to artesunate increased significantly until 2002, but thereafter declined to levels close to those of 13 years ago (geometric mean in 2007: 4.2 nM/l; 95% CI, 3.2-5.5). The proportion of infections caused by parasites with increased pfmdr1 copy number rose from 30% (12/40) in 1996 to 53% (24/45) in 2006 (p = 0.012, test for trend). CONCLUSION: Artesunate-mefloquine remains a highly efficacious antimalarial treatment in this area despite 13 years of widespread intense deployment, but there is evidence of a modest increase in resistance. Of particular concern is the slowing of parasitological response to artesunate and the associated increase in gametocyte carriage.

Sriprawat K, Kaewpongsri S, Suwanarusk R, Leimanis ML, Lek-Uthai U, Phyo AP, Snounou G, Russell B, Renia L, Nosten F. 2009. Effective and cheap removal of leukocytes and platelets from Plasmodium vivax infected blood. Malar J, 8 (1), pp. 115. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Investigations of Plasmodium vivax are restricted to samples collected from infected persons or primates, because this parasite cannot be maintained in in vitro cultures. Contamination of P. vivax isolates with host leukocytes and platelets is detrimental to a range of ex vivo and molecular investigations. Easy-to-produce CF11 cellulose filters have recently provided us with an inexpensive method for the removal of leukocytes and platelets. This contrasted with previous reports of unacceptably high levels of infected red blood cell (IRBC) retention by CF11. The aims of this study were to compare the ability of CF11 cellulose filters and the commercial filter Plasmodipur at removing leukocyte and platelet, and to investigate the retention of P. vivax IRBCs by CF11 cellulose filtration. METHODS AND RESULTS: Side-by-side comparison of six leukocyte removal methods using blood samples from five healthy donor showed that CF11 filtration reduced the mean initial leukocyte counts from 9.4 x 103 per microl [95%CI 5.2-13.5] to 0.01 x 103 [95%CI 0.01-0.03]. The CF11 was particularly effective at removing neutrophils. CF11 treatment also reduced initial platelet counts from 211.6 x 103 per microl [95%CI 107.5-315.7] to 0.8 x 103 per microl [95%CI -0.7-2.2]. Analysis of 30 P. vivax blood samples before and after CF11 filtration showed only a minor loss in parasitaemia (<or= 7.1% of initial counts). Stage specific retention of P. vivax IRBCs was not observed. CONCLUSION: CF11 filtration is the most cost and time efficient method for the production of leukocyte- and platelet-free P. vivax-infected erythrocytes from field isolates.

McGready R, Stepniewska K, Lindegardh N, Ashley EA, La Y, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F. 2009. Erratum:The pharmacokinetics of artemether and lumefantrine in pregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria(European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (2006) 62 (1021-1031) DOI: 10.1007/s00228-006-0199-7) European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 65 (8), pp. 847. | Read more

Ashley EA, Touabi M, Ahrer M, Hutagalung R, Htun K, Luchavez J, Dureza C, Proux S et al. 2009. Evaluation of three parasite lactate dehydrogenase-based rapid diagnostic tests for the diagnosis of falciparum and vivax malaria. Malar J, 8 (1), pp. 241. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In areas where non-falciparum malaria is common rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) capable of distinguishing malaria species reliably are needed. Such tests are often based on the detection of parasite lactate dehydrogenase (pLDH). METHODS: In Dawei, southern Myanmar, three pLDH based RDTs (CareStart Malaria pLDH (Pan), CareStart Malaria pLDH (Pan, Pf) and OptiMAL-IT)were evaluated in patients presenting with clinically suspected malaria. Each RDT was read independently by two readers. A subset of patients with microscopically confirmed malaria had their RDTs repeated on days 2, 7 and then weekly until negative. At the end of the study, samples of study batches were sent for heat stability testing. RESULTS: Between August and November 2007, 1004 patients aged between 1 and 93 years were enrolled in the study. Slide microscopy (the reference standard) diagnosed 213 Plasmodium vivax (Pv) monoinfections, 98 Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) mono-infections and no malaria in 650 cases. The sensitivities (sens) and specificities (spec), of the RDTs for the detection of malaria were- CareStart Malaria pLDH (Pan) test: sens 89.1% [CI95 84.2-92.6], spec 97.6% [CI95 96.5-98.4]. OptiMal-IT: Pf+/- other species detection: sens 95.2% [CI95 87.5-98.2], spec 94.7% [CI95 93.3-95.8]; non-Pf detection alone: sens 89.6% [CI95 83.6-93.6], spec 96.5% [CI95 94.8-97.7]. CareStart Malaria pLDH (Pan, Pf): Pf+/- other species: sens 93.5% [CI95 85.4-97.3], spec 97.4% [95.9-98.3]; non-Pf: sens 78.5% [CI95 71.1-84.4], spec 97.8% [CI95 96.3-98.7]. Inter-observer agreement was excellent for all tests (kappa > 0.9). The median time for the RDTs to become negative was two days for the CareStart Malaria tests and seven days for OptiMAL-IT. Tests were heat stable up to 90 days except for OptiMAL-IT (Pf specific pLDH stable to day 20 at 35 degrees C). CONCLUSION: None of the pLDH-based RDTs evaluated was able to detect non-falciparum malaria with high sensitivity, particularly at low parasitaemias. OptiMAL-IT performed best overall and would perform best in an area of high malaria prevalence among screened fever cases. However, heat stability was unacceptable and the number of steps to perform this test is a significant drawback in the field. A reliable, heat-stable, highly sensitive RDT, capable of diagnosing all Plasmodium species has yet to be identified.

Carrara VI, Stuetz W, Nosten F, McGready R. 2009. GROWTH VELOCITY OF TERM INFANTS BORN IN MAELA CAMP FOR DISPLACED POPULATION ALONG THE THAI-MYANMAR BORDER ANNALS OF NUTRITION AND METABOLISM, 55 pp. 299-299.

Stuetz W, Carrara V, Biesalski H-K, Nosten F. 2009. IRON, THIAMINE, AND MICRONUTRIENT STATUS IN PREGNANT AND BREAST-FEEDING WOMEN: ASSESSMENT OF FOOD RATIONS AND SUPPLEMENTATION IN MAELA REFUGEE CAMP, NORTHERN THAILAND ANNALS OF NUTRITION AND METABOLISM, 55 pp. 440-441.

Nosten F. 2009. Paludisme et grossesse : un dilemme thérapeutique médecine/sciences, 25 (10), pp. 867-869. | Read more

Carrara VI, Nosten F, McGready R. 2009. MUAC AND BMI: USEFULNESS IN PREGNANCY AMONG REFUGEE AND MIGRANT POPULATIONS ALONG THE THAI-MYANMAR BORDER ANNALS OF NUTRITION AND METABOLISM, 55 pp. 215-215.

Zwang J, Ashley EA, Karema C, D'Alessandro U, Smithuis F, Dorsey G, Janssens B, Mayxay M et al. 2009. Safety and efficacy of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine in falciparum malaria: a prospective multi-centre individual patient data analysis. PLoS One, 4 (7), pp. e6358. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The fixed dose antimalarial combination of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) is a promising new artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). We present an individual patient data analysis of efficacy and tolerability in acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria, from seven published randomized clinical trials conducted in Africa and South East Asia using a predefined in-vivo protocol. Comparator drugs were mefloquine-artesunate (MAS3) in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia; artemether-lumefantrine in Uganda; and amodiaquine+sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine and artesunate+amodiaquine in Rwanda. METHODS AND FINDINGS: In total 3,547 patients were enrolled: 1,814 patients (32% children under five years) received DP and 1,733 received a comparator antimalarial at 12 different sites and were followed for 28-63 days. There was no significant heterogeneity between trials. DP was well tolerated with 1.7% early vomiting. There were less adverse events with DP in children and adults compared to MAS3 except for diarrhea; ORs (95%CI) 2.74 (2.13 to 3.51) and 3.11 (2.31 to 4.18), respectively. DP treatment resulted in a rapid clearance of fever and parasitaemia. The PCR genotype corrected efficacy at Day 28 of DP assessed by survival analysis was 98.7% (95%CI 97.6-99.8). DP was superior to the comparator drugs in protecting against both P.falciparum recurrence and recrudescence (P = 0.001, weighted by site). There was no difference between DP and MAS3 in treating P. vivax co-infections and in suppressing the first relapse (median interval to P. vivax recurrence: 6 weeks). Children under 5 y were at higher risk of recurrence for both infections. The proportion of patients developing gametocytaemia (P = 0.002, weighted by site) and the subsequent gametocyte carriage rates were higher with DP (11/1000 person gametocyte week, PGW) than MAS3 (6/1000 PGW, P = 0.001, weighted by site). CONCLUSIONS: DP proved a safe, well tolerated, and highly effective treatment of P.falciparum malaria in Asia and Africa, but the effect on gametocyte carriage was inferior to that of MAS3.

Dondorp AM, Nosten F, White NJ. 2009. Peginterferon Alfa-2b or Alfa-2a with Ribavirin for Hepatitis C New England Journal of Medicine, 361 (18), pp. 1808-1809. | Read more

Verret WJ, Dorsey G, Nosten F, Price RN. 2009. The effect of varying analytical methods on estimates of anti-malarial clinical efficacy. Malar J, 8 (1), pp. 77. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Analytical approaches for the interpretation of anti-malarial clinical trials vary considerably. The aim of this study was to quantify the magnitude of the differences between efficacy estimates derived from these approaches and identify the factors underlying these differences. METHODS: Data from studies conducted in Africa and Thailand were compiled and the risk estimates of treatment failure, adjusted and unadjusted by genotyping, were derived by three methods (intention to treat (ITT), modified intention to treat (mITT) and per protocol (PP)) and then compared. RESULTS: 29 clinical trials (15 from Africa and 14 from Thailand) with a total of 65 treatment arms (38 from Africa and 27 from Thailand) were included in the analysis. Of the 15,409 patients enrolled, 2,637 (17.1%) had incomplete follow up for the unadjusted analysis and 4,489 (33.4%) for the adjusted analysis. Estimates of treatment failure were consistently higher when derived from the ITT or PP analyses compared to the mITT approach. In the unadjusted analyses the median difference between the ITT and mITT estimates was greater in Thai studies (11.4% [range 2.1-31.8]) compared to African Studies (1.8% [range 0-11.7]). In the adjusted analyses the median difference between PP and mITT estimates was 1.7%, but ranged from 0 to 30.9%. The discrepancy between estimates was correlated significantly with the proportion of patients with incomplete follow-up; p < 0.0001. The proportion of studies with a major difference (> 5%) between adjusted PP and mITT was 28% (16/57), with the risk difference greater in African (37% 14/38) compared to Thai studies (11% 2/19). In the African studies, a major difference in the adjusted estimates was significantly more likely in studies in high transmission sites (62% 8/13) compared to studies in moderate transmission sites (24% 6/25); p = 0.035. CONCLUSION: Estimates of anti-malarial clinical efficacy vary significantly depending on the analytical methodology from which they are derived. In order to monitor temporal and spatial trends in anti-malarial efficacy, standardized analytical tools need to be applied in a transparent and systematic manner.

Ambler MT, Dubowitz LM, Arunjerdja R, Hla EP, Thwai KL, Viladpainguen J, Singhasivanon P, Luxemburger C, Nosten F, McGready R. 2009. The neurological assessment in young children treated with artesunate monotherapy or artesunate-mefloquine combination therapy for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Malar J, 8 (1), pp. 207. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Mefloquine and artesunate combination therapy is the recommended first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria throughout much of south-east Asia. Concerns have been raised about the potential central nervous system (CNS) effects of both drug components and there are no detailed reports in very young children. METHODS: Children, aged between three months and five years, with acute uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria were randomized to either 7 days of artesunate monotherapy or the same schedule of artesunate plus mefloquine on day 7 and 8. Neurological testing targeting coordination and behaviour was carried out at day 0, 7, 9, 10, 14 and 28. Non-febrile healthy control children from the same population were tested on days 0, 7, 14 and 28. RESULTS: From December 1994 to July 1997, 91 children with uncomplicated P. falciparum, 45 treated with artesunate monotherapy, 46 treated with mefloquine and artesunate combination therapy and 36 non-febrile controls, underwent neurological testing. Malaria and fever had a significant negative impact on testing performance. By contrast, the anti-malarial treatments were not associated with worsening performances in the various components of the test. Artesunate and mefloquine do not appear to have a significant influence on coordination and behaviour. Children treated with mefloquine were significantly less likely to suffer recurrent malaria infection during follow-up compared to those treated with artesunate alone (P = 0.033). CONCLUSION: In keeping with the results of randomized controlled trials in adults, mefloquine was not associated with a decrease in specific items of neurological performance. Likewise, children treated with artesunate did not perform significantly differently to control children. This study does not exclude subtle or rare treatment CNS effects of artesunate or mefloquine. Treatment of acute uncomplicated malaria results in a significant improvement on items of neurological performance.

