register interest

Prof Richard Price

Research Area: Global Health
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health
Keywords: malaria, epidemiology, drug resistance and clinical trials

The main focus of our research programme is to improve the diagnosis and management of multidrug resistant malaria through an agenda that spans clinical trials, epidemiology, health economics, pathophysiology, in vitro studies and molecular biology. To achieve this we are:

  • defining the burden of vivax malaria in South East Asia with particularly attention to areas where chloroquine resistance is emerging,
  • conducting clinical studies to optimise the safe and effective radical cure of vivax malaria,
  • developing ex vivo tools to improve the surveillance and characterisation of drug resistance in P. vivax,
  • evaluating the impact and cost effectiveness of widespread deployment of artemisinin combination therapies on malaria related morbidity and mortality.

The programme is being conducted in collaboration with the Mahidol Oxford Research Unit (MORU) in Thailand and the Menzies School of Health Research (MSHR) in Darwin. Together we have recently embarked upon a large leading multicentred clinical trial in more than seven malaria endemic countries to compare different primaquine regimens for the radical cure of vivax malaria. I am head of the clinical module of the World Wide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) and co-chair the Vivax Working Group of the Asia-Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN).

Current Projects:

  • Defining the morbidity and mortality of Plasmodium vivax.
  • Optimising the safe and effective radical cure of P. vivax
  • Investigating new strategies for the diagnosis and mapping of G6PD deficiency
  • Molecular characterisation of drug resistant malaria
  • In vitro drug susceptibility of Plasmodium: phenotypic characterisation and testing novel antimalarial compounds

Name Department Institution Country
Prof Nicholas Anstey International Health Division, Menzies School of Health Research Australia
Prof Nicholas J White FRS Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Prof François H Nosten Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Dr Rini Poespoprodjo Papuan Health and Community Development Foundation, Papu Indonesia
Dr Rintis Noviyanti Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, Jakarta Indonesia
Prof Qin Cheng Australian Malaria Institute, Brisbane Australia
Assoc. Prof. Julie Simpson Melbourne University Australia
Prof John Adams University of South Florida United States
Prof James McCarthy Malaria University of Queensland Australia

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. Read 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. Hide abstract

Douglas NM, Pontororing GJ, Lampah DA, Yeo TW, Kenangalem E, Poespoprodjo JR, Ralph AP, Bangs MJ, Sugiarto P, Anstey NM, Price RN. 2014. Mortality attributable to Plasmodium vivax malaria: a clinical audit from Papua, Indonesia. BMC Med, 12 (1), pp. 217. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium vivax causes almost half of all malaria cases in Asia and is recognised as a significant cause of morbidity. In recent years it has been associated with severe and fatal disease. The extent to which P. vivax contributes to death is not known. METHODS: To define the epidemiology of mortality attributable to vivax malaria in southern Papua, Indonesia, a retrospective clinical records-based audit was conducted of all deaths in patients with vivax malaria at a tertiary referral hospital. RESULTS: Between January 2004 and September 2009, hospital surveillance identified 3,495 inpatients with P. vivax monoinfection and 65 (1.9%) patients who subsequently died. Charts for 54 of these 65 patients could be reviewed, 40 (74%) of whom had pure P. vivax infections on cross-checking. Using pre-defined conservative criteria, vivax malaria was the primary cause of death in 6 cases, a major contributor in 17 cases and a minor contributor in a further 13 cases. Extreme anaemia was the most common primary cause of death. Malnutrition, sepsis with respiratory and gastrointestinal manifestations, and chronic diseases were the commonest attributed causes of death for patients in the latter two categories. There were an estimated 293,763 cases of pure P. vivax infection in the community during the study period giving an overall minimum case fatality of 0.12 per 1,000 infections. The corresponding case fatality in hospitalised patients was 10.3 per 1,000 infections. CONCLUSIONS: Although uncommonly directly fatal, vivax malaria is an important indirect cause of death in southern Papua in patients with malnutrition, sepsis syndrome and chronic diseases, including HIV infection. Hide abstract

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. Read 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). Hide abstract

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. Read 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. Hide abstract

