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1.  The design and evaluation of a shaped filter collection device to sample and store defined volume dried blood spots from finger pricks 
Malaria Journal  2015;14:45.
Dried blood spots are a common medium for collecting patient blood prior to testing for malaria by molecular methods. A new shaped filter device for the quick and simple collection of a designated volume of patient blood has been designed and tested against conventional blood spots for accuracy and precision.
Shaped filter devices were laser cut from Whatman GB003 paper to absorb a 20 μl blood volume. These devices were used to sample Plasmodium falciparum infected blood and the volume absorbed was measured volumetrically. Conventional blood spots were made by pipetting 20 μl of the same blood onto Whatman 3MM paper. DNA was extracted from both types of dried blood spot using Qiagen DNA blood mini or Chelex extraction for real-time PCR analysis, and PURE extraction for malaria LAMP testing.
The shaped filter devices collected a mean volume of 21.1 μl of blood, with a coefficient of variance of 8.1%. When used for DNA extraction by Chelex and Qiagen methodologies the mean number of international standard units of P. falciparum DNA recovered per μl of the eluate was 53.1 (95% CI: 49.4 to 56.7) and 32.7 (95% CI: 28.8 to 36.6), respectively for the shaped filter device, and 54.6 (95% CI: 52.1 to 57.1) and 12.0 (95% CI: 9.9 to 14.1), respectively for the 3MM blood spots. Qiagen extraction of 200 μl of whole infected blood yielded 853.6 international standard units of P. falciparum DNA per μl of eluate.
A shaped filter device provides a simple way to quickly sample and store a defined volume of blood without the need for any additional measuring devices. Resultant dried blood spots may be employed for DNA extraction using a variety of technologies for nucleic acid amplification without the need for repeated cleaning of scissors or punches to prevent cross contamination of samples and results are comparable to traditional DBS.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12936-015-0558-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4327959  PMID: 25652763
Dried blood spot; Malaria; Sampling; Shaped filter paper; DNA extraction; PCR; LAMP
2.  The genome of the sparganosis tapeworm Spirometra erinaceieuropaei isolated from the biopsy of a migrating brain lesion 
Genome Biology  2014;15(11):510.
Sparganosis is an infection with a larval Diphyllobothriidea tapeworm. From a rare cerebral case presented at a clinic in the UK, DNA was recovered from a biopsy sample and used to determine the causative species as Spirometra erinaceieuropaei through sequencing of the cox1 gene. From the same DNA, we have produced a draft genome, the first of its kind for this species, and used it to perform a comparative genomics analysis and to investigate known and potential tapeworm drug targets in this tapeworm.
The 1.26 Gb draft genome of S. erinaceieuropaei is currently the largest reported for any flatworm. Through investigation of β-tubulin genes, we predict that S. erinaceieuropaei larvae are insensitive to the tapeworm drug albendazole. We find that many putative tapeworm drug targets are also present in S. erinaceieuropaei, allowing possible cross application of new drugs. In comparison to other sequenced tapeworm species we observe expansion of protease classes, and of Kuntiz-type protease inhibitors. Expanded gene families in this tapeworm also include those that are involved in processes that add post-translational diversity to the protein landscape, intracellular transport, transcriptional regulation and detoxification.
The S. erinaceieuropaei genome begins to give us insight into an order of tapeworms previously uncharacterized at the genome-wide level. From a single clinical case we have begun to sketch a picture of the characteristics of these organisms. Finally, our work represents a significant technological achievement as we present a draft genome sequence of a rare tapeworm, and from a small amount of starting material.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-014-0510-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4265353  PMID: 25413302
3.  Development of a Rapid Serological Assay for the Diagnosis of Strongyloidiasis Using a Novel Diffraction-Based Biosensor Technology 
Strongyloidiasis is a persistent human parasitic infection caused by the intestinal nematode, Strongyloides stercoralis. The parasite has a world-wide distribution, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions with poor sanitary conditions. Since individuals with strongyloidiasis are typically asymptomatic, the infection can persist for decades without detection. Problems arise when individuals with unrecognized S. stercoralis infection are immunosuppressed, which can lead to hyper-infection syndrome and disseminated disease with an associated high mortality if untreated. Therefore a rapid, sensitive and easy to use method of diagnosing Strongyloides infection may improve the clinical management of this disease.
