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1.  IFITM3 and Susceptibility to Respiratory Viral Infections in the Community 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;209(7):1028-1031.
Interferon-inducible transmembrane proteins 1, 2, and 3 (IFITM 1,2, and 3) are viral restriction factors that mediate cellular resistance to several viruses. We have genotyped a possible splice-site altering single-nucleotide polymorphism (rs12252) in the IFITM3 gene in 34 patients with H1N1 influenza and severe pneumonia, and >5000 individuals comprising patients with community-acquired mild lower respiratory tract infection and matched controls of Caucasian ancestry. We found evidence of an association between rs12252 rare allele homozygotes and susceptibility to mild influenza (in patients attending primary care) but could not confirm a previously reported association between this single-nucleotide polymorphism and susceptibility to severe H1N1 infection.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jit468
PMCID: PMC3952664  PMID: 23997235
genetics; H1N1; Influenza; LRTI; infectious disease; IFITM3; association study; Virus
2.  Vaccines and global health 
Vaccines have made a major contribution to global health in recent decades but they could do much more. In November 2011, a Royal Society discussion meeting, ‘New vaccines for global health’, was held in London to discuss the past contribution of vaccines to global health and to consider what more could be expected in the future. Papers presented at the meeting reviewed recent successes in the deployment of vaccines against major infections of childhood and the challenges faced in developing vaccines against some of the world's remaining major infectious diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), malaria and tuberculosis. The important contribution that development of more effective veterinary vaccines could make to global health was also addressed. Some of the social and financial challenges to the development and deployment of new vaccines were reviewed. The latter issues were also discussed at a subsequent satellite meeting, ‘Accelerating vaccine development’, held at the Kavli Royal Society International Centre. Delegates at this meeting considered challenges to the more rapid development and deployment of both human and veterinary vaccines and how these might be addressed. Papers based on presentations at the discussion meeting and a summary of the main conclusions of the satellite meeting are included in this issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
doi:10.1098/rstb.2011.0076
PMCID: PMC3146775  PMID: 21893534
global health; vaccine introduction; new vaccines
4.  Vaccines against malaria 
There is no licenced vaccine against any human parasitic disease and Plasmodium falciparum malaria, a major cause of infectious mortality, presents a great challenge to vaccine developers. This has led to the assessment of a wide variety of approaches to malaria vaccine design and development, assisted by the availability of a safe challenge model for small-scale efficacy testing of vaccine candidates. Malaria vaccine development has been at the forefront of assessing many new vaccine technologies including novel adjuvants, vectored prime-boost regimes and the concept of community vaccination to block malaria transmission. Most current vaccine candidates target a single stage of the parasite's life cycle and vaccines against the early pre-erythrocytic stages have shown most success. A protein in adjuvant vaccine, working through antibodies against sporozoites, and viral vector vaccines targeting the intracellular liver-stage parasite with cellular immunity show partial efficacy in humans, and the anti-sporozoite vaccine is currently in phase III trials. However, a more effective malaria vaccine suitable for widespread cost-effective deployment is likely to require a multi-component vaccine targeting more than one life cycle stage. The most attractive near-term approach to develop such a product is to combine existing partially effective pre-erythrocytic vaccine candidates.
doi:10.1098/rstb.2011.0091
PMCID: PMC3146776  PMID: 21893544
vaccines; parasite; malaria
5.  Accelerating vaccine development and deployment: report of a Royal Society satellite meeting 
The Royal Society convened a meeting on the 17th and 18th November 2010 to review the current ways in which vaccines are developed and deployed, and to make recommendations as to how each of these processes might be accelerated. The meeting brought together academics, industry representatives, research sponsors, regulators, government advisors and representatives of international public health agencies from a broad geographical background. Discussions were held under Chatham House rules. High-throughput screening of new vaccine antigens and candidates was seen as a driving force for vaccine discovery. Multi-stakeholder, small-scale manufacturing facilities capable of rapid production of clinical grade vaccines are currently too few and need to be expanded. In both the human and veterinary areas, there is a need for tiered regulatory standards, differentially tailored for experimental and commercial vaccines, to allow accelerated vaccine efficacy testing. Improved cross-fertilization of knowledge between industry and academia, and between human and veterinary vaccine developers, could lead to more rapid application of promising approaches and technologies to new product development. Identification of best-practices and development of checklists for product development plans and implementation programmes were seen as low-cost opportunities to shorten the timeline for vaccine progression from the laboratory bench to the people who need it.
doi:10.1098/rstb.2011.0100
PMCID: PMC3146780  PMID: 21893549
human vaccines; veterinary vaccines; vaccine development; vaccine implementation
6.  Analysis of human B-cell responses following ChAd63-MVA MSP1 and AMA1 immunization and controlled malaria infection 
Immunology  2014;141(4):628-644.
Acquisition of non-sterilizing natural immunity to Plasmodium falciparum malaria has been shown in low transmission areas following multiple exposures. However, conflicting data from endemic areas suggest that the parasite may interfere with the induction of effective B-cell responses. To date, the impact of blood-stage parasite exposure on antigen-specific B cells has not been reported following controlled human malaria infection (CHMI). Here we analysed human B-cell responses in a series of Phase I/IIa clinical trials, which include CHMI, using candidate virus-vectored vaccines encoding two blood-stage antigens: merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1) and apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1). Previously vaccinated volunteers show boosting of pre-existing antigen-specific memory B-cell (mBC) responses following CHMI. In contrast, unvaccinated malaria-naive control volunteers developed an mBC response against MSP1 but not AMA1. Serum IgG correlated with the mBC response after booster vaccination but this relationship was less well maintained following CHMI. A significant reduction in peripheral MSP1-specific mBC was observed at the point of diagnosis of blood-stage infection. This was coincident with a reduction in peripheral blood B-cell subsets expressing CXCR3 and elevated serum levels of interferon-γ and CXCL9, suggesting migration away from the periphery. These CHMI data confirm that mBC and antibody responses can be induced and boosted by blood-stage parasite exposure, in support of epidemiological studies on low-level parasite exposure.
doi:10.1111/imm.12226
PMCID: PMC3956436  PMID: 24303947
antibodies; B cell; memory; parasitic protozoan; vaccination
8.  Genome-wide association study of survival from sepsis due to pneumonia: an observational cohort study 
Summary
Background
Sepsis continues to be a major cause of death, disability, and health-care expenditure worldwide. Despite evidence suggesting that host genetics can influence sepsis outcomes, no specific loci have yet been convincingly replicated. The aim of this study was to identify genetic variants that influence sepsis survival.
Methods
We did a genome-wide association study in three independent cohorts of white adult patients admitted to intensive care units with sepsis, severe sepsis, or septic shock (as defined by the International Consensus Criteria) due to pneumonia or intra-abdominal infection (cohorts 1–3, n=2534 patients). The primary outcome was 28 day survival. Results for the cohort of patients with sepsis due to pneumonia were combined in a meta-analysis of 1553 patients from all three cohorts, of whom 359 died within 28 days of admission to the intensive-care unit. The most significantly associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped in a further 538 white patients with sepsis due to pneumonia (cohort 4), of whom 106 died.
Findings
In the genome-wide meta-analysis of three independent pneumonia cohorts (cohorts 1–3), common variants in the FER gene were strongly associated with survival (p=9·7 × 10−8). Further genotyping of the top associated SNP (rs4957796) in the additional cohort (cohort 4) resulted in a combined p value of 5·6 × 10−8 (odds ratio 0·56, 95% CI 0·45–0·69). In a time-to-event analysis, each allele reduced the mortality over 28 days by 44% (hazard ratio for death 0·56, 95% CI 0·45–0·69; likelihood ratio test p=3·4 × 10−9, after adjustment for age and stratification by cohort). Mortality was 9·5% in patients carrying the CC genotype, 15·2% in those carrying the TC genotype, and 25·3% in those carrying the TT genotype. No significant genetic associations were identified when patients with sepsis due to pneumonia and intra-abdominal infection were combined.
Interpretation
We have identified common variants in the FER gene that associate with a reduced risk of death from sepsis due to pneumonia. The FER gene and associated molecular pathways are potential novel targets for therapy or prevention and candidates for the development of biomarkers for risk stratification.
Funding
European Commission and the Wellcome Trust.
doi:10.1016/S2213-2600(14)70290-5
PMCID: PMC4314768  PMID: 25533491
9.  A Phase Ia Study to Assess the Safety and Immunogenicity of New Malaria Vaccine Candidates ChAd63 CS Administered Alone and with MVA CS 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115161.
Background
Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum) malaria remains a significant cause of mortality and morbidity throughout the world. Development of an effective vaccine would be a key intervention to reduce the considerable social and economic impact of malaria.
Methodology
We conducted a Phase Ia, non-randomized, clinical trial in 24 healthy, malaria-naïve adults of the chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (ChAd63) and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) replication-deficient viral vectored vaccines encoding the circumsporozoite protein (CS) of P. falciparum.
Results
ChAd63-MVA CS administered in a heterologous prime-boost regime was shown to be safe and immunogenic, inducing high-level T cell responses to CS. With a priming ChAd63 CS dose of 5×109 vp responses peaked at a mean of 1947 SFC/million PBMC (median 1524) measured by ELIspot 7 days after the MVA boost and showed a mixed CD4+/CD8+ phenotype. With a higher priming dose of ChAd63 CS dose 5×1010 vp T cell responses did not increase (mean 1659 SFC/million PBMC, median 1049). Serum IgG responses to CS were modest and peaked at day 14 post ChAd63 CS (median antibody concentration for all groups at day 14 of 1.3 µg/ml (range 0–11.9), but persisted throughout late follow-up (day 140 median antibody concentration groups 1B & 2B 0.9 µg/ml (range 0–4.7).
Conclusions
ChAd63-MVA is a safe and highly immunogenic delivery platform for the CS antigen in humans which warrants efficacy testing.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01450280
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115161
PMCID: PMC4270740  PMID: 25522180
10.  RNA and Imidazoquinolines are sensed by distinct TLR7/8 ectodomain sites resulting in functionally disparate signaling events 
Toll-like receptors (TLR) 7 and 8 are pattern recognition receptors controlling antiviral host defense or autoimmune diseases. Apart from foreign and host RNA, synthetic RNA oligoribonucleotides (ORN) or small molecules of the imidazoquinoline family activate TLR7 and 8 and are being developed as therapeutic agonists. The structure-function relationships for RNA ORN and imidazoquinoline sensing and consequent downstream signaling by human TLR7 and TLR8 are unknown. Proteome- and genome-wide analyses in primary human monocyte-derived dendritic cells here showed that TLR8 sensing of RNA ORN vs. imidazoquinoline translates to ligand-specific differential phosphorylation and transcriptional events. Additionally, TLR7 and 8 ectodomains were found to discriminate between RNA ORN and imidazoquinolines by overlapping and non-overlapping recognition sites to which murine loss-of-function mutations and human naturally occurring hyporesponsive polymorphisms map. Our data suggest TLR7 and TLR8 can signal in two different ‘modes’ depending on the class of ligand. Considering RNA ORN and imidazoquinolines have been regarded as functionally interchangeable, our study highlights important functional incongruities whose understanding will be important for developing TLR7 or 8 therapeutics with desirable effector and safety profiles for in vivo application.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1303058
PMCID: PMC4066583  PMID: 24813206
Adjuvant; innate immunity; Toll-like receptor; RNA; signal transduction
11.  RNA and Imidazoquinolines are sensed by distinct TLR7/8 ectodomain sites resulting in functionally disparate signaling events 
Toll-like receptors (TLR) 7 and 8 are pattern recognition receptors controlling antiviral host defense or autoimmune diseases. Apart from foreign and host RNA, synthetic RNA oligoribonucleotides (ORN) or small molecules of the imidazoquinoline family activate TLR7 and 8 and are being developed as therapeutic agonists. The structure-function relationships for RNA ORN and imidazoquinoline sensing and consequent downstream signaling by human TLR7 and TLR8 are unknown. Proteome- and genome-wide analyses in primary human monocyte-derived dendritic cells here showed that TLR8 sensing of RNA ORN vs. imidazoquinoline translates to ligand-specific differential phosphorylation and transcriptional events. Additionally, TLR7 and 8 ectodomains were found to discriminate between RNA ORN and imidazoquinolines by overlapping and non-overlapping recognition sites to which murine loss-of-function mutations and human naturally occurring hyporesponsive polymorphisms map. Our data suggest TLR7 and TLR8 can signal in two different ‘modes’ depending on the class of ligand. Considering RNA ORN and imidazoquinolines have been regarded as functionally interchangeable, our study highlights important functional incongruities whose understanding will be important for developing TLR7 or 8 therapeutics with desirable effector and safety profiles for in vivo application.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1303058
PMCID: PMC4066583  PMID: 24813206
Adjuvant; innate immunity; Toll-like receptor; RNA; signal transduction
12.  Evaluating controlled human malaria infection in Kenyan adults with varying degrees of prior exposure to Plasmodium falciparum using sporozoites administered by intramuscular injection 
Background: Controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) studies are a vital tool to accelerate vaccine and drug development. As CHMI trials are performed in a controlled environment, they allow unprecedented, detailed evaluation of parasite growth dynamics (PGD) and immunological responses. However, CHMI studies have not been routinely performed in malaria-endemic countries or used to investigate mechanisms of naturally-acquired immunity (NAI) to Plasmodium falciparum.
Methods: We conducted an open-label, randomized CHMI pilot-study using aseptic, cryopreserved P. falciparum sporozoites (PfSPZ Challenge) to evaluate safety, infectivity and PGD in Kenyan adults with low to moderate prior exposure to P. falciparum (Pan African Clinical Trial Registry: PACTR20121100033272).
Results: All participants developed blood-stage infection confirmed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). However one volunteer (110) remained asymptomatic and blood-film negative until day 21 post-injection of PfSPZ Challenge. This volunteer had a reduced parasite multiplication rate (PMR) (1.3) in comparison to the other 27 volunteers (median 11.1). A significant correlation was seen between PMR and screening anti-schizont Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISA) OD (p = 0.044, R = −0.384) but not when volunteer 110 was excluded from the analysis (p = 0.112, R = −0.313).
Conclusions: PfSPZ Challenge is safe and infectious in malaria-endemic populations and could be used to assess the efficacy of malaria vaccines and drugs in African populations. Whilst our findings are limited by sample size, our pilot study has demonstrated for the first time that NAI may impact on PMR post-CHMI in a detectable fashion, an important finding that should be evaluated in further CHMI studies.
doi:10.3389/fmicb.2014.00686
PMCID: PMC4264479  PMID: 25566206
malaria; challenge; falciparum; immunity; CHMI
13.  Assessment of Chimpanzee Adenovirus Serotype 63 Neutralizing Antibodies Prior to Evaluation of a Candidate Malaria Vaccine Regimen Based on Viral Vectors 
Prior to a chimpanzee adenovirus-based (ChAd63) malarial vaccine trial, sera were collected to assess ChAd63-specific neutralizing antibody titers in Banfora (Burkina Faso). The low neutralizing antibody titers reported in both adults and children (median titers, 139.1 and 35.0, respectively) are encouraging for the potential use of ChAd63 as a malarial vaccine vector.
doi:10.1128/CVI.00723-13
PMCID: PMC4054245  PMID: 24739980
14.  Immunization against a serine protease inhibitor reduces intensity of Plasmodium berghei infection in mosquitoes 
The mosquito innate immune response is able to clear the majority of Plasmodium parasites. This immune clearance is controlled by a number of regulatory molecules including serine protease inhibitors (serpins). To determine whether such molecules could represent a novel target for a malaria transmission-blocking vaccine, we vaccinated mice with Anopheles gambiae serpin-2 (AgSRPN2). Antibodies against AgSRPN2 significantly reduced the infection of a heterologous Anopheles species (Anopheles stephensi) by Plasmodium berghei, however this effect was not observed with Plasmodium falciparum. Therefore, this approach of targeting regulatory molecules of the mosquito immune system may represent a novel approach to transmission-blocking malaria vaccines.
doi:10.1016/j.ijpara.2013.06.004
PMCID: PMC3775004  PMID: 23872520
Malaria; Vaccine; Mosquito; Antibodies; Serpins
15.  Assessment of Humoral Immune Responses to Blood-Stage Malaria Antigens following ChAd63-MVA Immunization, Controlled Human Malaria Infection and Natural Exposure 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107903.
The development of protective vaccines against many difficult infectious pathogens will necessitate the induction of effective antibody responses. Here we assess humoral immune responses against two antigens from the blood-stage merozoite of the Plasmodium falciparum human malaria parasite – MSP1 and AMA1. These antigens were delivered to healthy malaria-naïve adult volunteers in Phase Ia clinical trials using recombinant replication-deficient viral vectors – ChAd63 to prime the immune response and MVA to boost. In subsequent Phase IIa clinical trials, immunized volunteers underwent controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) with P. falciparum to assess vaccine efficacy, whereby all but one volunteer developed low-density blood-stage parasitemia. Here we assess serum antibody responses against both the MSP1 and AMA1 antigens following i) ChAd63-MVA immunization, ii) immunization and CHMI, and iii) primary malaria exposure in the context of CHMI in unimmunized control volunteers. Responses were also assessed in a cohort of naturally-immune Kenyan adults to provide comparison with those induced by a lifetime of natural malaria exposure. Serum antibody responses against MSP1 and AMA1 were characterized in terms of i) total IgG responses before and after CHMI, ii) responses to allelic variants of MSP1 and AMA1, iii) functional growth inhibitory activity (GIA), iv) IgG avidity, and v) isotype responses (IgG1-4, IgA and IgM). These data provide the first in-depth assessment of the quality of adenovirus-MVA vaccine-induced antibody responses in humans, along with assessment of how these responses are modulated by subsequent low-density parasite exposure. Notable differences were observed in qualitative aspects of the human antibody responses against these malaria antigens depending on the means of their induction and/or exposure of the host to the malaria parasite. Given the continued clinical development of viral vectored vaccines for malaria and a range of other diseases targets, these data should help to guide further immuno-monitoring studies of vaccine-induced human antibody responses.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107903
PMCID: PMC4177865  PMID: 25254500
16.  Microneedle-mediated immunization of an adenovirus-based malaria vaccine enhances antigen-specific antibody immunity and reduces anti-vector responses compared to the intradermal route 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:6154.
Substantial effort has been placed in developing efficacious recombinant attenuated adenovirus-based vaccines. However induction of immunity to the vector is a significant obstacle to its repeated use. Here we demonstrate that skin-based delivery of an adenovirus-based malaria vaccine, HAdV5-PyMSP142, to mice using silicon microneedles induces equivalent or enhanced antibody responses to the encoded antigen, however it results in decreased anti-vector responses, compared to intradermal delivery. Microneedle-mediated vaccine priming and resultant induction of low anti-vector antibody titres permitted repeated use of the same adenovirus vaccine vector. This resulted in significantly increased antigen-specific antibody responses in these mice compared to ID-treated mice. Boosting with a heterologous vaccine; MVA-PyMSP142 also resulted in significantly greater antibody responses in mice primed with HAdV5-PyMSP142 using MN compared to the ID route. The highest protection against blood-stage malaria challenge was observed when a heterologous route of immunization (MN/ID) was used. Therefore, microneedle-mediated immunization has potential to both overcome some of the logistic obstacles surrounding needle-and-syringe-based immunization as well as to facilitate the repeated use of the same adenovirus vaccine thereby potentially reducing manufacturing costs of multiple vaccines. This could have important benefits in the clinical ease of use of adenovirus-based immunization strategies.
doi:10.1038/srep06154
PMCID: PMC4139947  PMID: 25142082
17.  4-1BBL Enhances CD8+ T Cell Responses Induced by Vectored Vaccines in Mice but Fails to Improve Immunogenicity in Rhesus Macaques 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105520.
T cells play a central role in the immune response to many of the world’s major infectious diseases. In this study we investigated the tumour necrosis factor receptor superfamily costimulatory molecule, 4-1BBL (CD137L, TNFSF9), for its ability to increase T cell immunogenicity induced by a variety of recombinant vectored vaccines. To efficiently test this hypothesis, we assessed a number of promoters and developed a stable bi-cistronic vector expressing both the antigen and adjuvant. Co-expression of 4-1BBL, together with our model antigen TIP, was shown to increase the frequency of murine antigen-specific IFN-γ secreting CD8+ T cells in three vector platforms examined. Enhancement of the response was not limited by co-expression with the antigen, as an increase in CD8+ immunogenicity was also observed by co-administration of two vectors each expressing only the antigen or adjuvant. However, when this regimen was tested in non-human primates using a clinical malaria vaccine candidate, no adjuvant effect of 4-1BBL was observed limiting its potential use as a single adjuvant for translation into a clinical vaccine.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105520
PMCID: PMC4139357  PMID: 25140889
18.  Vaccine-elicited human T cells recognizing conserved protein regions inhibit HIV-1 
Virus diversity and escape from immune responses are the biggest challenges to the development of an effective vaccine against HIV-1. We hypothesized that T-cell vaccines targeting the most conserved regions of the HIV-1 proteome, which are common to most variants and bear fitness costs when mutated, will generate effectors that efficiently recognize and kill virus-infected cells early enough after transmission to potentially impact on HIV-1 replication and will do so more efficiently than whole protein-based T-cell vaccines. Here, we describe the first-ever administration of conserved immunogen vaccines vectored using prime-boost regimens of DNA, simian adenovirus and modified vaccinia virus Ankara to uninfected UK volunteers. The vaccine induced high levels of effector T cells that recognized virus-infected autologous CD4+ cells and inhibited HIV-1 replication by up to 5.79 log10. The virus inhibition was mediated by both Gag- and Pol- specific effector CD8+ T cells targeting epitopes that are typically subdominant in natural infection. These results provide proof of concept for using a vaccine to target T cells at conserved epitopes, showing that these T cells can control HIV-1 replication in vitro.
doi:10.1038/mt.2013.248
PMCID: PMC3911893  PMID: 24166483
19.  Enhanced Vaccine-Induced CD8+ T Cell Responses to Malaria Antigen ME-TRAP by Fusion to MHC Class II Invariant Chain 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100538.
The orthodox role of the invariant chain (CD74; Ii) is in antigen presentation to CD4+ T cells, but enhanced CD8+ T cells responses have been reported after vaccination with vectored viral vaccines encoding a fusion of Ii to the antigen of interest. In this study we assessed whether fusion of the malarial antigen, ME-TRAP, to Ii could increase the vaccine-induced CD8+ T cell response. Following single or heterologous prime-boost vaccination of mice with a recombinant chimpanzee adenovirus vector, ChAd63, or recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), higher frequencies of antigen-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were observed, with the largest increases observed following a ChAd63-MVA heterologous prime-boost regimen. Studies in non-human primates confirmed the ability of Ii-fusion to augment the T cell response, where a 4-fold increase was maintained up to 11 weeks after the MVA boost. Of the numerous different approaches explored to increase vectored vaccine induced immunogenicity over the years, fusion to the invariant chain showed a consistent enhancement in CD8+ T cell responses across different animal species and may therefore find application in the development of vaccines against human malaria and other diseases where high levels of cell-mediated immunity are required.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100538
PMCID: PMC4063960  PMID: 24945248
20.  External Quality Assurance of Malaria Nucleic Acid Testing for Clinical Trials and Eradication Surveillance 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97398.
Nucleic acid testing (NAT) for malaria parasites is an increasingly recommended diagnostic endpoint in clinical trials of vaccine and drug candidates and is also important in surveillance of malaria control and elimination efforts. A variety of reported NAT assays have been described, yet no formal external quality assurance (EQA) program provides validation for the assays in use. Here, we report results of an EQA exercise for malaria NAT assays. Among five centers conducting controlled human malaria infection trials, all centers achieved 100% specificity and demonstrated limits of detection consistent with each laboratory's pre-stated expectations. Quantitative bias of reported results compared to expected results was generally <0.5 log10 parasites/mL except for one laboratory where the EQA effort identified likely reasons for a general quantitative shift. The within-laboratory variation for all assays was low at <10% coefficient of variation across a range of parasite densities. Based on this study, we propose to create a Molecular Malaria Quality Assessment program that fulfills the need for EQA of malaria NAT assays worldwide.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097398
PMCID: PMC4023973  PMID: 24838112
21.  Efficacy of a Plasmodium vivax Malaria Vaccine Using ChAd63 and Modified Vaccinia Ankara Expressing Thrombospondin-Related Anonymous Protein as Assessed with Transgenic Plasmodium berghei Parasites 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(3):1277-1286.
Plasmodium vivax is the world's most widely distributed malaria parasite and a potential cause of morbidity and mortality for approximately 2.85 billion people living mainly in Southeast Asia and Latin America. Despite this dramatic burden, very few vaccines have been assessed in humans. The clinically relevant vectors modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) and the chimpanzee adenovirus ChAd63 are promising delivery systems for malaria vaccines due to their safety profiles and proven ability to induce protective immune responses against Plasmodium falciparum thrombospondin-related anonymous protein (TRAP) in clinical trials. Here, we describe the development of new recombinant ChAd63 and MVA vectors expressing P. vivax TRAP (PvTRAP) and show their ability to induce high antibody titers and T cell responses in mice. In addition, we report a novel way of assessing the efficacy of new candidate vaccines against P. vivax using a fully infectious transgenic Plasmodium berghei parasite expressing P. vivax TRAP to allow studies of vaccine efficacy and protective mechanisms in rodents. Using this model, we found that both CD8+ T cells and antibodies mediated protection against malaria using virus-vectored vaccines. Our data indicate that ChAd63 and MVA expressing PvTRAP are good preerythrocytic-stage vaccine candidates with potential for future clinical application.
doi:10.1128/IAI.01187-13
PMCID: PMC3957994  PMID: 24379295
22.  Identifying Recent Adaptations in Large-scale Genomic Data 
Cell  2013;152(4):703-713.
SUMMARY
While several hundred regions of the human genome harbor signals of positive natural selection, few of the relevant adaptive traits and variants have been elucidated. Using full-genome sequence variation from the 1000 Genomes Project (1000G) and the Composite of Multiple Signals (CMS) test, we investigated 412 candidate signals and leveraged functional annotation, protein structure modeling, epigenetics, and association studies to identify and extensively annotate candidate causal variants. The resulting catalog provides a tractable list for experimental follow-up; it includes thirty-five high-scoring non-synonymous variants, fifty-nine variants associated with expression levels of a nearby coding gene or lincRNA, and numerous variants associated with susceptibility to infectious disease and other phenotypes. We experimentally characterized one candidate non-synonymous variant in TLR5, and show that it leads to altered NF-κB signaling in response to bacterial flagellin.
doi:10.1016/j.cell.2013.01.035
PMCID: PMC3674781  PMID: 23415221
23.  LOW-LEVEL MALARIA INFECTIONS DETECTED BY A SENSITIVE POLYMERASE CHAIN REACTION ASSAY AND USE OF THIS TECHNIQUE IN THE EVALUATION OF MALARIA VACCINES IN AN ENDEMIC AREA 
The feasibility of using a sensitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to evaluate malaria vaccines in small group sizes was tested in 102 adult Gambian volunteers who received either the malaria vaccine regimen FP9 ME-TRAP/MVA ME-TRAP or rabies vaccine. All volunteers received the antimalarial drugs primaquine and Lapdap plus artesunate to eliminate malaria parasites. Volunteers in a further group received an additional single treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) to prevent new infections. There was substantially lower T-cell immunogenicity than in previous trials with this vaccine regimen and no protection against infection in the malaria vaccine group. Using the primary endpoint of 20 parasites per mL, no difference was found in the prevalence of low-level infections in volunteers who received SP compared with those who did not, indicating that SP did not reduce the incidence of very low-density infection. However, SP markedly reduced the incidence of higher density infections. These findings support the feasibility and potential of this approach to screen pre-erythrocytic vaccines for efficacy against infection in small numbers of vaccinees in endemic areas.
PMCID: PMC3836239  PMID: 17360872
24.  Bayesian refinement of association signals for 14 loci in 3 common diseases 
Nature genetics  2012;44(12):1294-1301.
To further investigate susceptibility loci identified by genome-wide association studies, we genotyped 5,500 SNPs across 14 associated regions in 8,000 samples from a control group and 3 diseases: type 2 diabetes (T2D), coronary artery disease (CAD) and Graves’ disease. We defined, using Bayes theorem, credible sets of SNPs that were 95% likely, based on posterior probability, to contain the causal disease-associated SNPs. In 3 of the 14 regions, TCF7L2 (T2D), CTLA4 (Graves’ disease) and CDKN2A-CDKN2B (T2D), much of the posterior probability rested on a single SNP, and, in 4 other regions (CDKN2A-CDKN2B (CAD) and CDKAL1, FTO and HHEX (T2D)), the 95% sets were small, thereby excluding most SNPs as potentially causal. Very few SNPs in our credible sets had annotated functions, illustrating the limitations in understanding the mechanisms underlying susceptibility to common diseases. Our results also show the value of more detailed mapping to target sequences for functional studies.
doi:10.1038/ng.2435
PMCID: PMC3791416  PMID: 23104008
25.  Ratio of Monocytes to Lymphocytes in Peripheral Blood Identifies Adults at Risk of Incident Tuberculosis Among HIV-Infected Adults Initiating Antiretroviral Therapy 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;209(4):500-509.
Background. Eight decades ago, the ratio of monocytes to lymphocytes (hereafter, the “ML ratio”) was noted to affect outcomes of mycobacterial infection in rabbits. Recent transcriptomic studies support a role for relative proportions of myeloid and lymphoid transcripts in tuberculosis outcomes. The ML ratio in peripheral blood is known to be governed by hematopoietic stem cells with distinct biases.
Methods. The predictive value of the baseline ML ratio was modeled in 2 prospective cohorts of HIV-infected adults starting cART in South Africa (primary cohort, 1862 participants; replication cohort, 345 participants). Incident tuberculosis was diagnosed with clinical, radiographic, and microbiologic methods per contemporary guidelines. Kaplan-Meier survival analyses and Cox proportional hazards modeling were conducted.
Results. The incidence rate of tuberculosis differed significantly by baseline ML ratio: 32.61 (95% confidence interval [CI], 15.38–61.54), 16.36 (95% CI, 12.39–21.23), and 51.80 (95% CI, 23.10–101.71) per 1000 patient-years for ML ratios of less than the 5th percentile, between the 5th and 95th percentiles, and greater than the 95th percentile, respectively (P = .007). Neither monocyte counts nor lymphocyte counts alone were associated with tuberculosis. After adjustment for sex, World Health Organization human immunodeficiency virus disease stage, CD4+ T-cell counts, and previous history of tuberculosis, hazards of disease were significantly higher for patients with ML ratios of less than the 5th percentile or greater than the 95th percentile (adjusted hazard ratio, 2.47; 95% CI, 1.39–4.40; P = .002).
Conclusions. The ML ratio may be a useful, readily available tool to stratify the risk of tuberculosis and suggests involvement of hematopoietic stem cell bias in tuberculosis pathogenesis.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jit494
PMCID: PMC3903371  PMID: 24041796
tuberculosis; HIV; combination antiretroviral therapy; monocytes; lymphocytes; ML ratio

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