University General - Research Publications
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Factors Associated With Early Resumption of Condomless Anal Sex Among Men Who Have Sex With Men After Rectal Chlamydia Treatment
(LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS, 2020-06-01)
BACKGROUND: The resumption of sexual activity shortly after commencing treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is poorly described despite contributing to onward transmission. With azithromycin remaining an option for rectal Chlamydia trachomatis, resuming sex too early after treatment may contribute to antimicrobial resistance because of exposure of newly acquired STIs to subinhibitory concentrations. METHODS: Clinical and sexual behavioral data were collected from men participating in a trial assessing treatment efficacy for rectal chlamydia. Data were collected at recruitment and weekly for 3 weeks after commencing treatment. Outcome measures were resumption of any sexual activity or condomless receptive anal sex within 1, 2, or 3 weeks after commencing treatment. Generalized linear regression was used to calculate adjusted risk ratios (aRR) to identify associated factors. RESULTS: Almost 1 in 10 men (9.5%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 7.2-12.1) resumed condomless receptive anal sex within 1 week of commencing treatment. This was associated with current preexposure prophylaxis use (aRR, 3.4; 95% CI, 2.5-4.8]) and having 9 or more sexual partners in the last 3 months (aRR, 3.2; 95% CI, 1.6-5.0). Most men (75.0%; 95% CI, 71.3-78.5) resumed any sexual activity within 3 weeks; this was associated with a greater number of sexual partners (4-8 partners; aRR, 1.2; 95% CI, 1.1-1.5; ≥9 partners; aRR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.3-1.7). CONCLUSIONS: Resuming condomless receptive anal sex early after treatment may facilitate onward transmission and promote antimicrobial resistance for STIs. Although azithromycin remains a treatment option, this analysis highlights the need for new health promotion messages regarding early resumption of sex and continued surveillance for antimicrobial resistance.
Treatment efficacy for pharyngeal Neisseria gonorrhoeae: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
(OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2020-11-01)
BACKGROUND: Rising gonorrhoea rates require highly effective treatments to reduce transmission and prevent development of antimicrobial resistance. Currently the most effective treatments for pharyngeal gonorrhoea remain unclear. This review aimed to estimate treatment efficacy for pharyngeal gonorrhoea. METHODS: Online bibliographic databases were searched for the period 1 January 2000 to 17 September 2019 for treatments of gonorrhoea. All randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with data on pharyngeal gonorrhoea among participants aged 15 years or above, published in English, were included. Meta-analyses (random effects) were used to estimate the treatment efficacy, defined as microbiological cure, among currently recommended monotherapies and dual therapies, previously recommended but no longer used regimens and emerging drugs under evaluation. Side effects were also summarized. The study protocol was registered on PROSPERO (CRD42020149278). RESULTS: There were nine studies that included 452 participants studying 19 treatment regimens. The overall treatment efficacy for pharyngeal gonorrhoea was 98.1% (95% CI: 93.8%-100%; I2 = 57.3%; P < 0.01). Efficacy was similar for single (97.1%; 95% CI: 90.8%-100.0%; I2 = 15.6%; P = 0.29) and dual therapies (98.0%; 95% CI: 91.4%-100%; I2 = 79.1%; P < 0.01). Regimens containing azithromycin 2 g or ceftriaxone were similarly efficacious. The summary efficacy estimate for emerging drugs was 88.8% (95% CI: 76.9%-97.5%; I2 = 11.2%; P = 0.34). Small sample sizes in each trial was a major limitation. CONCLUSIONS: Regimens containing ceftriaxone or azithromycin 2 g, alone or as part of dual therapies are the most efficacious for pharyngeal gonorrhoea. Further pharyngeal-specific RCTs with adequate sample sizes are needed.