Methodology/Principal Findings
An immunological assay for diagnosing strongyloidiasis was developed on a novel diffraction-based optical bionsensor technology. The test employs a 31-kDa recombinant antigen called NIE derived from Strongyloides stercoralis L3-stage larvae. Assay performance was tested using retrospectively collected sera from patients with parasitologically confirmed strongyloidiasis and control sera from healthy individuals or those with other parasitoses including schistosomiasis, trichinosis, echinococcosis or amebiasis who were seronegative using the NIE ELISA assay. If we consider the control group as the true negative group, the assay readily differentiated S. stercoralis-infected patients from controls detecting 96.3% of the positive cases, and with no cross reactivity observed in the control group These results were in excellent agreement (κ = 0.98) with results obtained by an NIE-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). A further 44 sera from patients with suspected S. stercoralis infection were analyzed and showed 91% agreement with the NIE ELISA.
In summary, this test provides high sensitivity detection of serum IgG against the NIE Strongyloides antigen. The assay is easy to perform and provides results in less than 30 minutes, making this platform amenable to rapid near-patient screening with minimal technical expertise.
Author Summary
A rapid and sensitive serodiagnostic assay for strongyloidiasis based on a 31-kDa recombinant antigen from Strongyloides stercoralis (NIE) was developed using a novel diffraction-based optical biosensor technology. Assay performance was tested using retrospectively collected sera from patients with parasitologically confirmed strongyloidiasis (n = 54) and control sera from healthy individuals (n = 7) or those with other parasitoses including schistosomiasis, trichinosis, echinococcosis or amebiasis (n = 40). If we consider the control group as the true negative group, the assay readily differentiated S. stercoralis-infected patients from controls detecting 96.3% of the positive cases, and with no cross reactivity observed in the control group. These results were in excellent agreement (κ = 0.98) with results obtained by an NIE-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). A further 44 sera from patients with suspected S. stercoralis infection were analyzed and showed 91% agreement with the NIE ELISA. This test provides high sensitivity detection of serum IgG against the NIE Strongyloides antigen. The assay is easy to perform and provides results in less than 30 minutes, making this platform amenable to rapid near-patient screening with minimal technical expertise.
PMCID: PMC4125104  PMID: 25102174
4.  Acute Schistosomiasis in Travelers: 14 Years' Experience at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, London 
We report 79 cases of acute schistosomiasis. Most of these cases were young, male travelers who acquired their infection in Lake Malawi. Twelve had a normal eosinophil count at presentation and 11 had negative serology, although two had neither eosinophilia nor positive serology when first seen. Acute schistosomiasis should be considered in any febrile traveler with a history of fresh water exposure in an endemic area once malaria has been excluded.
PMCID: PMC3752798  PMID: 23530076
5.  Estimating the parasitaemia of Plasmodium falciparum: experience from a national EQA scheme 
Malaria Journal  2013;12:428.
To examine performance of the identification and estimation of percentage parasitaemia of Plasmodium falciparum in stained blood films distributed in the UK National External Quality Assessment Scheme (UKNEQAS) Blood Parasitology Scheme.
Analysis of performance for the diagnosis and estimation of the percentage parasitaemia of P. falciparum in Giemsa-stained thin blood films was made over a 15-year period to look for trends in performance.
An average of 25% of participants failed to estimate the percentage parasitaemia, 17% overestimated and 8% underestimated, whilst 5% misidentified the malaria species present.
Although the results achieved by participants for other blood parasites have shown an overall improvement, the level of performance for estimation of the parasitaemia of P. falciparum remains unchanged over 15 years. Possible reasons include incorrect calculation, not examining the correct part of the film and not examining an adequate number of microscope fields.
PMCID: PMC4222811  PMID: 24261625
6.  Culture-adapted Plasmodium falciparum isolates from UK travellers: in vitro drug sensitivity, clonality and drug resistance markers 
Malaria Journal  2013;12:320.
The screening of lead compounds against in vitro parasite cultures is an essential step in the development of novel anti-malarial drugs, but currently relies on laboratory parasite lines established in vitro during the last century. This study sought to establish in continuous culture a series of recent Plasmodium falciparum isolates to represent the current parasite populations in Africa, all of which are now exposed to artemisinin combination therapy.
