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1.  Sample-ready multiplex qPCR assay for detection of malaria 
Malaria Journal  2014;13:158.
Background
Microscopy and antigen detecting rapid diagnostic tests are the diagnostic tests of choice in management of clinical malaria. However, due to their limitations, the need to utilize more sensitive methods such as real-time PCR (qPCR) is evident as more studies are now utilizing molecular methods in detection of malaria. Some of the challenges that continue to limit the widespread utilization of qPCR include lack of assay standardization, assay variability, risk of contamination, and the need for cold-chain. Lyophilization of molecular assays can overcome some of these limitations and potentially enable widespread qPCR utilization.
Methods
A recently published multiplex malaria qPCR assay was lyophilized by freezing drying into Sample-Ready™ format (MMSR). MMSR assay contained all the required reagents for qPCR including primers and probes, requiring only the addition of water and sample to perform qPCR. The performance of the MMSR assay was compared to the non-freeze dried, “wet” assay. Stability studies were done by maintaining the MMSR assays at four different ambient temperatures of 4°C, room temperature (RT), 37°C and 42°C over a period of 42 days, tested at seven-day intervals. Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax DNAs were used for analysis of the MMSR assay either as single or mixed parasites, at two different concentrations. The CT values and the standard deviations (SD) were used in the analysis of the assay performance.
Results
The limit of detection for the MMSR assay was 0.244 parasites/μL for Plasmodium spp. (PLU) and P. falciparum (FAL) assay targets compared to “wet” assay which was 0.39 and 3.13 parasites/μL for PLU and FAL assay targets, respectively. The MMSR assay performed with high efficiencies similar to those of the “wet” assay and was stable at 37°C for 42 days, with estimated shelf-life of 5 months. When used to analyse field clinical samples, MMSR assay performed with 100% sensitivity and specificity compared to the “wet” assay.
Conclusion
The MMSR assay has the same robust performance characteristics as the “wet” assay and is highly stable. Availability of MMSR assay allows flexibility and provides an option in choosing assay for malaria diagnostics depending on the application, needs and budget.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-13-158
PMCID: PMC4026594  PMID: 24767409
2.  The impact of clinical research activities on communities in rural Africa: the development of the Clinical Research Unit of Nanoro (CRUN) in Burkina Faso 
Malaria Journal  2014;13:113.
Background
The opportunities for developing new drugs and vaccines for malaria control look brighter now than ten years ago. However, there are few places in sub-Saharan Africa with the necessary infrastructure and expertise to support such research in compliance to international standards of clinical research (ICH-GCP). The Clinical Research Unit of Nanoro (CRUN) was founded in 2008 to provide a much-needed GCP-compliant clinical trial platform for an imminent large-scale Phase 3 malaria vaccine trial. A dynamic approach was used that entailed developing the required infrastructure and human resources, while engaging local communities in the process as key stakeholders. This provided a better understanding and ownership of the research activities by the local population.
Case description
Within five years (2008–2013), the CRUN set up a fully and well-equipped GCP-compliant clinical trial research facility, which enabled to attract 25 grants. The research team grew from ten health workers prior to 2008 to 254 in 2013. A Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS), which covers a total population of about 60,000 people in 24 villages was set up in the district. The local community contributed to the development of the facility through the leadership of the king and the mayor of Nanoro. As a result of their active advocacy, the government extended the national electrical grid to the new research center, and later to the entire village. This produced a positive impact on the community’s quality of life. The quality of health care improved substantially, due to the creation of more elaborate clinical laboratory services and the acquisition of state-of-the-art equipment.
Conclusion
Involving the community in the key steps of establishing the centre provided the foundation for what was to become the CRUN success story. This experience demonstrates that when clinical trials research sites are carefully developed and implemented, they can have a positive and powerful impact on local communities in resource-poor settings, well beyond the task of generating expected study data.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-13-113
PMCID: PMC3994337  PMID: 24655351
3.  Impact, Challenges, and Future Projections of Vaccine Trials in Africa 
Immunization remains the most cost effective method for the control of infectious diseases. Therefore, there is a global effort to deploy new vaccines for disease control and eradication. These new vaccines must be tested in the settings in which they will be used. This necessity has required the conduct of many vaccine trials in Africa, where several infectious diseases with significant public health impact are prevalent. However, these areas have peculiarities and are just beginning to gain expertise in the conduct of such trials. The vaccine developers and sponsors of these trials may also not be conversant with some issues unique to the trial site. The understanding gap from both partners can result in challenges if not addressed during the planning phase of the trial. This review seeks to highlight the issues surrounding the conduct of clinical trials in resource-constrained settings and suggests some ways of circumventing them.
doi:10.4269/ajtmh.12-0576
PMCID: PMC3592518  PMID: 23468356
4.  Efficacy and safety of artemether-lumefantrine and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine in the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Kenyan children aged less than five years: results of an open-label, randomized, single-centre study 
Malaria Journal  2014;13:33.
Background
This open-label, randomized study evaluated efficacy and safety of artemether-lumefantrine (AL) and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) in treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in children below five years of age, to build evidence on use of AL as first-line treatment and DP as second-line treatment in Kenya.
Methods
A total of 454 children aged six to 59 months with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were randomized (1:1) to receive AL dispersible or DP paediatric tablets and followed up for 42 days. Primary efficacy variable was corrected adequate clinical and parasitological response (ACPR) rate on day 28. Secondary variables included corrected (day 14, 28 and 42), uncorrected (day 3, 14, 28 and 42) cure rates, parasitological failure at days 3, 14 and 42. Acceptability and tolerability of both drugs were assessed by caregiver questionnaire.