Douglas NM, Lampah DA, Kenangalem E, Simpson JA, Poespoprodjo JR, Sugiarto P, Anstey NM, Price RN. 2013. Major burden of severe anemia from non-falciparum malaria species in Southern Papua: a hospital-based surveillance study. PLoS Med, 10 (12), pp. e1001575. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The burden of anemia attributable to non-falciparum malarias in regions with Plasmodium co-endemicity is poorly documented. We compared the hematological profile of patients with and without malaria in southern Papua, Indonesia. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Clinical and laboratory data were linked for all patients presenting to a referral hospital between April 2004 and December 2012. Data were available on patient demographics, malaria diagnosis, hemoglobin concentration, and clinical outcome, but other potential causes of anemia could not be identified reliably. Of 922,120 patient episodes (837,989 as outpatients and 84,131 as inpatients), a total of 219,845 (23.8%) were associated with a hemoglobin measurement, of whom 67,696 (30.8%) had malaria. Patients with P. malariae infection had the lowest hemoglobin concentration (n = 1,608, mean = 8.93 [95% CI 8.81-9.06]), followed by those with mixed species infections (n = 8,645, mean = 9.22 [95% CI 9.16-9.28]), P. falciparum (n = 37,554, mean = 9.47 [95% CI 9.44-9.50]), and P. vivax (n = 19,858, mean = 9.53 [95% CI 9.49-9.57]); p-value for all comparisons <0.001. Severe anemia (hemoglobin <5 g/dl) was present in 8,151 (3.7%) patients. Compared to patients without malaria, those with mixed Plasmodium infection were at greatest risk of severe anemia (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 3.25 [95% CI 2.99-3.54]); AORs for severe anaemia associated with P. falciparum, P. vivax, and P. malariae were 2.11 (95% CI 2.00-2.23), 1.87 (95% CI 1.74-2.01), and 2.18 (95% CI 1.76-2.67), respectively, p<0.001. Overall, 12.2% (95% CI 11.2%-13.3%) of severe anemia was attributable to non-falciparum infections compared with 15.1% (95% CI 13.9%-16.3%) for P. falciparum monoinfections. Patients with severe anemia had an increased risk of death (AOR = 5.80 [95% CI 5.17-6.50]; p<0.001). Not all patients had a hemoglobin measurement, thus limitations of the study include the potential for selection bias, and possible residual confounding in multivariable analyses. CONCLUSIONS: In Papua P. vivax is the dominant cause of severe anemia in early infancy, mixed P. vivax/P. falciparum infections are associated with a greater hematological impairment than either species alone, and in adulthood P. malariae, although rare, is associated with the lowest hemoglobin concentration. These findings highlight the public health importance of integrated genus-wide malaria control strategies in areas of Plasmodium co-endemicity. Hide abstract

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. Read 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. Hide abstract

Poespoprodjo JR, Fobia W, Kenangalem E, Lampah DA, Hasanuddin A, Warikar N, Sugiarto P, Tjitra E, Anstey NM, Price RN. 2009. Vivax malaria: a major cause of morbidity in early infancy. Clin Infect Dis, 48 (12), pp. 1704-1712. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In areas where malaria is endemic, infants aged <3 months appear to be relatively protected from symptomatic and severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria, but less is known about the effect of Plasmodium vivax infection in this age group. METHODS: To define malaria morbidity in the first year of life in an area where both multidrug-resistant P. falciparum and P. vivax are highly prevalent, data were gathered on all infants attending a referral hospital in Papua, Indonesia, using systematic data forms and hospital computerized records. Additional clinical and laboratory data were prospectively collected from inpatients aged <3 months. RESULTS: From April 2004 through April 2008, 4976 infants were admitted to the hospital, of whom 1560 (31%) had malaria, with infection equally attributable to P. falciparum and P. vivax. The case-fatality rate was similar for inpatients with P. falciparum malaria (13 [2.2%] of 599 inpatients died) and P. vivax malaria (6 [1.0%] of 603 died; P= .161), whereas severe malarial anemia was more prevalent among those with P. vivax malaria (193 [32%] of 605 vs. 144 [24%] of 601; P= .025). Of the 187 infants aged <3 months, 102 (56%) had P. vivax malaria, and 55 (30%) had P. falciparum malaria. In these young infants, infection with P. vivax was associated with a greater risk of severe anemia (odds ratio, 2.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.03-5.91; P= .041) and severe thrombocytopenia (odds ratio, 3.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.07-10.6; P= .036) compared with those who have P. falciparum infection. CONCLUSIONS: P. vivax malaria is a major cause of morbidity in early infancy. Preventive strategies, early diagnosis, and prompt treatment should be initiated in the perinatal period. Hide abstract