Pre-treatment P. falciparum isolates were obtained in EDTA, and placed into continuous culture after sampling of DNA. One post-treatment blood sample was also collected for each donor to monitor parasite clonality during clearance in vivo. IC50 estimates were obtained for 11 anti-malarial compounds for each established parasite line, clonal multiplicity measured in vivo and in vitro, and polymorphic sites implicated in parasite sensitivity to drugs were investigated at the pfmdr1, pfcrt, pfdhfr, pfdhps and pfap2mu loci before and after treatment, and in the cultured lines.
Plasmodium falciparum isolates from seven malaria patients with recent travel to three West African and two East African countries were successfully established in long-term culture. One of these, HL1211, was from a patient with recrudescent parasitaemia 14 days after a full course of artemether-lumefantrine. All established culture lines were shown to be polyclonal, reflecting the in vivo isolates from which they were derived, and at least two lines reliably produce gametocytes in vitro. Two lines displayed high chloroquine IC50 estimates, and carried the CVIET haplotype at codons 72–76, whereas the remaining five lines carried the CVMNK haplotype and were sensitive in vitro. All were sensitive to the endoperoxides dihydroartemisinin and OZ277, but IC50 estimates for lumefantrine varied, with the least sensitive parasites carrying pfmdr1 alleles encoding Asn at codon 86.
This study describes the establishment in continuous culture, in vitro drug sensitivity testing and molecular characterization of a series of multiclonal P. falciparum isolates taken directly from UK malaria patients following recent travel to various malaria-endemic countries in Africa. These “HL” isolates are available as an open resource for studies of drug response, antigenic diversity and other aspects of parasite biology.
PMCID: PMC3847303  PMID: 24028570
7.  An observational study of malaria in British travellers: Plasmodium ovale wallikeri and Plasmodium ovale curtisi differ significantly in the duration of latency 
BMJ Open  2013;3(5):e002711.
Ovale malaria is caused by two closely related species of protozoan parasite: Plasmodium ovale curtisi and Plasmodium ovale wallikeri Although clearly distinct genetically, there have been no studies comparing the morphology, life cycle or epidemiology of these parasites. We tested the hypothesis that the two species differ in the duration of latency prior to presentation with symptoms of blood-stage infection.
PCR was used to identify P ovale curtisi and P ovale wallikeri infections among archived blood from UK malaria patients. Latency periods, estimated as the time between entry into the UK and diagnosis of malaria, were compared between the two groups.
UK National Reference Laboratory.
None. Archived parasite material and surveillance data for 74 P ovale curtisi and 60 P ovale wallikeri infections were analysed. Additional epidemiological data were taken from a database of 1045 imported cases.
No differences between the two species were identified by a detailed comparison of parasite morphology (N=9, N=8, respectively) and sex ratio (N=5, N=4) in archived blood films. The geometric mean latency period in P ovale wallikeri was 40.6 days (95% CI 28.9 to 57.0), whereas that for P ovale curtisi was more than twice as long at 85.7 days (95% CI 66.1 to 111.1; p=0.002). Further, the proportion of ovale malaria sensu lato which occurred in patients reporting chemoprophylaxis use was higher than for Plasmodium falciparum (OR 7.56; p<0.0001) or P vivax (OR 1.82; p<0.0001).
These findings provide the first difference of epidemiological significance observed between the two parasites which cause ovale malaria, and suggest that control measures aimed at P falciparum may not be adequate for reducing the burden of malaria caused by P ovale curtisi and P ovale wallikeri.
PMCID: PMC3657643  PMID: 23793668
9.  Clinical Evaluation of a Loop-Mediated Amplification Kit for Diagnosis of Imported Malaria 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;208(4):637-644.
Background. Diagnosis of malaria relies on parasite detection by microscopy or antigen detection; both fail to detect low-density infections. New tests providing rapid, sensitive diagnosis with minimal need for training would enhance both malaria diagnosis and malaria control activities. We determined the diagnostic accuracy of a new loop-mediated amplification (LAMP) kit in febrile returned travelers.
Methods. The kit was evaluated in sequential blood samples from returned travelers sent for pathogen testing to a specialist parasitology laboratory. Microscopy was performed, and then malaria LAMP was performed using Plasmodium genus and Plasmodium falciparum–specific tests in parallel. Nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed on all samples as the reference standard. Primary outcome measures for diagnostic accuracy were sensitivity and specificity of LAMP results, compared with those of nested PCR.
