Prof Jeremy Farrar

Research Area: Global Health
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health
Keywords: Central Nervous System Infections, Dengue, Emerging Infections, Influenza and Tuberculous
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Jeremy Farrar's research interests are in Infectious Diseases and Global Health and include work on Emerging Infections, Infections of the Central Nervous System, TB, Dengue, Typhoid Malaria, and Influenza.  The work integrates clinical research with epidemiology, basic science and policy.

There are no collaborations listed for this principal investigator.

Arjyal A, Basnyat B, Koirala S, Karkey A, Dongol S, Agrawaal KK, Shakya N, Shrestha K et al. 2011. Gatifloxacin versus chloramphenicol for uncomplicated enteric fever: an open-label, randomised, controlled trial. Lancet Infect Dis, 11 (6), pp. 445-454. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: We aimed to investigate whether gatifloxacin, a new generation and affordable fluoroquinolone, is better than chloramphenicol for the treatment of uncomplicated enteric fever in children and adults. METHODS: We did an open-label randomised superiority trial at Patan Hospital, Kathmandu, Nepal, to investigate whether gatifloxacin is more effective than chloramphenicol for treating uncomplicated enteric fever. Children and adults clinically diagnosed with enteric fever received either gatifloxacin (10 mg/kg) once a day for 7 days, or chloramphenicol (75 mg/kg per day) in four divided doses for 14 days. Patients were randomly allocated treatment (1:1) in blocks of 50, without stratification. Allocations were placed in sealed envelopes opened by the study physician once a patient was enrolled into the trial. Masking was not possible because of the different formulations and ways of giving the two drugs. The primary outcome measure was treatment failure, which consisted of at least one of the following: persistent fever at day 10, need for rescue treatment, microbiological failure, relapse until day 31, and enteric-fever-related complications. The primary outcome was assessed in all patients randomly allocated treatment and reported separately for culture-positive patients and for all patients. Secondary outcome measures were fever clearance time, late relapse, and faecal carriage. The trial is registered on, number ISRCTN 53258327. FINDINGS: 844 patients with a median age of 16 (IQR 9-22) years were enrolled in the trial and randomly allocated a treatment. 352 patients had blood-culture-confirmed enteric fever: 175 were treated with chloramphenicol and 177 with gatifloxacin. 14 patients had treatment failure in the chloramphenicol group, compared with 12 in the gatifloxacin group (hazard ratio [HR] of time to failure 0·86, 95% CI 0·40-1·86, p=0·70). The median time to fever clearance was 3·95 days (95% CI 3·68-4·68) in the chloramphenicol group and 3·90 days (3·58-4·27) in the gatifloxacin group (HR 1·06, 0·86-1·32, p=0·59). At 1 month only, three of 148 patients were stool-culture positive in the chloramphenicol group and none in the gatifloxacin group. At the end of 3 months only one person had a positive stool culture in the chloramphenicol group. There were no other positive stool cultures even at the end of 6 months. Late relapses were noted in three of 175 patients in the culture-confirmed chloramphenicol group and two of 177 in the gatifloxacin group. There were no culture-positive relapses after day 62. 99 patients (24%) experienced 168 adverse events in the chloramphenicol group and 59 (14%) experienced 73 events in the gatifloxacin group. INTERPRETATION: Although no more efficacious than chloramphenicol, gatifloxacin should be the preferred treatment for enteric fever in developing countries because of its shorter treatment duration and fewer adverse events. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust. Hide abstract

Khor CC, Chau TNB, Pang J, Davila S, Long HT, Ong RTH, Dunstan SJ, Wills B et al. 2011. Genome-wide association study identifies susceptibility loci for dengue shock syndrome at MICB and PLCE1 Nature Genetics, 43 (11), pp. 1139-1141. Read abstract | Read more

