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1.  A Simple Score to Predict the Outcome of Severe Malaria in Adults 
World Health Organization treatment guidelines recommend that adults with severe malaria be admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU). However, ICU facilities are limited in the resource-poor settings where most malaria occurs. Identification of patients at greater risk of complications may facilitate their triage and resource allocation.
With use of data from a trial conducted in Southeast Asia (n = 868), a logistic regression model was built to identify independent predictors of mortality among adults with severe malaria. A scoring system based on this model was tested in the original dataset and then validated in 2 series from Bangladesh (n = 188) and Vietnam (n = 292).
Acidosis (base deficit) and cerebral malaria (measured as Glasgow Coma Score) were the main independent predictors of outcome. The 5-point Coma Acidosis Malaria (CAM) score was simply derived from these 2 variables. Mortality increased steadily with increasing score. A CAM score <2 predicted survival with a positive predictive value (PPV) of 95.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 93%–97.7%). Of the 14 of 331 patients who died with a CAM score <2, 11 (79%) had renal failure and death occurred late after hospital admission (median, 108 h; range, 40–360 h). Substitution of plasma bicarbonate as the measure of acidosis only slightly reduced the prognostic value of the model. Use of respiratory rate was inferior, but a score <2 still predicted survival with a PPV of 92.2% (95% CI, 89.1%–94.7%).
Patients with a CAM score <2 at hospital admission may be safely treated in a general ward, provided that renal function can be monitored.
PMCID: PMC4313369  PMID: 20105074
2.  A Nonhuman Primate Scrub Typhus Model: Protective Immune Responses Induced by pKarp47 DNA Vaccination in Cynomolgus Macaques 
We developed an intradermal (ID) challenge cynomolgus macaque (Macaca fascicularis) model of scrub typhus, the leading cause of treatable undifferentiated febrile illness in tropical Asia, caused by the obligate intracellular bacterium, Orientia tsutsugamushi. A well-characterized animal model is required for the development of clinically relevant diagnostic assays and evaluation of therapeutic agents and candidate vaccines. We investigated scrub typhus disease pathophysiology and evaluated two O. tsutsugamushi 47-kDa, Ag-based candidate vaccines, a DNA plasmid vaccine (pKarp47), and a virus-vectored vaccine (Kp47/47-Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicon particle) for safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy against homologous ID challenge with O. tsutsugamushi Karp. Control cynomolgus macaques developed fever, classic eschars, lymphadenopathy, bacteremia, altered liver function, increased WBC counts, pathogen-specific Ab (IgM and IgG), and cell-mediated immune responses. Vaccinated macaques receiving the DNA plasmid pKarp47 vaccine had significantly increased O. tsutsugamushi–specific, IFN-γ–producing PBMCs (p = 0.04), reduced eschar frequency and bacteremia duration (p ≤ 0.01), delayed bacteremia onset (p < 0.05), reduced circulating bacterial biomass (p = 0.01), and greater reduction of liver transaminase levels (p < 0.03) than controls. This study demonstrates a vaccine-induced immune response capable of conferring sterile immunity against high-dose homologous ID challenge of O. tsutsugamushi in a nonhuman primate model, and it provides insight into cell-mediated immune control of O. tsutsugamushi and dissemination dynamics, highlights the importance of bacteremia indices for evaluation of both natural and vaccine-induced immune responses, and importantly, to our knowledge, has determined the first phenotypic correlates of immune protection in scrub typhus. We conclude that this model is suitable for detailed investigations into vaccine-induced immune responses and correlates of immunity for scrub typhus.