McGready R, Tan SO, Ashley EA, Pimanpanarak M, Viladpai-Nguen J, Phaiphun L, Wüstefeld K, Barends M et al. 2008. A randomised controlled trial of artemether-lumefantrine versus artesunate for uncomplicated plasmodium falciparum treatment in pregnancy. PLoS Med, 5 (12), pp. e253. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: To date no comparative trials have been done, to our knowledge, of fixed-dose artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) for the treatment of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in pregnancy. Evidence on the safety and efficacy of ACTs in pregnancy is needed as these drugs are being used increasingly throughout the malaria-affected world. The objective of this study was to compare the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of artemether-lumefantrine, the most widely used fixed ACT, with 7 d artesunate monotherapy in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. METHODS AND FINDINGS: An open-label randomised controlled trial comparing directly observed treatment with artemether-lumefantrine 3 d (AL) or artesunate monotherapy 7 d (AS7) was conducted in Karen women in the border area of northwestern Thailand who had uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. The primary endpoint was efficacy defined as the P. falciparum PCR-adjusted cure rates assessed at delivery or by day 42 if this occurred later than delivery, as estimated by Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. Infants were assessed at birth and followed until 1 y of life. Blood sampling was performed to characterise the pharmacokinetics of lumefantrine in pregnancy. Both regimens were very well tolerated. The cure rates (95% confidence interval) for the intention to treat (ITT) population were: AS7 89.2% (82.3%-96.1%) and AL 82.0% (74.8%-89.3%), p = 0.054 (ITT); and AS7 89.7% (82.6%-96.8%) and AL 81.2% (73.6%-88.8%), p = 0.031 (per-protocol population). One-third of the PCR-confirmed recrudescent cases occurred after 42 d of follow-up. Birth outcomes and infant (up to age 1 y) outcomes did not differ significantly between the two groups. The pharmacokinetic study indicated that low concentrations of artemether and lumefantrine were the main contributors to the poor efficacy of AL. CONCLUSION: The current standard six-dose artemether-lumefantrine regimen was well tolerated and safe in pregnant Karen women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria, but efficacy was inferior to 7 d artesunate monotherapy and was unsatisfactory for general deployment in this geographic area. Reduced efficacy probably results from low drug concentrations in later pregnancy. A longer or more frequent AL dose regimen may be needed to treat pregnant women effectively and should now be evaluated. Parasitological endpoints in clinical trials of any antimalarial drug treatment in pregnancy should be extended to delivery or day 42 if it comes later. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN86353884.

Stepniewska K, Price RN, Sutherland CJ, Drakeley CJ, von Seidlein L, Nosten F, White NJ. 2008. Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte dynamics in areas of different malaria endemicity. Malar J, 7 (1), pp. 249. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to identify and compare factors associated with Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte carriage in three regions of differing malaria endemicity. METHODS: Retrospective data from Thailand, The Gambia and Tanzania were used. The data came from large prospective field-based clinical trials, which investigated gametocyte carriage after different anti-malarial drug treatments. RESULTS: Gametocytaemia was detected during the observation period in 12% of patients (931 out of 7548) in Thailand, 34% (683 out of 2020) in The Gambia, and 31% (430 out of 1400) in Tanzania (p < 0.001). Approximately one third (33%, 680/2044) of the patients with gametocytaemia during the observation period, already had patent gametocytaemia at enrolment (day 0 or day 1): 35% (318/931) in Thailand, 37% (250/683) in The Gambia, 26% (112/430) in Tanzania. Maximum gametocytaemia was usually observed on or before the seventh day after starting treatment (93% in Thailand, 70% in Tanzania and 78% in The Gambia). Lowest gametocyte carriage rates were observed following treatment with artemisinin derivatives, while sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) was associated with significantly greater development of gametocytaemia than other drug treatments (p < 0.001). The duration of gametocyte carriage was shorter in Thailand by 86% and Tanzania by 65% than in The Gambia. Gametocyte carriage was 27% longer among people presenting with anaemia, and was shorter in duration among patients who received artemisinin derivatives, by 27% in Thailand and by 71% in Tanzania and The Gambia. CONCLUSION: This study confirms the independent association of gametocytaemia with anaemia, and the significantly lower prevalence and duration of gametocyte carriage following treatment with an artemisinin derivative. The large differences in gametocyte carriage rates between regions with different levels of malaria transmission suggest that drug interventions to prevent transmission will have different effects in different places.

Plewes K, Lee T, Kajeechewa L, Thwin MM, Lee SJ, Carrara VI, Nosten F, McGready R. 2008. Low seroprevalence of HIV and syphilis in pregnant women in refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border. Int J STD AIDS, 19 (12), pp. 833-837. | Show Abstract | Read more

SUMMARY: Refugee and migrant populations are considered to be at high risk from sexually transmitted infection (STI) and HIV. Cross-sectional surveys for syphilis and HIV were conducted in antenatal clinics (ANCs) on the Thai-Burmese border. In Mae La refugee camp, the seroprevalence of HIV and syphilis were 0.2% (one of 500) (95% CI 0-1.1) and 0% (0 of 404) (95% CI 0-0.9) in 1997; and 0.4% (two of 500) (95% CI 0.1-1.4) and 0.4% (three of 741) (95% CI 0.1-1.2) in 2005, respectively; syphilis seroprevalence in migrant women in 2005 was 0 (0 of 234) (95% CI 0-1.6). The seroprevalence was lower than that reported from surrounding ANCs for Thai or Burmese women. Focus group discussions with HIV-negative and -positive pregnant refugee women established that aspects of Karen culture and isolation (geographical and political) had a significant protective role from HIV and STI. This survey has resulted in programmatic changes in services to pregnant women in this area.

Lindegardh N, Hanpithakpong W, Kamanikom B, Singhasivanon P, Socheat D, Yi P, Dondorp AM, McGready R, Nosten F, White NJ, Day NP. 2008. Major pitfalls in the measurement of artemisinin derivatives in plasma in clinical studies. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci, 876 (1), pp. 54-60. | Show Abstract | Read more

A bioanalytical method for the analysis of artesunate (ARS) and its metabolite dihydroartemisinin (DHA) in human plasma using protein precipitation and liquid chromatography coupled to positive tandem mass spectroscopy was developed. The method was validated according to published US FDA-guidelines and showed excellent performance. However, when it was applied to clinical pharmacokinetic studies in malaria, variable degradation of the artemisinins introduced an unacceptable large source of error, rendering the assay useless. Haemolytic products related to sample collection and malaria infection degraded the compounds. Addition of organic solvents during sample processing and even low volume addition of the internal standard in an organic solvent caused degradation. A solid phase extraction method avoiding organic solvents eliminated problems arising from haemolysis induced degradation. Plasma esterases mediated only approximately 20% of ex vivo hydrolysis of ARS into DHA. There are multiple sources of major preventable error in measuring ARS and DHA in plasma samples from clinical trials. These various pitfalls have undoubtedly contributed to the large inter-subject variation in plasma concentration profiles and derived pharmacokinetic parameters for these important antimalarial drugs.

Suwanarusk R, Chavchich M, Russell B, Jaidee A, Chalfein F, Barends M, Prasetyorini B, Kenangalem E et al. 2008. Amplification of pvmdr1 associated with multidrug-resistant Plasmodium vivax. J Infect Dis, 198 (10), pp. 1558-1564. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Multidrug-resistant strains of Plasmodium vivax are emerging in Southeast Asia. METHODS: In vitro drug susceptibility and pvmdr1 genotype were determined in P. vivax field isolates from Indonesia and Thailand. RESULTS: Increased pvmdr1 copy number was present in 21% of isolates from Thailand (15/71) and none from Indonesia (0/114; P < .001). Compared with Indonesian isolates, the median IC(50) of Thai isolates was lower for chloroquine (36 vs. 114 nmol/L; P < .001) but higher for amodiaquine (34 vs. 13.7 nmol/L; P = .032), artesunate (8.33 vs. 1.58 nmol/L; P < .001), and mefloquine (111 vs. 9.87 nmol/L; P < .001). In 11 cryopreserved Thai isolates, those with increased pvmdr1 copy number had a higher IC(50) for mefloquine (78.6 vs. 38 nmol/L for single-copy isolates; P = .006). Compared with isolates with the wild-type allele, the Y976F mutation of pvmdr1 was associated with reduced susceptibility to chloroquine (154 nmol/L [range, 4.6-3505] vs. 34 nmol/L [range, 6.7-149]; P < .001) but greater susceptibility to artesunate (1.8 vs. 9.5 nmol/L; P = .009) and mefloquine (14 vs. 121 nmol/L; P < .001). CONCLUSIONS: Amplification of pvmdr1 and single-nucleotide polymorphisms are correlated with susceptibility of P. vivax to multiple antimalarial drugs. Chloroquine and mefloquine appear to exert competitive evolutionary pressure on pvmdr1, similar to that observed with pfmdr1 in Plasmodium falciparum.

Bozdech Z, Mok S, Hu G, Imwong M, Jaidee A, Russell B, Ginsburg H, Nosten F et al. 2008. The transcriptome of Plasmodium vivax reveals divergence and diversity of transcriptional regulation in malaria parasites. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 105 (42), pp. 16290-16295. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium vivax causes over 100 million clinical infections each year. Primarily because of the lack of a suitable culture system, our understanding of the biology of this parasite lags significantly behind that of the more deadly species P. falciparum. Here, we present the complete transcriptional profile throughout the 48-h intraerythrocytic cycle of three distinct P. vivax isolates. This approach identifies strain specific patterns of expression for subsets of genes predicted to encode proteins associated with virulence and host pathogen interactions. Comparison to P. falciparum revealed significant differences in the expression of genes involved in crucial cellular functions that underpin the biological differences between the two parasite species. These data provide insights into the biology of P. vivax and constitute an important resource for the development of therapeutic approaches.

Tan SO, McGready R, Zwang J, Pimanpanarak M, Sriprawat K, Thwai KL, Moo Y, Ashley EA et al. 2008. Thrombocytopaenia in pregnant women with malaria on the Thai-Burmese border. Malar J, 7 (1), pp. 209. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Haematological changes associated with malaria in pregnancy are not well documented, and have focused predominantly on anaemia. Examined here is thrombocytopaenia in pregnant women infected with Plasmodium falciparum or Plasmodium vivax in a low transmission area on the north-western border of Thailand. METHODS: In this observational study we reviewed the platelet counts from routine complete blood count (CBC) in a cohort of healthy and malaria infected Karen pregnant women attending weekly antenatal clinics. A platelet count of 75,000/microL was the threshold at 2 standard deviations below the mean for healthy pregnant women used to indicate thrombocytopenia. Differences in platelet counts in non-pregnant and pregnant women were compared after matching for age, symptoms, malaria species and parasitaemia. RESULTS: In total 974 pregnant women had 1,558 CBC measurements between February 2004 and September 2006. The median platelet counts (/microL) were significantly lower in patients with an episode of falciparum 134,000 [11,000-690,000] (N = 694) or vivax malaria 184,000 [23,000-891,000] (N = 523) compared to healthy pregnant women 256,000 [64,000-781,000] (N = 255), P < 0.05 for both comparisons. Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax caused a 34% (95% CI 24-47) and 22% (95% CI 8-36) reduction in platelet count, respectively. Pregnant compared to non pregnant women were at higher risk OR = 2.27 (95%CI 1.16-4.4) P = 0.017, for thrombocytopaenia. Platelets counts were higher in first compared with subsequent malaria infections within the same pregnancy. Malaria associated thrombocytopaenia had a median [range] time for recovery of 7 234567891011121314 days which did not differ by antimalarial treatment (P = 0.86), or species (P = 0.63) and was not associated with active bleeding. CONCLUSION: Pregnant women become more thrombocytopenic than non-pregnant women with acute uncomplicated malaria. Uncomplicated malaria associated thrombocytopaenia is seldom severe. Prompt antimalarial treatment resulted in normalization of platelet counts within a week.

Nair S, Miller B, Barends M, Jaidee A, Patel J, Mayxay M, Newton P, Nosten F, Ferdig MT, Anderson TJ. 2008. Adaptive copy number evolution in malaria parasites. PLoS Genet, 4 (10), pp. e1000243. | Show Abstract | Read more

Copy number polymorphism (CNP) is ubiquitous in eukaryotic genomes, but the degree to which this reflects the action of positive selection is poorly understood. The first gene in the Plasmodium folate biosynthesis pathway, GTP-cyclohydrolase I (gch1), shows extensive CNP. We provide compelling evidence that gch1 CNP is an adaptive consequence of selection by antifolate drugs, which target enzymes downstream in this pathway. (1) We compared gch1 CNP in parasites from Thailand (strong historical antifolate selection) with those from neighboring Laos (weak antifolate selection). Two percent of chromosomes had amplified copy number in Laos, while 72% carried multiple (2-11) copies in Thailand, and differentiation exceeded that observed at 73 synonymous SNPs. (2) We found five amplicon types containing one to greater than six genes and spanning 1 to >11 kb, consistent with parallel evolution and strong selection for this gene amplification. gch1 was the only gene occurring in all amplicons suggesting that this locus is the target of selection. (3) We observed reduced microsatellite variation and increased linkage disequilibrium (LD) in a 900-kb region flanking gch1 in parasites from Thailand, consistent with rapid recent spread of chromosomes carrying multiple copies of gch1. (4) We found that parasites bearing dhfr-164L, which causes high-level resistance to antifolate drugs, carry significantly (p = 0.00003) higher copy numbers of gch1 than parasites bearing 164I, indicating functional association between genes located on different chromosomes but linked in the same biochemical pathway. These results demonstrate that CNP at gch1 is adaptive and the associations with dhfr-164L strongly suggest a compensatory function. More generally, these data demonstrate how selection affects multiple enzymes in a single biochemical pathway, and suggest that investigation of structural variation may provide a fast-track to locating genes underlying adaptation.