Hypovolemic shock (dengue shock syndrome (DSS)) is the most common life-threatening complication of dengue. We conducted a genome-wide association study of 2,008 pediatric cases treated for DSS and 2,018 controls from Vietnam. Replication of the most significantly associated markers was carried out in an independent Vietnamese sample of 1,737 cases and 2,934 controls. SNPs at two loci showed genome-wide significant association with DSS. We identified a susceptibility locus at MICB (major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I polypeptide-related sequence B), which was within the broad MHC region on chromosome 6 but outside the class I and class II HLA loci (rs3132468, P meta = 4.41 × 10 -11, per-allele odds ratio (OR) = 1.34 (95% confidence interval: 1.23-1.46)). We identified associated variants within PLCE1 (phospholipase C, epsilon 1) on chromosome 10 (rs3765524, P meta = 3.08 × 10 -10, per-allele OR = 0.80 (95% confidence interval: 0.75-0.86)). We identify two loci associated with susceptibility to DSS in people with dengue, suggesting possible mechanisms for this severe complication of dengue. © 2011 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved. Hide abstract

van de Beek D, Farrar JJ, de Gans J, Mai NT, Molyneux EM, Peltola H, Peto TE, Roine I et al. 2010. Adjunctive dexamethasone in bacterial meningitis: a meta-analysis of individual patient data. Lancet Neurol, 9 (3), pp. 254-263. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Dexamethasone improves outcome for some patients with bacterial meningitis, but not others. We aimed to identify which patients are most likely to benefit from dexamethasone treatment. METHODS: We did a meta-analysis of individual patient data from the randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of dexamethasone for bacterial meningitis in patients of all ages for which raw data were available. The pre-determined outcome measures were death at the time of first follow-up, death or severe neurological sequelae at 1 month follow-up, death or any neurological sequelae at first follow-up, and death or severe bilateral hearing loss at first follow-up. Combined odds ratios (ORs) and tests for heterogeneity were calculated using conventional Mantel-Haenszel statistics. We also did exploratory analysis of hearing loss among survivors and other exploratory subgroup analyses by use of logistic regression. FINDINGS: Data from 2029 patients from five trials were included in the analysis (833 [41.0%] aged <15 years). HIV infection was confirmed or likely in 580 (28.6%) patients and bacterial meningitis was confirmed in 1639 (80.8%). Dexamethasone was not associated with a significant reduction in death (270 of 1019 [26.5%] on dexamethasone vs 275 of 1010 [27.2%] on placebo; OR 0.97, 95% CI 0.79-1.19), death or severe neurological sequelae or bilateral severe deafness (42.3%vs 44.3%; 0.92, 0.76-1.11), death or any neurological sequelae or any hearing loss (54.2%vs 57.4%; 0.89, 0.74-1.07), or death or severe bilateral hearing loss (36.4%vs 38.9%; 0.89, 0.73-1.69). However, dexamethasone seemed to reduce hearing loss among survivors (24.1%vs 29.5%; 0.77, 0.60-0.99, p=0.04). Dexamethasone had no effect in any of the prespecified subgroups, including specific causative organisms, pre-dexamethasone antibiotic treatment, HIV status, or age. Pooling of the mortality data with those of all other published trials did not significantly change the results. INTERPRETATION: Adjunctive dexamethasone in the treatment of acute bacterial meningitis does not seem to significantly reduce death or neurological disability. There were no significant treatment effects in any of the prespecified subgroups. The benefit of adjunctive dexamethasone for all or any subgroup of patients with bacterial meningitis thus remains unproven. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust UK. Hide abstract

Tran TH, Ruiz-Palacios GM, Hayden FG, Farrar J. 2009. Patient-oriented pandemic influenza research. Lancet, 373 (9681), pp. 2085-2086. | Read more

Farrar J. 2007. Global health science: a threat and an opportunity for collaborative clinical science. Nat Immunol, 8 (12), pp. 1277-1279. | Read more