PMCID: PMC4319312  PMID: 25601925
3.  Failure of Burkholderia pseudomallei to Grow in an Automated Blood Culture System 
We compared the organisms isolated from 30,210 pairs of blood culture bottles by using BacT/Alert system and the conventional system. Overall, 2,575 (8.5%) specimens were culture positive for pathogenic organisms. The sensitivity for detection of pathogenic organisms with the BACT/Alert system (85.6%, 2,203 of 2,575) was significantly higher than that with the conventional method (74.1%, 1,908 of 2,575; P < 0.0001). However, Burkholderia pseudomallei was isolated less often with the BacT/ALERT system (73.5%, 328 of 446) than with the conventional system (90.3%, 403 of 446; P < 0.0001). This finding suggests that use of the conventional culture method in conjunction with the BacT/Alert system may improve the isolation rate for B. pseudomallei in melioidosis-endemic areas.
PMCID: PMC4257642  PMID: 25311697
4.  Open-Label Crossover Study of Primaquine and Dihydroartemisinin-Piperaquine Pharmacokinetics in Healthy Adult Thai Subjects 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2014;58(12):7340-7346.
Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is an artemisinin-based combination treatment (ACT) recommended by the WHO for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria, and it is being used increasingly for resistant vivax malaria where combination with primaquine is required for radical cure. The WHO recently reinforced its recommendations to add a single dose of primaquine to ACTs to reduce P. falciparum transmission in low-transmission settings. The pharmacokinetics of primaquine and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine were evaluated in 16 healthy Thai adult volunteers in a randomized crossover study. Volunteers were randomized to two groups of three sequential hospital admissions to receive 30 mg (base) primaquine, 3 tablets of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (120/960 mg), and the drugs together at the same doses. Blood sampling was performed over 3 days following primaquine and 36 days following dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine dosing. Pharmacokinetic assessment was done with a noncompartmental approach. The drugs were well tolerated. There were no statistically significant differences in dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine pharmacokinetics with or without primaquine. Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine coadministration significantly increased plasma primaquine levels; geometric mean ratios (90% confidence interval [CI]) of primaquine combined versus primaquine alone for maximum concentration (Cmax), area under the concentration-time curve from 0 h to the end of the study (AUC0–last), and area under the concentration-time curve from 0 h to infinity (AUC0–∞) were 148% (117 to 187%), 129% (103 to 163%), and 128% (102 to 161%), respectively. This interaction is similar to that described recently with chloroquine and may result in an enhanced radical curative effect. (This study has been registered at under registration no. NCT01525511.)
PMCID: PMC4249579  PMID: 25267661
5.  Maintenance of Leptospira Species in Leptospira Vanaporn Wuthiekanun Agar 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2014;52(12):4350-4352.
The maintenance of Leptospira species in liquid or semisolid medium is time-consuming and at risk of contamination due to the needs of routine subculture and dark field microscopy. Using Leptospira Vanaporn Wuthiekanun (LVW) agar, we maintained 100 pathogenic Leptospira isolates for 12 months without the need for subculture and confirmed the viability of all isolates by the naked eye.
PMCID: PMC4313312  PMID: 25253789
6.  The fluid management of adults with severe malaria 
Critical Care  2014;18(6):642.
Fluid resuscitation has long been considered a key intervention in the treatment of adults with severe falciparum malaria. Profound hypovolemia is common in these patients and has the potential to exacerbate the acidosis and acute kidney injury that are independent predictors of death. However, new microvascular imaging techniques have shown that disease severity correlates more strongly with obstruction of the microcirculation by parasitized erythrocytes - a process termed sequestration. Fluid loading has little effect on sequestration and increases the risk of complications, particularly pulmonary edema, a condition that can develop suddenly and unpredictably and that is frequently fatal in this population. Accordingly, even if a patient is clinically hypovolemic, if there is an adequate blood pressure and urine output, there may be little advantage in infusing intravenous fluid beyond a maintenance rate of 1 to 2 mL/kg per hour. The optimal agent for fluid resuscitation remains uncertain; significant anemia requires blood transfusion, but colloid solutions may be associated with harm and should be avoided. The preferred crystalloid is unclear, although the use of balanced solutions requires investigation. There are fewer data to guide the fluid management of severe vivax and knowlesi malaria, although a similar conservative strategy would appear prudent.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13054-014-0642-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4318383  PMID: 25629462
7.  Pregnancy Outcome in Relation to Treatment of Murine Typhus and Scrub Typhus Infection: A Fever Cohort and a Case Series Analysis 
There is a paucity of published reports on pregnancy outcome following scrub and murine typhus despite these infections being leading causes of undifferentiated fever in Asia. This study aimed to relate pregnancy outcome with treatment of typhus.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Data were analyzed from: i) pregnant women with a diagnosis of scrub and/or murine typhus from a fever cohort studies; ii) case series of published studies in PubMed using the search terms “scrub typhus” (ST), “murine typhus” (MT), “Orientia tsutsugamushi”, “Rickettsia tsutsugamushi”, “Rickettsia typhi”, “rickettsiae”, “typhus”, or “rickettsiosis”; and “pregnancy”, until February 2014 and iii) an unpublished case series. Fever clearance time (FCT) and pregnancy outcome (miscarriage and delivery) were compared to treatment. Poor neonatal outcome was a composite measure for pregnancies sustained to 28 weeks or more of gestation ending in stillbirth, preterm birth, or delivery of a growth restricted or low birth weight newborn.