Results. A total of 705 samples were tested in the primary analysis. Sensitivity and specificity were 98.4% and 98.1%, respectively, for the LAMP P. falciparum primers and 97.0% and 99.2%, respectively, for the Plasmodium genus primers. Post hoc repeat PCR analysis of all 15 tests with discrepant results resolved 4 results in favor of LAMP, suggesting that the primary analysis had underestimated diagnostic accuracy.
Conclusions. Malaria LAMP had a diagnostic accuracy similar to that of nested PCR, with a greatly reduced time to result, and was superior to expert microscopy.
PMCID: PMC3719897  PMID: 23633403
malaria; diagnostics; LAMP
10.  Gnathostomiasis: An Emerging Imported Disease 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2003;9(6):647-650.
As the scope of international travel expands, an increasing number of travelers are coming into contact with helminthic parasites rarely seen outside the tropics. As a result, the occurrence of Gnathostoma spinigerum infection leading to the clinical syndrome gnathostomiasis is increasing. In areas where Gnathostoma is not endemic, few clinicians are familiar with this disease. To highlight this underdiagnosed parasitic infection, we describe a case series of patients with gnathostomiasis who were treated during a 12-month period at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, London.
PMCID: PMC3000140  PMID: 12781003
Gnathostoma; helminthiasis; imported disease; research
11.  Severe imported falciparum malaria among adults requiring intensive care: a retrospective study at the hospital for tropical diseases, London 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:118.
Malaria is the commonest imported infection in the UK. Malaria requiring ICU admission has a reported mortality of up to 25%. The relationship between ethnicity, immunity, and risk of malaria is complex. The Malaria Score for Adults (MSA) and Coma Acidosis Malaria (CAM) score have recently been proposed to risk stratify patients with malaria.
Retrospective study of patients with WHO severe falciparum malaria admitted to ICU at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, London, UK. The relationship between clinical variables and risk of death or a prolonged ICU stay were examined with logistic regression. The predictive value of the MSA and CAM score were calculated.
124 patients were included. Cerebral malaria and acute kidney injury occurred earlier (median day 1) than acute respiratory distress syndrome (median day 3). Six patients had community acquired bacterial co-infection. Eight patients were co-infected with HIV, five of whom were newly diagnosed. The positive predictive value of a CAM score ≥2 or an MSA ≥5 for death were 12% and 22% respectively. Five patients died. No variable was significantly associated with risk of death. There were no significant differences between individuals raised in endemic countries compared to non-endemic countries.
Mortality in patients managed in a specialist centre was low. Patients who died succumbed to complications associated with a prolonged stay on ICU rather than malaria per se. The clinical usefulness of the MSA and CAM score was limited. Co-infection with HIV was relatively common but compared to studies in children, bacteraemia was uncommon. The relationship between ethnicity and immunity to severe disease is complex.
PMCID: PMC3599148  PMID: 23497139
12.  African Trypanosomiasis in Travelers Returning to the United Kingdom 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(1):74-76.
Two returning safari tourists with African trypanosomiasis were admitted to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, London, in a 3-day period, compared with six cases in the previous 14 years. We describe the clinical features, diagnosis, and problems encountered in accessing appropriate therapy, and discuss the potential for emergence of this disease in increasingly adventurous international travelers.
PMCID: PMC2730280  PMID: 11749752
trypanosomiasis; African; Trypanosoma brucei; therapy; travel
13.  Gametocyte carriage in Plasmodium falciparum-infected travellers 
Malaria Journal  2013;12:31.
Gametocytes are the sexual stage of Plasmodium parasites. The determinants of gametocyte carriage have been studied extensively in endemic areas, but have rarely been explored in travellers with malaria. The incidence of gametocytaemia, and factors associated with gametocyte emergence in adult travellers with Plasmodium falciparum malaria was investigated at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London.
Clinical, parasitological and demographic data for all patients presenting with P. falciparum malaria between January 2001 and December 2011 were extracted from a prospective database. These data were supplemented by manual searches of laboratory records and patient case notes.