Nguyen TH, Tran TH, Thwaites G, Ly VC, Dinh XS, Ho Dang TN, Dang QT, Nguyen DP et al. 2007. Dexamethasone in Vietnamese adolescents and adults with bacterial meningitis. N Engl J Med, 357 (24), pp. 2431-2440. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: It is uncertain whether all adults with bacterial meningitis benefit from treatment with adjunctive dexamethasone. METHODS: We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of dexamethasone in 435 patients over the age of 14 years who had suspected bacterial meningitis. The goal was to determine whether dexamethasone reduced the risk of death at 1 month and the risk of death or disability at 6 months. RESULTS: A total of 217 patients were assigned to the dexamethasone group, and 218 to the placebo group. Bacterial meningitis was confirmed in 300 patients (69.0%), probable meningitis was diagnosed in 123 patients (28.3%), and an alternative diagnosis was made in 12 patients (2.8%). An intention-to-treat analysis of all the patients showed that dexamethasone was not associated with a significant reduction in the risk of death at 1 month (relative risk, 0.79; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.45 to 1.39) or the risk of death or disability at 6 months (odds ratio, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.47 to 1.17). In patients with confirmed bacterial meningitis, however, there was a significant reduction in the risk of death at 1 month (relative risk, 0.43; 95% CI, 0.20 to 0.94) and in the risk of death or disability at 6 months (odds ratio, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.32 to 0.98). These effects were not found in patients with probable bacterial meningitis. Results of multivariate analysis indicated that dexamethasone treatment for patients with probable bacterial meningitis was significantly associated with an increased risk of death at 1 month, an observation that may be explained by cases of tuberculous meningitis in the treatment group. CONCLUSIONS: Dexamethasone does not improve the outcome in all adolescents and adults with suspected bacterial meningitis; a beneficial effect appears to be confined to patients with microbiologically proven disease, including those who have received prior treatment with antibiotics. (Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN42986828 [] .). Hide abstract

de Jong MD, Simmons CP, Thanh TT, Hien VM, Smith GJ, Chau TN, Hoang DM, Chau NV et al. 2006. Fatal outcome of human influenza A (H5N1) is associated with high viral load and hypercytokinemia. Nat Med, 12 (10), pp. 1203-1207. Read abstract | Read more

Avian influenza A (H5N1) viruses cause severe disease in humans, but the basis for their virulence remains unclear. In vitro and animal studies indicate that high and disseminated viral replication is important for disease pathogenesis. Laboratory experiments suggest that virus-induced cytokine dysregulation may contribute to disease severity. To assess the relevance of these findings for human disease, we performed virological and immunological studies in 18 individuals with H5N1 and 8 individuals infected with human influenza virus subtypes. Influenza H5N1 infection in humans is characterized by high pharyngeal virus loads and frequent detection of viral RNA in rectum and blood. Viral RNA in blood was present only in fatal H5N1 cases and was associated with higher pharyngeal viral loads. We observed low peripheral blood T-lymphocyte counts and high chemokine and cytokine levels in H5N1-infected individuals, particularly in those who died, and these correlated with pharyngeal viral loads. Genetic characterization of H5N1 viruses revealed mutations in the viral polymerase complex associated with mammalian adaptation and virulence. Our observations indicate that high viral load, and the resulting intense inflammatory responses, are central to influenza H5N1 pathogenesis. The focus of clinical management should be on preventing this intense cytokine response, by early diagnosis and effective antiviral treatment. Hide abstract

Deen JL, Harris E, Wills B, Balmaseda A, Hammond SN, Rocha C, Dung NM, Hung NT, Hien TT, Farrar JJ. 2006. The WHO dengue classification and case definitions: time for a reassessment. Lancet, 368 (9530), pp. 170-173. | Read more

Simmons CP, Thwaites GE, Quyen NT, Torok E, Hoang DM, Chau TT, Mai PP, Lan NT et al. 2006. Pretreatment intracerebral and peripheral blood immune responses in Vietnamese adults with tuberculous meningitis: diagnostic value and relationship to disease severity and outcome. J Immunol, 176 (3), pp. 2007-2014. Read abstract

