Melbourne Medical School Collected Works - Research Publications

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    Validating Eaton's Hypothesis: Cubane as a Benzene Bioisostere (vol 55, pg 3580, 2016)
    Chalmers, BA ; Xing, H ; Houston, S ; Clark, C ; Ghassabian, S ; Kuo, A ; Cao, B ; Reitsma, A ; Murray, C-EP ; Stok, JE ; Boyle, GM ; Pierce, CJ ; Littler, SW ; Winkler, DA ; Bernhardt, PV ; Pasay, C ; De Voss, JJ ; McCarthy, J ; Parsons, PG ; Walter, GH ; Smith, MT ; Cooper, HM ; Nilsson, SK ; Tsanaktsidis, J ; Savage, GP ; Williams, CM (WILEY-V C H VERLAG GMBH, 2018-07-09)
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    Within-host modeling of blood-stage malaria
    Khoury, DS ; Aogo, R ; Randriafanomezantsoa-Radohery, G ; McCaw, JM ; Simpson, JA ; McCarthy, JS ; Haque, A ; Cromer, D ; Davenport, MP (WILEY, 2018-09-01)
    Malaria infection continues to be a major health problem worldwide and drug resistance in the major human parasite species, Plasmodium falciparum, is increasing in South East Asia. Control measures including novel drugs and vaccines are in development, and contributions to the rational design and optimal usage of these interventions are urgently needed. Infection involves the complex interaction of parasite dynamics, host immunity, and drug effects. The long life cycle (48 hours in the common human species) and synchronized replication cycle of the parasite population present significant challenges to modeling the dynamics of Plasmodium infection. Coupled with these, variation in immune recognition and drug action at different life cycle stages leads to further complexity. We review the development and progress of "within-host" models of Plasmodium infection, and how these have been applied to understanding and interpreting human infection and animal models of infection.
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    Human immune responses to infective stage larval-specific chitinase of filarial parasite, Onchocerca volvulus, Ov-CHI-1.
    Wu, Y ; Egerton, G ; McCarthy, JS ; Nutman, TB ; Bianco, AE (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2003-03-14)
    BACKGROUND: Ov-CHI-1 is a chitinase specifically expressed in the infective stage larvae of the human filarial parasite Onchocerca volvulus. Evidence has show that it could be a vaccine candidate, however, there is no data available regarding the immunological status of people naturally exposed to infective stage larvae and thus provoked by this antigen. METHOD: We analysed the Ov-CHI-1-specific immune response present in four endemic foci of human onchocerciasis (Ecuador, Nigeria, Togo and Cameroon) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and T-cell proliferation assays. RESULTS: In these foci of infection, antibodies to Ov-CHI-1 were found to be present in only 22% of individuals from Ecuador, but were detected in 42-62% of infected individuals in the three foci from West Africa (Nigeria, Togo and Cameroon). There was found to be no relationship between antibody level and age, gender, or infection intensity as indicated by microfilarial density and numbers of skin nodules. The isotype response to Ov-CHI-1 was dominated by the presence of IgG3, IgG1 was present to a lesser extent. Our results show a positive correlation between N- and C-termini of Ov-CHI-1 in their ability to provoke humoral and cellular immune responses in the human. Peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) proliferative responses to Ov-CHI-1 when assayed, were found to be significantly higher in the individuals from endemic areas and there was a statistically elevated response to Ov-CHI-1 in the infected individuals when compared to putative immune individuals. CONCLUSION: Ov-CHI-1 is an antigen that we have found strongly induces both humoral and cellular immune responses in humans.
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    A Large Proportion of P. falciparum Isolates in the Amazon Region of Peru Lack pfhrp2 and pfhrp3: Implications for Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Tests
    Gamboa, D ; Ho, M-F ; Bendezu, J ; Torres, K ; Chiodini, PL ; Barnwell, JW ; Incardona, S ; Perkins, M ; Bell, D ; McCarthy, J ; Cheng, Q ; Bjorkman, A (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2010-01-25)
    BACKGROUND: 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. METHODS: 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. FINDINGS: 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. CONCLUSIONS: 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.