Seven hundred and seventy three adult patients with laboratory-confirmed P. falciparum malaria were identified. Four hundred and sixty five (60%) were born in a country where malaria is endemic. Patients presented to hospital a median of four days into their illness. The median maximum parasite count was 0.4%. One hundred and ninety six patients (25%) had gametocytes; 94 (12%) on admission, and 102 (13%) developing during treatment. Gametocytaemia on admission was associated with anaemia and a lower maximum parasitaemia. Patients with gametocytes at presentation were less likely to have thrombocytopenia or severe malaria. Patients who developed gametocytes during treatment were more likely to have had parasitaemia of long duration, a high maximum parasitaemia and to have had severe malaria. There was no apparent association between the appearance of gametocytes and treatment regimen.
The development of gametocytaemia in travellers with P. falciparum is associated with factors similar to those reported among populations in endemic areas. These data suggest that acquired immunity to malaria is not the only determinant of patterns of gametocyte carriage among patients with the disease.
PMCID: PMC3582526  PMID: 23347669
Falciparum malaria; Gametocytes; Adult travellers
14.  Epidemiology of Imported Cutaneous Leishmaniasis at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, London, United Kingdom: Use of Polymerase Chain Reaction to Identify the Species 
This study reviewed all patients diagnosed with imported cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London, United Kingdom, over an 11-year period. Diagnostic and epidemiologic information was collected prospectively for all patients with imported CL to this hospital during 1998–2009. A total of 223 patients were given a diagnosis of CL. Ninety patients were diagnosed with Old World CL, which was caused most commonly by Leishmania donovani complex (n = 20). A total of 71% were tourists to the Mediterranean region, 36% were migrants or visiting friends and relatives, and 17% were soldiers. One hundred thirty-three patients were given a diagnosis of New World CL. The Leishmania subgenus Viannia caused 97 of these cases; 44% of these were in backpackers and 29% were in soldiers. Polymerase chain reaction was more sensitive and faster for detecting Leishmania DNA (86% for Old World CL and 96% for New World CL) than culture. This is the largest study of imported leishmaniasis, and demonstrates that tourists to the Mediterranean and backpackers in Central and South America are at risk for this disease.
PMCID: PMC3247118  PMID: 22232460
15.  Geographical concentration of falciparum malaria treated in the UK and delay to treatment with artesunate in severe cases: an observational study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(6):e001854.
To quantify geographical concentration of falciparum malaria cases in the UK at a hospital level. To assess potential delay-to-treatment associated with hub-and-spoke distribution of artesunate in severe cases.
Observational study using national and hospital data.
Setting and participants
3520 patients notified to the Malaria Reference Laboratory 2008–2010, 34 patients treated with intravenous artesunate from a tropical diseases centre 2002–2010.
Main outcome measures
Geographical location of falciparum cases notified in the UK. Diagnosis-to-treatment times for intravenous artesunate.
Eight centres accounted for 43.9% of the UK's total cases; notifications from 107 centres accounted for 10.2% of cases; 51.5% of hospitals seeing malaria notified 5 or fewer cases in 3 years. Centres that saw <10 cases/year treat 26.3% of malaria cases; 6.1% of cases are treated in hospitals seeing <2 cases/year. Concentration of falciparum malaria was highest in Greater London (1925, 54.7%), South East (515, 14.6%), East of England (402, 11.4%) and North West (192, 5.4%). The North East and Northern Ireland each notified 5 or fewer cases per year. Median diagnosis-to-treatment time was 1 h (range 0.5–5) for patients receiving artesunate in the specialist centre; 7.5 h (range 4–26) for patients receiving it in referring hospitals via the hub-and-spoke system (p=0.02); 25 h (range 9–45) for patients receiving it on transfer to the regional centre from a referring hospital (p=0.002).
Most UK hospitals see few cases of falciparum malaria and geographical distances are significant. Over 25% of cases are seen in hospitals where malaria is rare, although 60% are seen in hospitals seeing over 50 cases over 3 years. A hub-and-spoke system minimises drug wastage and ensures availability in centres seeing most cases but is associated with treatment delays elsewhere. As with all observational studies, there are limitations, which are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3533059  PMID: 23148346
Infectious Diseases; Parasitology
16.  Management of imported malaria in Europe 
Malaria Journal  2012;11:328.
In this position paper, the European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Study Group on Clinical Parasitology, summarizes main issues regarding the management of imported malaria cases. Malaria is a rare diagnosis in Europe, but it is a medical emergency. A travel history is the key to suspecting malaria and is mandatory in patients with fever. There are no specific clinical signs or symptoms of malaria although fever is seen in almost all non-immune patients. Migrants from malaria endemic areas may have few symptoms.
Malaria diagnostics should be performed immediately on suspicion of malaria and the gold- standard is microscopy of Giemsa-stained thick and thin blood films. A Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) may be used as an initial screening tool, but does not replace urgent microscopy which should be done in parallel. Delays in microscopy, however, should not lead to delayed initiation of appropriate treatment. Patients diagnosed with malaria should usually be hospitalized. If outpatient management is preferred, as is the practice in some European centres, patients must usually be followed closely (at least daily) until clinical and parasitological cure. Treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria is either with oral artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) or with the combination atovaquone/proguanil. Two forms of ACT are available in Europe: artemether/lumefantrine and dihydroartemisinin/piperaquine. ACT is also effective against Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium malariae and Plasmodium knowlesi, but these species can be treated with chloroquine. Treatment of persistent liver forms in P. vivax and P. ovale with primaquine is indicated after excluding glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. There are modified schedules and drug options for the treatment of malaria in special patient groups, such as children and pregnant women. The potential for drug interactions and the role of food in the absorption of anti-malarials are important considerations in the choice of treatment.
Complicated malaria is treated with intravenous artesunate resulting in a much more rapid decrease in parasite density compared to quinine. Patients treated with intravenous artesunate should be closely monitored for haemolysis for four weeks after treatment. There is a concern in some countries about the lack of artesunate produced according to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP).
PMCID: PMC3489857  PMID: 22985344
17.  Increased sensitivity for detecting malaria parasites in human umbilical cord blood using scaled-up DNA preparation 
Malaria Journal  2012;11:62.
All mothers donating umbilical cord blood units to the NHS cord blood bank undergo an assessment for the likelihood of prior exposure to malaria infection. Those deemed at risk due to a history of travel to, or residence in, malaria endemic regions are screened serologically to detect anti-malaria antibodies. A positive result excludes the use of the cord blood for transplant therapy unless a risk assessment can ensure that malaria transmission is extremely unlikely. This paper details the screening of cord blood units from malaria serology positive mothers to detect malaria parasite DNA using a highly sensitive nested PCR.
Uninfected blood from a healthy volunteer was spiked with known quantities of malaria parasites and 5 millilitre and 200 microlitre aliquots were subjected to DNA extraction using QIAamp DNA maxi and DNA mini kits respectively. Nested PCR, to detect malarial SSU rRNA sequences, was performed on the purified DNA samples to determine the limit of detection for this assay with both extraction methodologies. Following assay validation, 54 cord blood units donated by mothers who were positive for anti-malaria antibodies were screened by this approach.
When DNA was purified from 5 millilitres of blood it was possible to routinely detect as few as 50 malaria parasites per millilitre using nested PCR. This equates to a significant increase in the sensitivity of the current gold standard nucleic acid amplification technique used to detect malaria parasites (routinely performed from > 200 microlitre volumes of blood). None of the 54 donated cord blood units from serology positive mothers tested positive for malaria parasites using this scaled up DNA preparation method.
Serological testing for malaria parasites may be overly conservative, leading to unnecessary rejection of cord blood donations that lack malaria parasites and which are, therefore, safe for use in stem cell therapy.
PMCID: PMC3325849  PMID: 22390576
18.  Drug-Resistant Genotypes and Multi-Clonality in Plasmodium falciparum Analysed by Direct Genome Sequencing from Peripheral Blood of Malaria Patients 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23204.
Naturally acquired blood-stage infections of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum typically harbour multiple haploid clones. The apparent number of clones observed in any single infection depends on the diversity of the polymorphic markers used for the analysis, and the relative abundance of rare clones, which frequently fail to be detected among PCR products derived from numerically dominant clones. However, minority clones are of clinical interest as they may harbour genes conferring drug resistance, leading to enhanced survival after treatment and the possibility of subsequent therapeutic failure. We deployed new generation sequencing to derive genome data for five non-propagated parasite isolates taken directly from 4 different patients treated for clinical malaria in a UK hospital. Analysis of depth of coverage and length of sequence intervals between paired reads identified both previously described and novel gene deletions and amplifications. Full-length sequence data was extracted for 6 loci considered to be under selection by antimalarial drugs, and both known and previously unknown amino acid substitutions were identified. Full mitochondrial genomes were extracted from the sequencing data for each isolate, and these are compared against a panel of polymorphic sites derived from published or unpublished but publicly available data. Finally, genome-wide analysis of clone multiplicity was performed, and the number of infecting parasite clones estimated for each isolate. Each patient harboured at least 3 clones of P. falciparum by this analysis, consistent with results obtained with conventional PCR analysis of polymorphic merozoite antigen loci. We conclude that genome sequencing of peripheral blood P. falciparum taken directly from malaria patients provides high quality data useful for drug resistance studies, genomic structural analyses and population genetics, and also robustly represents clonal multiplicity.