There were 26 women in the fever cohort. MT and ST were clinically indistinguishable apart from two ST patients with eschars. FCTs (median [range] hours) were 25 [16–42] for azithromycin (n = 5), 34 [20–53] for antimalarials (n = 5) and 92 [6–260] for other antibiotics/supportive therapy (n = 16). There were 36.4% (8/22) with a poor neonatal outcome.
In 18 years, 97 pregnancies were collated, 82 with known outcomes, including two maternal deaths. Proportions of miscarriage 17.3% (14/81) and poor neonatal outcomes 41.8% (28/67) were high, increasing with longer FCTs (p = 0.050, linear trend). Use of azithromycin was not significantly associated with improved neonatal outcomes (p = 0.610)
The published ST and MT world literature amounts to less than 100 pregnancies due to under recognition and under diagnosis. Evidence supporting the most commonly used treatment, azithromycin, is weak. Collaborative, prospective clinical trials in pregnant women are urgently required to reduce the burden of adverse maternal and newborn outcomes and to determine the safety and efficacy of antimicrobial treatment.
Author Summary
Typhus is an under-recognised and under-studied public health problem in Asia. In rural areas of Southeast Asia murine and scrub typhus are probably the most common treatable cause of fever. The estimated number of scrub typhus cases in Southeast Asia, more than 1 million yearly, results in approximately 50–80,000 deaths per year. Treatment delays due to lack of appropriate diagnostics and lack of awareness lead to a substantial health and economic impact in the one of the world's most densely populated regions. Only 97 cases in pregnancy are available from the published world literature over the past 18 years. Only 82 of these had known outcomes, including two maternal deaths. The proportion of poor neonatal outcome including stillbirth, prematurity and low birth weight was high occurring in more than 40% of pregnancies, and higher when the fever clearance time was longer. While poor neonatal outcomes were observed with all antibiotics prescribed, azithromycin appeared to be associated with shorter fever clearance times but this was not statistically significant. Evidence to support the use of azithromycin is weak. The correct antimicrobial or combination for undifferentiated fever in pregnant women in Southeast Asia is unknown.
PMCID: PMC4238995  PMID: 25412503
9.  Burkholderia pseudomallei in Water Supplies, Southern Thailand 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2014;20(11):1947-1949.
PMCID: PMC4215545  PMID: 25340393
melioidosis; B. pseudomallei; water; Phangan; Thailand; bacteria; Koh Phangan
10.  Increasing Incidence of Hospital-Acquired and Healthcare-Associated Bacteremia in Northeast Thailand: A Multicenter Surveillance Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109324.
Little is known about the epidemiology of nosocomial bloodstream infections in public hospitals in developing countries. We evaluated trends in incidence of hospital-acquired bacteremia (HAB) and healthcare-associated bacteremia (HCAB) and associated mortality in a developing country using routinely available databases.
Information from the microbiology and hospital databases of 10 provincial hospitals in northeast Thailand was linked with the national death registry for 2004–2010. Bacteremia was considered hospital-acquired if detected after the first two days of hospital admission, and healthcare-associated if detected within two days of hospital admission with a prior inpatient episode in the preceding 30 days.
A total of 3,424 patients out of 1,069,443 at risk developed HAB and 2,184 out of 119,286 at risk had HCAB. Of these 1,559 (45.5%) and 913 (41.8%) died within 30 days, respectively. Between 2004 and 2010, the incidence rate of HAB increased from 0.6 to 0.8 per 1,000 patient-days at risk (p<0.001), and the cumulative incidence of HCAB increased from 1.2 to 2.0 per 100 readmissions (p<0.001). The most common causes of HAB were Acinetobacter spp. (16.2%), Klebsiella pneumoniae (13.9%), and Staphylococcus aureus (13.9%), while those of HCAB were Escherichia coli (26.3%), S. aureus (14.0%), and K. pneumoniae (9.7%). There was an overall increase over time in the proportions of ESBL-producing E. coli causing HAB and HCAB.
This study demonstrates a high and increasing incidence of HAB and HCAB in provincial hospitals in northeast Thailand, increasing proportions of ESBL-producing isolates, and very high associated mortality.
PMCID: PMC4195656  PMID: 25310563
11.  Serosurveillance of Orientia tsutsugamushi and Rickettsia typhi in Bangladesh 
Scrub and murine typhus infections are under-diagnosed causes of febrile illness across the tropics, and it is not known how common they are in Bangladesh. We conducted a prospective seroepidemiologic survey across six major teaching hospitals in Bangladesh by using an IgM enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Results indicated recent exposure (287 of 1,209, 23.7% seropositive for Orientia tsutsugamushi and 805 of 1,209, 66.6% seropositive for Rickettsia typhi). Seropositive rates were different in each region. However, there was no geographic clustering of seropositive results for both organisms. There was no difference between those from rural or urban areas. Rickettsia typhi seroreactivity was positively correlated with age. Scrub typhus and murine typhus should be considered as possible causes of infection in Bangladesh.
PMCID: PMC4155564  PMID: 25092819
12.  High-Throughput Ultrasensitive Molecular Techniques for Quantifying Low-Density Malaria Parasitemias 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2014;52(9):3303-3309.
The epidemiology of malaria in “low-transmission” areas has been underestimated. Molecular detection methods have revealed higher prevalences of malaria than conventional microscopy or rapid diagnostic tests, but these typically evaluate finger-prick capillary blood samples (∼5 μl) and therefore cannot detect parasite densities of <200/ml. Their use underestimates true parasite carriage rates. To characterize the epidemiology of malaria in low-transmission settings and plan elimination strategies, more sensitive quantitative PCR (qPCR) is needed to identify and quantify low-density malaria parasitemias. A highly sensitive “high-volume” quantitative PCR (qPCR) method based on Plasmodium sp. 18S RNA was adapted for blood sample volumes of ≥250 μl and scaled for high throughput. The methods were validated by assessment of the analytical sensitivity and specificity, diagnostic sensitivity, and specificity, efficiency, precision, analytical and diagnostic accuracies, limit of detection, root cause analysis of false positives, and robustness. The high-volume qPCR method based on Plasmodium sp. 18S RNA gave high PCR efficiency of 90 to 105%. Concentrations of parasite DNA from large volumes of blood gave a consistent analytical detection limit (LOD) of 22 parasites/ml (95% CI, 21.79 to 74.9), which is some 2,500 times more sensitive than conventional microscopy and 50 times more sensitive than currently used PCR methods from filter paper blood spots. The diagnostic specificity was 99.75%. Using automated procedures it was possible to process 700 blood samples per week. A very sensitive and specific high-throughput high-volume qPCR method for the detection of low-density parasitemias (>20 parasites/ml) was developed and validated.
