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    Assessment of IgG3 as a serological exposure marker for Plasmodium vivax in areas with moderate-high malaria transmission intensity.
    Tayipto, Y ; Rosado, J ; Gamboa, D ; White, MT ; Kiniboro, B ; Healer, J ; Opi, DH ; Beeson, JG ; Takashima, E ; Tsuboi, T ; Harbers, M ; Robinson, L ; Mueller, I ; Longley, RJ (Frontiers Media SA, 2022)
    A more sensitive surveillance tool is needed to identify Plasmodium vivax infections for treatment and to accelerate malaria elimination efforts. To address this challenge, our laboratory has developed an eight-antigen panel that detects total IgG as serological markers of P. vivax exposure within the prior 9 months. The value of these markers has been established for use in areas with low transmission. In moderate-high transmission areas, there is evidence that total IgG is more long-lived than in areas with low transmission, resulting in poorer performance of these markers in these settings. Antibodies that are shorter-lived may be better markers of recent infection for use in moderate-high transmission areas. Using a multiplex assay, the antibody temporal kinetics of total IgG, IgG1, IgG3, and IgM against 29 P. vivax antigens were measured over 36 weeks following asymptomatic P. vivax infection in Papua New Guinean children (n = 31), from an area with moderate-high transmission intensity. IgG3 declined faster to background than total IgG, IgG1, and IgM. Based on these kinetics, IgG3 performance was then assessed for classifying recent exposure in a cohort of Peruvian individuals (n = 590; age 3-85 years) from an area of moderate transmission intensity. Using antibody responses against individual antigens, the highest performance of IgG3 in classifying recent P. vivax infections in the prior 9 months was to one of the Pv-fam-a proteins assessed (PVX_125728) (AUC = 0.764). Surprisingly, total IgG was overall a better marker of recent P. vivax infection, with the highest individual classification performance to RBP2b1986-2653 (PVX_094255) (AUC = 0.838). To understand the acquisition of IgG3 in this Peruvian cohort, relevant epidemiological factors were explored using a regression model. IgG3 levels were positively associated with increasing age, living in an area with (relatively) higher transmission intensity, and having three or more PCR-detected blood-stage P. vivax infections within the prior 13 months. Overall, we found that IgG3 did not have high accuracy for detecting recent exposure to P. vivax in the Peruvian cohort, with our data suggesting that this is due to the high levels of prior exposure required to acquire high IgG3 antibody levels.
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    Lessons for improved COVID-19 surveillance from the scale-up of malaria testing strategies.
    Kerr, G ; Robinson, LJ ; Russell, TL ; Macdonald, J (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2022-07-20)
    Effective control of infectious diseases is facilitated by informed decisions that require accurate and timely diagnosis of disease. For malaria, improved access to malaria diagnostics has revolutionized malaria control and elimination programmes. However, for COVID-19, diagnosis currently remains largely centralized and puts many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) at a disadvantage. Malaria and COVID-19 are infectious diseases that share overlapping symptoms. While the strategic responses to disease control for malaria and COVID-19 are dependent on the disease ecologies of each disease, the fundamental need for accurate and timely testing remains paramount to inform accurate responses. This review highlights how the roll-out of rapid diagnostic tests has been fundamental in the fight against malaria, primarily within the Asia Pacific and along the Greater Mekong Subregion. By learning from the successful elements of malaria control programmes, it is clear that improving access to point-of-care testing strategies for COVID-19 will provide a suitable framework for COVID-19 diagnosis in not only the Asia Pacific, but all malarious countries. In malaria-endemic countries, an integrated approach to point-of-care testing for COVID-19 and malaria would provide bi-directional benefits for COVID-19 and malaria control, particularly due to their paralleled likeness of symptoms, infection control strategies and at-risk individuals. This is especially important, as previous disease pandemics have disrupted malaria control infrastructure, resulting in malaria re-emergence and halting elimination progress. Understanding and combining strategies may help to both limit disruptions to malaria control and support COVID-19 control.
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    Mass drug administration of ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine, plus albendazole compared with diethylcarbamazine plus albendazole for reduction of lymphatic filariasis endemicity in Papua New Guinea: a cluster-randomised trial.
