Professor Philip Bejon

Research Area: Global Health
Technology Exchange: Medical statistics and Vaccine production and evaluation
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health and Immunology & Infectious Disease
Keywords: Malaria, Malaria transmission, Vaccine efficacy, Epidemiology, Malaria Parasite Genomics and Spatial Epidemiology
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I am a clinician with specialist training in infectious disease.  I have an interest in the evaluation of malaria vaccines in the field.  I am interested in determining the impact of heterogeneity of malaria transmission on vaccine efficacy, in examining correlates of protection, and the duration of efficacy.

Other epidemiological interests include validating definitions of severe malaria, studies of naturally acquired immunity to malaria, bone infection and osteomyelitis, and over the last few years a developing interest in spatial epidemiology. 

This latter interest has led to the award of a Clinician Scientist Fellowship by the MRC (UK) in 2012 to examine the spatial heterogeneity of malaria transmission. I am conducting studies to describe the micro-epidemiology of hotspots of malaria on a fine spatial scale, and to examine the genetic relatedness of parasites in and around hotspots.

Name Department Institution Country
Professor Dominic Kwiatkowski Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics Oxford University, Henry Wellcome Building of Genomic Medicine United Kingdom
Professor Adrian VS Hill Jenner Institute Oxford University, Old Road Campus Research Building United Kingdom
Professor Kevin Marsh Tropical Medicine Oxford University, NDM Research Building United Kingdom
Professor Peter Bull Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Kilifi Kenya
Dr Francis Ndungu Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Kilifi Kenya
Dr Helen A Fletcher Oxford University, Old Road Campus Research Building United Kingdom
Dr George M Warimwe MRCVS Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Kilifi Kenya
Anopheles gambiae 1000 Genomes Consortium, Data analysis group, Partner working group, Sample collections—Angola:, Burkina Faso:, Cameroon:, Gabon:, Guinea:, Guinea-Bissau:, Kenya: et al. 2017. Genetic diversity of the African malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. Nature, 552 (7683), pp. 96-100. | Show Abstract | Read more

The sustainability of malaria control in Africa is threatened by the rise of insecticide resistance in Anopheles mosquitoes, which transmit the disease. To gain a deeper understanding of how mosquito populations are evolving, here we sequenced the genomes of 765 specimens of Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles coluzzii sampled from 15 locations across Africa, and identified over 50 million single nucleotide polymorphisms within the accessible genome. These data revealed complex population structure and patterns of gene flow, with evidence of ancient expansions, recent bottlenecks, and local variation in effective population size. Strong signals of recent selection were observed in insecticide-resistance genes, with several sweeps spreading over large geographical distances and between species. The design of new tools for mosquito control using gene-drive systems will need to take account of high levels of genetic diversity in natural mosquito populations.

Kamau A, Nyaga V, Bauni E, Tsofa B, Noor AM, Bejon P, Scott JAG, Hammitt LL. 2017. Trends in bednet ownership and usage, and the effect of bednets on malaria hospitalization in the Kilifi Health and Demographic Surveillance System (KHDSS): 2008-2015. BMC Infect Dis, 17 (1), pp. 720. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Use of bednets reduces malaria morbidity and mortality. In Kilifi, Kenya, there was a mass distribution of free nets to children < 5 years in 2006. In 2009, a new policy was implemented to offer bednets to pregnant women and children < 5 years free of charge. Nets were again distributed to children and adults through national mass campaigns in 2012 and 2015. We aimed to evaluate trends in bednet ownership and usage, and the effect of bednets on the incidence of malaria hospitalization in children < 5 years within the Kilifi Health and Demographic Surveillance System (KHDSS). METHODS: Bednet ownership and usage were assessed during eight routine enumeration rounds of the KHDSS between 2008 and 2015. Malaria admissions (i.e. admissions to hospital with P. falciparum > 2500 parasitemia per μl) among children < 5 years were captured using a system of continuous vital registration that links admissions at Kilifi County Hospital to the KHDSS population register. Survival analysis was used to assess relative risk of hospitalization with malaria among children that reported using a bednet compared to those who did not. RESULTS: We observed 63% and 62% mean bednet ownership and usage, respectively, over the eight-survey period. Among children < 5 years, reported bednet ownership in October-December 2008 was 69% and in March-August 2009 was 73% (p < 0.001). An increase was also observed following the mass distribution campaigns in 2012 (62% in May-July 2012 vs 90% in May-October 2013, p < 0.001) and 2015 (68% in June-September 2015 vs 93% in October-November 2015, p < 0.001). Among children <5 years who reported using a net the night prior to the survey, the incidence of malaria hospitalization per 1000 child-years was 2.91 compared to 4.37 among those who did not (HR = 0.67, 95% CI: 0.52, 0.85 [p = 0.001]). CONCLUSION: On longitudinal surveillance, increasing bednet ownership and usage corresponded to mass distribution campaigns; however, this method of delivering bednets did not result in sustained improvements in coverage. Among children < 5 years old bednet use was associated with a 33% decreased incidence of malaria hospitalization.