Tjitra E, Anstey NM, Sugiarto P, Warikar N, Kenangalem E, Karyana M, Lampah DA, Price RN. 2008. Multidrug-resistant Plasmodium vivax associated with severe and fatal malaria: a prospective study in Papua, Indonesia. PLoS Med, 5 (6), pp. e128. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Multidrug-resistant Plasmodium vivax (Pv) is widespread in eastern Indonesia, and emerging elsewhere in Asia-Pacific and South America, but is generally regarded as a benign disease. The aim of the study was to review the spectrum of disease associated with malaria due to Pv and P. falciparum (Pf) in patients presenting to a hospital in Timika, southern Papua, Indonesia. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Data were prospectively collected from all patients attending the outpatient and inpatient departments of the only hospital in the region using systematic data forms and hospital computerised records. Between January 2004 and December 2007, clinical malaria was present in 16% (60,226/373,450) of hospital outpatients and 32% (12,171/37,800) of inpatients. Among patients admitted with slide-confirmed malaria, 64% of patients had Pf, 24% Pv, and 10.5% mixed infections. The proportion of malarial admissions attributable to Pv rose to 47% (415/887) in children under 1 y of age. Severe disease was present in 2,634 (22%) inpatients with malaria, with the risk greater among Pv (23% [675/2,937]) infections compared to Pf (20% [1,570/7,817]; odds ratio [OR] = 1.19 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08-1.32], p = 0.001), and greatest in patients with mixed infections (31% [389/1,273]); overall p < 0.0001. Severe anaemia (haemoglobin < 5 g/dl) was the major complication associated with Pv, accounting for 87% (589/675) of severe disease compared to 73% (1,144/1,570) of severe manifestations with Pf (p < 0.001). Pure Pv infection was also present in 78 patients with respiratory distress and 42 patients with coma. In total 242 (2.0%) patients with malaria died during admission: 2.2% (167/7,722) with Pf, 1.6% (46/2,916) with Pv, and 2.3% (29/1260) with mixed infections (p = 0.126). CONCLUSIONS: In this region with established high-grade chloroquine resistance to both Pv and Pf, Pv is associated with severe and fatal malaria particularly in young children. The epidemiology of P. vivax needs to be re-examined elsewhere where chloroquine resistance is increasing. Hide abstract

Poespoprodjo JR, Fobia W, Kenangalem E, Lampah DA, Warikar N, Seal A, McGready R, Sugiarto P, Tjitra E, Anstey NM, Price RN. 2008. Adverse pregnancy outcomes in an area where multidrug-resistant plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum infections are endemic. Clin Infect Dis, 46 (9), pp. 1374-1381. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum infection exerts a considerable burden on pregnant women, but less is known about the adverse consequences of Plasmodium vivax infection. METHODS: In Papua, Indonesia, where multiple drug resistance to both species has emerged, we conducted a cross-sectional hospital-based study to quantify the risks and consequences of maternal malaria. RESULTS: From April 2004 through December 2006, 3046 pregnant women were enrolled in the study. The prevalence of parasitemia at delivery was 16.8% (432 of 2570 women had infections), with 152 (35.2%) of these 432 infections being associated with fever. The majority of infections were attributable to P. falciparum (250 [57.9%]); 146 (33.8%) of the infections were attributable to P. vivax, and 36 (8.3%) were coinfections with both species. At delivery, P. falciparum infection was associated with severe anemia (hemoglobin concentration, <7 g/dL; odds ratio [OR], 2.8; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 2.0-4.0) and a 192 g (95% CI, 119-265) reduction in mean birth weight (P<.001). P. vivax infection was associated with an increased risk of moderate anemia (hemoglobin concentration, 7-11 g/dL; OR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.2-2.9; P=.01) and a 108 g (95% CI, 17.5-199) reduction in mean birth weight (P<.019). Parasitemia was associated with preterm delivery (OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.1-2.0; P=.02) and stillbirth (OR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.3-4.1; P=.007) but was not associated with these outcomes after controlling for the presence of fever and severe anemia, suggesting that malaria increases the risk of preterm delivery and stillbirth through fever and contribution to severe anemia rather than through parasitemia per se. CONCLUSIONS: These observations highlight the need for novel, safe, and effective treatment and prevention strategies against both multidrug-resistant P. falciparum and multidrug-resistant P. vivax infections in pregnant women in areas of mixed endemicity. Hide abstract

