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Funding will be provided to the University of Oxford through the Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund by as part of a £50 million investment to establish a network of digital pathology, imaging and AI centres, to drive innovation in the use of AI for improved diagnosis and delivery of precision treatments.
The Duration, Dynamics, and Determinants of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Antibody Responses in Individual Healthcare Workers
Abstract Background Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody measurements can be used to estimate the proportion of a population exposed or infected and may be informative about the risk of future infection. Previous estimates of the duration of antibody responses vary. Methods We present 6 months of data from a longitudinal seroprevalence study of 3276 UK healthcare workers (HCWs). Serial measurements of SARS-CoV-2 anti-nucleocapsid and anti-spike IgG were obtained. Interval censored survival analysis was used to investigate the duration of detectable responses. Additionally, Bayesian mixed linear models were used to investigate anti-nucleocapsid waning. Results Anti-spike IgG levels remained stably detected after a positive result, for example, in 94% (95% credibility interval [CrI] 91–96%) of HCWs at 180 days. Anti-nucleocapsid IgG levels rose to a peak at 24 (95% CrI 19–31) days post first polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-positive test, before beginning to fall. Considering 452 anti-nucleocapsid seropositive HCWs over a median of 121 days from their maximum positive IgG titer, the mean estimated antibody half-life was 85 (95% CrI 81–90) days. Higher maximum observed anti-nucleocapsid titers were associated with longer estimated antibody half-lives. Increasing age, Asian ethnicity, and prior self-reported symptoms were independently associated with higher maximum anti-nucleocapsid levels and increasing age and a positive PCR test undertaken for symptoms with longer anti-nucleocapsid half-lives. Conclusions SARS-CoV-2 anti-nucleocapsid antibodies wane within months and fall faster in younger adults and those without symptoms. However, anti-spike IgG remains stably detected. Ongoing longitudinal studies are required to track the long-term duration of antibody levels and their association with immunity to SARS-CoV-2 reinfection.
Surveillance strategies using routine microbiology for antimicrobial resistance in low and middle-income countries.
BackgroundRoutine microbiology results are a valuable source of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) surveillance data in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) as well as in high-income countries. Different approaches and strategies are used to generate AMR surveillance data.ObjectivesWe aimed to review strategies for AMR surveillance using routine microbiology results in LMICs and to highlight areas that need support to generate high quality AMR data.SourcesWe searched papers that used routine microbiology to describe the epidemiology of AMR and drug resistant infections in LMICs in PubMed. We also included papers that, from our perspective, were critical in highlighting the biases and challenges or employed specific strategies to overcome these in reporting AMR surveillance in LMICs.ContentTopics covered included strategies of identifying AMR cases (including case-finding based on isolates from routine diagnostic specimens and case-based surveillance of clinical syndromes), of collecting data (including cohort, point-prevalence survey, and case-control), of sampling AMR cases (including lot quality assurance surveys), and of processing and analysing data for AMR surveillance in LMICs.ImplicationsThe various AMR surveillance strategies warrant a thorough understanding of their limitations and potential biases to ensure maximum utilization and interpretation of local routine microbiology data across time and space. For instance, surveillance using case-finding based on results from clinical diagnostic specimens is relatively easy to implement and sustain in LMIC settings but the estimates of incidence and proportion of AMR is at risk of biases due to underuse of microbiology. Case-based surveillance of clinical syndrome generates informative statistics that can be translated to clinical practices but needs financial and technical support, and locally-tailored trainings to sustain. Innovative AMR surveillance strategies that can be easily implemented and sustained with minimal costs will be useful for improving AMR data availability and quality in LMICs.
SARS-CoV-2 RNA detected in blood products from patients with COVID-19 is not associated with infectious virus.