Mogeni P, Williams TN, Omedo I, Kimani D, Ngoi JM, Mwacharo J, Morter R, Nyundo C, Wambua J, Nyangweso G et al. 2017. Detecting Malaria Hotspots: A Comparison of Rapid Diagnostic Test, Microscopy, and Polymerase Chain Reaction. J Infect Dis, 216 (9), pp. 1091-1098. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Malaria control strategies need to respond to geographical hotspots of transmission. Detection of hotspots depends on the sensitivity of the diagnostic tool used. Methods: We conducted cross-sectional surveys in 3 sites within Kilifi County, Kenya, that had variable transmission intensities. Rapid diagnostic test (RDT), microscopy, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were used to detect asymptomatic parasitemia, and hotspots were detected using the spatial scan statistic. Results: Eight thousand five hundred eighty-one study participants were surveyed in 3 sites. There were statistically significant malaria hotspots by RDT, microscopy, and PCR for all sites except by microscopy in 1 low transmission site. Pooled data analysis of hotspots by PCR overlapped with hotspots by microscopy at a moderate setting but not at 2 lower transmission settings. However, variations in degree of overlap were noted when data were analyzed by year. Hotspots by RDT were predictive of PCR/microscopy at the moderate setting, but not at the 2 low transmission settings. We observed long-term stability of hotspots by PCR and microscopy but not RDT. Conclusion: Malaria control programs may consider PCR testing to guide asymptomatic malaria hotspot detection once the prevalence of infection falls.

Gonçalves BP, Kapulu MC, Sawa P, Guelbéogo WM, Tiono AB, Grignard L, Stone W, Hellewell J, Lanke K, Bastiaens GJH et al. 2017. Examining the human infectious reservoir for Plasmodium falciparum malaria in areas of differing transmission intensity. Nat Commun, 8 (1), pp. 1133. | Show Abstract | Read more

A detailed understanding of the human infectious reservoir is essential for improving malaria transmission-reducing interventions. Here we report a multi-regional assessment of population-wide malaria transmission potential based on 1209 mosquito feeding assays in endemic areas of Burkina Faso and Kenya. Across both sites, we identified 39 infectious individuals. In high endemicity settings, infectious individuals were identifiable by research-grade microscopy (92.6%; 25/27), whilst one of three infectious individuals in the lowest endemicity setting was detected by molecular techniques alone. The percentages of infected mosquitoes in the different surveys ranged from 0.05 (4/7716) to 1.6% (121/7749), and correlate positively with transmission intensity. We also estimated exposure to malaria vectors through genetic matching of blood from 1094 wild-caught bloodfed mosquitoes with that of humans resident in the same houses. Although adults transmitted fewer parasites to mosquitoes than children, they received more mosquito bites, thus balancing their contribution to the infectious reservoir.