Lee SJ, McGready R, Fernandez C, Stepniewska K, Paw MK, Viladpai-nguen SJ, Thwai KL, Villegas L et al. 2008. Chloroquine pharmacokinetics in pregnant and nonpregnant women with vivax malaria. Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 64 (10), pp. 987-992. | Show Abstract | Read more

PURPOSE: We compared the pharmacokinetics of chloroquine in pregnant and nonpregnant women treated for Plasmodium vivax malaria. METHODS: Twelve pregnant women and 15 nonpregnant women of child-bearing age with acute P. vivax malaria were treated with 25 mg chloroquine base/kg over 3 days on the northwestern border of Thailand. Blood concentrations of chloroquine and desethylchloroquine were measured using hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography coupled with fluorescence detection. Twenty-five women completed the pharmacokinetic study. RESULTS: Although increasing gestational age was associated with reduced chloroquine AUC0-->infinity, there was no significant difference overall in the pharmacokinetics of chloroquine between pregnant and nonpregnant women. Fever was associated with lower chloroquine AUC0-->infinity values. Desethylchloroquine area under the curve (AUC) values were not significantly affected by pregnancy. CONCLUSIONS: Pregnancy did not significantly affect blood concentrations of chloroquine or its metabolite, desethylchloroquine, in women with P. vivax malaria.

Dondorp AM, Lee SJ, Faiz MA, Mishra S, Price R, Tjitra E, Than M, Htut Y et al. 2008. The relationship between age and the manifestations of and mortality associated with severe malaria. Clin Infect Dis, 47 (2), pp. 151-157. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The reported case-fatality rate associated with severe malaria varies widely. Whether age is an independent risk factor is uncertain. METHODS: In a large, multicenter treatment trial conducted in Asia, the presenting manifestations and outcome of severe malaria were analyzed in relation to age. RESULTS: Among 1050 patients with severe malaria, the mortality increased stepwise, from 6.1% in children (age, <10 years) to 36.5% in patients aged >50 years (P<0.001). Compared with adults aged 21-50 years, the decreased risk of death among children (adjusted odds ratio, 0.06; 95% confidence interval, 0.01-0.23; P<0.001) and the increased risk of death among patients aged >50 years (adjusted odds ratio, 1.88; 95% confidence interval, 1.01-3.52; P<0.001) was independent of the variation in presenting manifestations. The incidence of anemia and convulsions decreased with age, whereas the incidence of hyperparasitemia, jaundice, and renal insufficiency increased with age. Coma and metabolic acidosis did not vary with age and were the strongest predictors of a fatal outcome. The number of severity signs at hospital admission also had a strong prognostic value. CONCLUSION: Presenting syndromes in severe malaria depend on age, although the incidence and the strong prognostic significance of coma and acidosis are similar at all ages. Age is an independent risk factor for a fatal outcome of the disease.

Imwong M, Pukrittayakamee S, Pongtavornpinyo W, Nakeesathit S, Nair S, Newton P, Nosten F, Anderson TJ, Dondorp A, Day NP, 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.

Lek-Uthai U, Suwanarusk R, Ruengweerayut R, Skinner-Adams TS, Nosten F, Gardiner DL, Boonma P, Piera KA et al. 2008. Stronger activity of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 protease inhibitors against clinical isolates of Plasmodium vivax than against those of P. falciparum. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 52 (7), pp. 2435-2441. | Show Abstract | Read more

Recent studies using laboratory clones have demonstrated that several antiretroviral protease inhibitors (PIs) inhibit the growth of Plasmodium falciparum at concentrations that may be of clinical significance, especially during human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and malaria coinfection. Using clinical isolates, we now demonstrate the in vitro effectiveness of two HIV-1 aspartic PIs, saquinavir (SQV) and ritonavir (RTV), against P. vivax (n = 30) and P. falciparum (n = 20) from populations subjected to high levels of mefloquine and artesunate pressure on the Thailand-Myanmar border. The median 50% inhibitory concentration values of P. vivax to RTV and SQV were 2,233 nM (range, 732 to 7,738 nM) and 4,230 nM (range, 1,326 to 8,452 nM), respectively, both within the therapeutic concentration range commonly found for patients treated with these PIs. RTV was fourfold more effective at inhibiting P. vivax than it was at inhibiting P. falciparum, compared to a twofold difference in SQV sensitivity. An increased P. falciparum mdr1 copy number was present in 33% (3/9) of isolates and that of P. vivax mdr1 was present in 9% of isolates (2/22), but neither was associated with PI sensitivity. The inter-Plasmodium sp. variations in PI sensitivity indicate key differences between P. vivax and P. falciparum. PI-containing antiretroviral regimens may demonstrate prophylactic activity against both vivax and falciparum malaria in HIV-infected patients who reside in areas where multidrug-resistant P. vivax or P. falciparum is found.

White NJ, McGready RM, Nosten FH. 2008. New medicines for tropical diseases in pregnancy: catch-22. PLoS Med, 5 (6), pp. e133. | Read more

McGready R, Nosten F. 2008. Symptomatic malaria in pregnancy. J Obstet Gynaecol, 28 (4), pp. 463. | Read more

Lwin KM, Ashley EA, Proux S, Silamut K, Nosten F, McGready R. 2008. Clinically uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria with high schizontaemia: a case report. Malar J, 7 (1), pp. 57. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The treatment options for acute Plasmodium falciparum malaria are based on the clinician classifying the patient as uncomplicated or severe according to the clinical and parasitological findings. This process is not always straightforward. CASE PRESENTATION: An adult male presented to a clinic on the western border of Thailand with a physical examination and P. falciparum trophozoite count (1.2% of infected red blood cells, IRBC) from malaria blood smear, consistent with a diagnosis of uncomplicated P. falciparum infection. However, the physician on duty treated the patient for severe malaria based on the reported P. falciparum schizont count, which was very high (0.3% IRBC), noticeably in relation to the trophozoite count and schizont:trophozoite ratio 0.25:1. On intravenous artesunate, the patient deteriorated clinically in the first 24 hours. The trophozoite count increased from 1.2% IRBC at baseline to 20.5% IRBC 18 hours following the start of treatment. By day three, the patient recovered and was discharged on day seven having completed a seven-day treatment with artesunate and mefloquine. CONCLUSION: The malaria blood smear provides only a guide to the overall parasite biomass in the body, due to the ability of P. falciparum to sequester in the microvasculature. In severe malaria, high schizont counts are associated with worse prognosis. In low transmission areas or in non-immune travelers the presence of schizonts in the peripheral circulation is an indication for close patient supervision. In this case, an unusually high schizont count in a clinically uncomplicated patient was indicative of potential deterioration. Prompt treatment with intravenous artesunate is likely to have been responsible for the good clinical outcome in this case.

Rijken MJ, McGready R, Boel ME, Barends M, Proux S, Pimanpanarak M, Singhasivanon P, Nosten F. 2008. Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine rescue treatment of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria in pregnancy: a preliminary report. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 78 (4), pp. 543-545. | Show Abstract

Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHA-PPQ) is a promising new artemisinin combination treatment. There are no published data on the intentional use of the drug in pregnancy. Between June 2006 and January 2007, 50 Karen pregnant women with recurrent P. falciparum infections, despite 7-day treatments with quinine or artesunate (+/-clindamycin) or both, were treated with DHA-PPQ. This rescue treatment was effective and well tolerated and there was no evidence of toxicity for the mothers or the fetus. The PCR adjusted cure rate by Kaplan Meier analysis at day 63 was 92.2% (95% CI: 76.9-97.4).

Blacksell SD, Luksameetanasan R, Kalambaheti T, Aukkanit N, Paris DH, McGready R, Nosten F, Peacock SJ, Day NP. 2008. Genetic typing of the 56-kDa type-specific antigen gene of contemporary Orientia tsutsugamushi isolates causing human scrub typhus at two sites in north-eastern and western Thailand. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol, 52 (3), pp. 335-342. | Show Abstract | Read more

Orientia tsutsugamushi is the causative agent of scrub typhus, a major cause of febrile illness in the rural areas of Southeast Asia. Twenty-three strains of O. tsutsugamushi were isolated from patients with scrub typhus in north-east (Udorn Thani province) and western Thailand (Tak province) between 2003 and 2005. The isolates were characterized by sequencing the entire ORF of the 56-kDa-type-specific antigen gene, followed by phylogenetic analysis. The majority (15/23) of isolates clustered with the Karp-type strain, six with a Gilliam-type strain and one each with the TA716- and TA763-type strains. Overall, there was considerable diversity in sequence, comparable to that seen in strains from across the rest of the scrub typhus-endemic world. There was no significant difference in the distributions of strains between the two provinces (P=0.08, Fisher's exact) nor a temporal change in distribution with year of isolation (P=0.80, Fisher's exact). Within this diversity there were also examples of isolates with identical 56-kDa genotypes that were cultured from patients from the same geographical areas.

Tarning J, Ashley EA, Lindegardh N, Stepniewska K, Phaiphun L, Day NP, McGready R, Ashton M, Nosten F, White NJ. 2008. Population pharmacokinetics of piperaquine after two different treatment regimens with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine in patients with Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Thailand. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 52 (3), pp. 1052-1061. | Show Abstract | Read more

The population pharmacokinetics of piperaquine in adults and children with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria treated with two different dosage regimens of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine were characterized. Piperaquine pharmacokinetics in 98 Burmese and Karen patients aged 3 to 55 years were described by a two-compartment disposition model with first-order absorption and interindividual random variability on all parameters and were similar with the three- and four-dose regimens. Children had a lower body weight-normalized oral clearance than adults, resulting in longer terminal elimination half-lives and higher total exposure to piperaquine (area under the concentration-time curve from 0 to 63 days [AUC day 0-63]). However, children had lower plasma concentrations in the therapeutically relevant posttreatment prophylactic period (AUC day 3-20) because of smaller body weight-normalized central volumes of distribution and shorter distribution half-lives. Our data lend further support to a simplified once-daily treatment regimen to improve treatment adherence and efficacy and indicate that weight-adjusted piperaquine doses in children may need to be higher than in adults.

Carrara VI, Phyo AP, Nwee P, Soe M, Htoo H, Arunkamomkiri J, Singhasivanon P, Nosten F. 2008. Auditory assessment of patients with acute uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria treated with three-day mefloquine-artesunate on the north-western border of Thailand. Malar J, 7 (1), pp. 233. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The use of artemisinin derivatives has increased exponentially with the deployment of artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) in all malarious areas. They are highly effective and are considered safe, but in animal studies artemisinin derivatives produce neurotoxicity targeting mainly the auditory and vestibular pathways. The debate remains as to whether artemisinin derivatives induce similar toxicity in humans. METHODS: This prospective study assessed the effects on auditory function of a standard 3-day oral dose of artesunate (4 mg/kg/day) combined with mefloquine (25 mg/kg) in patients with acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria treated at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, on the Thai-Burmese border. A complete auditory evaluation with tympanometry, audiometry and auditory brainstem responses (ABR) was performed before the first dose and seven days after initiation of the antimalarial treatment. RESULTS: Complete auditory tests at day 0 (D0) and day 7 (D7) were obtained for 93 patients. Hearing loss (threshold > 25 dB) on admission was common (57%) and associated with age only. No patient had a threshold change exceeding 10 dB between D0 and D7 at any tested frequency. No patient showed a shift in Wave III peak latency of more than 0.30 msec between baseline and D7. CONCLUSION: Neither audiometric or the ABR tests showed clinical evidence of auditory toxicity seven days after receiving oral artesunate and mefloquine.

Guthmann JP, Pittet A, Lesage A, Imwong M, Lindegardh N, Min Lwin M, Zaw T, Annerberg A, de Radiguès X, Nosten F. 2008. Plasmodium vivax resistance to chloroquine in Dawei, southern Myanmar. Trop Med Int Health, 13 (1), pp. 91-98. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To assess the efficacy of chloroquine in the treatment of Plasmodium vivax malaria in in Dawei District, southern Myanmar. METHODS: Enrolled patients at Sonsinphya clinic >6 months of age were assessed clinically and parasitologically every week for 28 days. To differentiate new infections from recrudescence, we genotyped pre- and post-treatment parasitaemia. Blood chloroquine was measured to confirm resistant strains. RESULTS: Between December 2002 and April 2003, 2661 patients were screened, of whom 252 were included and 235 analysed. Thirty-four per cent (95% CI: 28.1-40.6) of patients had recurrent parasitaemia and were considered treatment failures. 59.4% of these recurrences were with a different parasite strain. Two (0.8%) patients with recurrences on day 14 had chloroquine concentrations above the threshold of 100 ng/ml and were considered infected with chloroquine resistant parasites. 21% of failures occurred during the first 3 weeks of follow-up: early recurrence and median levels of blood chloroquine comparable to those of controls suggested P. vivax resistance. CONCLUSIONS: Plasmodium vivax resistance to chloroquine seems to be emerging in Dawei, near the Thai-Burmese border. While chloroquine remains the first-line drug for P. vivax infections in this area of Myanmar, regular monitoring is needed to detect further development of parasite resistance.