Background: Laboratory diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection (the cause of COVID-19) uses PCR to detect viral RNA (vRNA) in respiratory samples. SARS-CoV-2 RNA has also been detected in other sample types, but there is limited understanding of the clinical or laboratory significance of its detection in blood. Methods: We undertook a systematic literature review to assimilate the evidence for the frequency of vRNA in blood, and to identify associated clinical characteristics. We performed RT-PCR in serum samples from a UK clinical cohort of acute and convalescent COVID-19 cases (n=212), together with convalescent plasma samples collected by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) (n=462 additional samples). To determine whether PCR-positive blood samples could pose an infection risk, we attempted virus isolation from a subset of RNA-positive samples. Results: We identified 28 relevant studies, reporting SARS-CoV-2 RNA in 0-76% of blood samples; pooled estimate 10% (95%CI 5-18%). Among serum samples from our clinical cohort, 27/212 (12.7%) had SARS-CoV-2 RNA detected by RT-PCR. RNA detection occurred in samples up to day 20 post symptom onset, and was associated with more severe disease (multivariable odds ratio 7.5). Across all samples collected ≥28 days post symptom onset, 0/494 (0%, 95%CI 0-0.7%) had vRNA detected. Among our PCR-positive samples, cycle threshold (ct) values were high (range 33.5-44.8), suggesting low vRNA copy numbers. PCR-positive sera inoculated into cell culture did not produce any cytopathic effect or yield an increase in detectable SARS-CoV-2 RNA. There was a relationship between RT-PCR negativity and the presence of total SARS-CoV-2 antibody (p=0.02). Conclusions: vRNA was detectable at low viral loads in a minority of serum samples collected in acute infection, but was not associated with infectious SARS-CoV-2 (within the limitations of the assays used). This work helps to inform biosafety precautions for handling blood products from patients with current or previous COVID-19.
Genetic variation associated with infection and the environment in the accidental pathogen Burkholderia pseudomallei.
The environmental bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei causes melioidosis, an important endemic human disease in tropical and sub-tropical countries. This bacterium occupies broad ecological niches including soil, contaminated water, single-cell microbes, plants and infection in a range of animal species. Here, we performed genome-wide association studies for genetic determinants of environmental and human adaptation using a combined dataset of 1,010 whole genome sequences of B. pseudomallei from Northeast Thailand and Australia, representing two major disease hotspots. With these data, we identified 47 genes from 26 distinct loci associated with clinical or environmental isolates from Thailand and replicated 12 genes in an independent Australian cohort. We next outlined the selective pressures on the genetic loci (dN/dS) and the frequency at which they had been gained or lost throughout their evolutionary history, reflecting the bacterial adaptability to a wide range of ecological niches. Finally, we highlighted loci likely implicated in human disease.
sTREM-1 predicts mortality in hospitalized patients with infection in a tropical, middle-income country.
BackgroundFew studies of biomarkers as predictors of outcome in infection have been performed in tropical, low- and middle-income countries where the burden of sepsis is highest. We evaluated whether selected biomarkers could predict 28-day mortality in infected patients in rural Thailand.MethodsFour thousand nine hundred eighty-nine adult patients admitted with suspected infection to a referral hospital in northeast Thailand were prospectively enrolled within 24 h of admission. In a secondary analysis of 760 patients, interleukin-8 (IL-8), soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 (sTNFR-1), angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1), angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2), and soluble triggering receptor expressed by myeloid cells 1 (sTREM-1) were measured in the plasma. Association with 28-day mortality was evaluated using regression; a parsimonious biomarker model was selected using the least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) method. Discrimination of mortality was assessed by receiver operating characteristic curve analysis and verified by multiple methods.ResultsIL-8, sTNFR-1, Ang-2, and sTREM-1 concentrations were strongly associated with death. LASSO identified a three-biomarker model of sTREM-1, Ang-2, and IL-8, but sTREM-1 alone provided comparable mortality discrimination (p = 0.07). sTREM-1 alone was comparable to a model of clinical variables (area under receiver operating characteristic curve [AUC] 0.81, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.77-0.85 vs AUC 0.79, 95% CI 0.74-0.84; p = 0.43). The combination of sTREM-1 and clinical variables yielded greater mortality discrimination than clinical variables alone (AUC 0.83, 95% CI 0.79-0.87; p = 0.004).ConclusionssTREM-1 predicts mortality from infection in a tropical, middle-income country comparably to a model derived from clinical variables and, when combined with clinical variables, can further augment mortality prediction.Trial registrationThe Ubon-sepsis study was registered on ClinicalTrials.gov ( NCT02217592 ), 2014.
In 2013, a Lancet Infectious Diseases Commission described the state of antimicrobial resistance worldwide. Since then, greater awareness of the public health ramifications of antimicrobial resistance has led to national actions and global initiatives, including a resolution at the high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly in 2016. Progress in addressing this issue has ranged from a ban on irrational drug combinations in India to commitments to ban colistin as a growth promoter in animals, improve hospital infection control, and implement better antimicrobial stewardship. Funds have been mobilised, and regulatory barriers to new antibiotic development have been relaxed. These efforts have been episodic and uneven across countries, however. Sustained funding for antimicrobial resistance and globally harmonised targets to monitor progress are still urgently needed. Except for in a few leading countries, antimicrobial resistance has not captured the sustained focus of national leaders and country-level actors, including care providers.