Tuberculous meningitis (TBM) is the most devastating form of tuberculosis. Both intracerebral and peripheral blood immune responses may be relevant to pathogenesis, diagnosis, and outcome. In this study, the relationship between pretreatment host response, disease phenotype, and outcome in Vietnamese adults with TBM was examined. Before treatment, peripheral blood IFN-gamma ELISPOT responses to the Mycobacterium tuberculosis Ags ESAT-6, CFP-10, and purified protein derivative (PPD) were a poor diagnostic predictor of TBM. Cerebrospinal fluid IL-6 concentrations at presentation were independently associated with severe disease presentation, suggesting an immunological correlate of neurological damage before treatment. Surprisingly however, elevated cerebrospinal fluid inflammatory cytokines were not associated with death or disability in HIV-negative TBM patients at presentation. HIV coinfection attenuated multiple cerebrospinal fluid inflammatory indices. Low cerebrospinal fluid IFN-gamma concentrations were independently associated with death in HIV-positive TBM patients, implying that IFN-gamma contributes to immunity and survival. Collectively, these results reveal the effect of HIV coinfection on the pathogenesis of TBM and suggest that intracerebral immune responses, at least in HIV-negative cases, may not be as intimately associated with disease outcome as previously thought. Hide abstract

de Jong MD, Tran TT, Truong HK, Vo MH, Smith GJ, Nguyen VC, Bach VC, Phan TQ et al. 2005. Oseltamivir resistance during treatment of influenza A (H5N1) infection. N Engl J Med, 353 (25), pp. 2667-2672. Read abstract | Read more

Influenza A (H5N1) virus with an amino acid substitution in neuraminidase conferring high-level resistance to oseltamivir was isolated from two of eight Vietnamese patients during oseltamivir treatment. Both patients died of influenza A (H5N1) virus infection, despite early initiation of treatment in one patient. Surviving patients had rapid declines in the viral load to undetectable levels during treatment. These observations suggest that resistance can emerge during the currently recommended regimen of oseltamivir therapy and may be associated with clinical deterioration and that the strategy for the treatment of influenza A (H5N1) virus infection should include additional antiviral agents. Hide abstract

Simmons CP, Thwaites GE, Quyen NT, Chau TT, Mai PP, Dung NT, Stepniewska K, White NJ, Hien TT, Farrar J. 2005. The clinical benefit of adjunctive dexamethasone in tuberculous meningitis is not associated with measurable attenuation of peripheral or local immune responses. J Immunol, 175 (1), pp. 579-590. Read abstract

Outcome from tuberculous meningitis (TBM) is believed to be dependent on the severity of the intracerebral inflammatory response. We have recently shown that dexamethasone improved survival in adults with TBM and postulated that the clinical effect would be associated with a measurable systemic and intracerebral impact on immunological markers of inflammation. Prolonged inflammatory responses were detected in all TBM patients irrespective of treatment assignment (placebo or dexamethasone). The inflammatory response in the cerebrospinal fluid was characterized by a leukocytosis (predominantly CD3(+)CD4(+) T lymphocytes, phenotypically distinct from those in the peripheral blood), elevated concentrations of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and evidence of prolonged blood-brain barrier dysfunction. Dexamethasone significantly modulated acute cerebrospinal fluid protein concentrations and marginally reduced IFN-gamma concentrations; other immunological and routine biochemical indices of inflammation were unaffected. Peripheral blood monocyte and T cell responses to Mycobacterium tuberculosis Ags were also unaffected. Dexamethasone does not appear to improve survival from TBM by attenuating immunological mediators of inflammation in the subarachnoid space or by suppressing peripheral T cell responses to mycobacterial Ags. These findings challenge previously held theories of corticosteroid action in this disease. An understanding of how dexamethasone acts in TBM may suggest novel and more effective treatment strategies. Hide abstract

