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1.  Artemisinin Resistance in Plasmodium falciparum Malaria 
The New England journal of medicine  2009;361(5):455-467.
Artemisinin-based combination therapies are the recommended first-line treatments of falciparum malaria in all countries with endemic disease. There are recent concerns that the efficacy of such therapies has declined on the Thai–Cambodian border, historically a site of emerging antimalarial-drug resistance.
In two open-label, randomized trials, we compared the efficacies of two treatments for uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Pailin, western Cambodia, and Wang Pha, northwestern Thailand: oral artesunate given at a dose of 2 mg per kilogram of body weight per day, for 7 days, and artesunate given at a dose of 4 mg per kilogram per day, for 3 days, followed by mefloquine at two doses totaling 25 mg per kilogram. We assessed in vitro and in vivo Plasmodium falciparum susceptibility, artesunate pharmacokinetics, and molecular markers of resistance.
We studied 40 patients in each of the two locations. The overall median parasite clearance times were 84 hours (interquartile range, 60 to 96) in Pailin and 48 hours (interquartile range, 36 to 66) in Wang Pha (P<0.001). Recrudescence confirmed by means of polymerase-chain-reaction assay occurred in 6 of 20 patients (30%) receiving artesunate monotherapy and 1 of 20 (5%) receiving artesunate–mefloquine therapy in Pailin, as compared with 2 of 20 (10%) and 1 of 20 (5%), respectively, in Wang Pha (P = 0.31). These markedly different parasitologic responses were not explained by differences in age, artesunate or dihydroartemisinin pharmacokinetics, results of isotopic in vitro sensitivity tests, or putative molecular correlates of P. falciparum drug resistance (mutations or amplifications of the gene encoding a multidrug resistance protein [PfMDR1] or mutations in the gene encoding sarco–endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase6 [PfSERCA]). Adverse events were mild and did not differ significantly between the two treatment groups.
P. falciparum has reduced in vivo susceptibility to artesunate in western Cambodia as compared with northwestern Thailand. Resistance is characterized by slow parasite clearance in vivo without corresponding reductions on conventional in vitro susceptibility testing. Containment measures are urgently needed. ( number, NCT00493363, and Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN64835265.)
PMCID: PMC3495232  PMID: 19641202
2.  Plasmodium knowlesi Infection in Humans, Cambodia, 2007–2010 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2011;17(10):1900-1902.
Two cases of Plasmodium knowlesi infection in humans were identified in Cambodia by 3 molecular detection assays and sequencing. This finding confirms the widespread distribution of P. knowlesi malaria in humans in Southeast Asia. Further wide-scale studies are required to assess the public health relevance of this zoonotic malaria parasite.
PMCID: PMC3310675  PMID: 22000366
Plasmodium knowlesi; simian malaria; epidemiology; Southeast Asia; malaria; parasites; vector-borne infections; zoonoses; Cambodia; dispatch
3.  Decreased In Vitro Susceptibility of Plasmodium falciparum Isolates to Artesunate, Mefloquine, Chloroquine, and Quinine in Cambodia from 2001 to 2007 ▿  
This study describes the results of in vitro antimalarial susceptibility assays and molecular polymorphisms of Plasmodium falciparum isolates from Cambodia. The samples were collected from patients enrolled in therapeutic efficacy studies (TES) conducted by the Cambodian National Malaria Control Program for the routine efficacy monitoring of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) (artesunate-mefloquine and artemether-lumefantrine combinations). The isolates (n = 2,041) were obtained from nine sentinel sites during the years 2001 to 2007. Among these, 1,588 were examined for their in vitro susceptibilities to four antimalarials (artesunate, mefloquine, chloroquine, and quinine), and 851 isolates were genotyped for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The geometric means of the 50% inhibitory concentrations (GMIC50s) of the four drugs tested were significantly higher for isolates from western Cambodia than for those from eastern Cambodia. GMIC50s for isolates from participants who failed artesunate-mefloquine therapy were significantly higher than those for patients who were cured (P, <0.001). In vitro correlation of artesunate with the other drugs was observed. The distributions of the SNPs differed between eastern and western Cambodia, suggesting different genetic backgrounds of the parasite populations in these two parts of the country. The GMIC50s of the four drugs tested increased significantly in eastern Cambodia during 2006 to 2007. These results are worrisome, because they may signal deterioration of the efficacy of artesunate-mefloquine beyond the Cambodian-Thai border.
PMCID: PMC2863643  PMID: 20194689
4.  Misclassification of Drug Failures in Plasmodium falciparum Clinical Trials in Southeast Asia 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2009;200(4):624-628.
Most trials of antimalarials occur in areas where reinfections are possible. For Plasmodium falciparum, reinfections are distinguished from recrudescences by PCR analysis of 3 polymorphic genes. However, the validity of this approach has never been rigorously tested. We tested for misclassification in 6 patients from clinical trials in Thailand and Cambodia who were classified as reinfected by the standard PCR protocol. Using heteroduplex tracking assays and direct DNA sequencing, we found that 5 of 6 (83%) patients were misclassified. Misclassification in this manner overestimates the efficacy of antimalarials and delays recognition of decreasing therapeutic efficacy, thus delaying potential policy changes.
PMCID: PMC2761972  PMID: 19591576
Plasmodium falciparum; Malaria; Clinical trial; Heteroduplex tracking assay
5.  Heritability of the Human Infectious Reservoir of Malaria Parasites 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11358.
Studies on human genetic factors associated with malaria have hitherto concentrated on their role in susceptibility to and protection from disease. In contrast, virtually no attention has been paid to the role of human genetics in eliciting the production of parasite transmission stages, the gametocytes, and thus enhancing the spread of disease.
Methods and Findings
We analysed four longitudinal family-based cohort studies from Senegal and Thailand followed for 2–8 years and evaluated the relative impact of the human genetic and non-genetic factors on gametocyte production in infections of Plasmodium falciparum or P. vivax. Prevalence and density of gametocyte carriage were evaluated in asymptomatic and symptomatic infections by examination of Giemsa-stained blood smears and/or RT-PCR (for falciparum in one site). A significant human genetic contribution was found to be associated with gametocyte prevalence in asymptomatic P. falciparum infections. By contrast, there was no heritability associated with the production of gametocytes for P. falciparum or P. vivax symptomatic infections. Sickle cell mutation, HbS, was associated with increased gametocyte prevalence but its contribution was small.
The existence of a significant human genetic contribution to gametocyte prevalence in asymptomatic infections suggests that candidate gene and genome wide association approaches may be usefully applied to explore the underlying human genetics. Prospective epidemiological studies will provide an opportunity to generate novel and perhaps more epidemiologically pertinent gametocyte data with which similar analyses can be performed and the role of human genetics in parasite transmission ascertained.
PMCID: PMC2894056  PMID: 20613877
6.  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.
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.
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.
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.
The results suggest that despite extreme sequence variation, diversity of PfHRP2 does not appear to be a major cause of RDT sensitivity variation.
PMCID: PMC2893195  PMID: 20470441
7.  Chimpanzee Malaria Parasites Related to Plasmodium ovale in Africa 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5520.
Since the 1970's, the diversity of Plasmodium parasites in African great apes has been neglected. Surprisingly, P. reichenowi, a chimpanzee parasite, is the only such parasite to have been molecularly characterized. This parasite is closely phylogenetically related to P. falciparum, the principal cause of the greatest malaria burden in humans. Studies of malaria parasites from anthropoid primates may provide relevant phylogenetic information, improving our understanding of the origin and evolutionary history of human malaria species. In this study, we screened 130 DNA samples from chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and gorillas (Gorilla gorilla) from Cameroon for Plasmodium infection, using cytochrome b molecular tools. Two chimpanzees from the subspecies Pan t. troglodytes presented single infections with Plasmodium strains molecularly related to the human malaria parasite P. ovale. These chimpanzee parasites and 13 human strains of P. ovale originated from a various sites in Africa and Asia were characterized using cytochrome b and cytochrome c oxidase 1 mitochondrial partial genes and nuclear ldh partial gene. Consistent with previous findings, two genetically distinct types of P. ovale, classical and variant, were observed in the human population from a variety of geographical locations. One chimpanzee Plasmodium strain was genetically identical, on all three markers tested, to variant P. ovale type. The other chimpanzee Plasmodium strain was different from P. ovale strains isolated from humans. This study provides the first evidence of possibility of natural cross-species exchange of P. ovale between humans and chimpanzees of the subspecies Pan t. troglodytes.
PMCID: PMC2677663  PMID: 19436742
8.  Molecular Surveillance for Multidrug-Resistant Plasmodium falciparum, Cambodia 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2008;14(10):1637-1640.
We conducted surveillance for multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Cambodia during 2004–2006 by assessing molecular changes in pfmdr1. The high prevalence of isolates with multiple pfmdr1 copies found in western Cambodia near the Thai border, where artesunate–mefloquine therapy failures occur, contrasts with isolates from eastern Cambodia, where this combination therapy remains highly effective.
PMCID: PMC2609877  PMID: 18826834
plasmodium falciparum; antimalarial drugs; drug resistance; Cambodia; genetic markers; pfmdr1 protein; surveillance; artesunate; mefloquine; malaria; dispatch

Results 1-8 (8)