Detection of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium hospital-adapted lineages in municipal wastewater treatment plants indicates widespread distribution and release into the environment.
Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VREfm) is a leading cause of healthcare-associated infection. Reservoirs of VREfm are largely assumed to be nosocomial although there is a paucity of data on alternative sources. Here, we describe an integrated epidemiological and genomic analysis of E. faecium associated with bloodstream infection and isolated from wastewater. Treated and untreated wastewater from 20 municipal treatment plants in the East of England, United Kingdom was obtained and cultured to isolate E. faecium, ampicillin-resistant E. faecium (AREfm), and VREfm. VREfm was isolated from all 20 treatment plants and was released into the environment by 17/20 plants, the exceptions using terminal ultraviolet light disinfection. Median log10 counts of AREfm and VREfm in untreated wastewater from 10 plants in direct receipt of hospital sewage were significantly higher than 10 plants that were not. We sequenced and compared the genomes of 423 isolates from wastewater with 187 isolates associated with bloodstream infection at five hospitals in the East of England. Among 481 E. faecium isolates belonging to the hospital-adapted clade, we observed genetic intermixing between wastewater and bloodstream infection, with highly related isolates shared between a major teaching hospital in the East of England and 9/20 plants. We detected 28 antibiotic resistance genes in the hospital-adapted clade, of which 23 were represented in bloodstream, hospital sewage, and municipal wastewater isolates. We conclude that our findings are consistent with widespread distribution of hospital-adapted VREfm beyond acute healthcare settings with extensive release of VREfm into the environment in the East of England.
BackgroundMelioidosis, infection caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei, is a common cause of sepsis with high associated mortality in Southeast Asia. Identification of patients at high likelihood of clinical deterioration is important for guiding decisions about resource allocation and management. We sought to develop a biomarker-based model for 28-day mortality prediction in melioidosis.MethodsIn a derivation set (N = 113) of prospectively enrolled, hospitalized Thai patients with melioidosis, we measured concentrations of interferon-γ, interleukin-1β, interleukin-6, interleukin-8, interleukin-10, tumor necrosis factor-ɑ, granulocyte-colony stimulating factor, and interleukin-17A. We used least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) regression to identify a subset of predictive biomarkers and performed logistic regression and receiver operating characteristic curve analysis to evaluate biomarker-based prediction of 28-day mortality compared with clinical variables. We repeated select analyses in an internal validation set (N = 78) and in a prospectively enrolled external validation set (N = 161) of hospitalized adults with melioidosis.ResultsAll 8 cytokines were positively associated with 28-day mortality. Of these, interleukin-6 and interleukin-8 were selected by LASSO regression. A model consisting of interleukin-6, interleukin-8, and clinical variables significantly improved 28-day mortality prediction over a model of only clinical variables [AUC (95% confidence interval [CI]): 0.86 (.79-.92) vs 0.78 (.69-.87); P = .01]. In both the internal validation set (0.91 [0.84-0.97]) and the external validation set (0.81 [0.74-0.88]), the combined model including biomarkers significantly improved 28-day mortality prediction over a model limited to clinical variables.ConclusionsA 2-biomarker model augments clinical prediction of 28-day mortality in melioidosis.
In vitro passage alters virulence, immune activation and proteomic profiles of Burkholderia pseudomallei.
Serial passage is a problem among many bacterial species, especially those where strains have been stored (banked) for several decades. Prior to banking with an organization such as ATCC, many bacterial strains were passaged for many years, so the characteristics of each strain may be extremely different. This is in addition to any differences in the original host environment. For Burkholderia pseudomallei, the number of serial passages should be carefully defined for each experiment because it undergoes adaptation during the course of serial passages. In the present study, we found that passaged B. pseudomallei fresh clinical isolates and reference strain in Luria-Bertani broth exhibited increased plaque formation, invasion, intracellular replication, Galleria mellonella killing abilities, and cytokine production of host cells. These bacteria also modulated proteomic profiles during in vitro passage. We presume that the modulation of protein expression during in vitro passage caused changes in virulence and immunogenicity phenotypes. Therefore, we emphasize the need for caution regarding the use of data from passaged B. pseudomallei. These findings of phenotypic adaptation during in vitro serial passage can help researchers working on B. pseudomallei and on other species to better understand disparate findings among strains that have been reported for many years.