PMCID: PMC4313154  PMID: 24989601
13.  Ethics, Economics, and the Use of Primaquine to Reduce Falciparum Malaria Transmission in Asymptomatic Populations 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(8):e1001704.
Yoel Lubell and colleagues consider ethical and economic perspectives on mass drug administration of primaquine to limit transmission of P. falciparum malaria.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
PMCID: PMC4137981  PMID: 25137246
15.  Fatal Melioidosis in Goats in Bangkok, Thailand 
Bangkok, Thailand, is a city considered to be at low risk for melioidosis. We describe 10 goats that died of melioidosis in Bangkok. Half of them were born and reared in the city. Multilocus sequence typing ruled out an outbreak. This finding challenges the assumption that melioidosis is rarely acquired in central Thailand.
PMCID: PMC4125250  PMID: 24891468
16.  Statistical Power Calculations for Mixed Pharmacokinetic Study Designs Using a Population Approach 
The AAPS Journal  2014;16(5):1110-1118.
Simultaneous modelling of dense and sparse pharmacokinetic data is possible with a population approach. To determine the number of individuals required to detect the effect of a covariate, simulation-based power calculation methodologies can be employed. The Monte Carlo Mapped Power method (a simulation-based power calculation methodology using the likelihood ratio test) was extended in the current study to perform sample size calculations for mixed pharmacokinetic studies (i.e. both sparse and dense data collection). A workflow guiding an easy and straightforward pharmacokinetic study design, considering also the cost-effectiveness of alternative study designs, was used in this analysis. Initially, data were simulated for a hypothetical drug and then for the anti-malarial drug, dihydroartemisinin. Two datasets (sampling design A: dense; sampling design B: sparse) were simulated using a pharmacokinetic model that included a binary covariate effect and subsequently re-estimated using (1) the same model and (2) a model not including the covariate effect in NONMEM 7.2. Power calculations were performed for varying numbers of patients with sampling designs A and B. Study designs with statistical power >80% were selected and further evaluated for cost-effectiveness. The simulation studies of the hypothetical drug and the anti-malarial drug dihydroartemisinin demonstrated that the simulation-based power calculation methodology, based on the Monte Carlo Mapped Power method, can be utilised to evaluate and determine the sample size of mixed (part sparsely and part densely sampled) study designs. The developed method can contribute to the design of robust and efficient pharmacokinetic studies.
PMCID: PMC4147042  PMID: 25011414
mixed pharmacokinetic study designs; Monte Carlo Mapped Power; optimal pharmacokinetic study design; statistical power calculations
17.  Population pharmacokinetics of quinine in pregnant women with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Uganda 
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy  2014;69(11):3033-3040.
Oral quinine is used for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria during pregnancy, but few pharmacokinetic data are available for this population. Previous studies have reported a substantial effect of malaria on the pharmacokinetics of quinine resulting from increased α-1-acid glycoprotein levels and decreased cytochrome P450 3A4 activity. The aim of this study was to investigate the pharmacokinetic properties of oral quinine in pregnant women with uncomplicated malaria in Uganda using a population approach.
Data from 22 women in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria were analysed. Patients received quinine sulphate (10 mg of salt/kg) three times daily (0, 8 and 16 h) for 7 days. Plasma samples were collected daily and at frequent intervals after the first and last doses. A population pharmacokinetic model for quinine was developed accounting for different disposition, absorption, error and covariate models.
Parasitaemia, as a time-varying covariate affecting relative bioavailability, and body temperature on admission as a covariate on elimination clearance, explained the higher exposure to quinine during acute malaria compared with the convalescent phase. Neither the estimated gestational age nor the trimester influenced the pharmacokinetic properties of quinine significantly.
A population model was developed that adequately characterized quinine pharmacokinetics in pregnant Ugandan women with acute malaria. Quinine exposure was lower than previously reported in patients who were not pregnant. The measurement of free quinine concentration will be necessary to determine the therapeutic relevance of these observations.