    Laman, M ; Tavul, L ; Karl, S ; Kotty, B ; Kerry, Z ; Kumai, S ; Samuel, A ; Lorry, L ; Timinao, L ; Howard, SC ; Makita, L ; John, L ; Bieb, S ; Wangi, J ; Albert, JM ; Payne, M ; Weil, GJ ; Tisch, DJ ; Bjerum, CM ; Robinson, LJ ; King, CL (Elsevier BV, 2022-08)
    BACKGROUND: A single co-administered dose of a triple-drug regimen (ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine, and albendazole) has been shown to be safe and more efficacious for clearing Wuchereria bancrofti microfilariae than the standard two-drug regimen of diethylcarbamazine plus albendazole in clinical trials. However, the effectiveness of mass drug administration with the triple-drug regimen compared with the two-drug regimen is unknown. We compared the effectiveness of mass drug administration with the triple-drug and two-drug regimens for reducing microfilariae prevalence to less than 1% and circulating filarial antigen prevalence to less than 2%, levels that are unlikely to sustain transmission of lymphatic filariasis, in Papua New Guinea. METHODS: This open-label, cluster-randomised study was done in 24 villages in a district endemic for lymphatic filariasis in Papua New Guinea. Villages paired by population size were randomly assigned to receive mass drug administration with a single dose of the triple-drug oral regimen of ivermectin (200 μg per kg of bodyweight) plus diethylcarbamazine (6 mg per kg of bodyweight) plus albendazole (400 mg) or a single dose of the two-drug oral regimen of diethylcarbamazine (6 mg per kg of bodyweight) plus albendazole (400 mg). This is a follow-on study of a previously reported safety study (ClinicalTrials.govNCT02899936). All residents aged 5 years or older and non-pregnant women were asked to participate. After cross-sectional night blood microfilariae and circulating filarial antigen surveys, mass drug administration was provided at baseline and repeated 12 months later. The primary outcomes were mean prevalence of microfilariae and circulating filarial antigen at 12 months and 24 months, assessed in all residents willing to participate at each timepoint. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03352206. FINDINGS: Between Nov 18, 2016, and May 26, 2017, 4563 individuals were enrolled in 24 clusters; 12 clusters (2382 participants) were assigned to the triple-drug regimen and 12 clusters (2181 participants) to the two-drug regimen. Mean drug ingestion rates (of residents aged ≥5 years) were 66·1% at baseline and 63·2% at 12 months in communities assigned to the triple-drug regimen and 65·9% at baseline and 54·9% at 12 months in communities assigned to the two-drug regimen. Microfilariae prevalence in the triple-drug regimen group decreased from 105 (4·4%) of 2382 participants (95% CI 3·6-5·3) at baseline to nine (0·4%) of 2319 (0·1-0·7) at 12 months and four (0·2%) of 2086 (0·1-0·5) at 24 months. In the two-drug regimen group, microfilariae prevalence decreased from 93 (4·3%) of 2181 participants (95% CI 3·5-5·2) at baseline to 29 (1·5%) of 1963 (1·0-2·1) at 12 months and eight (0·4%) of 1844 (0·2-0·9) at 24 months (adjusted estimated risk ratio 4·5, 95% CI 1·4-13·8, p=0·0087, at 12 months; 2·9, 95% CI 1·0-8·8, p=0·058, at 24 months). The prevalence of circulating filarial antigen decreased from 523 (22·0%) of 2382 participants (95% CI 20·3-23·6) at baseline to 378 (16·3%) of 2319 (14·9-17·9) at 12 months and 156 (7·5%) of 2086 (6·4-8·7) at 24 months in the triple-drug regimen group and from 489 (22·6%) of 2168 participants (20·7-24·2) at baseline to 358 (18·2%) of 1963 (16·7-20·1) at 12 months and 184 (10·0%) of 1840 (8·7-11·5) at 24 months in the two-drug regimen group; after adjustment, differences between groups were not significant. INTERPRETATION: Mass administration of the triple-drug regimen was more effective than the two-drug regimen in reducing microfilariae prevalence in communities to less than the target level of 1%, but did not reduce circulating filarial antigen prevalence to less than 2%. These results support the use of mass drug administration with the triple-drug regimen to accelerate elimination of lymphatic filariasis. FUNDING: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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    Plasmodium vivax-How hidden reservoirs hinder global malaria elimination
    Angrisano, F ; Robinson, LJ (ELSEVIER IRELAND LTD, 2022-04-01)
    Plasmodium vivax is the most geographically widespread human malaria parasite. Global malaria efforts have been less successful at reducing the burden of P. vivax compared to P. falciparum, owing to the unique biology and related treatment complexity of P. vivax. As a result, P. vivax is now the dominant malaria parasite throughout the Asia-Pacific and South America causing up to 14 million clinical cases every year and is considered a major obstacle to malaria elimination. Key features circumventing existing malaria control tools are the transmissibility of asymptomatic, low-density circulating infections and reservoirs of persistent dormant liver stages (hypnozoites) that are undetectable but reactivate to cause relapsing infections and sustain transmission. In this review we summarise the new knowledge shaping our understanding of the global epidemiology of P. vivax infections, highlighting the challenges for elimination and the tools that will be required achieve this.