Comparative Yield of Tuberculosis during Active Case Finding Using GeneXpert or Smear Microscopy for Diagnostic Testing in Nepal: A Cross-Sectional Study.
This study compared the yield of tuberculosis (TB) active case finding (ACF) interventions applied under TB REACH funding. Between June 2017 to November 2018, Birat Nepal Medical Trust identified presumptive cases using simple verbal screening from three interventions: door-to-door screening of social contacts of known index cases, TB camps in remote areas, and screening for hospital out-patient department (OPD) attendees. Symptomatic individuals were then tested using smear microscopy or GeneXpert MTB/RIF as first diagnostic test. Yield rates were compared for each intervention and diagnostic method. We evaluated additional cases notified from ACF interventions by comparing case notifications of the intervention and control districts using standard TB REACH methodology. The project identified 1092 TB cases. The highest yield was obtained from OPD screening at hospitals (n = 566/1092; 52%). The proportion of positive tests using GeneXpert (5.5%, n = 859/15,637) was significantly higher than from microscopy testing 2% (n = 120/6309). (OR = 1.4; 95%CI = 1.12-1.72; p = 0.0026). The project achieved 29% additionality in case notifications in the intervention districts demonstrating that GeneXpert achieved substantially higher case-finding yields. Therefore, to increase national case notification for TB, Nepal should integrate OPD screening using GeneXpert testing in every district hospital and scale up of community-based ACF of TB patient contacts nationally.
Kawasaki Disease Patient Stratification and Pathway Analysis Based on Host Transcriptomic and Proteomic Profiles.
The aetiology of Kawasaki disease (KD), an acute inflammatory disorder of childhood, remains unknown despite various triggers of KD having been proposed. Host 'omic profiles offer insights into the host response to infection and inflammation, with the interrogation of multiple 'omic levels in parallel providing a more comprehensive picture. We used differential abundance analysis, pathway analysis, clustering, and classification techniques to explore whether the host response in KD is more similar to the response to bacterial or viral infections at the transcriptomic and proteomic levels through comparison of 'omic profiles from children with KD to those with bacterial and viral infections. Pathways activated in patients with KD included those involved in anti-viral and anti-bacterial responses. Unsupervised clustering showed that the majority of KD patients clustered with bacterial patients on both 'omic levels, whilst application of diagnostic signatures specific for bacterial and viral infections revealed that many transcriptomic KD samples had low probabilities of having bacterial or viral infections, suggesting that KD may be triggered by a different process not typical of either common bacterial or viral infections. Clustering based on the transcriptomic and proteomic responses during KD revealed three clusters of KD patients on both 'omic levels, suggesting heterogeneity within the inflammatory response during KD. The observed heterogeneity may reflect differences in the host response to a common trigger, or variation dependent on different triggers of the condition.
Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a serious global health problem currently affecting over 450 million people worldwide. Defining its interaction with major global infections is an international public health priority. Melioidosis is caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei, an exemplar pathogen for studying intracellular bacterial infection in the context of DM due to the 12-fold increased risk in this group. We characterized immune correlates of survival in peripheral blood of acute melioidosis patients with and without DM and highlight different immune response patterns. We demonstrate the importance of circulating NK cells and show that CX3CR1 expression on lymphocytes is a novel correlate of survival from acute melioidosis. Furthermore, excessive serum levels of IL-15 and IL-18BP contribute to poor outcome independent of DM comorbidity. CD8+ T cells and granzyme B expression in NK cells are important for survival of non-DM patients, whereas high antibody titers against B. pseudomallei and double-negative T cells are linked to survival of DM patients. Recall responses support a role of γδ T-cell-derived IFN-γ in the establishment of protective immunity in the DM group. Defining the hallmarks of protection in people with DM is crucial for the design of new therapies and vaccines targeting this rapidly expanding risk group.
Human Immune Responses to Melioidosis and Cross-Reactivity to Low-Virulence Burkholderia Species, Thailand1.