Sharrock WW, Suwanarusk R, Lek-Uthai U, Edstein MD, Kosaisavee V, Travers T, Jaidee A, Sriprawat K, Price RN, Nosten F, Russell B. 2008. Plasmodium vivax trophozoites insensitive to chloroquine. Malar J, 7 (1), pp. 94. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium vivax is a major cause of malaria and is still primarily treated with chloroquine. Chloroquine inhibits the polymerization of haem to inert haemozoin. Free haem monomers are thought to catalyze oxidative damage to the Plasmodium spp. trophozoite, the stage when haemoglobin catabolism is maximal. However preliminary in vitro observations on P. vivax clinical isolates suggest that only ring stages (early trophozoites) are sensitive to chloroquine. In this study, the stage specific action of chloroquine was investigated in synchronous cryopreserved isolates of P. vivax. METHODS: The in vitro chloroquine sensitivity of paired ring and trophozoite stages from 11 cryopreserved P. vivax clinical isolates from Thailand and two Plasmodium falciparum clones (chloroquine resistant K1 and chloroquine sensitive FC27) was measured using a modified WHO microtest method and fluorometric SYBR Green I Assay. The time each stage was exposed to chloroquine treatment was controlled by washing the chloroquine off at 20 hours after the beginning of treatment. RESULTS: Plasmodium vivax isolates added to the assay at ring stage had significantly lower median IC50s to chloroquine than the same isolates added at trophozoite stage (median IC50 12 nM vs 415 nM p < 0.01). Although only 36% (4/11) of the SYBR Green I assays for P. vivax were successful, both microscopy and SYBR Green I assays indicated that only P. vivax trophozoites were able to develop to schizonts at chloroquine concentrations above 100 nM. CONCLUSION: Data from this study confirms the diminished sensitivity of P. vivax trophozoites to chloroquine, the stage thought to be the target of this drug. These results raise important questions about the pharmacodynamic action of chloroquine, and highlight a fundamental difference in the activity of chloroquine between P. vivax and P. falciparum.

Lee SJ, Stepniewska K, Anstey N, Ashley E, Barnes K, Binh TQ, D'Alessandro U, Day NP et al. 2008. The relationship between the haemoglobin concentration and the haematocrit in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Malar J, 7 (1), pp. 149. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria is a very important cause of anaemia in tropical countries. Anaemia is assessed either by measurement of the haematocrit or the haemoglobin concentration. For comparisons across studies, it is often necessary to derive one measure from the other. METHODS: Data on patients with slide-confirmed uncomplicated falciparum malaria were pooled from 85 antimalarial drug trials conducted in 25 different countries, to assess the haemoglobin/haematocrit relationship at different time points in malaria. Using a linear random effects model, a conversion equation for haematocrit was derived based on 3,254 measurements from various time points (ranging from day 0 to day 63) from 1,810 patients with simultaneous measurements of both parameters. Haemoglobin was also estimated from haematocrit with the commonly used threefold conversion. RESULTS: A good fit was obtained using Haematocrit = 5.62 + 2.60 * Haemoglobin. On average, haematocrit/3 levels were slightly higher than haemoglobin measurements with a mean difference (+/- SD) of -0.69 (+/- 1.3) for children under the age of 5 (n = 1,440 measurements from 449 patients). CONCLUSION: Based on this large data set, an accurate and robust conversion factor both in acute malaria and in convalescence was obtained. The commonly used threefold conversion is also valid.

Nosten F, White NJ. 2007. Artemisinin-based combination treatment of falciparum malaria. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 77 (6 Suppl), pp. 181-192. | Show Abstract

Artemisinin-based combination treatments (ACTs) are now generally accepted as the best treatments for uncomplicated falciparum malaria. They are rapidly and reliably effective. Efficacy is determined by the drug partnering the artemisinin derivative and, for artesunate-mefloquine, artemether-lumefantrine, and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine, this usually exceeds 95%. Artesunate-sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine and artesunate-amodiaquine are effective in some areas, but in other areas resistance to the partner precludes their use. There is still uncertainty over the safety of artemisinin derivatives in the first trimester of pregnancy, when they should not be used unless there are no effective alternatives. Otherwise, except for occasional hypersensitivity reactions, the artemisinin derivatives are safe and remarkably well tolerated. The adverse effect profiles of the artemisinin-based combination treatments are determined by the partner drug. Most malaria endemic countries have now adopted artemisinin-based combination treatments as first-line treatment of falciparum malaria, but in most of these only a minority of the patients that need artemisinin-based combination treatments actually receive them.

Price RN, Dorsey G, Ashley EA, Barnes KI, Baird JK, d'Alessandro U, Guerin PJ, Laufer MK et al. 2007. World Antimalarial Resistance Network I: clinical efficacy of antimalarial drugs. Malar J, 6 (1), pp. 119. | Show Abstract | Read more

The proliferation of antimalarial drug trials in the last ten years provides the opportunity to launch a concerted global surveillance effort to monitor antimalarial drug efficacy. The diversity of clinical study designs and analytical methods undermines the current ability to achieve this. The proposed World Antimalarial Resistance Network (WARN) aims to establish a comprehensive clinical database from which standardised estimates of antimalarial efficacy can be derived and monitored over time from diverse geographical and endemic regions. The emphasis of this initiative is on five key variables which define the therapeutic response. Ensuring that these data are collected at the individual patient level in a consistent format will facilitate better data management and analytical practices, and ensure that clinical data can be readily collated and made amenable for pooled analyses. Such an approach, if widely adopted will permit accurate and timely recognition of trends in drug efficacy. This will guide not only appropriate interventions to deal with established multidrug resistant strains of malaria, but also facilitate prompt action when new strains of drug resistant plasmodia first emerge. A comprehensive global database incorporating the key determinants of the clinical response with in vitro, molecular and pharmacokinetic parameters will bring together relevant data on host, drug and parasite factors that are fundamental contributors to treatment efficacy. This resource will help guide rational drug policies that optimize antimalarial drug use, in the hope that the emergence and spread of resistance to new drugs can be, if not prevented, at least delayed.

Myint HY, Ashley EA, Day NP, Nosten F, White NJ. 2007. Efficacy and safety of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 101 (9), pp. 858-866. | Show Abstract | Read more

Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine, a fixed-dose combination antimalarial, is an inexpensive, safe and highly effective treatment for uncomplicated falciparum or vivax malaria. Efficacy assessed over 28-63 days has consistently exceeded 95% in the treatment of multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria. More than 2600 patients have been treated with this combination in prospective studies, mainly in Southeast Asia. Tolerability was uniformly good, and no serious adverse effects have been identified. The dosing regimen has been simplified from four doses to once daily over 3 days. More information on efficacy in Africa, and more pharmacokinetic and efficacy data in children are needed.

Mytton OT, Ashley EA, Peto L, Price RN, La Y, Hae R, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F. 2007. Electrocardiographic safety evaluation of dihydroartemisinin piperaquine in the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 77 (3), pp. 447-450. | Show Abstract

Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) could become a leading fixed combination malaria treatment worldwide. Although there is accumulating evidence of efficacy and safety from clinical trials, data on cardiotoxicity are limited. In two randomized controlled trials in Thailand, 56 patients had ECGs performed before treatment, 4 hours after the first dose, and 4 hours after the last dose. The mean (95% CI) changes in QTc interval (Bazett's correction) were 2 (-6 to 9) ms and 14 (7 to 21) ms, respectively. These small changes on the third day of treatment are similar to those observed elsewhere in the convalescent phase following antimalarial treatment with drugs known to have no cardiac effects and are therefore likely to result from recovery from acute malaria and not the treatment given. At therapeutic doses, DP does not have clinically significant effects on the electrocardiogram.

Mytton OT, McGready R, Lee SJ, Roberts CH, Ashley EA, Carrara VI, Thwai KL, Jay MP, Wiangambun T, Singhasivanon P, Nosten F. 2007. Safety of benzyl benzoate lotion and permethrin in pregnancy: a retrospective matched cohort study. BJOG, 114 (5), pp. 582-587. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To assess the safety of benzyl benzoate lotion (BBL) and permethrin, topical treatments for scabies, during pregnancy. DESIGN: A retrospective controlled cohort study. POPULATION: Refugee and migrant women attending antenatal clinics (ANC) on the Thai-Burmese border between August 1993 and April 2006. METHODS: Women treated with either BBL (25%) or permethrin (4%) were identified from a manual search of antenatal records. Each case of scabies was matched with four scabies-free controls for gravidity, age, smoking status, malaria, period of treatment and gestational age at treatment. Conditional Poisson regression was used to estimate risk ratios for outcomes of pregnancy (proportion of abortions, congenital abnormalities, neonatal deaths, stillbirths and premature babies), mean birthweight and estimated median gestational age, for scabies and scabies-free women, independently for BBL and permethrin. RESULTS: There were no statistically significant differences in pregnancy outcomes between women who were treated with either BBL (n = 444) compared with their matched controls (n = 1,776) or permethrin (n = 196) treated women and their matched controls (n = 784). Overall, only 10.9% (n = 66) of treatments were in the first trimester. Retreatment rates were higher with BBL 16.4%, than permethrin 9.7%, P = 0.038. Scabies was more common during cooler periods. CONCLUSION: We found no evidence of adverse effects on pregnancy outcome due to topical 25% BBL or 4% permethrin.

Barends M, Jaidee A, Brockman A, Sriprawat K, Anderson T, Singhasivanon P, Nosten F. 2007. Twelve year surveillance of Plasmodium falciparum in vitro drug susceptibility on the Thai-Burmese border TROPICAL MEDICINE & INTERNATIONAL HEALTH, 12 pp. 70-70.

Imwong M, Snounou G, Pukrittayakamee S, Tanomsing N, Kim JR, Nandy A, Guthmann JP, Nosten F et al. 2007. Relapses of Plasmodium vivax infection usually result from activation of heterologous hypnozoites. J Infect Dis, 195 (7), pp. 927-933. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Relapses originating from hypnozoites are characteristic of Plasmodium vivax infections. Thus, reappearance of parasitemia after treatment can result from relapse, recrudescence, or reinfection. It has been assumed that parasites causing relapse would be a subset of the parasites that caused the primary infection. METHODS: Paired samples were collected before initiation of antimalarial treatment and at recurrence of parasitemia from 149 patients with vivax malaria in Thailand (n=36), where reinfection could be excluded, and during field studies in Myanmar (n=75) and India (n=38). RESULTS: Combined genetic data from 2 genotyping approaches showed that novel P. vivax populations were present in the majority of patients with recurrent infection (107 [72%] of 149 patients overall [78% of patients in Thailand, 75% of patients in Myanmar {Burma}, and 63% of patients in India]). In 61% of the Thai and Burmese patients and in 55% of the Indian patients, the recurrent infections contained none of the parasite genotypes that caused the acute infection. CONCLUSIONS: The P. vivax populations emerging from hypnozoites commonly differ from the populations that caused the acute episode. Activation of heterologous hypnozoite populations is the most common cause of first relapse in patients with vivax malaria.

Ward SA, Sevene EJ, Hastings IM, Nosten F, McGready R. 2007. Antimalarial drugs and pregnancy: safety, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacovigilance. Lancet Infect Dis, 7 (2), pp. 136-144. | Show Abstract | Read more

Before a recommendation for antimalarial drug use in pregnancy is made, it is essential that we understand the potential risks involved and have mechanisms in place to monitor risk during treatment. This requires data on drug disposition during pregnancy and potential toxicological liabilities to the developing fetus and mother. In most cases this information is not available. We review the reproductive toxicology of the main antimalarial drug classes in use or under development. Preclinical data are presented if appropriate, but as human experience overrides such data, in instances in which preclinical studies do not correlate with the human experience the data are reviewed only briefly. Additionally, we highlight the lack of appropriate drug disposition data in pregnancy and suggest mechanisms that can be used to capture data on risk after drug treatment in pregnancy.

Nosten F, McGready R, Mutabingwa T. 2007. Case management of malaria in pregnancy. Lancet Infect Dis, 7 (2), pp. 118-125. | Show Abstract | Read more

In all malarious areas, infection by any of the main human plasmodial species during pregnancy is detrimental to the mother and the fetus. These potentially fatal infections must be prevented, but when they develop they require prompt diagnosis and treatment. Current tools to detect malaria parasites in pregnant women are often not used and remain too insensitive to detect a low parasitaemia. The kinetics, safety, and efficacy of available antimalarial drugs are poorly documented because pregnant women are systematically excluded from clinical trials. A considerable effort, involving clinical trials, is urgently required to improve the diagnosis and case management of malaria during pregnancy if the morbidity and mortality of maternal malaria is to be reduced.

Villegas L, McGready R, Htway M, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M, Arunjerdja R, Viladpai-Nguen SJ, Greenwood B, White NJ, Nosten F. 2007. Chloroquine prophylaxis against vivax malaria in pregnancy: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Trop Med Int Health, 12 (2), pp. 209-218. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To assess the safety of chloroquine (CQ) as prophylaxis against Plasmodium vivax infection during pregnancy. METHOD: One thousand pregnant Karen women were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of chemoprophylaxis with chloroquine (500 mg phosphate (or 300 mg base) weekly). Women received a median (range) chloroquine phosphate total dose of 9500 (1500-17 500) mg. The mothers were actively followed from inclusion to delivery and their infants until 12 months of age. RESULTS: Chloroquine prophylaxis completely prevented P. vivax episodes; 10.1% (95%CI: 7.3-14.5) of women in the placebo group experienced at least one episode of vivax malaria but no episode occurred in women in the CQ group. By contrast, the numbers of P. falciparum episodes were similar in each group: 7.4% (95%CI: 3.7-11.1) and 5.6% (95%CI: 3.3-7.9) in the placebo and CQ groups respectively (P = 0.56). Chloroquine prophylaxis was well tolerated and there was no difference in the proportions of reported side effects between CQ treated and placebo groups except for the duration of palpitations and sleeping disorders which were more frequent in those who had received CQ. Chloroquine prophylaxis had no impact on maternal anaemia, birth weight, gestational age, development of newborns or on growth, neurological development or visual acuity in infants at 1 year of age. CONCLUSION: Chloroquine is safe and effective as prophylaxis against P. vivax during pregnancy in this population.