Butyrophilin 2A1 is essential for phosphoantigen reactivity by gamma delta T cells
(American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2020-02-07)
Gamma delta (γδ) T cells are essential to protective immunity. In humans, most γδ T cells express Vγ9Vδ2+ T cell receptors (TCRs) that respond to phosphoantigens (pAgs) produced by cellular pathogens and overexpressed by cancers. However, the molecular targets recognized by these γδTCRs are unknown. Here, we identify butyrophilin 2A1 (BTN2A1) as a key ligand that binds to the Vγ9+ TCR γ chain. BTN2A1 associates with another butyrophilin, BTN3A1, and these act together to initiate responses to pAg. Furthermore, binding of a second ligand, possibly BTN3A1, to a separate TCR domain incorporating Vδ2 is also required. This distinctive mode of Ag-dependent T cell activation advances our understanding of diseases involving pAg recognition and creates opportunities for the development of γδ T cell-based immunotherapies.
The Potential of Metatranscriptomics for Identifying Screening Targets for Bacterial Vaginosis
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-09-27)
BACKGROUND: The ribosomal RNA content of a sample collected from a woman with bacterial vaginosis (BV) was analysed to determine the active microbial community, and to identify potential targets for further screening. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The sample from the BV patient underwent total RNA extraction, followed by physical subtraction of human rRNA and whole transcriptome amplification. The metatranscriptome was sequenced using Roche 454 titanium chemistry. The bioinformatics pipeline MG-RAST and desktop DNA analysis platforms were utilised to analyse results. Bacteria of the genus Prevotella (predominately P. amnii) constituted 36% of the 16S rRNA reads, followed by Megasphaera (19%), Leptotrichia/Sneathia (8%) and Fusobacterium (8%). Comparison of the abundances of several bacteria to quantitative PCR (qPCR) screening of extracted DNA revealed comparable relative abundances. This suggests a correlation between what was present and transcriptionally active in this sample: however distinct differences were seen when compared to the microbiome determined by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. To assess the presence of P. amnii in a larger pool of samples, 90 sexually active women were screened using qPCR. This bacterium was found to be strongly associated with BV (P<0.001, OR 23.3 (95%CI:2.9-190.7)) among the 90 women. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This study highlighted the potential of metatranscriptomics as a tool for characterising metabolically active microbiota and identifying targets for further screening. Prevotella amnii was chosen as an example target, being the most metabolically active species present in the single patient with BV, and was found to be detected at a high concentration by qPCR in 31% of cohort with BV, with an association with both oral and penile-vaginal sex.
People living in hilly residential areas in metropolitan Perth have less diabetes: spurious association or important environmental determinant?
BACKGROUND: Variations in 'slope' (how steep or flat the ground is) may be good for health. As walking up hills is a physiologically vigorous physical activity and can contribute to weight control, greater neighbourhood slopes may provide a protective barrier to weight gain, and help prevent Type 2 diabetes onset. We explored whether living in 'hilly' neighbourhoods was associated with diabetes prevalence among the Australian adult population. METHODS: Participants (≥25 years; n = 11,406) who completed the Western Australian Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System Survey (2003-2009) were asked whether or not they had medically-diagnosed diabetes. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software was used to calculate a neighbourhood mean slope score, and other built environment measures at 1600 m around each participant's home. Logistic regression models were used to predict the odds of self-reported diabetes after progressive adjustment for individual measures (i.e., age, sex), socioeconomic status (i.e., education, income), built environment, destinations, nutrition, and amount of walking. RESULTS: After full adjustment, the odds of self-reported diabetes was 0.72 (95% CI 0.55-0.95) and 0.52 (95% CI 0.39-0.69) for adults living in neighbourhoods with moderate and higher levels of slope, respectively, compared with adults living in neighbourhoods with the lowest levels of slope. The odds of having diabetes was 13% lower (odds ratio 0.87; 95% CI 0.80-0.94) for each increase of one percent in mean slope. CONCLUSIONS: Living in a hilly neighbourhood may be protective of diabetes onset or this finding is spurious. Nevertheless, the results are promising and have implications for future research and the practice of flattening land in new housing developments.
Using simple agent-based modeling to inform and enhance neighborhood walkability
BACKGROUND: Pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods with proximal destinations and services encourage walking and decrease car dependence, thereby contributing to more active and healthier communities. Proximity to key destinations and services is an important aspect of the urban design decision making process, particularly in areas adopting a transit-oriented development (TOD) approach to urban planning, whereby densification occurs within walking distance of transit nodes. Modeling destination access within neighborhoods has been limited to circular catchment buffers or more sophisticated network-buffers generated using geoprocessing routines within geographical information systems (GIS). Both circular and network-buffer catchment methods are problematic. Circular catchment models do not account for street networks, thus do not allow exploratory 'what-if' scenario modeling; and network-buffering functionality typically exists within proprietary GIS software, which can be costly and requires a high level of expertise to operate. METHODS: This study sought to overcome these limitations by developing an open-source simple agent-based walkable catchment tool that can be used by researchers, urban designers, planners, and policy makers to test scenarios for improving neighborhood walkable catchments. A simplified version of an agent-based model was ported to a vector-based open source GIS web tool using data derived from the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN). The tool was developed and tested with end-user stakeholder working group input. RESULTS: The resulting model has proven to be effective and flexible, allowing stakeholders to assess and optimize the walkability of neighborhood catchments around actual or potential nodes of interest (e.g., schools, public transport stops). Users can derive a range of metrics to compare different scenarios modeled. These include: catchment area versus circular buffer ratios; mean number of streets crossed; and modeling of different walking speeds and wait time at intersections. CONCLUSIONS: The tool has the capacity to influence planning and public health advocacy and practice, and by using open-access source software, it is available for use locally and internationally. There is also scope to extend this version of the tool from a simple to a complex model, which includes agents (i.e., simulated pedestrians) 'learning' and incorporating other environmental attributes that enhance walkability (e.g., residential density, mixed land use, traffic volume).
Enrichment and Purging of Human Embryonic Stem Cells by Detection of Cell Surface Antigens Using the Monoclonal Antibodies TG30 and GCTM-2
(JOURNAL OF VISUALIZED EXPERIMENTS, 2013-12-01)
Human embryonic stem cells (hESC) can self-renew indefinitely in vitro, and with the appropriate cues can be induced to differentiate into potentially all somatic cell lineages. Differentiated hESC derivatives can potentially be used in transplantation therapies to treat a variety of cell-degenerative diseases. However, hESC differentiation protocols usually yield a mixture of differentiated target and off-target cell types as well as residual undifferentiated cells. For the translation of differentiated hESC-derivatives from the laboratory to the clinic, it is important to be able to discriminate between undifferentiated (pluripotent) and differentiated cells, and generate methods to separate these populations. Safe application of hESC-derived somatic cell types can only be accomplished with pluripotent stem cell-free populations, as residual hESCs could induce tumors known as teratomas following transplantation. Towards this end, here we describe a methodology to detect pluripotency associated cell surface antigens with the monoclonal antibodies TG30 (CD9) and GCTM-2 via fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) for the identification of pluripotent TG30(Hi)-GCTM-2(Hi) hESCs using positive selection. Using negative selection with our TG30/GCTM-2 FACS methodology, we were able to detect and purge undifferentiated hESCs in populations undergoing very early-stage differentiation (TG30(Neg)-GCTM-2(Neg)). In a further study, pluripotent stem cell-free samples of differentiated TG30(Neg)-GCTM-2(Neg) cells selected using our TG30/GCTM-2 FACS protocol did not form teratomas once transplanted into immune-compromised mice, supporting the robustness of our protocol. On the other hand, TG30/GCTM-2 FACS-mediated consecutive passaging of enriched pluripotent TG30(Hi)-GCTM-2(Hi) hESCs did not affect their ability to self-renew in vitro or their intrinsic pluripotency. Therefore, the characteristics of our TG30/GCTM-2 FACS methodology provide a sensitive assay to obtain highly enriched populations of hPSC as inputs for differentiation assays and to rid potentially tumorigenic (or residual) hESC from derivative cell populations.