Melioidosis is a neglected tropical disease with an estimated annual mortality rate of 89,000 in 45 countries across tropical regions. The causative agent is Burkholderia pseudomallei, a gram-negative soil-dwelling bacterium. In Thailand, B. pseudomallei can be found across multiple regions, along with the low-virulence B. thailandensis and the recently discovered B. thailandensis variant (BTCV), which expresses B. pseudomallei-like capsular polysaccharide. Comprehensive studies of human immune responses to B. thailandensis variants and cross-reactivity to B. pseudomallei are not complete. We evaluated human immune responses to B. pseudomallei, B. thailandensis, and BTCV in melioidosis patients and healthy persons in B. pseudomallei-endemic areas using a range of humoral and cellular immune assays. We found immune cross-reactivity to be strong for both humoral and cellular immunity among B. pseudomallei, B. thailandensis, and BTCV. Our findings suggest that environmental exposure to low-virulence strains may build cellular immunity to B. pseudomallei.
ABSTRACT Community-acquired (CA) sepsis is a major public health problem worldwide, yet the etiology remains unknown for >50% of the patients. Here we applied metagenomic next-generation sequencing (mNGS) to characterize the human virome in 492 clinical samples (384 sera, 92 pooled nasal and throat swabs, 10 stools, and 6 cerebrospinal fluid samples) from 386 patients (213 adults and 173 children) presenting with CA sepsis who were recruited from 6 hospitals across Vietnam between 2013 and 2015. Specific monoplex PCRs were used subsequently to confirm the presence of viral sequences detected by mNGS. We found sequences related to 47 viral species belonging to 21 families in 358 of 386 (93%) patients, including viruses known to cause human infections. After PCR confirmation, human viruses were found in 52 of 386 patients (13.4%); picornavirus (enteroviruses [n = 14], rhinovirus [n = 5], and parechovirus [n = 2]), hepatitis B virus (n = 10), cytomegalovirus (n = 9), Epstein-Barr virus (n = 5), and rotavirus A (n = 3) were the most common viruses detected. Recently discovered viruses were also found (gemycircularvirus [n = 5] and WU polyomavirus, Saffold virus, salivirus, cyclovirus-VN, and human pegivirus 2 [HPgV2] [n, 1 each]), adding to the growing literature about the geographic distribution of these novel viruses. Notably, sequences related to numerous viruses not previously reported in human tissues were also detected. To summarize, we identified 21 viral species known to be infectious to humans in 52 of 386 (13.4%) patients presenting with CA sepsis of unknown cause. The study, however, cannot directly impute sepsis causation to the viruses identified. The results highlight the fact that it remains a challenge to establish the causative agents in CA sepsis patients, especially in tropical settings such as Vietnam.
Colchicine in patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 (RECOVERY): a randomised, controlled, open-label, platform trial
SUMMARYBackgroundColchicine has been proposed as a treatment for COVID-19 on the basis of its anti-inflammatory actions.MethodsIn this randomised, controlled, open-label trial, several possible treatments were compared with usual care in patients hospitalised with COVID-19. Eligible and consenting adults were randomly allocated in a 1:1 ratio to either usual standard of care alone or usual standard of care plus colchicine twice daily for 10 days or until discharge (or one of the other treatment arms) using web-based simple (unstratified) randomisation with allocation concealment. The primary outcome was 28-day mortality. The trial is registered with ISRCTN (50189673) and clinicaltrials.gov (NCT04381936).FindingsBetween 27 November 2020 and 4 March 2021, 5610 patients were randomly allocated to receive colchicine and 5730 patients to receive usual care alone. Overall, 1173 (21%) patients allocated to colchicine and 1190 (21%) patients allocated to usual care died within 28 days (rate ratio 1.01; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.93-1.10; p=0.77). Consistent results were seen in all pre-specified subgroups of patients. There was no significant difference in duration of hospitalisation (median 10 days vs. 10 days) or the proportion of patients discharged from hospital alive within 28 days (70% vs. 70%; rate ratio 0.98; 95% CI 0.94-1.03; p=0.44). Among those not on invasive mechanical ventilation at baseline, there was no significant difference in the proportion meeting the composite endpoint of invasive mechanical ventilation or death (25% vs. 25%; risk ratio 1.02; 95% CI 0.96-1.09; p=0.47).InterpretationIn adults hospitalised with COVID-19, colchicine was not associated with reductions in 28-day mortality, duration of hospital stay, or risk of progressing to invasive mechanical ventilation or death.FundingUK Research and Innovation (Medical Research Council) and National Institute of Health Research (Grant ref: MC_PC_19056). Wellcome Trust (Grant Ref: 222406/Z/20/Z) through the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator.