Prof Philippe J Guerin
|Research Area:||Global Health|
|Technology Exchange:||Bioinformatics and Medical statistics|
|Scientific Themes:||Tropical Medicine & Global Health and Clinical Trials & Epidemiology|
|Keywords:||Malaria, Resistance, Clinical, Pharmacological, Molecular and Policy|
The Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) is a global collaboration working to ensure that anyone affected by malaria receives effective and safe drug treatment.
Of the approximately one million people who die from the effects of malaria every year, most are children under five years of age. In the absence of an effective vaccine, the best lines of defence are avoidance of mosquito bites or effective drug therapy. However, malarial parasites are able to become rapidly resistant to commonly-used or even new drugs.
WWARN will provide urgently needed, comprehensive, timely and quality-assured information to track the emergence of malarial drug resistance. High levels of clinical treatment failure are amongst the last indicators of drug resistance. Uniquely WWARN will, in parallel with the clinical response to drug treatment, track pharmacological, molecular and laboratory measures of parasite drug resistance. Small changes in one or more of these factors may provide early warning of emerging resistance. Collated information will allow policy makers at national, regional or international levels to develop strategies that make best use of available drugs and resources.
Global cooperation is central to WWARN’s future success. Working in close collaboration with the World Health Organization, WWARN has created the hub of a worldwide network that will supply tools, training and resources to maximize scientists’ contributions.
WWARN is an independent project within Oxford University in the United Kingdom and funded by a programme grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. For further information, visit www.wwarn.org.
|Prof Richard Price||Tropical Medicine||University of Oxford||United Kingdom|
|Prof Trudie Lang||Tropical Medicine||University of Oxford||United Kingdom|
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.). Hide abstract
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. Hide abstract
Comprehensive assessment of antimalarial drug resistance should include measurements of antimalarial blood or plasma concentrations in clinical trials and in individual assessments of treatment failure so that true resistance can be differentiated from inadequate drug exposure. Pharmacometric modeling is necessary to assess pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic relationships in different populations to optimize dosing. To accomplish both effectively and to allow comparison of data from different laboratories, it is essential that drug concentration measurement is accurate. Proficiency testing (PT) of laboratory procedures is necessary for verification of assay results. Within the Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN), the goal of the quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) program is to facilitate and sustain high-quality antimalarial assays. The QA/QC program consists of an international PT program for pharmacology laboratories and a reference material (RM) program for the provision of antimalarial drug standards, metabolites, and internal standards for laboratory use. The RM program currently distributes accurately weighed quantities of antimalarial drug standards, metabolites, and internal standards to 44 pharmacology, in vitro, and drug quality testing laboratories. The pharmacology PT program has sent samples to eight laboratories in four rounds of testing. WWARN technical experts have provided advice for correcting identified problems to improve performance of subsequent analysis and ultimately improved the quality of data. Many participants have demonstrated substantial improvements over subsequent rounds of PT. The WWARN QA/QC program has improved the quality and value of antimalarial drug measurement in laboratories globally. It is a model that has potential to be applied to strengthening laboratories more widely and improving the therapeutics of other infectious diseases. Hide abstract
Poor quality medicines threaten the lives of millions of patients and are alarmingly common in many parts of the world. Nevertheless, the global extent of the problem remains unknown. Accurate estimates of the epidemiology of poor quality medicines are sparse and are influenced by sampling methodology and diverse chemical analysis techniques. In order to understand the existing data, the Antimalarial Quality Scientific Group at WWARN built a comprehensive, open-access, global database and linked Antimalarial Quality Surveyor, an online visualization tool. Analysis of the database is described here, the limitations of the studies and data reported, and their public health implications discussed. Hide abstract
Reliable measures of anti-malarial resistance are crucial for malaria control. Resistance is typically a complex trait: multiple mutations in a single parasite (a haplotype or genotype) are necessary for elaboration of the resistant phenotype. The frequency of a genetic motif (proportion of parasite clones in the parasite population that carry a given allele, haplotype or genotype) is a useful measure of resistance. In areas of high endemicity, malaria patients generally harbour multiple parasite clones; they have multiplicities of infection (MOIs) greater than one. However, most standard experimental procedures only allow measurement of marker prevalence (proportion of patient blood samples that test positive for a given mutation or combination of mutations), not frequency. It is misleading to compare marker prevalence between sites that have different mean MOIs; frequencies are required instead. Hide abstract
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. Hide abstract
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. Hide abstract
Resistance to chloroquine (CQ) and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) led the World Health Organization (WHO) to recommend changes in national drug policies. The time between policy changes and their implementation profoundly affects program impact. We developed a model based on data on antimalarial treatments, extracted from household surveys and national antimalarial policy information from the literature. Drug use in each country during the time period 1999-2011 and the trend in reduction of CQ use after policy change were estimated. The SP use estimates were correlated with the prevalence of a molecular marker associated with SP resistance. There was no spatial pattern in the country-level rate of reduction of CQ use, after policy change. In East Africa SP drug use was strongly correlated to resistance. If artemisinin resistance spreads to, or emerges in, Africa this methodology will be a valuable tool to estimate actual drug use and its impact on changes in drug efficacy. Hide abstract
Prospective efficacy monitoring of anti-malarial treatments is imperative for timely detection of resistance development. The in vivo efficacy of artesunate-amodiaquine (ASAQ) fixed-dose combination (FDC) was compared to that of artemether-lumefantrine (AL) among children aged six to 59 months in Nimba County, Liberia, where Plasmodium falciparum malaria is endemic and efficacy data are scarce. Hide abstract
Safety surveillance of widely used artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) is essential, but tolerability data in the over five years age group are largely anecdotal. Hide abstract
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. Hide abstract
Impact of biological markers on antimalarial treatment outcomes
The Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN - www.wwarn.org) is seeking a doctoral candidate to study and model the impact of biological markers and genotyping methods on treatment outcome in clinical trials assessing the efficacy of antimalarials. The project will be supervised by Dr Christian Nsanzabana, Professor Philippe Guerin and Professor Richard Price. The student will be based in Oxford, joining a dynamic team at the Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health to identify ...