Desai M, ter Kuile FO, Nosten F, McGready R, Asamoa K, Brabin B, Newman RD. 2007. Epidemiology and burden of malaria in pregnancy. Lancet Infect Dis, 7 (2), pp. 93-104. | Show Abstract | Read more

We reviewed evidence of the clinical implications and burden of malaria in pregnancy. Most studies come from sub-Saharan Africa, where approximately 25 million pregnant women are at risk of Plasmodium falciparum infection every year, and one in four women have evidence of placental infection at the time of delivery. P falciparum infections during pregnancy in Africa rarely result in fever and therefore remain undetected and untreated. Meta-analyses of intervention trials suggest that successful prevention of these infections reduces the risk of severe maternal anaemia by 38%, low birthweight by 43%, and perinatal mortality by 27% among paucigravidae. Low birthweight associated with malaria in pregnancy is estimated to result in 100,000 infant deaths in Africa each year. Although paucigravidae are most affected by malaria, the consequences for infants born to multigravid women in Africa may be greater than previously appreciated. This is because HIV increases the risk of malaria and its adverse effects, particularly in multigravidae, and recent observational studies show that placental infection almost doubles the risk of malaria infection and morbidity in infants born to multigravidae. Outside Africa, malaria infection rates in pregnant women are much lower but are more likely to cause severe disease, preterm births, and fetal loss. Plasmodium vivax is common in Asia and the Americas and, unlike P falciparum, does not cytoadhere in the placenta, yet, is associated with maternal anaemia and low birthweight. The effect of infection in the first trimester, and the longer term effects of malaria beyond infancy, are largely unknown and may be substantial. Better estimates are also needed of the effects of malaria in pregnancy outside Africa, and on maternal morbidity and mortality in Africa. Global risk maps will allow better estimation of potential impact of successful control of malaria in pregnancy.

Ashley EA, Stepniewska K, Lindegårdh N, Annerberg A, Kham A, Brockman A, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F. 2007. How much fat is necessary to optimize lumefantrine oral bioavailability? Trop Med Int Health, 12 (2), pp. 195-200. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemether-lumefantrine (AL) is the only fixed, artemisinin-based combination antimalarial drug which is registered internationally and deployed on a large scale. Absorption of the hydrophobic lipophilic lumefantrine component varies widely between individuals and is greatly increased by fat coadministration; but patients with acute malaria are frequently nauseated and anorexic, making dietary advice difficult to comply with. The aim of this study was to describe the dose-response relationship between coadministration of fat and relative lumefantrine bioavailability, in order to determine the minimum amount of fat necessary to optimize absorption. METHOD: We conducted a multiple crossover pharmacokinetic study in 12 healthy volunteers. This compared the area under the plasma concentration-time curve (AUC) for lumefantrine after administration of a single dose of AL in the fasting state given with 0, 10, 40, 150 and 500 ml of soya milk corresponding to 0, 0.32, 1.28, 4.8 and 16 g of fat. All volumes of milk supplements were tested in all subjects with a 3- to 4-week washout period in-between. RESULTS: A dose-response relationship was demonstrated between the volume of soya milk administered and lumefantrine bioavailability. AL administration with soya milk increased the lumefantrine AUC more than five fold. The population mean estimated volume of soya milk required to obtain 90% of maximum effect (in terms of lumefantrine AUC) was 36 ml (corresponding to 1.2 g of fat). CONCLUSIONS: Coadministration of artemether-lumefantrine with a relatively small amount of fat (as soya milk) was required to ensure maximum absorption of lumefantrine in healthy adult volunteers.

Ashley EA, Stepniewska K, Lindegårdh N, McGready R, Annerberg A, Hutagalung R, Singtoroj T, Hla G et al. 2007. Pharmacokinetic study of artemether-lumefantrine given once daily for the treatment of uncomplicated multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria. Trop Med Int Health, 12 (2), pp. 201-208. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Adherence to antimalarial drug regimens is improved by simple dosing. If the fixed antimalarial drug combination artemether-lumefantrine (AL) could be given once daily, this should improve adherence and thus effectiveness and lower the risk of selecting for resistance. METHODS: In an open randomized study, 43 patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were given equivalent doses of AL with 200 ml flavoured milk either as the conventional twice-daily regimen or as a single daily dose for 3 days. The primary end point was a comparison of the areas under the plasma lumefantrine concentration-time curves (AUC). Secondary end points were the day 42 polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-adjusted cure rates and the tolerability profiles. RESULTS: Lumefantrine pharmacokinetic profiles were obtained for 36 patients. The AUC((0-->infinity)) of the once-daily regimen was 30% lower than that in the conventional regimen (P = 0.011) with a median (range) value of 306 (114-5781) microg/ml h, compared with 432 (308-992) microg/ml h. There was no significant difference in the peak plasma concentrations reached. PCR-adjusted cure rate estimates at day 42 of follow-up were 94% (95% CI: 84-100) in the six-dose arm and 85% (70-100) in the three-dose arm (P = 0.3). CONCLUSION: Artemether-lumefantrine efficacy is reduced by once-daily dosing, because absorption of lumefantrine is dose limited. At currently recommended doses, this antimalarial should be given twice daily in a 3-day regimen, with food containing fat.

Nair S, Nash D, Sudimack D, Jaidee A, Barends M, Uhlemann AC, Krishna S, Nosten F, Anderson TJ. 2007. Recurrent gene amplification and soft selective sweeps during evolution of multidrug resistance in malaria parasites. Mol Biol Evol, 24 (2), pp. 562-573. | Show Abstract | Read more

When selection is strong and beneficial alleles have a single origin, local reductions in genetic diversity are expected. However, when beneficial alleles have multiple origins or were segregating in the population prior to a change in selection regime, the impact on genetic diversity may be less clear. We describe an example of such a "soft" selective sweep in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum that involves adaptive genome rearrangements. Amplification in copy number of genome regions containing the pfmdr1 gene on chromosome 5 confer resistance to mefloquine and spread rapidly in the 1990s. Using flanking microsatellite data and real-time polymerase chain reaction determination of copy number, we show that 5-15 independent amplification events have occurred in parasites on the Thailand/Burma border. The amplified genome regions (amplicons) range in size from 14.7 to 49 kb and contain 2-11 genes, with 2-4 copies arranged in tandem. To examine the impact of drug selection on flanking variation, we genotyped 48 microsatellites on chromosome 5 in 326 parasites from a single Thai location. Diversity was reduced in a 170- to 250-kb (10-15 cM) region of chromosomes containing multiple copies of pfmdr1, consistent with hitchhiking resulting from the rapid recent spread of selected chromosomes. However, diversity immediately flanking pfmdr1 is reduced by only 42% on chromosomes bearing multiple amplicons relative to chromosomes carrying a single copy. We highlight 2 features of these results: 1) All amplicon break points occur in monomeric A/T tracts (9-45 bp). Given the abundance of these tracts in P. falciparum, we expect that duplications will occur frequently at multiple genomic locations and have been underestimated as drivers of phenotypic evolution in this pathogen. 2) The signature left by the spread of amplified genome segments is broad, but results in only limited reduction in diversity. If such "soft" sweeps are common in nature, statistical methods based on diversity reduction may be inefficient at detecting evidence for selection in genome-wide marker screens. This may be particularly likely when mutation rate is high, as appears to be the case for gene duplications, and in pathogen populations where effective population sizes are typically very large.

Kamya MR, Yeka A, Bukirwa H, Lugemwa M, Rwakimari JB, Staedke SG, Talisuna AO, Greenhouse B et al. 2007. Artemether-lumefantrine versus dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine for treatment of malaria: a randomized trial. PLoS Clin Trials, 2 (5), pp. e20. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: To compare the efficacy and safety of artemether-lumefantrine (AL) and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) for treating uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Uganda. DESIGN: Randomized single-blinded clinical trial. SETTING: Apac, Uganda, an area of very high malaria transmission intensity. PARTICIPANTS: Children aged 6 mo to 10 y with uncomplicated falciparum malaria. INTERVENTION: Treatment of malaria with AL or DP, each following standard 3-d dosing regimens. OUTCOME MEASURES: Risks of recurrent parasitemia at 28 and 42 d, unadjusted and adjusted by genotyping to distinguish recrudescences and new infections. RESULTS: Of 421 enrolled participants, 417 (99%) completed follow-up. The unadjusted risk of recurrent falciparum parasitemia was significantly lower for participants treated with DP than for those treated with AL after 28 d (11% versus 29%; risk difference [RD] 18%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 11%-26%) and 42 d (43% versus 53%; RD 9.6%, 95% CI 0%-19%) of follow-up. Similarly, the risk of recurrent parasitemia due to possible recrudescence (adjusted by genotyping) was significantly lower for participants treated with DP than for those treated with AL after 28 d (1.9% versus 8.9%; RD 7.0%, 95% CI 2.5%-12%) and 42 d (6.9% versus 16%; RD 9.5%, 95% CI 2.8%-16%). Patients treated with DP had a lower risk of recurrent parasitemia due to non-falciparum species, development of gametocytemia, and higher mean increase in hemoglobin compared to patients treated with AL. Both drugs were well tolerated; serious adverse events were uncommon and unrelated to study drugs. CONCLUSION: DP was superior to AL for reducing the risk of recurrent parasitemia and gametocytemia, and provided improved hemoglobin recovery. DP thus appears to be a good alternative to AL as first-line treatment of uncomplicated malaria in Uganda. To maximize the benefit of artemisinin-based combination therapy in Africa, treatment should be integrated with aggressive strategies to reduce malaria transmission intensity.

Suwanarusk R, Russell B, Chavchich M, Chalfein F, Kenangalem E, Kosaisavee V, Prasetyorini B, Piera KA et al. 2007. Chloroquine resistant Plasmodium vivax: in vitro characterisation and association with molecular polymorphisms. PLoS One, 2 (10), pp. e1089. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Treatment failure of chloroquine for P. vivax infections has reached high levels in the eastern provinces of Indonesia, however, in vitro characterization of chloroquine resistance and its associated molecular profile have yet to be determined. METHODS: Using a modified schizont maturation assay we investigated the in vitro chloroquine susceptibility profile and molecular polymorphisms of P. vivax isolates collected from Papua, Indonesia, where high levels of clinical chloroquine treatment failure have been reported, and from Thailand, where chloroquine treatment is generally effective. RESULTS: The geometric mean chloroquine IC(50) for P. vivax isolates from Papua (n = 145) was 312 nM [95%CI: 237-411 nM] compared to 46.8 nM [95%CI: 34.7-63.1 nM] from Thailand (n = 81); p<0.001. Correlating with the known clinical efficacy of the area, a cut off for chloroquine resistance was defined as 220 nM, a level exceeded in 13.6% (11/81) of Thai isolates and 65% (94/145) of Papuan isolates; p<0.001. Several sequence polymorphisms in pvcrt-o and pvmdr1, and difference in pvmdr1 copy number were identified. A Y976F mutation in pvmdr1 was present in 96% (123/128) of Papuan isolates and 25% (17/69) of Thai isolates; p<0.001. Overall, the geometric mean chloroquine IC(50) in isolates with the Y976F mutation was 283 nM [95%CI: 211-379], compared to 44.5 nM [95%CI: 31.3-63.4] in isolates with the wild type; p< 0.001. Pvmdr1 amplification occurred in 23% (15/66) of Thai isolates compared to none (0/104) of Indonesian isolates (p<0.001), but was not associated with increased chloroquine resistance after controlling for geographical location. CONCLUSIONS: In vitro susceptibility testing of P. vivax discriminates between populations with differing levels of clinical efficacy of chloroquine. The pvmdr1 polymorphism at Y976F may provide a useful tool to highlight areas of emerging chloroquine resistance, although further studies defining its clinical correlates are needed.

Golfetto I, McGready R, Ghebremeskel K, Min Y, Dubowitz L, Nosten F, Drury P, Simpson JA, Arunjerdja R, Crawford MA. 2007. Fatty acid composition of milk of refugee Karen and urban Korean mothers. Is the level of DHA in breast milk of Western women compromised by high intake of saturated fat and linoleic acid? Nutr Health, 18 (4), pp. 319-332. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Lower proportions of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and total n-3 metabolites have been reported in breast milk of European, Australian and North American women compared with milk of mothers from non-Western countries. This difference is not always explained by intakes of marine products. OBJECTIVE: We investigated the possibility that the relative composition of DHA and total n-3 metabolites in breast milk of non-Western mothers with low fat intakes is higher than the levels commonly reported in their Western counterparts. SUBJECTS: Mature milk of refugee Karen women from two different camps in Thailand (n=26 and n=53), and transition milk from urban Korean mothers (n=12) in Seoul was collected. In common with their respective community, the mothers have low fat intake, which is predominately of plant origin. RESULTS: The percentage levels of DHA and n-3 metabolites in the milk of the Karen mothers were 0.52 +/- 0.14 and 0.85 +/- 0.24 (camp 1) and 0.54 +/- 0.22 and 0.92 +/- 0.42 (camp 2). In the Korean milk, DHA was 0.96 +/- 0.21 and total n-3 metabolites 1.51 +/- 0.3. CONCLUSION: We postulate that the levels of DHA and total n-3 metabolites may be compromised in breast milk of mothers on the Western high fat diet. This calls into question the use of DHA composition of such milk as a reference for the formulation of milk designed, for infant feed or, to test the function of DHA in neuro-visual development.