PMCID: PMC4195470  PMID: 24970740
population models; P. falciparum; NONMEM
18.  Participants’ perceptions and understanding of a malaria clinical trial in Bangladesh 
Malaria Journal  2014;13:217.
Existing evidence suggests that there is often limited understanding among participants in clinical trials about the informed consent process, resulting in their providing consent without really understanding the purpose of the study, specific procedures, and their rights. The objective of the study was to determine the subjects’ understanding of research, perceptions of voluntariness and motivations for participation in a malaria clinical trial.
In this study semi-structured interviews of adult clinical trial participants with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were conducted in Ramu Upazila Health Complex, in Bangladesh.
Of 16 participants, the vast majority (81%) were illiterate. All subjects had a ‘therapeutic misconception’ i.e. the trial was perceived to be conducted primarily for the benefit of individual patients when in fact the main objective was to provide information to inform public health policy. From the patients’ perspective, getting well from their illness was their major concern. Poor actual understanding of trial specific procedures was reported despite participants’ satisfaction with treatment and nursing care.
There is frequently a degree of overlap between research and provision of clinical care in malaria research studies. Patients may be motivated to participate to research without a good understanding of the principal objectives of the study despite a lengthy consent process. The findings suggest that use of a standard consent form following the current ICH-GCP guidelines does not result in achieving fully informed consent and the process should be revised, simplified and adapted to individual trial settings.
PMCID: PMC4055798  PMID: 24893933
Consent; Ethics; Clinical trials; Bangladesh; Malaria
19.  Pharmacokinetic Interactions between Primaquine and Chloroquine 
Chloroquine combined with primaquine has been the standard radical curative regimen for Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale malaria for over half a century. In an open-label crossover pharmacokinetic study, 16 healthy volunteers (4 males and 12 females) aged 20 to 47 years were randomized into two groups of three sequential hospital admissions to receive a single oral dose of 30 mg (base) primaquine, 600 mg (base) chloroquine, and the two drugs together. The coadministration of the two drugs did not affect chloroquine or desethylchloroquine pharmacokinetics but increased plasma primaquine concentrations significantly (P ≤ 0.005); the geometric mean (90% confidence interval [CI]) increases were 63% (47 to 81%) in maximum concentration and 24% (13 to 35%) in total exposure. There were also corresponding increases in plasma carboxyprimaquine concentrations (P ≤ 0.020). There were no significant electrocardiographic changes following primaquine administration, but there was slight corrected QT (QTc) (Fridericia) interval lengthening following chloroquine administration (median [range] = 6.32 [−1.45 to 12.3] ms; P < 0.001), which was not affected by the addition of primaquine (5.58 [1.74 to 11.4] ms; P = 0.642). This pharmacokinetic interaction may explain previous observations of synergy in preventing P. vivax relapse. This trial was registered at under reference number NCT01218932.
PMCID: PMC4068454  PMID: 24687509
20.  Laboratory Detection of Artemisinin-Resistant Plasmodium falciparum 
Conventional 48-h in vitro susceptibility tests have low sensitivity in identifying artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum, defined phenotypically by low in vivo parasite clearance rates. We hypothesized originally that this discrepancy was explained by a loss of ring-stage susceptibility and so developed a simple field-adapted 24-h trophozoite maturation inhibition (TMI) assay focusing on the ring stage and compared it to the standard 48-h schizont maturation inhibition (WHO) test. In Pailin, western Cambodia, where artemisinin-resistant P. falciparum is prevalent, the TMI test mean (95% confidence interval) 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) for artesunate was 6.8 (5.2 to 8.3) ng/ml compared with 1.5 (1.2 to 1.8) ng/ml for the standard 48-h WHO test (P = 0.001). TMI IC50s correlated significantly with the in vivo responses to artesunate (parasite clearance time [r = 0.44, P = 0.001] and parasite clearance half-life [r = 0.46, P = 0.001]), whereas the standard 48-h test values did not. On continuous culture of two resistant isolates, the artemisinin-resistant phenotype was lost after 6 weeks (IC50s fell from 10 and 12 ng/ml to 2.7 and 3 ng/ml, respectively). Slow parasite clearance in falciparum malaria in western Cambodia results from reduced ring-stage susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC4068498  PMID: 24663013
21.  Genetic Variability of Plasmodium malariae dihydropteroate synthase (dhps) in Four Asian Countries 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93942.