Snow RW, Sartorius B, Kyalo D, Maina J, Amratia P, Mundia CW, Bejon P, Noor AM. 2017. The prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum in sub-Saharan Africa since 1900. Nature, 550 (7677), pp. 515-518. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria transmission is influenced by climate, land use and deliberate interventions. Recent declines have been observed in malaria transmission. Here we show that the African continent has witnessed a long-term decline in the prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum from 40% prevalence in the period 1900-1929 to 24% prevalence in the period 2010-2015, a trend that has been interrupted by periods of rapidly increasing or decreasing transmission. The cycles and trend over the past 115 years are inconsistent with explanations in terms of climate or deliberate intervention alone. Previous global initiatives have had minor impacts on malaria transmission, and a historically unprecedented decline has been observed since 2000. However, there has been little change in the high transmission belt that covers large parts of West and Central Africa. Previous efforts to model the changing patterns of P. falciparum transmission intensity in Africa have been limited to the past 15 years or have used maps drawn from historical expert opinions. We provide quantitative data, from 50,424 surveys at 36,966 geocoded locations, that covers 115 years of malaria history in sub-Saharan Africa; inferring from these data to future trends, we would expect continued reductions in malaria transmission, punctuated with resurgences.

Omedo I, Mogeni P, Rockett K, Kamau A, Hubbart C, Jeffreys A, Ochola-Oyier LI, de Villiers EP, Gitonga CW, Noor AM et al. 2017. Geographic-genetic analysis of Plasmodium falciparum parasite populations from surveys of primary school children in Western Kenya Wellcome Open Research, 2 pp. 29-29. | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2017 Omedo I et al. Background. Malaria control, and finally malaria elimination, requires the identification and targeting of residual foci or hotspots of transmission. However, the level of parasite mixing within and between geographical locations is likely to impact the effectiveness and durability of control interventions and thus should be taken into consideration when developing control programs. Methods. In order to determine the geographic-genetic patterns of Plasmodium falciparum parasite populations at a sub-national level in Kenya, we used the Sequenom platform to genotype 111 genome-wide distributed single nucleotide polymorphic (SNP) positions in 2486 isolates collected from children in 95 primary schools in western Kenya. We analysed these parasite genotypes for genetic structure using principal component analysis and assessed local and global clustering using statistical measures of spatial autocorrelation. We further examined the region for spatial barriers to parasite movement as well as directionality in the patterns of parasite movement. Results. We found no evidence of population structure and little evidence of spatial autocorrelation of parasite genotypes (correlation coefficients < 0.03 among parasite pairs in distance classes of 1km, 2km and 5km; p value < 0.01). An analysis of the geographical distribution of allele frequencies showed weak evidence of variation in distribution of alleles, with clusters representing a higher than expected number of samples with the major allele being identified for 5 SNPs. Furthermore, we found no evidence of the existence of spatial barriers to parasite movement within the region, but observed directional movement of parasites among schools in two separate sections of the region studied. Conclusions. Our findings illustrate a pattern of high parasite mixing within the study region. If this mixing is due to rapid gene flow, then “one-off” targeted interventions may not be currently effective at the sub-national scale in Western Kenya, due to the high parasite movement that is likely to lead to re-introduction of infection from surrounding regions. However repeated targeted interventions may reduce transmission in the surrounding regions.

Gordon SB, Rylance J, Luck A, Jambo K, Ferreira DM, Manda-Taylor L, Bejon P, Ngwira B, Littler K, Seager Z et al. 2017. A framework for Controlled Human Infection Model (CHIM) studies in Malawi: Report of a Wellcome Trust workshop on CHIM in Low Income Countries held in Blantyre, Malawi. Wellcome Open Res, 2 pp. 70. | Show Abstract | Read more

Controlled human infection model (CHIM) studies have pivotal importance in vaccine development, being useful for proof of concept, pathogenesis, down-selection and immunogenicity studies.  To date, however, they have seldom been carried out in low and middle income countries (LMIC), which is where the greatest burden of vaccine preventable illness is found.  This workshop discussed the benefits and barriers to CHIM studies in Malawi.  Benefits include improved vaccine effectiveness and host country capacity development in clinical, laboratory and governance domains.  Barriers include acceptability, safety and regulatory issues. The report suggests a framework by which ethical, laboratory, scientific and governance issues may be addressed by investigators considering or planning CHIM in LMIC.

Abdi AI, Hodgson SH, Muthui MK, Kivisi CA, Kamuyu G, Kimani D, Hoffman SL, Juma E, Ogutu B, Draper SJ et al. 2017. Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite var gene expression is modified by host antibodies: longitudinal evidence from controlled infections of Kenyan adults with varying natural exposure. BMC Infect Dis, 17 (1), pp. 585. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The PfEMP1 family of Plasmodium falciparum antigens play a key role in pathogenesis of severe malaria through their insertion into the surface of parasite infected erythrocytes, and adhesion to host cells. Previous studies have suggested that parasites expressing PfEMP1 subclasses group A and DC8, associated with severe malaria, may have a growth advantage in immunologically naïve individuals. However, this idea has not been tested in longitudinal studies. METHODS: Here we assessed expression of the var genes encoding PfEMP1, in parasites sampled from volunteers with varying prior exposure to malaria, following experimental infection by sporozoites (PfSPZ). Using qPCR, we tested for associations between the expression of various var subgroups in surviving parasite populations from each volunteer and 1) the levels of participants' antibodies to infected erythrocytes before challenge infection and 2) the apparent in vivo parasite multiplication rate. RESULTS: We show that 1) expression of var genes encoding for group A and DC8-like PfEMP1 were associated with low levels of antibodies to infected erythrocytes (αIE) before challenge, and 2) expression of a DC8-like CIDRα1.1 domain was associated with higher apparent parasite multiplication rate in a manner that was independent of levels of prior antibodies to infected erythrocytes. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides insight into the role of antibodies to infected erythrocytes surface antigens in the development of naturally acquired immunity and may help explain why specific PfEMP1 variants may be associated with severe malaria. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Pan African Clinical Trial Registry: PACTR201211000433272 . Date of registration: 10th October 2012.

Omedo I, Mogeni P, Bousema T, Rockett K, Amambua-Ngwa A, Oyier I, C Stevenson J, Y Baidjoe A, de Villiers EP, Fegan G et al. 2017. Micro-epidemiological structuring ofPlasmodium falciparumparasite populations in regions with varying transmission intensities in Africa. Wellcome Open Res, 2 pp. 10. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: The first models of malaria transmission assumed a completely mixed and homogeneous population of parasites. Recent models include spatial heterogeneity and variably mixed populations. However, there are few empiric estimates of parasite mixing with which to parametize such models.Methods: Here we genotype 276 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 5199P. falciparumisolates from two Kenyan sites (Kilifi county and Rachuonyo South district) and one Gambian site (Kombo coastal districts) to determine the spatio-temporal extent of parasite mixing, and use Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and linear regression to examine the relationship between genetic relatedness and distance in space and time for parasite pairs.Results:Using 107, 177 and 82 SNPs that were successfully genotyped in 133, 1602, and 1034 parasite isolates from The Gambia, Kilifi and Rachuonyo South district, respectively, we show that there are no discrete geographically restricted parasite sub-populations, but instead we see a diffuse spatio-temporal structure to parasite genotypes. Genetic relatedness of sample pairs is predicted by relatedness in space and time.Conclusions: Our findings suggest that targeted malaria control will benefit the surrounding community, but unfortunately also that emerging drug resistance will spread rapidly through the population.

Talisuna AO, Oburu A, Githinji S, Malinga J, Amboko B, Bejon P, Jones C, Snow RW, Zurovac D. 2017. Efficacy of text-message reminders on paediatric malaria treatment adherence and their post-treatment return to health facilities in Kenya: a randomized controlled trial. Malar J, 16 (1), pp. 46. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Short Message Service (SMS) reminders have been suggested as a potential intervention for improving adherence to medications and health facility attendance. METHODS: An open-label, randomized, controlled trial to test the efficacy of automated SMS reminders in improving adherence to artemether-lumefantrine (AL) and post-treatment attendance in comparison with standard care was conducted at four health facilities in western Kenya. Children below five years of age with uncomplicated malaria were randomized to intervention (SMS reminders) or control groups. Within each study group they were further randomized to three categories, which determined the timing of home visits to measure adherence to complete AL course and to individual AL doses. A sub-set of caregivers was advised to return to the facility on day 3 and all were advised to return after 28 days. The primary outcomes were adherence to medication and return on day 3. The primary analysis was by intention-to-treat. RESULTS: Between 9 June, 2014 and 26 February, 2016, 1677 children were enrolled. Of 562 children visited at home on day 3, all AL doses were completed for 97.6% (282/289) of children in the control and 97.8% (267/273) in the intervention group (OR = 1.10; 95% CI = 0.37-3.33; p = 0.860). When correct timing in taking each dose was considered a criteria for adherence, 72.3% (209/289) were adherent in the control and 69.2% (189/273) in the intervention group (OR = 0.82; 95% CI = 0.56-1.19; p = 0.302). Sending SMS reminders significantly increased odds of children returning to the facility on day 3 (81.4 vs 74.0%; OR = 1.55; 95% CI = 1.15-2.08; p = 0.004) and on day 28 (63.4 vs 52.5%; OR = 1.58; 95% CI = 1.30-1.92; p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: In this efficacy trial, SMS reminders increased post-treatment return to the health facility, but had no effect on AL adherence which was high in both control and intervention groups. Further effectiveness studies under the real world conditions are needed to determine the optimum role of SMS reminders. Trial registration ISRCTN39512726.

Bediako Y, Ngoi JM, Nyangweso G, Wambua J, Opiyo M, Nduati EW, Bejon P, Marsh K, Ndungu FM. 2016. The effect of declining exposure on T cell-mediated immunity to Plasmodium falciparum - an epidemiological "natural experiment". BMC Med, 14 (1), pp. 143. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Naturally acquired immunity to malaria may be lost with lack of exposure. Recent heterogeneous reductions in transmission in parts of Africa mean that large populations of previously protected people may lose their immunity while remaining at risk of infection. METHODS: Using two ethnically similar long-term cohorts of children with historically similar levels of exposure to Plasmodium falciparum who now experience very different levels of exposure, we assessed the effect of decreased parasite exposure on antimalarial immunity. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from children in each cohort were stimulated with P. falciparum and their P. falciparum-specific proliferative and cytokine responses were compared. RESULTS: We demonstrate that, while P. falciparum-specific CD4+ T cells are maintained in the absence of exposure, the proliferative capacity of these cells is altered considerably. P. falciparum-specific CD4+ T cells isolated from children previously exposed, but now living in an area of minimal exposure ("historically exposed") proliferate significantly more upon stimulation than cells isolated from children continually exposed to the parasite. Similarly, PBMCs from historically exposed children expressed higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and lower levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines after stimulation with P. falciparum. Notably, we found a significant positive association between duration since last febrile episode and P. falciparum-specific CD4+ T cell proliferation, with more recent febrile episodes associated with lower proliferation. CONCLUSION: Considered in the context of existing knowledge, these data suggest a model explaining how immunity is lost in absence of continuing exposure to P. falciparum.