Barends M, Jaidee A, Khaohirun N, Singhasivanon P, Nosten F. 2007. In vitro activity of ferroquine (SSR 97193) against Plasmodium falciparum isolates from the Thai-Burmese border. Malar J, 6 (1), pp. 81. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: On the borders of Thailand, Plasmodium falciparum has become resistant to nearly all available drugs, and there is an urgent need to find new antimalarial drugs or drug combinations. Ferroquine (SSR97193) is a new 4-aminoquinoline antimalarial active against chloroquine resistant and sensitive P. falciparum strains in vivo and in vitro. This antimalarial organic iron complex (a ferrocenyl group has been associated with chloroquine) is meant to use the affinity of Plasmodium for iron to increase the probability for encountering the anti-malarial molecule.The aim of the present study was to investigate the activity of ferroquine against P. falciparum isolates from an area with a known high multi-drug resistance rate. METHODS: Parasite isolates were obtained from patients with acute falciparum malaria attending the clinics of SMRU. In vitro cultures of these isolates were set-up in the SMRU-laboratory on pre-dosed drug plates, and grown in culture for 42 hours. Parasite growth was assessed by the double-site enzyme-linked pLDH immunodetection (DELI) assay. RESULTS: Sixty-five P. falciparum isolates were successfully grown in culture. The ferroquine mean IC50 (95% CI) was 9.3 nM (95% C.I.: 8.7 - 10.0). The mean IC50 value for the principal metabolite of ferroquin, SR97213A, was 37.0 nM (95% C.I.: 34.3 - 39.9), which is four times less active than ferroquine. The isolates in this study were highly multi-drug resistant but ferroquine was more active than chloroquine, quinine, mefloquine and piperaquine. Only artesunate was more active than ferroquine. Weak but significant correlations were found between ferroquine and its principal metabolite (r2 = 0.4288), chloroquine (r2 = 0.1107) and lumefantrine (r2 = 0.2364). CONCLUSION: The results presented in this study demonstrate that the new ferroquine compound SSR97193 has high anti-malarial activity in vitro against multi-drug resistant P. falciparum.

Uhlemann AC, McGready R, Ashley EA, Brockman A, Singhasivanon P, Krishna S, White NJ, Nosten F, Price RN. 2007. Intrahost selection of Plasmodium falciparum pfmdr1 alleles after antimalarial treatment on the northwestern border of Thailand. J Infect Dis, 195 (1), pp. 134-141. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Increased pfmdr1 copy number is associated with reduced susceptibility to structurally unrelated antimalarial drugs. We assessed how administration of different antimalarial drugs altered pfmdr1 polymorphism in parasites from patients who experienced treatment failure. METHODS: In studies conducted on the northwestern border of Thailand, amplifications and single-nucleotide polymorphisms in pfmdr1 were compared before and after antimalarial drug treatment. RESULTS: Intrahost changes in pfmdr1 copy number were observed in 20% (26/132) of patients with recurrent infections. Among infections that recrudesced after mefloquine-containing regimens, increases in pfmdr1 copy number occurred in 68% (95% confidence interval [CI], 46%-85%), and decreases occurred in 2% (95% CI, 0.4%-11%) of isolates; corresponding proportions after artemether-lumefantrine were 25% (2/8) and 11% (2/19); after quinine, 50% (1/2) and 40% (4/10); and after artemisinins alone, 0% (0/10) and 19% (3/16) of isolates (overall P<.001). CONCLUSIONS: Intrahost selection based on pfmdr1 copy number occurs frequently in parasite populations within individual patients. Amplification confers multidrug resistance but probably imposes a significant fitness cost to the parasites.

Ashley E, McGready R, Singhasivanon P, Nosten F, Carrara V, Price R. 2006. In vivo sensitivity monitoring of mefloquine monotherapy and artesunate-mefloquine combinations for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Thailand in 2003. Trop Med Int Health, 11 (12), pp. 1898-1899. | Read more

McGready R, Stepniewska K, Lindegardh N, Ashley EA, La Y, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F. 2006. The pharmacokinetics of artemether and lumefantrine in pregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 62 (12), pp. 1021-1031. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To determine the pharmacokinetic properties of artemether and lumefantrine (AL) in pregnant women with recrudescent uncomplicated multi-drug resistant falciparum malaria. METHODS: Pregnant women who had recurrence of parasitaemia following 7 days supervised quinine treatment were treated with AL. Serial blood samples were taken over a 7-day period, and pharmacokinetic parameters were estimated. For lumefantrine, these data were compared in a population pharmacokinetic model with data from non-pregnant, mainly male adults with acute malaria. RESULTS: The pregnant women (five in the second trimester and eight in the third trimester) had lower concentrations of artemether, dihydroartemisinin and lumefantrine, and the elimination of lumefantrine in pregnant women was more rapid than reported previously in non-pregnant adults. CONCLUSION: Pregnancy is associated with reduced plasma concentrations of both artemether and lumefantrine. This is likely to be of therapeutic significance as plasma concentrations of lumefantrine, after elimination of artemether, are an important determinant of cure. Further studies are needed to determine the optimum dose regimen of artemether-lumefantrine in pregnancy.

Ashley EA, Lwin KM, McGready R, Simon WH, Phaiphun L, Proux S, Wangseang N, Taylor W et al. 2006. An open label randomized comparison of mefloquine-artesunate as separate tablets vs. a new co-formulated combination for the treatment of uncomplicated multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria in Thailand. Trop Med Int Health, 11 (11), pp. 1653-1660. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Delivering drugs in a fixed combination is essential to the success of the strategy of artemisinin-based combination therapy. This prevents one drug being taken without the protection of the other, reducing the chance of emergence and spread of drug resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum. A lower tablet burden should also facilitate adherence to treatment. A new fixed combination of mefloquine plus artesunate has been developed. This was compared with the conventional regimen of separate tablets for the treatment of uncomplicated multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria. METHODS: On the north-western border of Thailand 500 adults and children with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were randomized to receive either the new fixed combination or separate tablets. They were followed up weekly for 63 days. RESULTS: The day 63 polymerase chain reaction-adjusted cure rates were 91.9% (95% CI 88.2-95.6) in the fixed combination group and 89.2% (85.0-93.4) in the loose tablets group (P=0.3). There was a lower incidence of early vomiting in the group receiving the fixed combination. CONCLUSION: This new fixed combination of mefloquine and artesunate was efficacious, well tolerated and convenient to administer.

Simpson JA, Agbenyega T, Barnes KI, Di Perri G, Folb P, Gomes M, Krishna S, Krudsood S et al. 2006. Population pharmacokinetics of artesunate and dihydroartemisinin following intra-rectal dosing of artesunate in malaria patients. PLoS Med, 3 (11), pp. e444. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Intra-rectal artesunate has been developed as a potentially life-saving treatment of severe malaria in rural village settings where administration of parenteral antimalarial drugs is not possible. We studied the population pharmacokinetics of intra-rectal artesunate and the relationship with parasitological responses in patients with moderately severe falciparum malaria. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Adults and children in Africa and Southeast Asia with moderately severe malaria were recruited in two Phase II studies (12 adults from Southeast Asia and 11 children from Africa) with intensive sampling protocols, and three Phase III studies (44 children from Southeast Asia, and 86 children and 26 adults from Africa) with sparse sampling. All patients received 10 mg/kg artesunate as a single intra-rectal dose of suppositories. Venous blood samples were taken during a period of 24 h following dosing. Plasma artesunate and dihydroartemisinin (DHA, the main biologically active metabolite) concentrations were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection. The pharmacokinetic properties of DHA were determined using nonlinear mixed-effects modelling. Artesunate is rapidly hydrolysed in vivo to DHA, and this contributes the majority of antimalarial activity. For DHA, a one-compartment model assuming complete conversion from artesunate and first-order appearance and elimination kinetics gave the best fit to the data. The mean population estimate of apparent clearance (CL/F) was 2.64 (l/kg/h) with 66% inter-individual variability. The apparent volume of distribution (V/F) was 2.75 (l/kg) with 96% inter-individual variability. The estimated DHA population mean elimination half-life was 43 min. Gender was associated with increased mean CL/F by 1.14 (95% CI: 0.36-1.92) (l/kg/h) for a male compared with a female, and weight was positively associated with V/F. Larger V/Fs were observed for the patients requiring early rescue treatment compared with the remainder, independent of any confounders. No associations between the parasitological responses and the posterior individual estimates of V/F, CL/F, and AUC0-6h were observed. CONCLUSIONS: The pharmacokinetic properties of DHA were affected only by gender and body weight. Patients with the lowest area under the DHA concentration curve did not have slower parasite clearance, suggesting that rectal artesunate is well absorbed in most patients with moderately severe malaria. However, a number of modelling assumptions were required due to the large intra- and inter-individual variability of the DHA concentrations.

Kosaisavee V, Suwanarusk R, Nosten F, Kyle DE, Barrends M, Jones J, Price R, Russell B, Lek-Uthai U. 2006. Plasmodium vivax: isotopic, PicoGreen, and microscopic assays for measuring chloroquine sensitivity in fresh and cryopreserved isolates. Exp Parasitol, 114 (1), pp. 34-39. | Show Abstract | Read more

In vitro susceptibility tests provide information on the intrinsic response of Plasmodium vivax to antimalarials, free from confounding factors such as host immunity or relapse. This study examined the utility of radioisotope and PicoGreen assays as alternatives to the traditional microscopic examination for assessing response of P. vivax to antimalarial drugs. There was no significant difference in the mean chloroquine IC(50) of P. vivax (n=40) as determined by the microscopic (33.4 ng/ml), isotopic (33.6 ng/ml), and PicoGreen (39.1 ng/ml) assays, respectively (F=0.239, df=2, 51, and p=0.788). However measurement of IC(50)s by the microscopic method was slightly more successful in producing valid assays (57%), compared to the isotopic (32.5%) and PicoGreen (45.5%) methods. In a paired comparison of 20 fresh and cryopreserved isolates as examined by the microscopic method, there were no significant differences between the mean IC(50) responses (T=1.58, df=15, and p=0.34). Detailed methodologies for the short time culture of field and cryopreserved P. vivax are described. Although the microscopic in vitro assay provides a useful method for characterizing the drug susceptibility phenotype of P. vivax isolates, its utility is limited by a laborious methodology and need for highly skilled microscopists. Future efforts should focus on further development of high throughput assays such as the PicoGreen assay as described in this study.

Ashley EA, Stepniewska K, Lindegårdh N, McGready R, Hutagalung R, Hae R, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F. 2006. Population pharmacokinetic assessment of a new regimen of mefloquine used in combination treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 50 (7), pp. 2281-2285. | Show Abstract | Read more

A fixed artesunate-mefloquine combination, comprising three daily doses of 8 mg of mefloquine/kg of body weight and 4 mg of artesunate/kg, has been developed recently. This study was designed to construct a population pharmacokinetic model describing this new dosage regimen of mefloquine given as loose tablets together with artesunate. In two randomized trials in Thailand which evaluated the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of this new regimen, the members of a subgroup of 50 patients were randomized to have capillary blood sampling before treatment and at five randomly assigned time points during the 63-day follow-up period. Mefloquine levels in capillary whole blood were assayed by liquid chromatography with UV detection. A pharmacokinetic model for mefloquine was constructed using mixed-effects modeling. A one-compartment model with first-order absorption and elimination was selected to describe the kinetic properties of mefloquine. For capillary whole-blood mefloquine, the area under the concentration curve (AUC) was 40% higher than previous estimates for patients given the equivalent conventional-dose regimen (mefloquine given as 15 mg/kg and then 10 mg/kg on the second and third days of treatment). The half-life (t1/2) of the carboxylic acid metabolite was estimated as 26 days, and the metabolite was eliminated more slowly than the parent drug (population t1/2 estimate, 10.5 days). Splitting the 25 mg/kg dose of mefloquine into three doses of 8 mg/kg each resulted in improved oral bioavailability compared to the conventional split-dose regimen results. This new regimen is well tolerated and results in an equivalent therapeutic response.

Nosten F, Ashley E, McGready R, Price R. 2006. We still need artesunate monotherapy. BMJ, 333 (7557), pp. 45. | Read more

Stuetz W, McGready R, Cho T, Prapamontol T, Biesalski HK, Stepniewska K, Nosten F. 2006. Relation of DDT residues to plasma retinol, alpha-tocopherol, and beta-carotene during pregnancy and malaria infection: a case-control study in Karen women in northern Thailand. Sci Total Environ, 363 (1-3), pp. 78-86. | Show Abstract | Read more

Populations living in endemic malaria areas maybe exposed simultaneously to DDT and malaria infection. DDT may impair status of vitamins, which are implicated in the immunity and pathophysiology of malaria. To explore possible interactions, DDT residues, retinol, alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene and cholesterol were measured in plasma samples of malaria-infected pregnant women (cases, n=50) and age matched malaria-free controls (n=58). DDT residues were found in all samples: mean (sd) total DDT levels of 29.7 and 32.7 ng/ml in cases and controls, respectively. Mean (sd) p,p'-DDT was higher in the controls than the cases (13.5 vs. 9.5 ng/ml, p=0.006). Malaria infection was associated with lower mean (sd) plasma retinol (0.69 vs. 1.23 micromol/L) and cholesterol (2.62 vs. 3.48 mmol/L) compared to controls (p<0.001). Mean (sd) plasma alpha-tocopherol (7.65 vs. 15.58 micromol/L) and alpha-tocopherol/cholesterol ratio (2.3 vs. 6.7 micromol/L/mmol/L) were significantly lower among the controls (p<0.001). Mean (sd) plasma beta-carotene was low (<0.3 micromol/L) in both groups, but higher among malaria cases (0.19 vs. 0.15 micromol/L). Plasma retinol among the controls showed highly significant positive correlations with individual DDT compounds, particularly with p,p'-DDT (r=0.51, p<0.001). Plasma alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene seemed not to be affected by DDT residues.

