Professor 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 international project within Oxford University in the United Kingdom and funded by a programme grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the ExxonMobil Foundation and UKAID. For further information, visit www.wwarn.org.
|Professor Richard Price||Tropical Medicine||University of Oxford||United Kingdom|
|Professor Trudie Lang||Tropical Medicine||University of Oxford||United Kingdom|
|Professor François H Nosten||Tropical Medicine||University of Oxford||United Kingdom|
|Professor Peter Horby||Tropical Medicine||University of Oxford||United Kingdom|
|Professor Nicholas PJ Day FMedSci FRCP||Tropical Medicine||University of Oxford||United Kingdom|
|Professor Paul Newton||Tropical Medicine||University of Oxford||United Kingdom|
|Professor Nicholas J White FRS||Tropical Medicine||University of Oxford||United Kingdom|
|Professor J. Kevin Baird||Tropical Medicine||University of Oxford||United Kingdom|
BACKGROUND: Artesunate-amodiaquine (AS-AQ) is one of the most widely used artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) to treat uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Africa. We investigated the impact of different dosing strategies on the efficacy of this combination for the treatment of falciparum malaria. METHODS: Individual patient data from AS-AQ clinical trials were pooled using the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) standardised methodology. Risk factors for treatment failure were identified using a Cox regression model with shared frailty across study sites. RESULTS: Forty-three studies representing 9,106 treatments from 1999-2012 were included in the analysis; 4,138 (45.4%) treatments were with a fixed dose combination with an AQ target dose of 30 mg/kg (FDC), 1,293 (14.2%) with a non-fixed dose combination with an AQ target dose of 25 mg/kg (loose NFDC-25), 2,418 (26.6%) with a non-fixed dose combination with an AQ target dose of 30 mg/kg (loose NFDC-30), and the remaining 1,257 (13.8%) with a co-blistered non-fixed dose combination with an AQ target dose of 30 mg/kg (co-blistered NFDC). The median dose of AQ administered was 32.1 mg/kg [IQR: 25.9-38.2], the highest dose being administered to patients treated with co-blistered NFDC (median = 35.3 mg/kg [IQR: 30.6-43.7]) and the lowest to those treated with loose NFDC-25 (median = 25.0 mg/kg [IQR: 22.7-25.0]). Patients treated with FDC received a median dose of 32.4 mg/kg [IQR: 27-39.0]. After adjusting for reinfections, the corrected antimalarial efficacy on day 28 after treatment was similar for co-blistered NFDC (97.9% [95% confidence interval (CI): 97.0-98.8%]) and FDC (98.1% [95% CI: 97.6%-98.5%]; P = 0.799), but significantly lower for the loose NFDC-25 (93.4% [95% CI: 91.9%-94.9%]), and loose NFDC-30 (95.0% [95% CI: 94.1%-95.9%]) (P < 0.001 for all comparisons). After controlling for age, AQ dose, baseline parasitemia and region; treatment with loose NFDC-25 was associated with a 3.5-fold greater risk of recrudescence by day 28 (adjusted hazard ratio, AHR = 3.51 [95% CI: 2.02-6.12], P < 0.001) compared to FDC, and treatment with loose NFDC-30 was associated with a higher risk of recrudescence at only three sites. CONCLUSIONS: There was substantial variation in the total dose of amodiaquine administered in different AS-AQ combination regimens. Fixed dose AS-AQ combinations ensure optimal dosing and provide higher antimalarial treatment efficacy than the loose individual tablets in all age categories. Hide abstract
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. Hide abstract
BMJ, 350 (feb25 10), pp. h602. | Read more2015. Quality assurance of drugs used in clinical trials: proposal for adapting guidelines.
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
BACKGROUND: 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. METHODS: The database collates customized summaries of 251 published anti-malarial quality reports in English, French and Spanish by time and location since 1946. It also includes information on assays to determine quality, sampling and medicine regulation. RESULTS: No publicly available reports for 60.6% (63) of the 104 malaria-endemic countries were found. Out of 9,348 anti-malarials sampled, 30.1% (2,813) failed chemical/packaging quality tests with 39.3% classified as falsified, 2.3% as substandard and 58.3% as poor quality without evidence available to categorize them as either substandard or falsified. Only 32.3% of the reports explicitly described their definitions of medicine quality and just 9.1% (855) of the samples collected in 4.6% (six) surveys were conducted using random sampling techniques. Packaging analysis was only described in 21.5% of publications and up to twenty wrong active ingredients were found in falsified anti-malarials. CONCLUSIONS: There are severe neglected problems with anti-malarial quality but there are important caveats to accurately estimate the prevalence and distribution of poor quality anti-malarials. The lack of reports in many malaria-endemic areas, inadequate sampling techniques and inadequate chemical analytical methods and instrumental procedures emphasizes the need to interpret medicine quality results with caution. The available evidence demonstrates the need for more investment to improve both sampling and analytical methodology and to achieve consensus in defining different types of poor quality medicines. Hide abstract
BACKGROUND: 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. METHODS: A Bayesian statistical model was developed to estimate Plasmodium falciparum genetic motif frequencies from prevalence data collected in the field. To assess model performance and computational speed, a detailed simulation study was implemented. Application of the model was tested using datasets from five sites in Uganda. The datasets included prevalence data on markers of resistance to sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine and an average MOI estimate for each study site. RESULTS: The simulation study revealed that the genetic motif frequencies that were estimated using the model were more accurate and precise than conventional estimates based on direct counting. Importantly, the model did not require measurements of the MOI in each patient; it used the average MOI in the patient population. Furthermore, if a dataset included partially genotyped patient blood samples, the model imputed the data that were missing. Using the model and the Ugandan data, genotype frequencies were estimated and four biologically relevant genotypes were identified. CONCLUSIONS: The model allows fast, accurate, reliable estimation of the frequency of genetic motifs associated with resistance to anti-malarials using prevalence data collected from malaria patients. The model does not require per-patient MOI measurements and can easily analyse data from five markers. The model will be a valuable tool for monitoring markers of anti-malarial drug resistance, including markers of resistance to artemisinin derivatives and partner drugs. 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