Ratcliff A, Siswantoro H, Kenangalem E, Maristela R, Wuwung RM, Laihad F, Ebsworth EP, Anstey NM, Tjitra E, Price RN. 2007. Two fixed-dose artemisinin combinations for drug-resistant falciparum and vivax malaria in Papua, Indonesia: an open-label randomised comparison. Lancet, 369 (9563), pp. 757-765. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The burden of Plasmodium vivax infections has been underappreciated, especially in southeast Asia where chloroquine resistant strains have emerged. Our aim was to compare the safety and efficacy of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine with that of artemether-lumefantrine in patients with uncomplicated malaria caused by multidrug-resistant P falciparum and P vivax. METHODS: 774 patients in southern Papua, Indonesia, with slide-confirmed malaria were randomly assigned to receive either artemether-lumefantrine or dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine and followed up for at least 42 days. The primary endpoint was the overall cumulative risk of parasitological failure at day 42 with a modified intention-to-treat analysis. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, trial number 00157833. FINDINGS: Of the 754 evaluable patients enrolled, 466 had infections with P falciparum, 175 with P vivax, and 113 with a mixture of both species. The overall risk of failure at day 42 was 43% (95% CI 38-48) for artemether-lumefantrine and 19% (14-23) for dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (hazard ratio=3.0, 95% CI 2.2-4.1, p<0.0001). After correcting for reinfections, the risk of recrudescence of P falciparum was 4.4% (2.6-6.2) with no difference between regimens. Recurrence of vivax occurred in 38% (33-44) of patients given artemether-lumefantrine compared with 10% (6.9-14.0) given dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (p<0.0001). At the end of the study, patients receiving dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine were 2.0 times (1.2-3.6) less likely to be anaemic and 6.6 times (2.8-16) less likely to carry vivax gametocytes than were those given artemether-lumefantrine. INTERPRETATION: Both dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine and artemether-lumefantrine were safe and effective for the treatment of multidrug-resistant uncomplicated malaria. However, dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine provided greater post-treatment prophylaxis than did artemether-lumefantrine, reducing P falciparum reinfections and P vivax recurrences, the clinical public-health importance of which should not be ignored. Hide abstract