Price RN, Uhlemann AC, van Vugt M, Brockman A, Hutagalung R, Nair S, Nash D, Singhasivanon P et al. 2006. Molecular and pharmacological determinants of the therapeutic response to artemether-lumefantrine in multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Clin Infect Dis, 42 (11), pp. 1570-1577. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Our study examined the relative contributions of host, pharmacokinetic, and parasitological factors in determining the therapeutic response to artemether-lumefantrine (AL). METHODS: On the northwest border of Thailand, patients with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria were enrolled in prospective studies of AL treatment (4- or 6-dose regimens) and followed up for 42 days. Plasma lumefantrine concentrations were measured by high performance liquid chromatography; malaria parasite pfmdr1 copy number was quantified using a real-time polymerase chain reaction assay (PCR), and in vitro drug susceptibility was tested. RESULTS: All treatments resulted in a rapid clinical response and were well tolerated. PCR-corrected failure rates at day 42 were 13% (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.6%-17%) for the 4-dose regimen and 3.2% (95% CI, 1.8%-4.6%) for the 6-dose regimen. Increased pfmdr1 copy number was associated with a 2-fold (95% CI, 1.8-2.4-fold) increase in lumefantrine inhibitory concentration(50) (P=.001) and an adjusted hazard ratio for risk of treatment failure following completion of a 4-dose regimen, but not a 6-dose regimen, of 4.0 (95% CI, 1.4-11; P=.008). Patients who had lumefantrine levels below 175 ng/mL on day 7 were more likely to experience recrudescence by day 42 (adjusted hazard ratio, 17; 95% CI, 5.5-53), allowing prediction of treatment failure with 75% sensitivity and 84% specificity. The 6-dose regimen ensured that therapeutic levels were achieved in 91% of treated patients. CONCLUSIONS: The lumefantrine plasma concentration profile is the main determinant of efficacy of artemether-lumefantrine. Amplification in pfmdr1 determines lumefantrine susceptibility and, therefore, treatment responses when plasma lumefantrine levels are subtherapeutic.

Nosten F, Hutagalung R, Carrara VI, Ashley E, White N. 2006. Untitled AMERICAN JOURNAL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE AND HYGIENE, 74 (6), pp. 940-940.

Ashley E, McGready R, Proux S, Nosten F. 2006. Malaria. Travel Med Infect Dis, 4 (3-4), pp. 159-173. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria is increasing worldwide due to the emergence and spread of drug resistant strains. This poses major health and economic problems for the population living in endemic areas and increases the risk of infections in travelers. The diagnosis of malaria relies on a biological proof of infection by microscopy or with a rapid test. The treatment must be initiated without delay preferably with an artemisinin containing regimen. Uncomplicated malaria can be treated with oral drugs while severe infections will be hospitalized and treated with injectables. Special attention will be given to the most susceptible groups: children and pregnant women.

McGready R, Stepniewska K, Ward SA, Cho T, Gilveray G, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Nosten F. 2006. Pharmacokinetics of dihydroartemisinin following oral artesunate treatment of pregnant women with acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 62 (5), pp. 367-371. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To determine the pharmacokinetic properties of dihydroartemisinin (DHA) following oral artesunate treatment in women with recrudescent multi-drug resistant falciparum malaria, in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. METHODS: Serial plasma concentrations of artesunate and DHA were measured in 24 women after the final dose of a 3 day treatment with artesunate (4 mg kg(-1) day(-1)) and atovaquone (20 mg kg(-1) day(-1)) plus proguanil (8 mg kg(-1) day(-1)), daily. Conventional non-compartmental modelling and a population one-compartment pharmacokinetic model were applied to the data. RESULTS: Artesunate was very rapidly eliminated. For DHA the median [90% range] estimate of oral clearance (CI/F) was 4.0 [0.8-20.7] l hour(-1) kg(-1), total apparent volume of distribution (Vd/f) was 3.4 [0.9-60.7] l/kg, and terminal elimination half-life was 1.0 [0.6-2.4] h. CONCLUSION: The kinetics of DHA are modified by pregnancy. The plasma levels of the active antimalarial metabolite DHA are lower than reported previously in non-pregnant adults. Dose-optimisation studies in pregnant women are needed.

White NJ, Ashley EA, Nosten F. 2006. Toxic brainstem encephalopathy after artemisinin treatment for breast cancer. Ann Neurol, 59 (4), pp. 725-726. | Read more

Hutagalung R, Htoo H, Nwee P, Arunkamomkiri J, Zwang J, Carrara VI, Ashley E, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F. 2006. A case-control auditory evaluation of patients treated with artemether-lumefantrine. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 74 (2), pp. 211-214. | Show Abstract

Artemether-lumefantrine is the first registered, fixed, artemisinin-based combination treatment. Artemisinin derivatives are highly effective antimalarials with a favorable safety profile. Concerns remain over their potential neurotoxicity, although there has been no clinical evidence of this in humans. In animals (rats, dogs, and monkeys) artemether, a derivative of artemisinin is associated with an unusual toxicity pattern in specific brain nuclei involving the auditory and vestibular pathways. A recent report from Mozambique described a small but significant and irreversible hearing loss in patients exposed to artemether-lumefantrine. To explore this issue, we conducted a case-control study using tympanometry, audiometry and auditory brain-stem responses. We assessed 68 subjects who had been treated with artemether-lumefantrine within the previous five years and 68 age- and sex-matched controls living in the malarious region along the Thailand-Myanmar border. There were no differences in the test results between cases and controls. There was no neurophysiologic evidence of auditory brainstem toxicity that could be attributed to artemether-lumefantrine in this study population.

McGready R, Ashley EA, Tan SO, Brabin B, Nosten F. 2006. Re: Malaria in pregnancy. BJOG, 113 (2), pp. 246. | Read more

White NJ, Dondorp AM, Nosten F, Day NPJ, Grp SEAQUAMATS. 2006. Artesunate versus quinine for severe falciparum malaria - Reply LANCET, 367 (9505), pp. 111-112. | Read more

Newton PN, McGready R, Fernandez F, Green MD, Sunjio M, Bruneton C, Phanouvong S, Millet P et al. 2006. Manslaughter by fake artesunate in Asia--will Africa be next? PLoS Med, 3 (6), pp. e197. | Read more

Nosten F, McGready R, d'Alessandro U, Bonell A, Verhoeff F, Menendez C, Mutabingwa T, Brabin B. 2006. Antimalarial drugs in pregnancy: a review. Curr Drug Saf, 1 (1), pp. 1-15. | Show Abstract | Read more

In this review we examine the available information on the safety of antimalarials in pregnancy, from both animal and human studies. The antimalarials that can be used in pregnancy include (1) chloroquine, (2) amodiaquine, (3) quinine, (4) azithromycin, (5) sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, (6) mefloquine, (7) dapsone-chlorproguanil, (8) artemisinin derivatives, (9) atovaquone-proguanil and (10) lumefantrine. Antimalarial drugs that should not be used in pregnancy including (1) halofantrine, (2) tetracycline/doxycycline, and (3) primaquine. There are few studies in humans on the pharmacokinetics, safety and efficacy of antimalarials in pregnancy. This is because pregnant women are systematically excluded from clinical trials. The absence of adequate safety data, especially in the first trimester, is an important obstacle to developing treatment strategies. The pharmacokinetics of most antimalarial drugs are also modified in pregnancy and dosages will need to be adapted. Other factors, including HIV status, drug interactions with antiretrovirals, the influence of haematinics and host genetic polymorphisms may influence safety and efficacy. For these reasons there is an urgent need to assess the safety and efficacy of antimalarial treatments in pregnancy, including artemisinin based combination therapies.

White NJ, Dondorp AM, Nosten F, Day NPJ. 2006. Authors' reply [9] Lancet, 367 (9505), pp. 111-112. | Read more

Carrara VI, Sirilak S, Thonglairuam J, Rojanawatsirivet C, Proux S, Gilbos V, Brockman A, Ashley EA et al. 2006. Deployment of early diagnosis and mefloquine-artesunate treatment of falciparum malaria in Thailand: the Tak Malaria Initiative. PLoS Med, 3 (6), pp. e183. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Early diagnosis and treatment with artesunate-mefloquine combination therapy (MAS) have reduced the transmission of falciparum malaria dramatically and halted the progression of mefloquine resistance in camps for displaced persons along the Thai-Burmese border, an area of low and seasonal transmission of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum. We extended the same combination drug strategy to all other communities (estimated population 450,000) living in five border districts of Tak province in northwestern Thailand. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Existing health structures were reinforced. Village volunteers were trained to use rapid diagnostic tests and to treat positive cases with MAS. Cases of malaria, hospitalizations, and malaria-related deaths were recorded in the 6 y before, during, and after the Tak Malaria Initiative (TMI) intervention. Cross-sectional surveys were conducted before and during the TMI period. P. falciparum malaria cases fell by 34% (95% confidence interval [CI], 33.5-34.4) and hospitalisations for falciparum malaria fell by 39% (95% CI, 37.0-39.9) during the TMI period, while hospitalisations for P. vivax malaria remained constant. There were 32 deaths attributed to malaria during, and 22 after the TMI, a 51.5% (95% CI, 39.0-63.9) reduction compared to the average of the previous 3 y. Cross-sectional surveys indicated that P. vivax had become the predominant species in Thai villages, but not in populations living on the Myanmar side of the border. In the displaced persons population, where the original deployment took place 7 y before the TMI, the transmission of P. falciparum continued to be suppressed, the incidence of falciparum malaria remained low, and the in vivo efficacy of the 3-d MAS remained high. CONCLUSIONS: In the remote malarious north western border area of Thailand, the early detection of malaria by trained village volunteers, using rapid diagnostic tests and treatment with mefloquine-artesunate was feasible and reduced the morbidity and mortality of multidrug-resistant P. falciparum.

Newton PN, McGready R, Fernandez F, Green MD, Sunjio M, Bruneton C, Phanouvong S, Millet P et al. 2006. Correction: Manslaughter by Fake Artesunate in Asia—Will Africa Be Next? PLoS Medicine, 3 (8), pp. e324-e324. | Read more

Nosten F, Hutagalung R, Carrara VI, Ashley E, White N. 2006. Letters to the editor American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 74 (6), pp. 940.

Gupta R, Sarkar S, Balhara YP. 2012. Use of a 'microecologic technique' to study crime incidents around methadone maintenance treatment centers - a response: The journal publishes both invited and unsolicited letters. Addiction, 107 (10), pp. 1883. | Read more

Nair S, Nash D, Suclimack D, Nosten F, Anderson T. 2005. Characterization of segmental amplifications on CHR 5 associated with multidrug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum AMERICAN JOURNAL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE AND HYGIENE, 73 (6), pp. 197-197.

Williams JT, Nair S, Sudimack D, Nosten F, Goring HHH, Anderson TJC. 2005. Genome-wide significance level for linkage analysis in Plasmodium falciparum AMERICAN JOURNAL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE AND HYGIENE, 73 (6), pp. 121-121.

Anderson TJ, Nair S, Sudimack D, Williams JT, Mayxay M, Newton PN, Guthmann JP, Smithuis FM et al. 2005. Geographical distribution of selected and putatively neutral SNPs in Southeast Asian malaria parasites. Mol Biol Evol, 22 (12), pp. 2362-2374. | Show Abstract | Read more

Loci targeted by directional selection are expected to show elevated geographical population structure relative to neutral loci, and a flurry of recent papers have used this rationale to search for genome regions involved in adaptation. Studies of functional mutations that are known to be under selection are particularly useful for assessing the utility of this approach. Antimalarial drug treatment regimes vary considerably between countries in Southeast Asia selecting for local adaptation at parasite loci underlying resistance. We compared the population structure revealed by 10 nonsynonymous mutations (nonsynonymous single-nucleotide polymorphisms [nsSNPs]) in four loci that are known to be involved in antimalarial drug resistance, with patterns revealed by 10 synonymous mutations (synonymous single-nucleotide polymorphisms [sSNPs]) in housekeeping genes or genes of unknown function in 755 Plasmodium falciparum infections collected from 13 populations in six Southeast Asian countries. Allele frequencies at known nsSNPs underlying resistance varied markedly between locations (F(ST) = 0.18-0.66), with the highest frequencies on the Thailand-Burma border and the lowest frequencies in neighboring Lao PDR. In contrast, we found weak but significant geographic structure (F(ST) = 0-0.14) for 8 of 10 sSNPs. Importantly, all 10 nsSNPs showed significantly higher F(ST) (P < 8 x 10(-5)) than simulated neutral expectations based on observed F(ST) values in the putatively neutral sSNPs. This result was unaffected by the methods used to estimate allele frequencies or the number of populations used in the simulations. Given that dense single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) maps and rapid SNP assay methods are now available for P. falciparum, comparing genetic differentiation across the genome may provide a valuable aid to identifying parasite loci underlying local adaptation to drug treatment regimes or other selective forces. However, the high proportion of polymorphic sites that appear to be under balancing selection (or linked to selected sites) in the P. falciparum genome violates the central assumption that selected sites are rare, which complicates identification of outlier loci, and suggests that caution is needed when using this approach.