A Brain Motor Control Assessment (BMCA) Protocol for Upper Limb Function
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-11-04)
UNLABELLED: The Brain Motor Control Assessment (BMCA) protocol is a surface electromyography (sEMG)-based measure of motor output from central nervous system during a variety of reflex and voluntary motor tasks performed under strictly controlled conditions. The aim of this study was to evaluate the BMCA protocol for upper limb with the addition of shoulder voluntary tasks. The voluntary response index (VRI) was calculated from quantitative analysis of sEMG data during defined voluntary movement in neurologically intact people for comparison with that of patients after neurological injuries. The BMCA protocol included one bilateral and 4 unilateral voluntary tasks at different joints of both arms. The VRI, measured from 19 neurologically intact participants, comprises the total muscle activity recorded for the voluntary motor task (magnitude). The calculated similarity index (SI) for each phase of each task show the similarity of "the distribution of activity across the recorded muscles" for that task in this group off participants. RESULTS: The VRI magnitude values from right and left sides for different tasks showed no significant difference (ANOVA: FSide: 0.09, P = 0.77). Therefore these values were pooled before calculating SI. SI values were higher for tasks against gravity: elbow flexion (0.99±0.03), wrist flexion with palm up (0.98±0.03) and wrist extension with palm down (0.97±0.07). On the other hand, the SI values were the lowest for bilateral shoulder abduction (0.84±0.08) and shoulder adduction (0.84±0.08). CONCLUSION: To validate this index for clinical use, serial studies on patients with neurological impairments should be performed. Tasks involving movement against gravity may be more suitable in future BMCAs.
A randomised trial of point-of-care tests for chlamydia and gonorrhoea infections in remote Aboriginal communities: Test, Treat ANd GO- the "TTANGO" trial protocol
BACKGROUND: High prevalence rates of Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG) have been reported in Aboriginal people in remote and regional areas of Australia for well over two decades, and repeat positivity rates are high. To interrupt disease transmission and reduce the risk of complications, early diagnosis and treatment is important. However in many remote and regional areas there are long delays between testing for these curable sexually transmissible infections and providing treatment, due to both physical distance from laboratories and difficulties when recalling patients for subsequent management once results are available. Point-of-care (POC) tests have the potential to provide more timely diagnosis, to increase treatment and contact tracing, and in turn reduce CT and NG infection rates. METHODS/DESIGN: TTANGO (Test, Treat, ANd GO) is a cross-over cluster randomised controlled trial in 12 regional or remote Australian health services, which predominantly provide clinical services to Aboriginal people. The overall aim of TTANGO is to measure the clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and cultural and operational acceptability of molecular POC testing for CT and NG infection. The primary outcome is repeat positivity at three months after treatment of an initial CT or NG infection. Participating health services will undertake the clinical management of CT and NG under two different modalities for one year each. In the first year, six health services will be randomly assigned to manage these infections under current diagnostic guidelines. The other six will supplement current diagnostic guidelines with POC testing, whereby diagnosis is made and subsequent treatment for those with positive POC tests is offered at the initial consultation. In the second year, the health services will cross over to the opposite management modality. TTANGO will be conducted over four years; 1.5 years of trial initiation and community consultation, 2 years of trial conditions and evaluation, and 6 months of data analysis and feedback. DISCUSSION: TTANGO is the first cluster randomised trial of POC testing for CT and NG internationally. The results of this trial will provide crucial information to guide sexual health clinical practice in remote Aboriginal communities and other high prevalence settings. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12613000808741.