Afolabi MO, Tiono AB, Adetifa UJ, Yaro JB, Drammeh A, Nébié I, Bliss C, Hodgson SH, Anagnostou NA, Sanou GS et al. 2016. Safety and Immunogenicity of ChAd63 and MVA ME-TRAP in West African Children and Infants. Mol Ther, 24 (8), pp. 1470-1477. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria remains a significant global health burden and a vaccine would make a substantial contribution to malaria control. Chimpanzee Adenovirus 63 Modified Vaccinia Ankara Multiple epitope thrombospondin adhesion protein (ME-TRAP) and vaccination has shown significant efficacy against malaria sporozoite challenge in malaria-naive European volunteers and against malaria infection in Kenyan adults. Infants are the target age group for malaria vaccination; however, no studies have yet assessed T-cell responses in children and infants. We enrolled 138 Gambian and Burkinabe children in four different age-groups: 2-6 years old in The Gambia; 5-17 months old in Burkina Faso; 5-12 months old, and also 10 weeks old, in The Gambia; and evaluated the safety and immunogenicity of Chimpanzee Adenovirus 63 Modified Vaccinia Ankara ME-TRAP heterologous prime-boost immunization. The vaccines were well tolerated in all age groups with no vaccine-related serious adverse events. T-cell responses to vaccination peaked 7 days after boosting with Modified Vaccinia Ankara, with T-cell responses highest in 10 week-old infants. Heterologous prime-boost immunization with Chimpanzee Adenovirus 63 and Modified Vaccinia Ankara ME-TRAP was well tolerated in infants and children, inducing strong T-cell responses. We identify an approach that induces potent T-cell responses in infants, which may be useful for preventing other infectious diseases requiring cellular immunity.

Olotu A, Fegan G, Wambua J, Nyangweso G, Leach A, Lievens M, Kaslow DC, Njuguna P, Marsh K, Bejon P. 2016. Seven-Year Efficacy of RTS,S/AS01 Malaria Vaccine among Young African Children. N Engl J Med, 374 (26), pp. 2519-2529. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The candidate malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS01 is being evaluated in order to inform a decision regarding its inclusion in routine vaccination schedules. METHODS: We conducted 7 years of follow-up in children who had been randomly assigned, at 5 to 17 months of age, to receive three doses of either the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine or a rabies (control) vaccine. The end point was clinical malaria (temperature of ≥37.5°C and infection with Plasmodium falciparum of >2500 parasites per cubic millimeter). In an analysis that was not prespecified, the malaria exposure of each child was estimated with the use of information on the prevalence of malaria among residents within a 1-km radius of the child's home. Vaccine efficacy was defined as 1 minus the hazard ratio or the incidence-rate ratio, multiplied by 100, in the RTS,S/AS01 group versus the control group. RESULTS: Over 7 years of follow-up, we identified 1002 episodes of clinical malaria among 223 children randomly assigned to the RTS,S/AS01 group and 992 episodes among 224 children randomly assigned to the control group. The vaccine efficacy, as assessed by negative binomial regression, was 4.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], -17.0 to 21.9; P=0.66) in the intention-to-treat analysis and 7.0% (95% CI, -14.5 to 24.6; P=0.52) in the per-protocol analysis. Vaccine efficacy waned over time (P=0.006 for the interaction between vaccination and time), including negative efficacy during the fifth year among children with higher-than-average exposure to malaria parasites (intention-to-treat analysis: -43.5%; 95% CI, -100.3 to -2.8 [P=0.03]; per-protocol analysis: -56.8%; 95% CI, -118.7 to -12.3 [P=0.008]). CONCLUSIONS: A three-dose vaccination with RTS,S/AS01 was initially protective against clinical malaria, but this result was offset by rebound in later years in areas with higher-than-average exposure to malaria parasites. (Funded by the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00872963.).