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    Infection-induced plasmablasts are a nutrient sink that impairs humoral immunity to malaria
    Vijay, R ; Guthmiller, JJ ; Sturtz, AJ ; Surette, FA ; Rogers, KJ ; Sompallae, RR ; Li, F ; Pope, RL ; Chan, J-A ; Rivera, FDL ; Andrew, D ; Webb, L ; Maury, WJ ; Xue, H-H ; Engwerda, CR ; McCarthy, JS ; Boyle, MJ ; Butler, NS (Nature Research, 2020-05-18)
    Plasmodium parasite–specific antibodies are critical for protection against malaria, yet the development of long-lived and effective humoral immunity against Plasmodium takes many years and multiple rounds of infection and cure. Here, we report that the rapid development of short-lived plasmablasts during experimental malaria unexpectedly hindered parasite control by impeding germinal center responses. Metabolic hyperactivity of plasmablasts resulted in nutrient deprivation of the germinal center reaction, limiting the generation of memory B cell and long-lived plasma cell responses. Therapeutic administration of a single amino acid to experimentally infected mice was sufficient to overcome the metabolic constraints imposed by plasmablasts and enhanced parasite clearance and the formation of protective humoral immune memory responses. Thus, our studies not only challenge the current model describing the role and function of blood-stage Plasmodium-induced plasmablasts but they also reveal new targets and strategies to improve anti-Plasmodium humoral immunity.
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    Setting Our Sights on Infectious Diseases
    De Rycker, M ; Horn, D ; Aldridge, B ; Amewu, RK ; Barry, CE ; Buckner, FS ; Cook, S ; Ferguson, MAJ ; Gobeau, N ; Herrmann, J ; Herding, P ; Hope, W ; Keiser, J ; Lafuente-Monasterio, MJ ; Leeson, PD ; Leroy, D ; Manjunatha, UH ; McCarthy, J ; Miles, TJ ; Mizrahi, V ; Moshynets, O ; Niles, J ; Overington, JP ; Pottage, J ; Rao, SPS ; Read, KD ; Ribeiro, I ; Silver, LL ; Southern, J ; Spangenberg, T ; Sundar, S ; Taylor, C ; Van Voorhis, W ; White, NJ ; Wyllie, S ; Wyatt, PG ; Gilbert, IH (American Chemical Society, 2020-01-01)
    In May 2019, the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research (WCAIR) at the University of Dundee, UK, held an international conference with the aim of discussing some key questions around discovering new medicines for infectious diseases and a particular focus on diseases affecting Low and Middle Income Countries. There is an urgent need for new drugs to treat most infectious diseases. We were keen to see if there were lessons that we could learn across different disease areas and between the preclinical and clinical phases with the aim of exploring how we can improve and speed up the drug discovery, translational, and clinical development processes. We started with an introductory session on the current situation and then worked backward from clinical development to combination therapy, pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) studies, drug discovery pathways, and new starting points and targets. This Viewpoint aims to capture some of the learnings.
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    Positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging in experimental human malaria to identify organ-specific changes in morphology and glucose metabolism: A prospective cohort study
    Woodford, J ; Gillman, A ; Jenvey, P ; Roberts, J ; Woolley, S ; Barber, BE ; Fernandez, M ; Rose, S ; Thomas, P ; Anstey, NM ; McCarthy, JS ; von Seidlein, L (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2021-05-01)
    BACKGROUND: Plasmodium vivax has been proposed to infect and replicate in the human spleen and bone marrow. Compared to Plasmodium falciparum, which is known to undergo microvascular tissue sequestration, little is known about the behavior of P. vivax outside of the circulating compartment. This may be due in part to difficulties in studying parasite location and activity in life. METHODS AND FINDINGS: To identify organ-specific changes during the early stages of P. vivax infection, we performed 18-F fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography/magnetic resonance imaging (PET/MRI) at baseline and just prior to onset of clinical illness in P. vivax experimentally induced blood-stage malaria (IBSM) and compared findings to P. falciparum IBSM. Seven healthy, malaria-naive participants were enrolled from 3 IBSM trials: NCT02867059, ACTRN12616000174482, and ACTRN12619001085167. Imaging took place between 2016 and 2019 at the Herston Imaging Research Facility, Australia. Postinoculation imaging was performed after a median of 9 days in both species (n = 3 P. vivax; n = 4 P. falciparum). All participants were aged between 19 and 23 years, and 6/7 were male. Splenic volume (P. vivax: +28.8% [confidence interval (CI) +10.3% to +57.3%], P. falciparum: +22.9 [CI -15.3% to +61.1%]) and radiotracer uptake (P. vivax: +15.5% [CI -0.7% to +31.7%], P. falciparum: +5.5% [CI +1.4% to +9.6%]) increased following infection with each species, but more so in P. vivax infection (volume: p = 0.72, radiotracer uptake: p = 0.036). There was no change in FDG uptake in the bone marrow (P. vivax: +4.6% [CI -15.9% to +25.0%], P. falciparum: +3.2% [CI -3.2% to +9.6%]) or liver (P. vivax: +6.2% [CI -8.7% to +21.1%], P. falciparum: -1.4% [CI -4.6% to +1.8%]) following infection with either species. In participants with P. vivax, hemoglobin, hematocrit, and platelet count decreased from baseline at the time of postinoculation imaging. Decrements in hemoglobin and hematocrit were significantly greater in participants with P. vivax infection compared to P. falciparum. The main limitations of this study are the small sample size and the inability of this tracer to differentiate between host and parasite metabolic activity. CONCLUSIONS: PET/MRI indicated greater splenic tropism and metabolic activity in early P. vivax infection compared to P. falciparum, supporting the hypothesis of splenic accumulation of P. vivax very early in infection. The absence of uptake in the bone marrow and liver suggests that, at least in early infection, these tissues do not harbor a large parasite biomass or do not provoke a prominent metabolic response. PET/MRI is a safe and noninvasive method to evaluate infection-associated organ changes in morphology and glucose metabolism.
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    Analytical validation of a real-time hydrolysis probe PCR assay for quantifying Plasmodium falciparum parasites in experimentally infected human adults
    Wang, CYT ; Ballard, EL ; Pava, Z ; Marquart, L ; Gaydon, J ; Murphy, SC ; Whiley, D ; O'Rourke, P ; McCarthy, JS (BMC, 2021-04-10)
    BACKGROUND: Volunteer infection studies have become a standard model for evaluating drug efficacy against Plasmodium infections. Molecular techniques such as qPCR are used in these studies due to their ability to provide robust and accurate estimates of parasitaemia at increased sensitivity compared to microscopy. The validity and reliability of assays need to be ensured when used to evaluate the efficacy of candidate drugs in clinical trials. METHODS: A previously described 18S rRNA gene qPCR assay for quantifying Plasmodium falciparum in blood samples was evaluated. Assay performance characteristics including analytical sensitivity, reportable range, precision, accuracy and specificity were assessed using experimental data and data compiled from phase 1 volunteer infection studies conducted between 2013 and 2019. Guidelines for validation of laboratory-developed molecular assays were followed. RESULTS: The reportable range was 1.50 to 6.50 log10 parasites/mL with a limit of detection of 2.045 log10 parasites/mL of whole blood based on a parasite diluted standard series over this range. The assay was highly reproducible with minimal intra-assay (SD = 0.456 quantification cycle (Cq) units [0.137 log10 parasites/mL] over 21 replicates) and inter-assay (SD = 0.604 Cq units [0.182 log10 parasites/mL] over 786 qPCR runs) variability. Through an external quality assurance program, the QIMR assay was shown to generate accurate results (quantitative bias + 0.019 log10 parasites/mL against nominal values). Specificity was 100% after assessing 164 parasite-free human blood samples. CONCLUSIONS: The 18S rRNA gene qPCR assay is specific and highly reproducible and can provide reliable and accurate parasite quantification. The assay is considered fit for use in evaluating drug efficacy in malaria clinical trials.
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    Retrospective Analysis Using Pharmacokinetic/Pharmacodynamic Modeling and Simulation Offers Improvements in Efficiency of the Design of Volunteer Infection Studies for Antimalarial Drug Development
    Andrews, KA ; Owen, JS ; McCarthy, J ; Wesche, D ; Gobeau, N ; Grasela, TH ; Mohrle, JJ (WILEY, 2020-12-16)
    Volunteer infection studies using the induced blood stage malaria (IBSM) model have been shown to facilitate antimalarial drug development. Such studies have traditionally been undertaken in single-dose cohorts, as many as necessary to obtain the dose-response relationship. To enhance ethical and logistic aspects of such studies, and to reduce the number of cohorts needed to establish the dose-response relationship, we undertook a retrospective in silico analysis of previously accrued data to improve study design. A pharmacokinetic (PK)/pharmacodynamic (PD) model was developed from initial fictive-cohort data for OZ439 (mixing the data of the three single-dose cohorts as: n = 2 on 100 mg, 2 on 200 mg, and 4 on 500 mg). A three-compartment model described OZ439 PKs. Net growth of parasites was modeled using a Gompertz function and drug-induced parasite death using a Hill function. Parameter estimates for the PK and PD models were comparable for the multidose single-cohort vs. the pooled analysis of all cohorts. Simulations based on the multidose single-cohort design described the complete data from the original IBSM study. The novel design allows for the ascertainment of the PK/PD relationship early in the study, providing a basis for rational dose selection for subsequent cohorts and studies.
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    Reduced circulating dendritic cells in acute Plasmodium knowlesi and Plasmodium falciparum malaria despite elevated plasma Flt3 ligand levels
    Loughland, JR ; Woodberry, T ; Oyong, D ; Piera, KA ; Amante, FH ; Barber, BE ; Grigg, MJ ; William, T ; Engwerda, CR ; Anstey, NM ; McCarthy, JS ; Boyle, MJ ; Minigo, G (BMC, 2021-02-16)
    BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum malaria increases plasma levels of the cytokine Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand (Flt3L), a haematopoietic factor associated with dendritic cell (DC) expansion. It is unknown if the zoonotic parasite Plasmodium knowlesi impacts Flt3L or DC in human malaria. This study investigated circulating DC and Flt3L associations in adult malaria and in submicroscopic experimental infection. METHODS: Plasma Flt3L concentration and blood CD141+ DC, CD1c+ DC and plasmacytoid DC (pDC) numbers were assessed in (i) volunteers experimentally infected with P. falciparum and in Malaysian patients with uncomplicated (ii) P. falciparum or (iii) P. knowlesi malaria. RESULTS: Plasmodium knowlesi caused a decline in all circulating DC subsets in adults with malaria. Plasma Flt3L was elevated in acute P. falciparum and P. knowlesi malaria with no increase in a subclinical experimental infection. Circulating CD141+ DCs, CD1c+ DCs and pDCs declined in all adults tested, for the first time extending the finding of DC subset decline in acute malaria to the zoonotic parasite P. knowlesi. CONCLUSIONS: In adults, submicroscopic Plasmodium infection causes no change in plasma Flt3L but does reduce circulating DCs. Plasma Flt3L concentrations increase in acute malaria, yet this increase is insufficient to restore or expand circulating CD141+ DCs, CD1c+ DCs or pDCs. These data imply that haematopoietic factors, yet to be identified and not Flt3L, involved in the sensing/maintenance of circulating DC are impacted by malaria and a submicroscopic infection. The zoonotic P. knowlesi is similar to other Plasmodium spp in compromising DC in adult malaria.