PMCID: PMC3154926  PMID: 21853089
19.  Mitochondrial DNA Targets Increase Sensitivity of Malaria Detection Using Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification ▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(8):2866-2871.
Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) of DNA offers the ability to detect very small quantities of pathogen DNA following minimal tissue sample processing and is thus an attractive methodology for point-of-care diagnostics. Previous attempts to diagnose malaria by the use of blood samples and LAMP have targeted the parasite small-subunit rRNA gene, with a resultant sensitivity for Plasmodium falciparum of around 100 parasites per μl. Here we describe the use of mitochondrial targets for LAMP-based detection of any Plasmodium genus parasite and of P. falciparum specifically. These new targets allow routine amplification from samples containing as few as five parasites per μl of blood. Amplification is complete within 30 to 40 min and is assessed by real-time turbidimetry, thereby offering rapid diagnosis with greater sensitivity than is achieved by the most skilled microscopist or antigen detection using lateral flow immunoassays.
PMCID: PMC2916605  PMID: 20554824
20.  Measuring the efficacy of anti-malarial drugs in vivo: quantitative PCR measurement of parasite clearance 
Malaria Journal  2010;9:312.
Artemisinin-based combination therapy, currently considered the therapy of choice for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in endemic countries, may be under threat from newly emerging parasite resistance to the artemisinin family of drugs. Studies in Southeast Asia suggest some patients exhibit an extended parasite clearance time in the three days immediately following treatment with artesunate monotherapy. This phenotype is likely to become a more important trial endpoint in studies of anti-malarial drug efficacy, but currently requires frequent, closely spaced blood sampling in hospitalized study participants, followed by quantitation of parasite density by microscopy.
A simple duplex quantitative PCR method was developed in which distinct fluorescent signals are generated from the human and parasite DNA components in each blood sample. The human amplification target in this assay is the β tubulin gene, and the parasite target is the unique methionine tRNA gene (pgmet), which exhibits perfect sequence identity in all six Plasmodium species that naturally infect humans. In a small series of malaria cases treated as hospital in-patients, the abundance of pgmet DNA was estimated relative to the human DNA target in daily peripheral blood samples, and parasite clearance times calculated.
The qPCR assay was reproducibly able to replicate parasite density estimates derived from microscopy, but provided additional data by quantification of parasite density 24 hours after the last positive blood film. Robust estimates of parasite clearance times were produced for a series of patients with clinical malaria.
Large studies, particularly in Africa where children represent a major proportion of treated cases, will require a simpler blood sample collection regime, and a method capable of high throughput. The duplex qPCR method tested may fulfil these criteria, and should now be evaluated in such field studies.
PMCID: PMC2992070  PMID: 21054863
22.  Anaphylaxis from intravascular rupture of Hydatid disease following liver trauma 
Cystic Echinococcosis also known as cystic hydatid disease is a parasitic infection endemic in many parts of the world. Humans are accidental intermediate hosts with cysts most commonly developing in the liver. This case describes a rare presentation of hydatid disease following trauma to the liver. Intraparenchymal cyst rupture led to haemodynamic instability with release of the parasites protoscolices into hepatic venules producing severe life threatening anaphylaxis.
PMCID: PMC3649144  PMID: 24946335
23.  Gnathostomiasis, Another Emerging Imported Disease 
Clinical Microbiology Reviews  2009;22(3):484-492.