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. 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
BACKGROUND: 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. METHODS: An open-label, randomized controlled non-inferiority trial compared the genotyping adjusted day 42 cure rates of ASAQ FDC (ASAQ Winthrop®) to AL (Coartem®) in 300 children aged six to 59 months with uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Inclusion was between December 2008 and May 2009. Randomization (1:1) was to a three-day observed oral regimen (ASAQ: once a day; AL: twice a day, given with fatty food). Day 7 desethylamodiaquine and lumefantrine blood-concentrations were also measured. RESULTS: The day 42 genotyping-adjusted cure rate estimates were 97.3% [95% CI: 91.6-99.1] for ASAQ and 94.2% [88.1-97.2] for AL (Kaplan-Meier survival estimates). The difference in day 42 cure rates was -3.1% [upper limit 95% CI: 1.2%]. These results were confirmed by observed proportion of patients cured at day 42 on the per-protocol population. Parasite clearance was 100% (ASAQ) and 99.3% (AL) on day 3. The probability to remain free of re-infection was 0.55 [95% CI: 0.46-0.63] (ASAQ) and 0.66 [0.57-0.73] (AL) (p = 0.017). CONCLUSIONS: Both ASAQ and AL were highly efficacious and ASAQ was non-inferior to AL. The proportion of patients with re-infection was high in both arms in this highly endemic setting. In 2010, ASAQ FDC was adopted as the first-line national treatment in Liberia. Continuous efficacy monitoring is recommended. TRIAL REGISTRATION: The protocols were registered with Current Controlled Trials, under the identifier numbers ISRCTN51688713, ISRCTN40020296. Hide abstract
BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum has repeatedly evolved resistance to first-line anti-malarial drugs, thwarting efforts to control and eliminate the disease and in some period of time this contributed largely to an increase in mortality. Here a mathematical model was developed to map the spatiotemporal trends in the distribution of mutations in the P. falciparum dihydropteroate synthetase (dhps) gene that confer resistance to the anti-malarial sulphadoxine, and are a useful marker for the combination of alleles in dhfr and dhps that is highly correlated with resistance to sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP). The aim of this study was to present a proof of concept for spatiotemporal modelling of trends in anti-malarial drug resistance that can be applied to monitor trends in resistance to components of artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) or other anti-malarials, as they emerge or spread. METHODS: Prevalence measurements of single nucleotide polymorphisms in three codon positions of the dihydropteroate synthetase (dhps) gene from published studies of dhps mutations across Africa were used. A model-based geostatistics approach was adopted to create predictive surfaces of the dhps540E mutation over the spatial domain of sub-Saharan Africa from 1990-2010. The statistical model was implemented within a Bayesian framework and hence quantified the associated uncertainty of the prediction of the prevalence of the dhps540E mutation in sub-Saharan Africa. CONCLUSIONS: The maps presented visualize the changing prevalence of the dhps540E mutation in sub-Saharan Africa. These allow prediction of space-time trends in the parasite resistance to SP, and provide probability distributions of resistance prevalence in places where no data are available as well as insight on the spread of resistance in a way that the data alone do not allow. The results of this work will be extended to design optimal sampling strategies for the future molecular surveillance of resistance, providing a proof of concept for similar techniques to design optimal strategies to monitor resistance to ACT. Hide abstract
BACKGROUND: 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. METHODS: Two open-label, randomized trials were conducted in Nimba County, Liberia: i) the main tolerability trial with 1,000 Plasmodium falciparum malaria patients aged over five years (Study-T), and, ii) an efficacy trial with a secondary objective of collecting tolerability data among 300 children age six to 59 months (Study-E). In both studies patients were randomized to fixed-dose artesunate-amodiaquine (ASAQ Winthrop®) or artemether-lumefantrine (AL, Coartem®), respectively. Clinical- and laboratory-adverse events (AEs) were recorded until day 28. RESULTS: Study-T: most patients experienced at least one AE. Severe AEs were few, primarily asymptomatic blood system disorders or increased liver enzyme values. No treatment or study discontinuation occurred. Mild or moderate fatigue (39.8% vs 16.3%, p < 0.001), vomiting (7.1% vs 1.6%, p < 0.001), nausea (3.2% vs 1.0%, p = 0.01), and anaemia (14.9% vs 9.8%, p = 0.01) were more frequently recorded in the ASAQ versus AL arm. Study-E: mild or moderate AEs were common, including anaemia, fatigue, vomiting or diarrhoea. The few severe events were asymptomatic blood system disorders and four clinical events (pneumonia, malaria, vomiting and stomatitis). CONCLUSION: Both ASAQ and AL were well tolerated in patients of all age groups. No unexpected AEs occurred. Certain mild or moderate AEs were more frequent in the ASAQ arm. Standardised safety surveillance should continue for all forms of ACT. TRIAL REGISTRATION: The protocols were registered with Current Controlled Trials, under the identifier numbers ISRCTN40020296, ISRCTN51688713, (http://www.controlled-trials.com). 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) 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 the key investigat ...