Mogeni P, Williams TN, Fegan G, Nyundo C, Bauni E, Mwai K, Omedo I, Njuguna P, Newton CR, Osier F et al. 2016. Age, Spatial, and Temporal Variations in Hospital Admissions with Malaria in Kilifi County, Kenya: A 25-Year Longitudinal Observational Study. PLoS Med, 13 (6), pp. e1002047. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Encouraging progress has been seen with reductions in Plasmodium falciparum malaria transmission in some parts of Africa. Reduced transmission might lead to increasing susceptibility to malaria among older children due to lower acquired immunity, and this has implications for ongoing control strategies. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We conducted a longitudinal observational study of children admitted to Kilifi County Hospital in Kenya and linked it to data on residence and insecticide-treated net (ITN) use. This included data from 69,104 children aged from 3 mo to 13 y admitted to Kilifi County Hospital between 1 January 1990 and 31 December 2014. The variation in malaria slide positivity among admissions was examined in logistic regression models using the following predictors: location of the residence, calendar time, the child's age, ITN use, and the enhanced vegetation index (a proxy for soil moisture). The proportion of malaria slide-positive admissions declined from 0.56 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.54-0.58) in 1998 to 0.07 (95% CI 0.06-0.08) in 2009 but then increased again through to 0.24 (95% CI 0.22-0.25) in 2014. Older children accounted for most of the increase after 2009 (0.035 [95% CI 0.030-0.040] among young children compared to 0.22 [95% CI 0.21-0.23] in older children). There was a nonlinear relationship between malaria risk and prevalence of ITN use within a 2 km radius of an admitted child's residence such that the predicted malaria positive fraction varied from ~0.4 to <0.1 as the prevalence of ITN use varied from 20% to 80%. In this observational analysis, we were unable to determine the cause of the decline in malaria between 1998 and 2009, which pre-dated the dramatic scale-up in ITN distribution and use. CONCLUSION: Following a period of reduced transmission, a cohort of older children emerged who have increased susceptibility to malaria. Further reductions in malaria transmission are needed to mitigate the increasing burden among older children, and universal ITN coverage is a promising strategy to achieve this goal.

Ochola-Oyier LI, Okombo J, Wagatua N, Ochieng J, Tetteh KK, Fegan G, Bejon P, Marsh K. 2016. Comparison of allele frequencies of Plasmodium falciparum merozoite antigens in malaria infections sampled in different years in a Kenyan population. Malar J, 15 (1), pp. 261. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum merozoite antigens elicit antibody responses in malaria-endemic populations, some of which are clinically protective, which is one of the reasons why merozoite antigens are the focus of malaria vaccine development efforts. Polymorphisms in several merozoite antigen-encoding genes are thought to arise as a result of selection by the human immune system. METHODS: The allele frequency distribution of 15 merozoite antigens over a two-year period, 2007 and 2008, was examined in parasites obtained from children with uncomplicated malaria. In the same population, allele frequency changes pre- and post-anti-malarial treatment were also examined. Any gene which showed a significant shift in allele frequencies was also assessed longitudinally in asymptomatic and complicated malaria infections. RESULTS: Fluctuating allele frequencies were identified in codons 147 and 148 of reticulocyte-binding homologue (Rh) 5, with a shift from HD to YH haplotypes over the two-year period in uncomplicated malaria infections. However, in both the asymptomatic and complicated malaria infections YH was the dominant and stable haplotype over the two-year and ten-year periods, respectively. A logistic regression analysis of all three malaria infection populations between 2007 and 2009 revealed, that the chance of being infected with the HD haplotype decreased with time from 2007 to 2009 and increased in the uncomplicated and asymptomatic infections. CONCLUSION: Rh5 codons 147 and 148 showed heterogeneity at both an individual and population level and may be under some degree of immune selection.