Gnathostomiasis is a food-borne zoonosis caused by the late-third stage larvae of Gnathostoma spp. It is being seen with increasing frequency in countries where it is not endemic and should be regarded as another emerging imported disease. Previously, its foci of endemicity have been confined to Southeast Asia and Central and South America, but its geographical boundaries appear to be increasing, with recent reports of infection in tourists returning from southern Africa. It has a complex life cycle involving at least two intermediate hosts, with humans being accidental hosts in which the larvae cannot reach sexual maturity. The main risks for acquisition are consumption of raw or undercooked freshwater fish and geographical exposure. Infection results in initial nonspecific symptoms followed by cutaneous and/or visceral larva migrans, with the latter carrying high morbidity and mortality rates if there is central nervous system involvement. We review the literature and describe the epidemiology, life cycle, clinical features, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of gnathostomiasis.
PMCID: PMC2708391  PMID: 19597010
24.  Novel pfdhps Haplotypes among Imported Cases of Plasmodium falciparum Malaria in the United Kingdom ▿  
Treatment of acute malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum may include long-half-life drugs, such as the antifolate combination sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP), to provide posttreatment chemoprophylaxis against parasite recrudescence or delayed emergence from the liver. An unusual case of P. falciparum recrudescence in a returned British traveler who received such a regimen, as well as a series of 44 parasite isolates from the same hospital, was analyzed by PCR and direct DNA sequencing for the presence of markers of parasite resistance to chloroquine and antifolates. The index patient harbored a mixture of wild-type and resistant pfdhfr and pfdhps alleles upon initial presentation. During his second malaria episode, he harbored only resistant parasites, with the haplotypes IRNI (codons 51, 59, 108, and 164) and SGEAA (codons 436, 437, 540, 581, and 613) at these two loci, respectively. Analysis of isolates from 44 other patients showed that the pfdhfr haplotype IRNI was common (found in 81% of cases). The SGEAA haplotype of pfdhps was uncommon (found only in eight cases of East African origin [17%]). A previously undescribed mutation, I431V, was observed for seven cases of Nigerian origin, occurring as one of two haplotypes, VAGKGS or VAGKAA. The presence of this mutation was also confirmed in isolates of Nigerian origin from the United Kingdom Malaria Reference Laboratory. The presence of the pfdhps haplotype SGEAA in P. falciparum parasites of East African origin appears to compromise the efficacy of treatment regimens that include SP as a means to prevent recrudescence. Parasites with novel pfdhps haplotypes are circulating in West Africa. The response of these parasites to chemotherapy needs to be evaluated.
PMCID: PMC2715629  PMID: 19433569
25.  A Large Proportion of P. falciparum Isolates in the Amazon Region of Peru Lack pfhrp2 and pfhrp3: Implications for Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Tests 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8091.
Malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) offer significant potential to improve the diagnosis of malaria, and are playing an increasing role in malaria case management, control and elimination. Peru, along with other South American countries, is moving to introduce malaria RDTs as components of malaria control programmes supported by the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and malaria. The selection of the most suitable malaria RDTs is critical to the success of the programmes.
Eight of nine microscopy positive P. falciparum samples collected in Iquitos, Peru tested negative or weak positive using HRP2-detecting RDTs. These samples were tested for the presence of pfhrp2 and pfhrp3 and their flanking genes by PCR, as well as the presence of HRP proteins by ELISA. To investigate for geographic extent of HRP-deleted parasites and their temporal occurrence a retrospective study was undertaken on 148 microscopy positive P. falciparum samples collected in different areas of the Amazon region of Peru.
Eight of the nine isolates lacked the pfhrp2 and/or pfhrp3 genes and one or both flanking genes, and the absence of HRP was confirmed by ELISA. The retrospective study showed that 61 (41%) and 103 (70%) of the 148 samples lacked the pfhrp2 or pfhrp3 genes respectively, with 32 (21.6%) samples lacking both hrp genes.
This is the first documentation of P. falciparum field isolates lacking pfhrp2 and/or pfhrp3. The high frequency and wide distribution of different parasites lacking pfhrp2 and/or pfhrp3 in widely dispersed areas in the Peruvian Amazon implies that malaria RDTs targeting HRP2 will fail to detect a high proportion of P. falciparum in malaria-endemic areas of Peru and should not be used. RDTs detecting parasite LDH or aldolase and quality microscopy should be use for malaria diagnosis in this region. There is an urgent need for investigation of the abundance and geographic distribution of these parasites in Peru and neighbouring countries.
PMCID: PMC2810332  PMID: 20111602

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