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    Individual Efficacy and Community Impact of Ivermectin, Diethylcarbamazine, and Albendazole Mass Drug Administration for Lymphatic Filariasis Control in Fiji: A Cluster Randomized Trial
    Hardy, M ; Samuela, J ; Kama, M ; Tuicakau, M ; Romani, L ; Whitfeld, MJ ; King, CL ; Weil, GJ ; Grobler, AC ; Robinson, LJ ; Kaldor, JM ; Steer, AC (OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2021-03-16)
    BACKGROUND: Bancroftian filariasis remains endemic in Fiji despite >10 years of mass drug administration (MDA) using diethylcarbamazine and albendazole (DA). The addition of ivermectin to this combination (IDA) has improved efficacy of microfilarial clearance at 12 months in individually randomized trials in nocturnal transmission settings, but impact in a setting of diurnally subperiodic filarial transmission has not been evaluated. METHODS: This cluster randomized study compared the individual efficacy and community impact of IDA vs DA as MDA for lymphatic filariasis in 35 villages on 2 islands of Fiji. Participants were tested at enrollment for circulating filarial antigen and, if positive, for microfilariae. Weight-dosed treatment was offered according to village randomization. Communities were visited at 12 months and retested for lymphatic filariasis. Infected individuals from Rotuma were retested at 24 months. RESULTS: A total of 3816 participants were enrolled and 3616 were treated. At 12 months, microfilariae clearance was achieved in 72 of 111 participants detected with infection at baseline, with no difference in efficacy between treatment groups: DA, 69.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 57.2%-79.1%) vs IDA, 62.5% (95% CI, 43.6%-78.2%); risk difference, 11.3 % (95% CI, -10% to 32.7%); P = .30. There was no difference between treatment groups in community prevalence of microfilariae at 12 months or individual clearance at 24 months. CONCLUSIONS: We found no difference between IDA and DA in individual clearance or community prevalence of lymphatic filariasis at 12 months, and no improved efficacy following a second annual round of IDA. Possible explanations for the apparent lack of benefit of IDA compared to DA include drug and parasite factors affecting clearance, and higher than expected reinfection rates. Clinical Trials Registration: NCT03177993 and Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry: N12617000738325.
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    STRIVE PNG: using a partnership-based approach in implementation research to strengthen surveillance and health systems in Papua New Guinea
    Farquhar, R ; Dori, A ; MacCana, S ; Tefuarani, N ; Lavu, E ; Barry, A ; Karl, S ; Makita, L ; Robinson, L ; Laman, M (BMC, 2022-04-02)
    Successful implementation research requires effective and equitable relationships between policy-makers, researchers and implementers to effect evidence-based systems change. However, mainstream research grant models between Global North and Global South institutions often (unintentionally) reinforce power imbalances between partners, which result in missed opportunities for knowledge and learning exchange between policy-makers, researchers and implementers.This case study, centred on the STRIVE PNG project, describes how a partnership-based approach has been used to establish, maintain and review effective and equitable relationships between 13 partner organizations (independent research institutes, government health agencies and public health laboratories) to strengthen surveillance and health systems in Papua New Guinea (PNG). We provide an overview of key terms (with supporting conceptual frameworks), describe selected partnership processes and tools used within the project, and share observations regarding early outcomes achieved through this approach.
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    Developing sero-diagnostic tests to facilitate Plasmodium vivax Serological Test-and-Treat approaches: modeling the balance between public health impact and overtreatment.
    Obadia, T ; Nekkab, N ; Robinson, LJ ; Drakeley, C ; Mueller, I ; White, MT (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2022-03-18)
    BACKGROUND: Eliminating Plasmodium vivax will require targeting the hidden liver-stage reservoir of hypnozoites. This necessitates new interventions balancing the benefit of reducing vivax transmission against the risk of over-treating some individuals with drugs which may induce haemolysis. By measuring antibodies to a panel of vivax antigens, a strategy of serological-testing-and-treatment (PvSeroTAT) can identify individuals with recent blood-stage infections who are likely to carry hypnozoites and target them for radical cure. This provides a potential solution to selectively treat the vivax reservoir with 8-aminoquinolines. METHODS: PvSeroTAT can identify likely hypnozoite carriers with ~80% sensitivity and specificity. Diagnostic test sensitivities and specificities ranging 50-100% were incorporated into a mathematical model of vivax transmission to explore how they affect the risks and benefits of different PvSeroTAT strategies involving hypnozoiticidal regimens. Risk was measured as the rate of overtreatment and benefit as reduction of community-level vivax transmission. RESULTS: Across a wide range of combinations of diagnostic sensitivity and specificity, PvSeroTAT was substantially more effective than bloodstage mass screen and treat strategies and only marginally less effective than mass drug administration. The key test characteristic determining of the benefit of PvSeroTAT strategies is diagnostic sensitivity, with higher values leading to more hypnozoite carriers effectively treated and greater reductions in vivax transmission. The key determinant of risk is diagnostic specificity: higher specificity ensures that a lower proportion of uninfected individuals are unnecessarily treated with primaquine. These relationships are maintained in both moderate and low transmission settings (qPCR prevalence 10% and 2%). Increased treatment efficacy and adherence can partially compensate for lower test performance. Multiple rounds of PvSeroTAT with a lower performing test may lead to similar or higher reductions in vivax transmission than fewer rounds with a higher performing test, albeit with higher rate of overtreatment. CONCLUSIONS: At current performance, PvSeroTAT is predicted to be a safe and efficacious option for targeting the hypnozoite reservoir towards vivax elimination. P. vivax sero-diagnostic tests should aim for both high performance and ease of use in the field. The target product profiles informing such development should thus reflect the trade-offs between impact, overtreatment, and ease of programmatic implementation.
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    Community perceptions and acceptability of mass drug administration for the control of neglected tropical diseases in Asia-Pacific countries: A systematic scoping review of qualitative research
    Mitchell, E ; Kelly-Hanku, A ; Krentel, A ; Romani, L ; Robinson, LJ ; Vaz Nery, S ; Kaldor, J ; Steer, AC ; Bell, S ; Horstick, O (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2022-03-01)
    BACKGROUND: Preventative chemotherapy and mass drug administration have been identified as effective strategies for the prevention, treatment, control and elimination of several NTDs in the Asia-Pacific region. Qualitative research can provide in-depth insight into the social dynamics and processes underlying effective implementation of and adherence to mass drug administration programs. This scoping review examines published qualitative literature to examine factors influencing community perceptions and acceptability of mass drug administration approaches to control NTDs in the Asia-Pacific region. METHODOLOGY: Twenty-four peer reviewed published papers reporting qualitative data from community members and stakeholders engaged in the implementation of mass drug administration programs were identified as eligible for inclusion. FINDINGS: This systematic scoping review presents available data from studies focussing on lymphatic filariasis, soil-transmitted helminths and scabies in eight national settings (India, Indonesia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Laos, American Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Fiji). The review highlights the profoundly social nature of individual, interpersonal and institutional influences on community perceptions of willingness to participate in mass drug administration programs for control of neglected tropical diseases (NTD). Future NTD research and control efforts would benefit from a stronger qualitative social science lens to mass drug administration implementation, a commitment to understanding and addressing the social and structural determinants of NTDs and NTD control in complex settings, and efforts to engage local communities as equal partners and experts in the co-design of mass drug administration and other efforts to prevent, treat, control and eliminate NTDs. CONCLUSION: For many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the "low hanging fruit has been picked" in terms of where mass drug administration has worked and transmission has been stopped. The settings that remain-such as remote areas of Fiji and Papua New Guinea, or large, highly populated, multi-cultural urban settings in India and Indonesia-present huge challenges going forward.
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    Safety and efficacy of mass drug administration with a single-dose triple-drug regimen of albendazole plus diethylcarbamazine plus ivermectin for lymphatic filariasis in Papua New Guinea: An open-label, cluster-randomised trial
    Tavul, L ; Laman, M ; Howard, C ; Kotty, B ; Samuel, A ; Bjerum, C ; O'Brian, K ; Kumai, S ; Amuga, M ; Lorry, L ; Kerry, Z ; Kualawi, M ; Karl, S ; Makita, L ; John, LN ; Bieb, S ; Wangi, J ; Weil, GJ ; Goss, CW ; Tisch, DJ ; Pomat, W ; King, CL ; Robinson, LJ ; Walker, M (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2022-02-01)
    BACKGROUND: Papua New Guinea (PNG) has a high burden of lymphatic filariasis (LF) caused by Wuchereria bancrofti, with an estimated 4.2 million people at risk of infection. A single co-administered dose of ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine and albendazole (IDA) has been shown to have superior efficacy in sustained clearance of microfilariae compared to diethylcarbamazine and albendazole (DA) in small clinical trials. A community-based cluster-randomised trial of DA versus IDA was conducted to compare the safety and efficacy of IDA and DA for LF in a moderately endemic, treatment-naive area in PNG. METHODOLOGY: All consenting, eligible residents of 24 villages in Bogia district, Madang Province, PNG were enrolled, screened for W. bancrofti antigenemia and microfilaria (Mf) and randomised to receive IDA (N = 2382) or DA (N = 2181) according to their village of residence. Adverse events (AE) were assessed by active follow-up for 2 days and passive follow-up for an additional 5 days. Antigen-positive participants were re-tested one year after MDA to assess treatment efficacy. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Of the 4,563 participants enrolled, 96% were assessed for AEs within 2 days after treatment. The overall frequency of AEs were similar after either DA (18%) or IDA (20%) treatment. For those individuals with AEs, 87% were mild (Grade 1), 13% were moderate (Grade 2) and there were no Grade 3, Grade 4, or serious AEs (SAEs). The frequency of AEs was greater in Mf-positive than Mf-negative individuals receiving IDA (39% vs 20% p<0.001) and in Mf-positive participants treated with IDA (39%), compared to those treated with DA (24%, p = 0.023). One year after treatment, 64% (645/1013) of participants who were antigen-positive at baseline were re-screened and 74% of these participants (475/645) remained antigen positive. Clearance of Mf was achieved in 96% (52/54) of infected individuals in the IDA arm versus 84% (56/67) of infected individuals in the DA arm (relative risk (RR) 1.15; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.30; p = 0.019). Participants receiving DA treatment had a 4-fold higher likelihood of failing to clear Mf (RR 4.67 (95% CI: 1.05 to 20.67; p = 0.043). In the DA arm, a significant predictor of failure to clear was baseline Mf density (RR 1.54; 95% CI, 1.09 to 2.88; p = 0.007). CONCLUSION: IDA was well tolerated and more effective than DA for clearing Mf. Widespread use of this regimen could accelerate LF elimination in PNG. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Registration number NCT02899936; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02899936.
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    Vector composition, abundance, biting patterns and malaria transmission intensity in Madang, Papua New Guinea: assessment after 7 years of an LLIN-based malaria control programme
    Keven, JB ; Katusele, M ; Vinit, R ; Rodriguez-Rodriguez, D ; Hetzel, MW ; Robinson, LJ ; Laman, M ; Karl, S ; Walker, ED (BMC, 2022-01-05)
    BACKGROUND: A malaria control programme based on distribution of long-lasting insecticidal bed nets (LLINs) and artemisinin combination therapy began in Papua New Guinea in 2009. After implementation of the programme, substantial reductions in vector abundance and malaria transmission intensity occurred. The research reported here investigated whether these reductions remained after seven years of sustained effort. METHODS: All-night (18:00 to 06:00) mosquito collections were conducted using human landing catches and barrier screen methods in four villages of Madang Province between September 2016 and March 2017. Anopheles species identification and sporozoite infection with Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum were determined with molecular methods. Vector composition was expressed as the relative proportion of different species in villages, and vector abundance was quantified as the number of mosquitoes per barrier screen-night and per person-night. Transmission intensity was quantified as the number of sporozoite-infective vector bites per person-night. RESULTS: Five Anopheles species were present, but vector composition varied greatly among villages. Anopheles koliensis, a strongly anthropophilic species was the most prevalent in Bulal, Matukar and Wasab villages, constituting 63.7-73.8% of all Anopheles, but in Megiar Anopheles farauti was the most prevalent species (97.6%). Vector abundance varied among villages (ranging from 2.8 to 72.3 Anopheles per screen-night and 2.2-31.1 Anopheles per person-night), and spatially within villages. Malaria transmission intensity varied among the villages, with values ranging from 0.03 to 0.5 infective Anopheles bites per person-night. Most (54.1-75.1%) of the Anopheles bites occurred outdoors, with a substantial proportion (25.5-50.8%) occurring before 22:00. CONCLUSION: The estimates of vector abundance and transmission intensity in the current study were comparable to or higher than estimates in the same villages in 2010-2012, indicating impeded programme effectiveness. Outdoor and early biting behaviours of vectors are some of the likely explanatory factors. Heterogeneity in vector composition, abundance and distribution among and within villages challenge malaria control programmes and must be considered when planning them.