Identification of a Novel PNMA-MS1 Gene inMarsupials Suggests the LTR Retrotransposon-Derived PNMA leGenes Evolved Differently inMarsupials and Eutherians
(OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2013-10-01)
Two major gene families derived from Ty3/Gypsy long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposons were recently identified in mammals. The sushi-ichi retrotransposon homologue (SIRH) family comprises 12 genes: 11 in eutherians including Peg10 and Peg11/Rtl1 that have essential roles in the eutherian placenta and 1 that is marsupial specific. Fifteen and 12 genes were reported in the second gene family, para-neoplastic antigen MA (PNMA), in humans and mice, respectively, although their biological functions and evolutionary history remain largely unknown. Here, we identified two novel candidate PNMA genes, PNMA-MS1 and -MS2 in marsupials. Like all eutherian-specific PNMA genes, they exhibit the highest homology to a Gypsy12_DR (DR, Danio rerio) Gag protein. PNMA-MS1 is conserved in both Australian and South American marsupial species, the tammar wallaby and grey short-tailed opossum. However, no PNMA-MS1 orthologue was found in eutherians, monotremes or non-mammalian vertebrates. PNMA-MS1 was expressed in the ovary, mammary gland and brain during development and growth in the tammar, suggesting that PNMA-MS1 may have acquired a marsupial-specific function. However, PNMA-MS2 seems to be a pseudogene. The absence of marsupial orthologues of eutherian PNMA genes suggests that the retrotransposition events of the Gypsy12_DR-related retrotransposons that gave rise to the PNMA family occurred after the divergence of marsupials and eutherians.
The Study of the Prevention of Anal Cancer (SPANC): design and methods of a three-year prospective cohort study
BACKGROUND: The incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated anal cancer is increasing in men who have sex with men (MSM). Screening for the presumed cancer precursor, high-grade anal squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL) in a manner analogous to cervical cancer screening has been proposed. Uncertainty remains regarding anal HPV natural history and the role of anal cytology and high-resolution anoscopy (HRA) as screening tests. Well-designed cohort studies are required to address these issues. METHODS/DESIGN: The SPANC study is a prospective study of the epidemiology of low-risk and high-risk anal HPV infection and related cytological and histological abnormalities in HIV-negative and HIV-positive homosexual men aged 35 years and over. The study aims to recruit 600 men from community-based settings in Sydney, Australia. There are six study visits over three years. At the first five visits men undergo a digital ano-rectal examination (DARE), an anal "Papanicolaou" (Pap) test for HPV detection, genotyping and anal cytology, followed by HRA and directed biopsy of any visible abnormalities. The men also complete a behavioural questionnaire before each visit. Questions include a detailed history of sexual behaviour, of anal symptoms, possible anal cancer risk factors and validated quality of life and psychosocial questions. Questionnaires are also completed 2 weeks and 3 months following the provision of test results and include questions on participant experience during the procedure and post-procedure symptoms, including pain and bleeding in addition to quality of life/ psychosocial outcomes. DISCUSSION: Recruitment for the study began in September 2010 and will conclude in mid-2015, with follow up continuing to 2018. Thus far, over 350 men have been recruited from a variety of community-based settings and are broadly representative of the target screening population. The SPANC study is one of only a small number of cohort studies globally to perform HPV, cytology and HRA screening on all participants over multiple time points. The study results will contribute to understanding of the natural history of anal HPV and inform the possible development of guidelines for implementing anal cancer screening programs in this population.
Immune modulation of the tumor microenvironment for enhancing cancer immunotherapy
(TAYLOR & FRANCIS INC, 2013-08-01)
There is much promise in the use of immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer. Approaches such as those using antibodies or adoptive cell transfer can mediate complete tumor regression in a proportion of patients. However, the tumor microenvironment can inhibit immune responses leading to ineffective or suboptimal responses of tumors to immunotherapy in the majority of cases. As our knowledge of the tumor microenvironment increases, many strategies are emerging for changing the immunosuppressive nature of the tumor toward a microenvironment able to support immunity. These strategies aim to enhance the ability of immunotherapies to initiate effective immune responses able to destroy tumors. In this article, we review approaches that use immunomodulators specifically to modify the tumor microenvironment, and their use in combination with other immune-based strategies for cancer therapy.