Hien TT, Davis TM, Chuong LV, Ilett KF, Sinh DX, Phu NH, Agus C, Chiswell GM, White NJ, Farrar J. 2004. Comparative pharmacokinetics of intramuscular artesunate and artemether in patients with severe falciparum malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 48 (11), pp. 4234-4239. Read abstract | Read more

The first-dose pharmacokinetic properties of intramuscular (i.m.) artesunate (ARTS; 2.4 mg/kg immediately [stat], followed by 1.2 mg/kg i.m. daily) and artemether (ARM; 3.2 mg/kg i.m. stat, followed by 1.6 mg/kg i.m. daily) were compared in Vietnamese adults with severe falciparum malaria. A total of 19 patients were studied; 9 received ARTS, and 10 received ARM. ARTS was absorbed very rapidly; concentrations in plasma peaked between 1,362 and 8,388 nmol/liter (median, 5,710 nmol/liter) within 20 min of injection and then declined with a median (range) half-life (t(1/2)) of 30 (3 to 67) min. ARTS was hydrolyzed rapidly and completely to the biologically active metabolite dihydroartemisinin (DHA). Peak DHA concentrations in plasma ranged between 1,718 and 7,080 nmol/liter (median, 3,060 nmol/liter) and declined with a t(1/2) of 52 (26 to 69) min. In contrast, ARM was slowly and erratically absorbed. The absorption profile appeared biphasic. Maximum ARM concentrations in plasma ranged between 67 nmol/liter (a value close to the 50% inhibitory concentration for some Plasmodium falciparum isolates) and 1,631 nmol/liter (median, 574 nmol/liter) and occurred at a median (range) of 10 (1.5 to 24) h. There was relatively little conversion to DHA. After i.m. injection in cases of severe malaria, absorption of the water-soluble ARTS is rapid and extensive, whereas the oil-based ARM is slowly and erratically absorbed, with relatively little conversion to the more active DHA. On the basis of this pharmacological study, parenteral ARTS is preferable to ARM as an initial antimalarial therapy, particularly in the most seriously ill patients. These findings should be formally assessed by a randomized clinical trial. Hide abstract

Thwaites GE, Nguyen DB, Nguyen HD, Hoang TQ, Do TT, Nguyen TC, Nguyen QH, Nguyen TT et al. 2004. Dexamethasone for the treatment of tuberculous meningitis in adolescents and adults. N Engl J Med, 351 (17), pp. 1741-1751. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Tuberculous meningitis kills or disables more than half of those affected with the disease. Previous studies have been too small to determine whether adjunctive treatment with corticosteroids can reduce the risk of disability or death among adults with tuberculous meningitis, and the effect of coinfection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is unclear. METHODS: We performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in Vietnam in patients over 14 years of age who had tuberculous meningitis, with or without HIV infection, to determine whether adjunctive treatment with dexamethasone reduced the risk of death or severe disability after nine months of follow-up. We conducted prespecified subgroup analyses and intention-to-treat analyses. RESULTS: A total of 545 patients were randomly assigned to groups that received either dexamethasone (274 patients) or placebo (271 patients). Only 10 patients (1.8 percent) had been lost to follow-up at nine months of treatment. Treatment with dexamethasone was associated with a reduced risk of death (relative risk, 0.69; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.52 to 0.92; P=0.01). It was not associated with a significant reduction in the proportion of severely disabled patients (34 of 187 patients [18.2 percent] among survivors in the dexamethasone group vs. 22 of 159 patients [13.8 percent] in the placebo group, P=0.27) or in the proportion of patients who had either died or were severely disabled after nine months (odds ratio, 0.81; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.58 to 1.13; P=0.22). The treatment effect was consistent across subgroups that were defined by disease-severity grade (stratified relative risk of death, 0.68; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.52 to 0.91; P=0.007) and by HIV status (stratified relative risk of death, 0.78; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.59 to 1.04; P=0.08). Significantly fewer serious adverse events occurred in the dexamethasone group than in the placebo group (26 of 274 patients vs. 45 of 271 patients, P=0.02). CONCLUSIONS: Adjunctive treatment with dexamethasone improves survival in patients over 14 years of age with tuberculous meningitis but probably does not prevent severe disability. Hide abstract