Price RN, Uhlemann AC, Brockman A, McGready R, Ashley E, Phaipun L, Patel R, Laing K et al. 2004. Mefloquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum and increased pfmdr1 gene copy number. Lancet, 364 (9432), pp. 438-447. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The borders of Thailand harbour the world's most multidrug resistant Plasmodium falciparum parasites. In 1984 mefloquine was introduced as treatment for uncomplicated falciparum malaria, but substantial resistance developed within 6 years. A combination of artesunate with mefloquine now cures more than 95% of acute infections. For both treatment regimens, the underlying mechanisms of resistance are not known. METHODS: The relation between polymorphisms in the P falciparum multidrug resistant gene 1 (pfmdr1) and the in-vitro and in-vivo responses to mefloquine were assessed in 618 samples from patients with falciparum malaria studied prospectively over 12 years. pfmdr1 copy number was assessed by a robust real-time PCR assay. Single nucleotide polymorphisms of pfmdr1, P falciparum chloroquine resistance transporter gene (pfcrt) and P falciparum Ca2+ ATPase gene (pfATP6) were assessed by PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism. FINDINGS: Increased copy number of pfmdr1 was the most important determinant of in-vitro and in-vivo resistance to mefloquine, and also to reduced artesunate sensitivity in vitro. In a Cox regression model with control for known confounders, increased pfmdr1 copy number was associated with an attributable hazard ratio (AHR) for treatment failure of 6.3 (95% CI 2.9-13.8, p<0.001) after mefloquine monotherapy and 5.4 (2.0-14.6, p=0.001) after artesunate-mefloquine therapy. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in pfmdr1 were associated with increased mefloquine susceptibility in vitro, but not in vivo. INTERPRETATION: Amplification in pfmdr1 is the main cause of resistance to mefloquine in falciparum malaria. RELEVANCE TO PRACTICE: Multidrug resistant P falciparum malaria is common in southeast Asia, but difficult to identify and treat. Genes that encode parasite transport proteins maybe involved in export of drugs and so cause resistance. In this study we show that increase in copy number of pfmdr1, a gene encoding a parasite transport protein, is the best overall predictor of treatment failure with mefloquine. Increase in pfmdr1 copy number predicts failure even after chemotherapy with the highly effective combination of mefloquine and 3 days' artesunate. Monitoring of pfmdr1 copy number will be useful in epidemiological surveys of drug resistance in P falciparum, and potentially for predicting treatment failure in individual patients. Hide abstract

Price RN, Nosten F, Luxemburger C, ter Kuile FO, Paiphun L, Chongsuphajaisiddhi T, White NJ. 1996. Effects of artemisinin derivatives on malaria transmissibility. Lancet, 347 (9016), pp. 1654-1658. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: On the western border of Thailand the efficacy of mefloquine in the treatment of falciparum malaria has declined while gametocyte carriage rates have increased, which suggests increased transmissibility of these resistant infections. We compared the following antimalarial drugs in relation to subsequent Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte carriage: mefloquine, halofantrine, quinine, and the artemisinin derivatives. METHODS: Between 1990 and 1995 we assessed gametocytaemia in a series of prospective studies of antimalarial drug treatment in 5193 adults and children with acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria in an area of malarious hill forest on the western border of Thailand. Weekly parasite counts from thick and thin blood films were done during the 4-week (1990-93) or 9-week (1993-95) follow-up period. Gametocyte positivity rates and person gametocyte week (PGW) rates were calculated to measure gametocyte carriage and transmission potential. FINDINGS: In primary P falciparum infections the gametocyte carriage rate was significantly higher after treatment with mefloquine than after treatment with the artemisinin derivatives (PGW 34.1 [95% CI 25.2-42.9] vs 3.9 [1.9-5.9] per 1000 person weeks; relative risk 8.0 [4.1-15.6]; p<0.0001). Recrudescent infections were associated with increased gametocyte carrier rates (relative risk 2.2 [1.6-3.0]; p<0.0001), but retreatment with artemisinin derivatives reduced subsequent gametocyte carriage 18.5 fold [3.5-98] compared with mefloquine retreatment and 6.8 fold (3.1-15.1) compared with quinine retreatment (p<0.001). The introduction of the artemisinin derivatives in routine treatment at this study site in mid 1994 was associated with a reduction in the subsequent incidence of falciparum malaria of 47 (25-69)% INTERPRETATION: Although environmental changes affect vector numbers, and hence malaria incidence, artemisinin derivatives were found to reduce the transmission potential of falciparum malaria. Widespread introduction of artemisinin derivatives in the treatment of falciparum malaria may prevent the spread of multidrug resistance. Hide abstract

Cost effectiveness of diagnostic and treatment strategies for Plasmodium vivax malaria in diverse epidemiological settings

Plasmodium vivax malaria causes approximately a quarter of a billion clinical episodes of illness per year with 40% of the world at risk of infection. Despite the heavy burden of disease, little is known about the cost-effectiveness of screening and treatment options for the management of P. vivax.Furthermore, a number of epidemiological, biological and behavioural factors will impact the cost effectiveness of these options. Unlike Plasmodium falciparum malaria, the radical cure of P. vivax ...

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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 ...

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