Kumkhaek C, Phra-Ek K, Rénia L, Singhasivanon P, Looareesuwan S, Hirunpetcharat C, White NJ, Brockman A et al. 2005. Are extensive T cell epitope polymorphisms in the Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite antigen, a leading sporozoite vaccine candidate, selected by immune pressure? J Immunol, 175 (6), pp. 3935-3939. | Show Abstract

Protective cellular immune responses depend on MHC presentation of pathogen-derived Ag fragments. MHC diversity renders this process sensitive to point mutations coding for altered amino acid sequence of the short target Ag-derived peptides epitopes. Thus, in a given host, a pathogen with an altered epitope sequence will be more likely to escape detection and elimination by the immune system. At a population level, selection by immune pressure will increase the likelihood of polymorphism in important pathogen antigenic epitopes. This mechanism of immune evasion is found in viruses and other pathogens. The detection of polymorphic hot spots in an Ag is often taken as a strong indication of its role in protective immunity. We provide evidence that polymorphisms in the T cell epitopes of a malaria vaccine candidate are unlikely to have been selected by immune pressure in the human host.

McGready R, Ashley EA, Moo E, Cho T, Barends M, Hutagalung R, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Nosten F. 2005. A randomized comparison of artesunate-atovaquone-proguanil versus quinine in treatment for uncomplicated falciparum malaria during pregnancy. J Infect Dis, 192 (5), pp. 846-853. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: There is no safe, practical, and effective treatment for pregnant women infected with multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum. METHODS: We recruited pregnant Karen women in the second or third trimesters of pregnancy who had uncomplicated falciparum malaria for a randomized, open-label trial with a restricted sequential trial design of 7 days of supervised quinine (SQ7) versus 3 days of artesunate-atovaquone-proguanil (AAP). RESULTS: Eight-one pregnant women entered the study between December 2001 and July 2003; 42 were treated with SQ7 and 39 were treated with AAP. Fever, parasite clearance, and duration of anemia were significantly better with AAP; the treatment failure rate was 7 times lower (5% [2/39] vs. 37% [15/41]; relative risk, 7.1 [95% confidence interval, 1.7-29.2]; P = .001). There were no significant differences in birth weight, duration of gestation, or congenital abnormality rates in newborns or in growth and developmental parameters of infants monitored for 1 year. CONCLUSION: AAP is a well-tolerated, effective, practical, but expensive treatment for multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria during the second or third trimesters of pregnancy. Despite the small number of subjects, our results add to the growing body of evidence that AAP is safe for the mother and the fetus.

Dondorp A, Nosten F, Stepniewska K, Day N, White N, South East Asian Quinine Artesunate Malaria Trial (SEAQUAMAT) group. 2005. Artesunate versus quinine for treatment of severe falciparum malaria: a randomised trial. Lancet, 366 (9487), pp. 717-725. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In the treatment of severe malaria, intravenous artesunate is more rapidly acting than intravenous quinine in terms of parasite clearance, is safer, and is simpler to administer, but whether it can reduce mortality is uncertain. METHODS: We did an open-label randomised controlled trial in patients admitted to hospital with severe falciparum malaria in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Myanmar. We assigned individuals intravenous artesunate 2.4 mg/kg bodyweight given as a bolus (n=730) at 0, 12, and 24 h, and then daily, or intravenous quinine (20 mg salt per kg loading dose infused over 4 h then 10 mg/kg infused over 2-8 h three times a day; n=731). Oral medication was substituted when possible to complete treatment. Our primary endpoint was death from severe malaria, and analysis was by intention to treat. FINDINGS: We assessed all patients randomised for the primary endpoint. Mortality in artesunate recipients was 15% (107 of 730) compared with 22% (164 of 731) in quinine recipients; an absolute reduction of 34.7% (95% CI 18.5-47.6%; p=0.0002). Treatment with artesunate was well tolerated, whereas quinine was associated with hypoglycaemia (relative risk 3.2, 1.3-7.8; p=0.009). INTERPRETATION: Artesunate should become the treatment of choice for severe falciparum malaria in adults.

Ashley EA, McGready R, Hutagalung R, Phaiphun L, Slight T, Proux S, Thwai KL, Barends M, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Nosten F. 2005. A randomized, controlled study of a simple, once-daily regimen of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine for the treatment of uncomplicated, multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria. Clin Infect Dis, 41 (4), pp. 425-432. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) is a fixed-combination antimalarial drug increasingly deployed in Southeast Asia. The current regimen involves 4 doses given over 3 days. Simplification of the dose regimen should facilitate treatment adherence and thereby increase effectiveness. METHODS: In a randomized, controlled, 3-arm trial conducted along the northwestern border of Thailand, the standard 4-dose course of DP (DP4) was compared to an equivalent dose given as a once-daily regimen (DP3) and to the standard treatment of mefloquine-artesunate (MAS3). RESULTS: A total of 499 patients were included in the study. Times to fever and parasite clearance were similar in all groups. The PCR genotyping-adjusted cure rates at day 63 after treatment initiation were 95.7% (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 92.2%-98.9%) for MAS3, 100% for DP4, and 99.4% (95% CI, 98.1%-100%) for DP3. The DP4 and DP3 cure rates were significantly higher than that for MAS3 (P=.008 and P=.03, respectively). All regimens were well tolerated. There were 3 deaths (1 in the MAS3 group and 2 in the DP3 group), all of which were considered to be unrelated to treatment. Rates of other adverse events were comparable between the groups, except for diarrhea, which was more common in the DP4 group (P=.05 vs. the MAS3 group). CONCLUSIONS: A once-daily, 3-dose regimen of DP is a highly efficacious treatment for multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria. This simple, safe, and relatively inexpensive fixed combination could become the treatment of choice for falciparum malaria.

Gupta RK, Van Vugt M, Paiphun L, Slight T, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Nosten F. 2005. Short report: no evidence of cardiotoxicity of atovaquone-proguanil alone or in combination with artesunate. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 73 (2), pp. 267-268. | Show Abstract

Combinations are set to become the mainstay in treatment and prophylaxis of malaria due to Plasmodium falciparum. Various antimalarials have been implicated in cardiotoxicity via prolongation of the QTc interval. Atovaquone-proguanil is an effective and increasingly popular antimalarial choice when used alone or with artesunate in areas of drug resistance. We report the results of an investigation carried out on the Thai-Burmese border in 42 patients randomized to receive either atovaquone-proguanil or atovaquone-proguanil-artesunate for three days. Electrocardiographic recordings were made at baseline and one hour after each dose. There was no statistically significant change in QTc interval between baseline and any subsequent readings in either treatment group or the cohort as a whole. We conclude that atovaquone-proguanil shows no evidence of cardiotoxicity either alone or when combined with artesunate.

Nash D, Nair S, Mayxay M, Newton PN, Guthmann JP, Nosten F, Anderson TJ. 2005. Selection strength and hitchhiking around two anti-malarial resistance genes. Proc Biol Sci, 272 (1568), pp. 1153-1161. | Show Abstract | Read more

Neutral mutations may hitchhike to high frequency when they are situated close to sites under positive selection, generating local reductions in genetic diversity. This process is thought to be an important determinant of levels of genomic variation in natural populations. The size of genome regions affected by genetic hitchhiking is expected to be dependent on the strength of selection, but there is little empirical data supporting this prediction. Here, we compare microsatellite variation around two drug resistance genes (chloroquine resistance transporter (pfcrt), chromosome 7, and dihydrofolate reductase (dhfr), chromosome 4) in malaria parasite populations exposed to strong (Thailand) or weak selection (Laos) by anti-malarial drugs. In each population, we examined the point mutations underlying resistance and length variation at 22 (chromosome 4) or 25 (chromosome 7) microsatellite markers across these chromosomes. All parasites from Thailand carried the K76T mutation in pfcrt conferring resistance to chloroquine (CQ) and 2-4 mutations in dhfr conferring resistance to pyrimethamine. By contrast, we found both wild-type and resistant alleles at both genes in Laos. There were dramatic differences in the extent of hitchhiking in the two countries. The size of genome regions affected was smaller in Laos than in Thailand. We observed significant reduction in variation relative to sensitive parasites for 34-64 kb (2-4 cM) in Laos on chromosome 4, compared with 98-137 kb (6-8 cM) in Thailand. Similarly, on chromosome 7, we observed reduced variation for 34-69 kb (2-4 cM) around pfcrt in Laos, but for 195-268 kb (11-16 cM) in Thailand. Reduction in genetic variation was also less extreme in Laos than in Thailand. Most loci were monomorphic in a 12 kb region surrounding both genes on resistant chromosomes from Thailand, whereas in Laos, even loci immediately proximal to selective sites showed some variation on resistant chromosomes. Finally, linkage disequilibrium (LD) decayed more rapidly around resistant pfcrt and dhfr alleles from Laos than from Thailand. These results demonstrate that different realizations of the same selective sweeps may vary considerably in size and shape, in a manner broadly consistent with selection history. From a practical perspective, genomic regions containing resistance genes may be most effectively located by genome-wide association in populations exposed to strong drug selection. However, the lower levels of LD surrounding resistance alleles in populations under weak selection may simplify identification of functional mutations.

Anderson TJ, Nair S, Qin H, Singlam S, Brockman A, Paiphun L, Nosten F. 2005. Are transporter genes other than the chloroquine resistance locus (pfcrt) and multidrug resistance gene (pfmdr) associated with antimalarial drug resistance? Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 49 (6), pp. 2180-2188. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mu et al. (Mu, J., M. T. Ferdig, X. Feng, D. A. Joy, J. Duan, T. Furuya, G. Subramanian, L. Aravind, R. A. Cooper, J. C. Wootton, M. Xiong, and X. Z. Su, Mol. Microbiol. 49:977-989, 2003) recently reported exciting associations between nine new candidate transporter genes and in vitro resistance to chloroquine (CQ) and quinine (QN), with six of these loci showing association with CQ or QN in a southeast Asian population sample. We replicated and extended this work by examining polymorphisms in these genes and in vitro resistance to eight drugs in parasites collected from the Thailand-Burma border. To minimize problems of multiple testing, we used a two-phase study design, while to minimize problems caused by population structure, we analyzed parasite isolates collected from a single clinic. We first examined associations between genotype and drug response in 108 unique single-clone parasite isolates. We found strong associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms in pfmdr and mefloquine (MFQ), artesunate (AS), and lumefantrine (LUM) response. We also observed associations between an ABC transporter (G7) and response to QN and AS and between another ABC transporter (G49) and response to dihydro-artemisinin (DHA). We reexamined significant associations in an independent sample of 199 unique single-clone infections from the same location. The significant associations with pfmdr-1042 detected in the first survey remained. However, with the exception of the G7-artesunate association, all other associations observed with the nine new candidate transporters disappeared. We also examined linkage disequilibrium (LD) between markers and phenotypic correlations between drug responses. We found minimal LD between genes. Furthermore, we found no correlation between chloroquine and quinine responses, although we did find expected strong correlations between MFQ, QN, AS, DHA, and LUM. To conclude, we found no evidence for an association between 8/9 candidate genes and response to eight different antimalarial drugs. However, the consistent association observed between a 3-bp indel in G7 and AS response merits further investigation.

Nacher M, McGready R, Lermoo C, Wichiponpiboon J, Nosten F. 2005. Photoallergy to quinine. Trop Doct, 35 (2), pp. 117-118. | Read more

Nosten F, McGready R, Ashley E, White NJ. 2005. Malaria misconceptions. Lancet, 365 (9460), pp. 653. | Read more

Nosten F. 2005. [Malaria control in Plasmodium falciparum resistant to multi-therapy: a field opinion]. Med Trop (Mars), 65 (1), pp. 91-92.

Hutagalung R, Paiphun L, Ashley EA, McGready R, Brockman A, Thwai KL, Singhasivanon P, Jelinek T, White NJ, Nosten FH. 2005. A randomized trial of artemether-lumefantrine versus mefloquine-artesunate for the treatment of uncomplicated multi-drug resistant Plasmodium falciparum on the western border of Thailand. Malar J, 4 pp. 46. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The use of antimalarial drug combinations with artemisinin derivatives is recommended to overcome drug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum. The fixed combination of oral artemether-lumefantrine, an artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) is highly effective and well tolerated. It is the only registered fixed combination containing an artemisinin. The trial presented here was conducted to monitor the efficacy of the six-dose regimen of artemether-lumefantrine (ALN) in an area of multi-drug resistance, along the Thai-Myanmar border. METHODS: The trial was an open-label, two-arm, randomized study comparing artemether-lumefantrine and mefloquine-artesunate for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria with 42 days of follow up. Parasite genotyping by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to distinguish recrudescent from newly acquired P. falciparum infections. The PCR adjusted cure rates were evaluated by survival analysis. RESULTS: In 2001-2002 a total of 490 patients with slide confirmed uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria were randomly assigned to receive artemether-lumefantrine (n = 245) or artesunate and mefloquine (n = 245) and were followed for 42 days. All patients had rapid initial clinical and parasitological responses. In both groups, the PCR adjusted cure rates by day 42 were high: 98.8% (95% CI 96.4, 99.6%) for artemether-lumefantrine and 96.3% (95% CI 93.1, 98.0%) for artesunate-mefloquine. Both regimens were very well tolerated with no serious adverse events observed attributable to either combination. CONCLUSION: Overall, this study confirms that these two artemisinin-based combinations remain highly effective and result in equivalent therapeutic responses in the treatment of highly drug-resistant falciparum malaria.

Anderson TJC, Nair S, Qin H, Singlam S, Brockman A, Paiphun L, Nosten F. 2005. Erratum: Are transporter genes other than the chloroquine resistance locus (pfcrt) and multidrug resistance gene (pfmdr) associated with antimalarial drug resistance? (Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (2005) 49, 6 (2180-2188)) Antimi