Tran TH, Nguyen TL, Nguyen TD, Luong TS, Pham PM, Nguyen VV, Pham TS, Vo CD et al. 2004. Avian influenza A (H5N1) in 10 patients in Vietnam. N Engl J Med, 350 (12), pp. 1179-1188. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Recent outbreaks of avian influenza A (H5N1) in poultry throughout Asia have had major economic and health repercussions. Human infections with this virus were identified in Vietnam in January 2004. METHODS: We report the clinical features and preliminary epidemiologic findings among 10 patients with confirmed cases of avian influenza A (H5N1) who presented to hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, Vietnam, in December 2003 and January 2004. RESULTS: In all 10 cases, the diagnosis of influenza A (H5N1) was confirmed by means of viral culture or reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction with primers specific for H5 and N1. None of the 10 patients (mean age, 13.7 years) had preexisting medical conditions. Nine of them had a clear history of direct contact with poultry (median time before onset of illness, three days). All patients presented with fever (temperature, 38.5 to 40.0 degrees C), respiratory symptoms, and clinically significant lymphopenia (median lymphocyte count, 700 per cubic millimeter). The median platelet count was 75,500 per cubic millimeter. Seven patients had diarrhea. In all patients, there were marked abnormalities on chest radiography. There was no definitive evidence of human-to-human transmission. Eight patients died, one patient has recovered, and one is recovering. CONCLUSIONS: Influenza A (H5N1) infection, characterized by fever, respiratory symptoms, and lymphopenia, carries a high risk of death. Although in all 10 cases the infection appears to have been acquired directly from infected poultry, the potential exists for genetic reassortment with human influenzaviruses and the evolution of human-to-human transmission. Containment of influenza A (H5N1) in poultry throughout Asia is therefore urgently required. Hide abstract

Tran TH, Dolecek C, Pham PM, Nguyen TD, Nguyen TT, Le HT, Dong TH, Tran TT, Stepniewska K, White NJ, Farrar J. 2004. Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine against multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Vietnam: randomised clinical trial. Lancet, 363 (9402), pp. 18-22. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Southeast Asia has the most resistant malaria parasites in the world, which severely limits treatment options. There is general acceptance that to combat resistance, combinations of antimalarial drugs that include an artemisinin derivative should be used, and, if possible, these should be formulated in a single tablet. METHODS: We did a pilot randomised study in a tertiary referral hospital in Vietnam to compare the efficacy of 3-day regimens of dihydroartemisinin-trimethoprim-piperaquine (DHA-TP total dose 4.8/13.6/48 mg/kg, respectively) with the standard antimalarial regimen in Vietnam, artesunate-mefloquine (A3M total dose 12/25 mg/kg, respectively) in non-immune patients with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. 114 patients were randomised, 76 to DHA-TP and 38 to A3M. The subsequent open randomised trial at a Provincial Health Station compared DHA-TP, dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine, and A3M in 400 patients. In both studies all patients received directly observed therapy and were followed up for 56 days. The primary endpoint was reappearance of P falciparum malaria within 56 days of treatment. Analysis was by intention to treat. FINDINGS: The 56-day cure rate in the pilot study, adjusted for reinfections identified by PCR genotyping, was 97.4% (74/76) in the DHA-TP group and 100% (38/38) in the A3M group. In the second study, cure rates were similar in the three groups; DHA-TP 97.4% (153/157), dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine 98.7% (164/166), and A3M 98.7% (76/77). The DHA-TP and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine regimens were well tolerated; fewer than 3% of patients had side-effects that might have been related to treatment, compared with 16% of A3M patients (p<0.001). No patients were lost to follow-up. INTERPRETATION: Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is an inexpensive, safe, highly efficacious fixed-dose antimalarial combination treatment that could make an important contribution to the control of multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria. Hide abstract


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