Results
On day 28, corrected ACPR rates for AL dispersible and DP paediatric were 97.8% (95% CI: 94.9-99.3) and 99.1% (95% CI: 96.8-99.9), respectively, in intention-to-treat population, with no significant treatment differences noted between AL dispersible and DP paediatric arms. Additionally, no significant differences were observed for PCR corrected cure rates on days 14 and ACPR on day 42 for AL dispersible (100%; 96.8%) and DP paediatric (100%; 98.7%). Similarly, for PCR uncorrected cure rates, no significant differences were seen on days 3, 14, 28, and 42 for AL dispersible (99.1%; 98.7%; 81.1%; 67.8%) and DP paediatric (100%; 100%; 87.7%; 70.5%). Parasite clearance was rapid, with approximately 90% clearance achieved in 40 hours in both treatment arms. Incidence of adverse events was related to underlying disease; malaria being reported in both treatment arms. One serious adverse event was noted in AL dispersible (0.42%) arm, not related to study drug. Adherence to treatment regimen was higher for children treated with AL dispersible (93.6%) compared to DP paediatric (85.6%). Acceptability of AL dispersible regimen was assessed as being significantly better than DP paediatric.
Conclusions
AL and DP were both efficacious and well tolerated, and had similar effects at day 42 on risk of recurrent malaria. No signs of Plasmodium falciparum tolerance to artemisinins were noted.
Trial registration
PACTR201111000316370.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-13-33
PMCID: PMC3916309  PMID: 24472156
Artemether-lumefantrine; Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine; Uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria
5.  Fosphenytoin for seizure prevention in childhood coma in Africa: A randomized clinical trial☆☆☆★★★ 
Journal of Critical Care  2013;28(6):1086-1092.
Purpose
We conducted a double-blind trial to determine whether a single intramuscular injection of fosphenytoin prevents seizures and neurologic sequelae in children with acute coma.
Methods
We conducted this study at Kilifi District Hospital in coastal Kenya and Kondele Children's Hospital in western Kenya. We recruited children (age, 9 months to 13 years) with acute nontraumatic coma. We administered fosphenytoin (20 phenytoin equivalents/kg) or placebo and examined the prevalence and frequency of clinical seizures and occurrence of neurocognitive sequelae.
Results
We recruited 173 children (median age, 2.6 [interquartile range, 1.7-3.7] years) into the study; 110 had cerebral malaria, 8 had bacterial meningitis, and 55 had encephalopathies of unknown etiology. Eighty-five children received fosphenytoin and 88 received placebo. Thirty-three (38%) children who received fosphenytoin had at least 1 seizure compared with 32 (36%) who received placebo (P = .733). Eighteen (21%) and 15 (17%) children died in the fosphenytoin and placebo arms, respectively (P = .489). At 3 months after discharge, 6 (10%) children in the fosphenytoin arm had neurologic sequelae compared with 6 (10%) in the placebo arm (P = .952).
Conclusion
A single intramuscular injection of fosphenytoin (20 phenytoin equivalents/kg) does not prevent seizures or neurologic deficits in childhood acute nontraumatic coma.
doi:10.1016/j.jcrc.2013.09.001
PMCID: PMC3835934  PMID: 24135012
Coma; Child; Seizure; Prophylaxis; Anticonvulsants
6.  Misclassification of Plasmodium infections by conventional microscopy and the impact of remedial training on the proficiency of laboratory technicians in species identification 
Malaria Journal  2013;12:113.
Background
Malaria diagnosis is largely dependent on the demonstration of parasites in stained blood films by conventional microscopy. Accurate identification of the infecting Plasmodium species relies on detailed examination of parasite morphological characteristics, such as size, shape, pigment granules, besides the size and shape of the parasitized red blood cells and presence of cell inclusions. This work explores misclassifications of four Plasmodium species by conventional microscopy relative to the proficiency of microscopists and morphological characteristics of the parasites on Giemsa-stained blood films.
Case description
Ten-day malaria microscopy remedial courses on parasite detection, species identification and parasite counting were conducted for public health and research laboratory personnel. Proficiency in species identification was assessed at the start (pre) and the end (post) of each course using known blood films of Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium vivax infections with densities ranging from 1,000 to 30,000 parasites/μL. Outcomes were categorized as false negative, positive without speciation, P. falciparum, P. malariae, P. ovale, P. vivax and mixed infections.
Discussion and evaluation
Reported findings are based on 1,878 P. falciparum, 483 P. malariae, 581 P. ovale and 438 P. vivax cumulative results collated from 2008 to 2010 remedial courses. Pre-training false negative and positive misclassifications without speciation were significantly lower on P. falciparum infections compared to non-falciparum infections (p < 0.0001). Post-training misclassifications decreased significantly compared to pre- training misclassifications which in turn led to significant improvements in the identification of the four species. However, P. falciparum infections were highly misclassified as mixed infections, P. ovale misclassified as P. vivax and P. vivax similarly misclassified as P. ovale (p < 0.05).
Conclusion
These findings suggest that the misclassification of malaria species could be a common occurrence especially where non-falciparum infections are involved due to lack of requisite skills in microscopic diagnosis and variations in morphological characteristics within and between Plasmodium species. Remedial training might improve reliability of conventional light microscopy with respect to differentiation of Plasmodium infections.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-12-113
PMCID: PMC3626703  PMID: 23537145
Microscopy; Species; Morphology; Misclassification; Training
7.  Experience and challenges from clinical trials with malaria vaccines in Africa 
Malaria Journal  2013;12:86.
Malaria vaccines are considered amongst the most important modalities for potential elimination of malaria disease and transmission. Research and development in this field has been an area of intense effort by many groups over the last few decades. Despite this, there is currently no licensed malaria vaccine. Researchers, clinical trialists and vaccine developers have been working on many approached to make malaria vaccine available.
African research institutions have developed and demonstrated a great capacity to undertake clinical trials in accordance to the International Conference on Harmonization-Good Clinical Practice (ICH-GCP) standards in the last decade; particularly in the field of malaria vaccines and anti-malarial drugs. This capacity is a result of networking among African scientists in collaboration with other partners; this has traversed both clinical trials and malaria control programmes as part of the Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP). GMAP outlined and support global strategies toward the elimination and eradication of malaria in many areas, translating in reduction in public health burden, especially for African children. In the sub-Saharan region the capacity to undertake more clinical trials remains small in comparison to the actual need.
However, sustainability of the already developed capacity is essential and crucial for the evaluation of different interventions and diagnostic tools/strategies for other diseases like TB, HIV, neglected tropical diseases and non-communicable diseases. There is urgent need for innovative mechanisms for the sustainability and expansion of the capacity in clinical trials in sub-Saharan Africa as the catalyst for health improvement and maintained.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-12-86
PMCID: PMC3599886  PMID: 23496910
Malaria; Vaccines; Clinical trials; Experiences; Challenges; Africa
8.  A controlled, parallel, cluster-randomized trial of community-wide screening and treatment of asymptomatic carriers of Plasmodium falciparum in Burkina Faso 
Malaria Journal  2013;12:79.
Background
In malaria-endemic countries, large proportions of infected individuals are asymptomatic, constituting a reservoir of parasites for infection of newly hatched mosquitoes. This study evaluated the impact of screening and treatment of asymptomatic carriers of Plasmodium falciparum.
Methods
Eighteen villages were randomized (1:1) to study arms and inhabitants participated in four community screening campaigns: three before the rainy season ~1 month apart, and the fourth after the rains at ~12 months. On day 1 of campaigns 1–3, asymptomatic carriers in the intervention arm were identified by rapid diagnostic test and treated with artemether-lumefantrine. Outcomes were symptomatic malaria with parasite density >5,000/μL per person-year in children < 5 years and change in haemoglobin between days 1 and 28 of campaign 1.
Results
At 12 months, the number of symptomatic malaria episodes with a parasite density >5,000/μL per person-year in children < 5 years was not significantly different between arms (1.69 vs 1.60, p = 0.3482). Mean haemoglobin change in asymptomatic carriers during campaign 1 was greater in the intervention vs control arm (+0.53 g/dL vs -0.21 g/dL, p < 0.0001). ANCOVA demonstrated that mean asymptomatic carriage at the cluster level was lower in the intervention vs control arm at day 1 of campaigns 2 (5.0% vs 34.9%, p < 0.0001) and 3 (3.5% vs 31.5%, p < 0.0001), but showed only a small difference at day 1 of campaign 4 (34.6% vs 37.6%, p = 0.2982). Mean gametocyte carriage was lower in the intervention vs control arm at day 1 of campaigns 2 and 3 (0.7% vs 5.4%, p < 0.0001; 0.5% vs 5.8%, p < 0.0001), but was similar at day 1 of campaign 4 (4.9% vs 5.1%, p = 0.7208).
Conclusions
Systematic screening and treatment of asymptomatic carriers at the community level did not reduce clinical malaria incidence in the subsequent transmission season, indicating greater levels of parasite clearance are required to achieve a sustained impact in this setting.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-12-79
PMCID: PMC3599538  PMID: 23442748
Malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; Asymptomatic carriers; Mass screening; Transmission; Artemether-lumefantrine
9.  Mitigating the threat of artemisinin resistance in Africa: improvement of drug-resistance surveillance and response systems 
The Lancet infectious diseases  2012;12(11):888-896.
Artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria has emerged in western Cambodia and has been detected in western Thailand. The situation is ominously reminiscent of the emergence of resistance to chloroquine and to sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine several decades ago. Artemisinin resistance is a major threat to global public health, with the most severe potential effects in sub-Saharan Africa, where the disease burden is highest and systems for monitoring and containment of resistance are inadequate. The mechanisms that underlie artemisinin resistance are not fully understood. The main phenotypic trait associated with resistance is a substantial delay in parasite clearance, so far reported in southeast Asia but not in Africa. One of the pillars of the WHO global plan for artemisinin resistance containment is to increase monitoring and surveillance. In this Personal View, we propose strategies that should be adopted by malaria-endemic countries in Africa: resource mobilisation to reactivate regional surveillance networks, establishment of baseline parasite clearance profiles to serve as benchmarks to track emerging artemisinin resistance, improved data sharing to allow pooled analyses to identify rare events, modelling of risk factors for drug resistance, and development and validation of new approaches to monitor resistance.
doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(12)70241-4
PMCID: PMC3555126  PMID: 23099083
10.  Results from tandem Phase 1 studies evaluating the safety, reactogenicity and immunogenicity of the vaccine candidate antigen Plasmodium falciparum FVO merozoite surface protein-1 (MSP142) administered intramuscularly with adjuvant system AS01 
Malaria Journal  2013;12:29.
Background
The development of an asexual blood stage vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum malaria based on the major merozoite surface protein-1 (MSP1) antigen is founded on the protective efficacy observed in preclinical studies and induction of invasion and growth inhibitory antibody responses. The 42 kDa C-terminus of MSP1 has been developed as the recombinant protein vaccine antigen, and the 3D7 allotype, formulated with the Adjuvant System AS02A, has been evaluated extensively in human clinical trials. In preclinical rabbit studies, the FVO allele of MSP142 has been shown to have improved immunogenicity over the 3D7 allele, in terms of antibody titres as well as growth inhibitory activity of antibodies against both the heterologous 3D7 and homologous FVO parasites.
Methods
Two Phase 1 clinical studies were conducted to examine the safety, reactogenicity and immunogenicity of the FVO allele of MSP142 in the adjuvant system AS01 administered intramuscularly at 0-, 1-, and 2-months: one in the USA and, after evaluation of safety data results, one in Western Kenya. The US study was an open-label, dose escalation study of 10 and 50 μg doses of MSP142 in 26 adults, while the Kenya study, evaluating 30 volunteers, was a double-blind, randomized study of only the 50 μg dose with a rabies vaccine comparator.
Results
In these studies it was demonstrated that this vaccine formulation has an acceptable safety profile and is immunogenic in malaria-naïve and malaria-experienced populations. High titres of anti-MSP1 antibodies were induced in both study populations, although there was a limited number of volunteers whose serum demonstrated significant inhibition of blood-stage parasites as measured by growth inhibition assay. In the US volunteers, the antibodies generated exhibited better cross-reactivity to heterologous MSP1 alleles than a MSP1-based vaccine (3D7 allele) previously tested at both study sites.
Conclusions
Given that the primary effector mechanism for blood stage vaccine targets is humoral, the antibody responses demonstrated to this vaccine candidate, both quantitative (total antibody titres) and qualitative (functional antibodies inhibiting parasite growth) warrant further consideration of its application in endemic settings.
Trial registrations
Clinical Trials NCT00666380
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-12-29
PMCID: PMC3582548  PMID: 23342996
Malaria; Vaccine; Merozoite surface protein-1; Plasmodium
11.  Antimalarial Drug Sensitivity Profile of Western Kenya Plasmodium falciparum Field Isolates Determined by a SYBR Green I in vitro Assay and Molecular Analysis 
In vitro drug sensitivity and molecular analyses of Plasmodium falciparum track drug resistance. DNA-binding fluorescent dyes like SYBR Green I may allow field laboratories, proximal to P. falciparum collection sites, to conduct drug assays. In 2007–2008, we assayed 121 P. falciparum field isolates from western Kenya for 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50) against 6 antimalarial drugs using a SYBR Green I in vitro assay: 91 immediate ex vivo (IEV) and 30 culture-adapted, along with P. falciparum reference clones D6 (chloroquine [CQ] sensitive) and W2 (CQ resistant). We also assessed P. falciparum mdr1 (Pfmdr1) copy number and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at four codons. The IC50s for IEV and culture-adapted P. falciparum isolates were similar, and approximated historical IC50s. For Pfmdr1, mean copy number was 1, with SNPs common at codons 86 and 184. The SYBR Green I assay adapted well to our field-based laboratory, for both IEV and culture-adapted P. falciparum, warranting continued use.
doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2011.10-0674
PMCID: PMC3122340  PMID: 21734121
12.  Similar efficacy and safety of artemether-lumefantrine (Coartem®) in African infants and children with uncomplicated falciparum malaria across different body weight ranges 
Malaria Journal  2011;10:369.
Background
Artemisinin-based combination therapy, including artemether-lumefantrine (AL), is currently recommended for the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. The objectives of the current analysis were to compare the efficacy and safety of AL across different body weight ranges in African children, and to examine the age and body weight relationship in this population.
Methods
Efficacy, safety and pharmacokinetic data from a randomized, investigator-blinded, multicentre trial of AL for treatment of acute uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in infants and children in Africa were analysed according to body weight group.
Results
The trial included 899 patients (intent-to-treat population 886). The modified intent-to-treat (ITT) population (n = 812) comprised 143 children 5 to < 10 kg, 334 children 10 to < 15 kg, 277 children 15 to < 25 kg, and 58 children 25 to < 35 kg. The 28-day PCR cure rate, the primary endpoint, was comparable across all four body weight groups (97.2%, 98.9%, 97.8% and 98.3%, respectively). There were no clinically relevant differences in safety or tolerability between body weight groups. In the three AL body weight dosing groups (5 to < 15 kg, 15 to < 25 kg and 25 to < 35 kg), 80% of patients were aged 10-50 months, 46-100 months and 90-147 months, respectively.
Conclusion
Efficacy of AL in uncomplicated falciparum malaria is similar across body weight dosing groups as currently recommended in the label with no clinically relevant differences in safety or tolerability. AL dosing based on body weight remains advisable.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-369
PMCID: PMC3305670  PMID: 22176931
13.  Evaluation of Recurrent Parasitemia after Artemether-Lumefantrine Treatment for Uncomplicated Malaria in Children in Western Kenya 
From April 2005 to April 2006, a phase 2 malaria vaccine trial in Kenya enrolled 400 children aged 12–47 months. Each received mixed supervised and unsupervised artemether-lumefantrine for uncomplicated malaria, using a standard six-dose regimen, by weight. Children were followed for detection of parasitemia and clinical malaria. A median of two negative malaria blood films occurred during every recurrent parasitemia (RP) episode, suggesting reinfection over late recrudescence. Median time to RP after starting artemether-lumefantrine was 37 days (36–38). Of 2,020 evaluable artemether-lumefantrine treatments, there were no RPs in 99% by day 14, 71% by day 28, and 41% by day 42. By World Health Organization standards, 71% of treatment courses had adequate responses. Although recrudescence in some cannot be ruled out, our cohort had a shorter median time to RP compared with other artemether-lumefantrine treatment studies. This underscores patient counseling on completing all treatment doses for optimal protection from RP.
doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2010.09-0403
PMCID: PMC2929035  PMID: 20810804
14.  Development of standardized laboratory methods and quality processes for a phase III study of the RTS, S/AS01 candidate malaria vaccine 
Malaria Journal  2011;10:223.
Background
A pivotal phase III study of the RTS,S/AS01 malaria candidate vaccine is ongoing in several research centres across Africa. The development and establishment of quality systems was a requirement for trial conduct to meet international regulatory standards, as well as providing an important capacity strengthening opportunity for study centres.
Methods
Standardized laboratory methods and quality assurance processes were implemented at each of the study centres, facilitated by funding partners.
Results
A robust protocol for determination of parasite density based on actual blood cell counts was set up in accordance with World Health Organization recommendations. Automated equipment including haematology and biochemistry analyzers were put in place with standard methods for bedside testing of glycaemia, base excess and lactacidaemia. Facilities for X-rays and basic microbiology testing were also provided or upgraded alongside health care infrastructure in some centres. External quality assurance assessment of all major laboratory methods was established and method qualification by each laboratory demonstrated. The resulting capacity strengthening has ensured laboratory evaluations are conducted locally to the high standards required in clinical trials.
Conclusion
Major efforts by study centres, together with support from collaborating parties, have allowed standardized methods and robust quality assurance processes to be put in place for the phase III evaluation of the RTS, S/AS01 malaria candidate vaccine. Extensive training programmes, coupled with continuous commitment from research centre staff, have been the key elements behind the successful implementation of quality processes. It is expected these activities will culminate in healthcare benefits for the subjects and communities participating in these trials.
Trial registration
Clinicaltrials.gov NCT00866619
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-223
PMCID: PMC3220650  PMID: 21816032
15.  Community screening and treatment of asymptomatic carriers of Plasmodium falciparum with artemether-lumefantrine to reduce malaria disease burden: a modelling and simulation analysis 
Malaria Journal  2011;10:210.
Background
Asymptomatic carriers of Plasmodium falciparum serve as a reservoir of parasites for malaria transmission. Identification and treatment of asymptomatic carriers within a region may reduce the parasite reservoir and influence malaria transmission in that area.
Methods
Using computer simulation, this analysis explored the impact of community screening campaigns (CSC) followed by systematic treatment of P. falciparum asymptomatic carriers (AC) with artemether-lumefantrine (AL) on disease transmission. The model created by Okell et al (originally designed to explore the impact of the introduction of treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapy on malaria endemicity) was modified to represent CSC and treatment of AC with AL, with the addition of malaria vector seasonality. The age grouping, relative distribution of age in a region, and degree of heterogeneity in disease transmission were maintained. The number and frequency of CSC and their relative timing were explored in terms of their effect on malaria incidence. A sensitivity analysis was conducted to determine the factors with the greatest impact on the model predictions.
Results
The simulation showed that the intervention that had the largest effect was performed in an area with high endemicity (entomological inoculation rate, EIR > 200); however, the rate of infection returned to its normal level in the subsequent year, unless the intervention was repeated. In areas with low disease burden (EIR < 10), the reduction was sustained for over three years after a single intervention. Three CSC scheduled in close succession (monthly intervals) at the start of the dry season had the greatest impact on the success of the intervention.
Conclusions
Community screening and treatment of asymptomatic carriers with AL may reduce malaria transmission significantly. The initial level of disease intensity has the greatest impact on the potential magnitude and duration of malaria reduction. When combined with other interventions (e.g. long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, rapid diagnostic tests, prompt diagnosis and treatment, and, where appropriate, indoor residual spraying) the effect of this intervention can be sustained for many years, and it could become a tool to accelerate the reduction in transmission intensity to pre-elimination levels. Repeated interventions at least every other year may help to prolong the effect. The use of an effective diagnostic tool and a highly effective ACT, such as AL, is also vital. The modelling supports the evaluation of this approach in a prospective clinical trial to reduce the pool of infective vectors for malaria transmission in an area with marked seasonality.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-210
PMCID: PMC3161019  PMID: 21801345
16.  Impact of Plasmodium falciparum infection on haematological parameters in children living in Western Kenya 
Malaria Journal  2010;9(Suppl 3):S4.
Background
Malaria is the commonest cause of childhood morbidity in Western Kenya with varied heamatological consequences. The t study sought to elucidate the haemotological changes in children infected with malaria and their impact on improved diagnosis and therapy of childhood malaria.
Methods
Haematological parameters in 961 children, including 523 malaria-infected and 438 non-malaria infected, living in Kisumu West District, an area of malaria holoendemic transmission in Western Kenya were evaluated.
Results
The following parameters were significantly lower in malaria-infected children; platelets, lymphocytes, eosinophils, red blood cell count and haemoglobin (Hb), while absolute monocyte and neutrophil counts, and mean platelet volume (MPV) were higher in comparison to non-malaria infected children. Children with platelet counts of <150,000/uL were 13.8 times (odds ratio) more likely to have malaria. Thrombocytopaenia was present in 49% of malaria-infected children and was associated with high parasitaemia levels, lower age, low Hb levels, increased MPV and platelet aggregate flag. Platelet aggregates were more frequent in malaria-infected children (25% vs. 4%, p<0.0001) and associated with thrombocytopaenia rather than malaria status.
Conclusion
Children infected with Plasmodium falciparum malaria exhibited important changes in some haematological parameters with low platelet count and haemoglobin concentration being the two most important predictors of malaria infection in children in our study area. When used in combination with other clinical and microscopy, these parameters could improve malaria diagnosis in sub-patent cases.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-9-S3-S4
PMCID: PMC3002140  PMID: 21144084
17.  Population Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamic Considerations of Amodiaquine and Desethylamodiaquine in Kenyan Adults with Uncomplicated Malaria Receiving Artesunate-Amodiaquine Combination Therapy▿  
Amodiaquine (AQ) is an antimalarial drug that was frequently combined with artesunate (AS) for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria due to Plasmodium falciparum and is now available as a fixed-dose combination. Despite its widespread use, the simultaneous pharmacokinetics in patients of AQ and its active metabolite, desethylamodiaquine (DAQ), were not characterized to date. The pharmacokinetics of AQ and DAQ in 54 adult patients receiving the AS/AQ combination were therefore investigated by the use of a population approach. AQ followed a 1-compartment model with first-order absorption and elimination, as well as a first-order and irreversible transformation into DAQ, which in turn followed a 2-compartment model with first-order elimination from its central compartment. The mean AQ apparent clearance and distribution volume were 3,410 liters/h and 39,200 liters, respectively. The mean terminal elimination half-life of DAQ was 211 h. Body weight was found to explain the interindividual variability of the apparent volume of distribution of AQ and the elimination rate constant of DAQ. A new dosage form consisting of a fixed-dose combination of AS and AQ was found to have no effect on the pharmacokinetic parameters of AQ and DAQ. All patients achieved parasite clearance within 4 days following the initiation of the treatment, which prevented investigation of the possible relationship between DAQ exposure and treatment outcome. This study provided the first simultaneous pharmacokinetic model for AQ and DAQ.
doi:10.1128/AAC.01496-09
PMCID: PMC2876388  PMID: 20368402
18.  Global sequence variation in the histidine-rich proteins 2 and 3 of Plasmodium falciparum: implications for the performance of malaria rapid diagnostic tests 
Malaria Journal  2010;9:129.
Background
Accurate diagnosis is essential for prompt and appropriate treatment of malaria. While rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) offer great potential to improve malaria diagnosis, the sensitivity of RDTs has been reported to be highly variable. One possible factor contributing to variable test performance is the diversity of parasite antigens. This is of particular concern for Plasmodium falciparum histidine-rich protein 2 (PfHRP2)-detecting RDTs since PfHRP2 has been reported to be highly variable in isolates of the Asia-Pacific region.
Methods
The pfhrp2 exon 2 fragment from 458 isolates of P. falciparum collected from 38 countries was amplified and sequenced. For a subset of 80 isolates, the exon 2 fragment of histidine-rich protein 3 (pfhrp3) was also amplified and sequenced. DNA sequence and statistical analysis of the variation observed in these genes was conducted. The potential impact of the pfhrp2 variation on RDT detection rates was examined by analysing the relationship between sequence characteristics of this gene and the results of the WHO product testing of malaria RDTs: Round 1 (2008), for 34 PfHRP2-detecting RDTs.
Results
Sequence analysis revealed extensive variations in the number and arrangement of various repeats encoded by the genes in parasite populations world-wide. However, no statistically robust correlation between gene structure and RDT detection rate for P. falciparum parasites at 200 parasites per microlitre was identified.
Conclusions
The results suggest that despite extreme sequence variation, diversity of PfHRP2 does not appear to be a major cause of RDT sensitivity variation.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-9-129
PMCID: PMC2893195  PMID: 20470441
19.  Sustainable development of a GCP-compliant clinical trials platform in Africa: the Malaria Clinical Trials Alliance perspective 
Malaria Journal  2010;9:103.
Background
The Malaria Clinical Trials Alliance (MCTA), a programme of INDEPTH network of demographic surveillance centres, was launched in 2006 with two broad objectives: to facilitate the timely development of a network of centres in Africa with the capacity to conduct clinical trials of malaria vaccines and drugs under conditions of good clinical practice (GCP); and to support, strengthen and mentor the centres in the network to facilitate their progression towards self-sustaining clinical research centres.
Case description
Sixteen research centres in 10 African malaria-endemic countries were selected that were already working with the Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) or the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV). All centres were visited to assess their requirements for research capacity development through infrastructure strengthening and training. Support provided by MCTA included: laboratory and facility refurbishment; workshops on GCP, malaria diagnosis, strategic management and media training; and training to support staff to undertake accreditation examinations of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP). Short attachments to other network centres were also supported to facilitate sharing practices within the Alliance. MCTA also played a key role in the creation of the African Media & Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), which aims to promote interaction between researchers and the media for appropriate publicity and media reporting of research and developments on malaria, including drug and vaccine trials.
Conclusion
In three years, MCTA strengthened 13 centres to perform GCP-compliant drug and vaccine trials, including 11 centres that form the backbone of a large phase III malaria vaccine trial. MCTA activities have demonstrated that centres can be brought up to GCP compliance on this time scale, but the costs are substantial and there is a need for further support of other centres to meet the growing demand for clinical trial capacity. The MCTA experience also indicates that capacity development in clinical trials is best carried out in the context of preparation for specific trials. In this regard MCTA centres involved in the phase III malaria vaccine trial were, on average, more successful at consolidating the training and infrastructure support than those centres focussing only on drug trials.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-9-103
PMCID: PMC2873521  PMID: 20406478
20.  Treatment of asymptomatic carriers with artemether-lumefantrine: an opportunity to reduce the burden of malaria? 
Malaria Journal  2010;9:30.
Background
Increased investment and commitment to malaria prevention and treatment strategies across Africa has produced impressive reductions in the incidence of this disease. Nevertheless, it is clear that further interventions will be necessary to meet the international target of a reversal in the incidence of malaria by 2015. This article discusses the prospective role of an innovative malaria control strategy - the community-based treatment of asymptomatic carriers of Plasmodium falciparum, with artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). The potential of this intervention was considered by key scientists in the field at an Advisory Board meeting held in Basel, in April 2009. This article summarizes the discussions that took place among the participants.
Presentation of the hypothesis
Asymptomatic carriers do not seek treatment for their infection and, therefore, constitute a reservoir of parasites and thus a real public-health risk. The systematic identification and treatment of individuals with asymptomatic P. falciparum as part of a surveillance intervention strategy should reduce the parasite reservoir, and if this pool is greatly reduced, it will impact disease transmission.
Testing the hypothesis
This article considers the populations that could benefit from such a strategy and examines the ethical issues associated with the treatment of apparently healthy individuals, who represent a neglected public health risk. The potential for the treatment of asymptomatic carriers to impair the development of protective immunity, resulting in a 'rebound' and age escalation of malaria incidence, is also discussed.
For policymakers to consider the treatment of asymptomatic carriers with ACT as a new tool in their malaria control programmes, it will be important to demonstrate that such a strategy can produce significant benefits, without having a negative impact on the efficacy of ACT and the health of the target population.
Implications of the hypothesis
The treatment of asymptomatic carriers with ACT is an innovative and essential tool for breaking the cycle of infection in some transmission settings. Safe and effective medicines can save the lives of children, but the reprieve is only temporary so long as the mosquitoes can become re-infected from the asymptomatic carriers. With improvements in rapid diagnostic tests that allow easier identification of asymptomatic carriers, the elimination of the pool of parasites is within reach.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-9-30
PMCID: PMC2824802  PMID: 20096111
21.  Malaria management - progress made and challenges still to face 
Malaria Journal  2009;8(Suppl 1):S1.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-8-S1-S1
PMCID: PMC2760236  PMID: 19818168
22.  Pharmacokinetics and clinical efficacy of midazolam in children with severe malaria and convulsions 
AIM
To investigate the pharmacokinetics and clinical efficacy of intravenous (IV), intramuscular (IM) and buccal midazolam (MDZ) in children with severe falciparum malaria and convulsions.
METHODS
Thirty-three children with severe malaria and convulsions lasting ≥5 min were given a single dose of MDZ (0.3 mg kg−1) IV (n = 13), IM (n = 12) or via the buccal route (n = 8). Blood samples were collected over 6 h post-dose for determination of plasma MDZ and 1′-hydroxymidazolam concentrations. Plasma concentration–time data were fitted using pharmacokinetic models.
RESULTS
Median (range) MDZ Cmax of 481 (258–616), 253 (96–696) and 186 (64–394) ng ml−1 were attained within a median (range) tmax of 10 (5–15), 15 (5–60) and 10 (5–40) min, following IV, IM and buccal administration, respectively. Mean (95% confidence interval) of the pharmacokinetic parameters were: AUC(0,∞) 596 (327, 865), 608 (353, 864) and 518 (294, 741) ng ml−1 h; Vd 0.85 l kg−1; clearance 14.4 ml min−1 kg−1, elimination half-life 1.22 (0.65, 1.8) h, respectively. A single dose of MDZ terminated convulsions in all (100%), 9/12 (75%) and 5/8 (63%) children following IV, IM and buccal administration. Four children (one in the IV, one in the IM and two in the buccal groups) had respiratory depression.
CONCLUSIONS
Administration of MDZ at the currently recommended dose resulted in rapid achievement of therapeutic MDZ concentrations. Although IM and buccal administration of MDZ may be more practical in peripheral healthcare facilities, the efficacy appears to be poorer at the dose used, and a different dosage regimen might improve the efficacy.
WHAT IS ALREADY KNOWN ABOUT THIS SUBJECTMidazolam (MDZ), a water-soluble benzodiazepine, can be administered via several routes, including intravenously (IV), intramuscularly (IM) and buccal routes to terminate convulsions. It may be a suitable alternative to diazepam to stop convulsions in children with severe malaria, especially at peripheral healthcare facilities. The pharmacokinetics of MDZ have not been described in African children, in whom factors such as the aetiology and nutritional status may influence the pharmacokinetics.
WHAT THIS STUDY ADDS Administration of MDZ (IV, IM, or buccal) at the currently recommended dose (0.3 mg kg−1) resulted in rapid achievement of median maximum plasma concentrations of MDZ within the range 64–616 ng ml−1, with few clinically significant cardio-respiratory effects. A single dose of MDZ rapidly terminated (within 10 min) seizures in all (100%), 9/12 (75%) and 5/8 (63%) children following IV, IM and buccal administration, respectively. Although IM and buccal MDZ may be the preferred treatment for children in the pre-hospital settings the efficacy appears to be poorer.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2008.03239.x
PMCID: PMC2561115  PMID: 18662297
children; convulsions; malaria; midazolam; pharmacokinetics
23.  Evaluation of RTS,S/AS02A and RTS,S/AS01B in Adults in a High Malaria Transmission Area 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(7):e6465.
Background
This study advances the clinical development of the RTS,S/AS01B candidate malaria vaccine to malaria endemic populations. As a primary objective it compares the safety and reactogenicity of RTS,S/AS01B to the more extensively evaluated RTS,S/AS02A vaccine.
Methodology
A Phase IIb, single centre, double-blind, controlled trial of 6 months duration with a subsequent 6 month single-blind follow-up conducted in Kisumu West District, Kenya between August 2005 and August 2006. 255 healthy adults aged 18 to 35 years were randomized (1∶1∶1) to receive 3 doses of RTS,S/AS02A, RTS,S/AS01B or rabies vaccine (Rabipur®; Chiron Behring GmbH) at months 0, 1, 2. The primary objective was the occurrence of severe (grade 3) solicited or unsolicited general (i.e. systemic) adverse events (AEs) during 7 days follow up after each vaccination.
Principal Findings
Both candidate vaccines had a good safety profile and were well tolerated. One grade 3 systemic AE occurred within 7 days of vaccination (RTS,S/AS01B group). No unsolicited AEs or SAEs were related to vaccine. A marked increase in anti-CS antibody GMTs was observed post Dose 2 of both RTS,S/AS01B (31.6 EU/mL [95% CI: 23.9 to 41.6]) and RTS,S/AS02A (16.7 EU/mL [95% CI: 12.9 to 21.7]). A further increase was observed post Dose 3 in both the RTS,S/AS01B (41.4 EU/mL [95% CI: 31.7 to 54.2]) and RTS,S/AS02A (21.4 EU/mL [95% CI: 16.0 to 28.7]) groups. Anti-CS antibody GMTs were significantly greater with RTS,S/AS01B compared to RTS,S/AS02A at all time points post Dose 2 and Dose 3. Both candidate vaccines produced strong anti-HBs responses. Vaccine efficacy in the RTS,S/AS01B group was 29.5% (95% CI: −15.4 to 56.9, p = 0.164) and in the RTS,S/AS02A group 31.7% (95% CI: −11.6 to 58.2, p = 0.128).
Conclusions
Both candidate malaria vaccines were well tolerated over a 12 month surveillance period. A more favorable immunogenicity profile was observed with RTS,S/AS01B than with RTS,S/AS02A.
Trial Registration
Clinicaltrials.gov NCT00197054
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006465
PMCID: PMC2714466  PMID: 19649245
24.  Blood Stage Malaria Vaccine Eliciting High Antigen-Specific Antibody Concentrations Confers No Protection to Young Children in Western Kenya 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(3):e4708.
Objective
The antigen, falciparum malaria protein 1 (FMP1), represents the 42-kDa C-terminal fragment of merozoite surface protein-1 (MSP-1) of the 3D7 clone of P. falciparum. Formulated with AS02 (a proprietary Adjuvant System), it constitutes the FMP1/AS02 candidate malaria vaccine. We evaluated this vaccine's safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy in African children.
Methods
A randomised, double-blind, Phase IIb, comparator-controlled trial.The trial was conducted in 13 field stations of one mile radii within Kombewa Division, Nyanza Province, Western Kenya, an area of holoendemic transmission of P. falciparum. We enrolled 400 children aged 12–47 months in general good health.Children were randomised in a 1∶1 fashion to receive either FMP1/AS02 (50 µg) or Rabipur® rabies vaccine. Vaccinations were administered on a 0, 1, and 2 month schedule. The primary study endpoint was time to first clinical episode of P. falciparum malaria (temperature ≥37.5°C with asexual parasitaemia of ≥50,000 parasites/µL of blood) occurring between 14 days and six months after a third dose. Case detection was both active and passive. Safety and immunogenicity were evaluated for eight months after first immunisations; vaccine efficacy (VE) was measured over a six-month period following third vaccinations.
Results
374 of 400 children received all three doses and completed six months of follow-up. FMP1/AS02 had a good safety profile and was well-tolerated but more reactogenic than the comparator. Geometric mean anti-MSP-142 antibody concentrations increased from1.3 µg/mL to 27.3 µg/mL in the FMP1/AS02 recipients, but were unchanged in controls. 97 children in the FMP1/AS02 group and 98 controls had a primary endpoint episode. Overall VE was 5.1% (95% CI: −26% to +28%; p-value = 0.7).
Conclusions
FMP1/AS02 is not a promising candidate for further development as a monovalent malaria vaccine. Future MSP-142 vaccine development should focus on other formulations and antigen constructs.
Trial Registration
Clinicaltrials.gov NCT00223990
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004708
PMCID: PMC2650803  PMID: 19262754
25.  A randomized, open-label, comparative efficacy trial of artemether-lumefantrine suspension versus artemether-lumefantrine tablets for treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in children in western Kenya 
Malaria Journal  2008;7:262.
Background
Artemether/lumefantrine (AL) has been adopted as the treatment of choice for uncomplicated malaria in Kenya and other countries in the region. Six-dose artemether/lumefantrine tablets are highly effective and safe for the treatment of infants and children weighing between five and 25 kg with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. However, oral paediatric formulations are urgently needed, as the tablets are difficult to administer to young children, who cannot swallow whole tablets or tolerate the bitter taste of the crushed tablets.
Methods
A randomized, controlled, open-label trial was conducted comparing day 28 PCR corrected cure-rates in 245 children aged 6–59 months, treated over three days with either six-dose of artemether/lumefantrine tablets (Coartem®) or three-dose of artemether/lumefantrine suspension (Co-artesiane®) for uncomplicated falciparum malaria in western Kenya. The children were followed-up with clinical, parasitological and haematological evaluations over 28 days.
Results
Ninety three percent (124/133) and 90% (121/134) children in the AL tablets and AL suspension arms respectively completed followed up. A per protocol analysis revealed a PCR-corrected parasitological cure rate of 96.0% at Day 28 in the AL tablets group and 93.4% in the AL suspension group, p = 0.40. Both drugs effectively cleared gametocytes and were well tolerated, with no difference in the overall incidence of adverse events.
Conclusion
The once daily three-dose of artemether-lumefantrine suspension (Co-artesiane®) was not superior to six-dose artemether-lumefantrine tablets (Coartem®) for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in children below five years of age in western Kenya.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00529867
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-7-262
PMCID: PMC2635380  PMID: 19102746

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