The dihydropteroate synthase (dhps) genes of 44 P. malariae strains from four Asian countries were isolated. Only a limited number of polymorphisms were observed. Comparison with homologous mutations in other Plasmodium species showed that these polymorphisms are unlikely to be associated with sulfadoxine resistance.
PMCID: PMC3974843  PMID: 24699454
22.  Population Pharmacokinetic Assessment of the Effect of Food on Piperaquine Bioavailability in Patients with Uncomplicated Malaria 
Previously published literature reports various impacts of food on the oral bioavailability of piperaquine. The aim of this study was to use a population modeling approach to investigate the impact of concomitant intake of a small amount of food on piperaquine pharmacokinetics. This was an open, randomized comparison of piperaquine pharmacokinetics when administered as a fixed oral formulation once daily for 3 days with (n = 15) and without (n = 15) concomitant food to patients with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Thailand. Nonlinear mixed-effects modeling was used to characterize the pharmacokinetics of piperaquine and the influence of concomitant food intake. A modified Monte Carlo mapped power approach was applied to evaluate the relationship between statistical power and various degrees of covariate effect sizes of the given study design. Piperaquine population pharmacokinetics were described well in fasting and fed patients by a three-compartment distribution model with flexible absorption. The final model showed a 25% increase in relative bioavailability per dose occasion during recovery from malaria but demonstrated no clinical impact of concomitant intake of a low-fat meal. Body weight and age were both significant covariates in the final model. The novel power approach concluded that the study was adequately powered to detect a food effect of at least 35%. This modified Monte Carlo mapped power approach may be a useful tool for evaluating the power to detect true covariate effects in mixed-effects modeling and a given study design. A small amount of food does not affect piperaquine absorption significantly in acute malaria.
PMCID: PMC4023753  PMID: 24449770
23.  Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole versus trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole plus doxycycline as oral eradicative treatment for melioidosis (MERTH): a multicentre, double-blind, non-inferiority, randomised controlled trial 
Lancet  2014;383(9919):807-814.
Melioidosis, an infectious disease caused by the Gram-negative bacillus Burkholderia pseudomallei, is difficult to cure. Antimicrobial treatment comprises intravenous drugs for at least 10 days, followed by oral drugs for at least 12 weeks. The standard oral regimen based on trial evidence is trimethoprim-sulfamethoxaxole (TMP-SMX) plus doxycycline. This regimen is used in Thailand but is associated with side-effects and poor adherence by patients, and TMP-SMX alone is recommended in Australia. We compared the efficacy and side-effects of TMP-SMX with TMP-SMX plus doxycycline for the oral phase of melioidosis treatment.
For this multi-centre, double-blind, non-inferiority, randomised placebo-controlled trial, we enrolled patients (aged ≥15 years) from five centres in northeast Thailand with culture-confirmed melioidosis who had received a course of parenteral antimicrobial drugs. Using a computer-generated sequence, we randomly assigned patients to receive TMP-SMX plus placebo or TMP-SMX plus doxycycline for 20 weeks (1:1; block size of ten, stratified by study site). We followed patients up every 4 months for 1 year and annually thereafter to the end of the study. The primary endpoint was culture-confirmed recurrent melioidosis, and the non-inferiority margin was a hazard ratio (HR) of 1·7. This study is registered with, number ISRCTN86140460.
We enrolled and randomly assigned 626 patients: 311 to TMP-SMX plus placebo and 315 to TMP-SMX plus doxycycline. 16 patients (5%) in the TMP-SMX plus placebo group and 21 patients (7%) in the TMP-SMX plus doxycycline group developed culture-confirmed recurrent melioidosis (HR 0·81; 95% CI 0·42–1·55). The criterion for non-inferiority was met (p=0.01). Adverse drug reactions were less common in the TMP-SMX plus placebo group than in the TMP-SMX plus doxycycline group (122 [39%] vs 167 [53%]).
Our findings suggest that TMP-SMX is not inferior to TMP-SMX plus doxycycline for the oral phase of melioidosis treatment, and is preferable on the basis of safety and tolerance by patients.
Thailand Research Fund, the Melioidosis Research Center, the Center of Excellence in Specific Health Problems in Greater Mekong Sub-region cluster, and the Wellcome Trust.
PMCID: PMC3939931  PMID: 24284287
24.  Pharmacokinetics of Orally Administered Oseltamivir in Healthy Obese and Nonobese Thai Subjects 
Oseltamivir is the most widely used anti-influenza drug. In the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, in which the influenza viruses were oseltamivir sensitive, obesity was identified as a risk factor for severe disease and unfavorable outcomes. The aim of this study was to investigate the pharmacokinetic properties of oseltamivir and its active metabolite, oseltamivir carboxylate, in obese and nonobese healthy subjects. A single-dose, randomized, two-sequence crossover study was conducted in 12 obese and 12 nonobese healthy Thai volunteers. Each volunteer was given 75 mg and 150 mg oseltamivir orally with an intervening washout period of more than 3 days. The pharmacokinetic properties of oseltamivir and oseltamivir carboxylate were evaluated using a noncompartmental approach. The median (range) body mass indexes (BMIs) for obese subjects were 33.8 kg/m2 (30.8 to 43.2) and 22.2 (18.8 to 24.2) for nonobese subjects. The pharmacokinetic parameters of oseltamivir carboxylate, the active metabolite of oseltamivir, were not significantly different between obese and nonobese subjects for both 75-mg and 150-mg doses. Both doses were well tolerated. Despite the lower dose per kilogram body weight in obese subjects, there was no significant difference in the exposure of oseltamivir carboxylate between the obese and nonobese groups. Standard dosing is appropriate for obese subjects. (The study was registered at under registration no. NCT 01049763.)
PMCID: PMC3957867  PMID: 24366750
25.  A Population Survey of the Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) 563C>T (Mediterranean) Mutation in Afghanistan 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88605.
Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is a common inherited enzyme defect and an important problem in areas with Plasmodium vivax infection because of the risk of haemolysis following administration of primaquine to treat the liver forms of the parasite. We undertook a genotypic survey of 713 male individuals across nine provinces of Afghanistan in which malaria is found, four in the north and five in the east. RFLP typing at nucleotide position 563 detected 40 individuals with the Mediterranean mutation 563C>T, an overall prevalence of 5.6%. This varied according to self-reported ethnicity, with prevalence in the Pashtun/Pashai group of 33/369 (8.9%) compared to 7/344 individuals in the rest of the population (2.0%; p<0.001, Chi-squared test). Multivariate analysis of ethnicity and geographical location indicated an adjusted odds ratio of 3.50 (95% CI 1.36–9.02) for the Pashtun/Pashai group, while location showed only a trend towards higher prevalence in eastern provinces (adjusted odds ratio = 1.73, 0.73–4.13). Testing of known polymorphic markers (1311C>T in exon 11, and C93T in intron XI) in a subset of 82 individuals wild-type at C563 revealed a mixture of 3 haplotypes in the background population and was consistent with data from the 1000 Genomes Project and published studies. By comparison individuals with G6PD deficiency showed a highly skewed haplotype distribution, with 95% showing the CT haplotype, a finding consistent with relatively recent appearance and positive selection of the Mediterranean variant in Afghanistan. Overall, the data confirm that the Mediterranean variant of G6PD is common in many ethnic groups in Afghanistan, indicating that screening for G6PD deficiency is required in all individuals before radical treatment of P. vivax with primaquine.
PMCID: PMC3931629  PMID: 24586352

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