Kangoye DT, Noor A, Midega J, Mwongeli J, Mkabili D, Mogeni P, Kerubo C, Akoo P, Mwangangi J, Drakeley C et al. 2016. Malaria hotspots defined by clinical malaria, asymptomatic carriage, PCR and vector numbers in a low transmission area on the Kenyan Coast. Malar J, 15 (1), pp. 213. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Targeted malaria control interventions are expected to be cost-effective. Clinical, parasitological and serological markers of malaria transmission have been used to detect malaria transmission hotspots, but few studies have examined the relationship between the different potential markers in low transmission areas. The present study reports on the relationships between clinical, parasitological, serological and entomological markers of malaria transmission in an area of low transmission intensity in Coastal Kenya. METHODS: Longitudinal data collected from 831 children aged 5-17 months, cross-sectional survey data from 800 older children and adults, and entomological survey data collected in Ganze on the Kenyan Coast were used in the present study. The spatial scan statistic test used to detect malaria transmission hotspots was based on incidence of clinical malaria episodes, prevalence of asymptomatic asexual parasites carriage detected by microscopy and polymerase chain reaction (PCR), seroprevalence of antibodies to two Plasmodium falciparum merozoite antigens (AMA1 and MSP1-19) and densities of Anopheles mosquitoes in CDC light-trap catches. RESULTS: There was considerable overlapping of hotspots by these different markers, but only weak to moderate correlation between parasitological and serological markers. PCR prevalence and seroprevalence of antibodies to AMA1 or MSP1-19 appeared to be more sensitive markers of hotspots at very low transmission intensity. CONCLUSION: These findings may support the choice of either serology or PCR as markers in the detection of malaria transmission hotspots for targeted interventions.

Tan J, Pieper K, Piccoli L, Abdi A, Perez MF, Geiger R, Tully CM, Jarrossay D, Maina Ndungu F, Wambua J et al. 2016. A LAIR1 insertion generates broadly reactive antibodies against malaria variant antigens. Nature, 529 (7584), pp. 105-109. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium falciparum antigens expressed on the surface of infected erythrocytes are important targets of naturally acquired immunity against malaria, but their high number and variability provide the pathogen with a powerful means of escape from host antibodies. Although broadly reactive antibodies against these antigens could be useful as therapeutics and in vaccine design, their identification has proven elusive. Here we report the isolation of human monoclonal antibodies that recognize erythrocytes infected by different P. falciparum isolates and opsonize these cells by binding to members of the RIFIN family. These antibodies acquired broad reactivity through a novel mechanism of insertion of a large DNA fragment between the V and DJ segments. The insert, which is both necessary and sufficient for binding to RIFINs, encodes the entire 98 amino acid collagen-binding domain of LAIR1, an immunoglobulin superfamily inhibitory receptor encoded on chromosome 19. In each of the two donors studied, the antibodies are produced by a single expanded B-cell clone and carry distinct somatic mutations in the LAIR1 domain that abolish binding to collagen and increase binding to infected erythrocytes. These findings illustrate, with a biologically relevant example, a novel mechanism of antibody diversification by interchromosomal DNA transposition and demonstrate the existence of conserved epitopes that may be suitable candidates for the development of a malaria vaccine.

Kangoye DT, Mensah VA, Murungi LM, Nkumama I, Nebie I, Marsh K, Cisse B, Bejon P, Osier FHA, Sirima SB, MVVC Infant Immunology Study Group. 2016. Dynamics and role of antibodies to Plasmodium falciparum merozoite antigens in children living in two settings with differing malaria transmission intensity. Vaccine, 34 (1), pp. 160-166. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Young infants have reduced susceptibility to febrile malaria compared with older children, but the mechanism for this remains unclear. There are conflicting data on the role of passively acquired antibodies. Here, we examine antibody titres to merozoite surface antigens in the protection of children in their first two years of life in two settings with differing malaria transmission intensity and compare these titres to previously established protective thresholds. METHODS: Two cohorts of children aged four to six weeks were recruited in Banfora, Burkina and Keur Soce, Senegal and followed up for two years. Malaria infections were detected by light microscopic examination of blood smears collected at active and passive case detection visits. The titres of antibodies to the Plasmodium falciparum recombinant merozoite proteins (AMA1-3D7, MSP1-19, MSP2-Dd2, and MSP3-3D7) were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay at 1-6, 9, 12, 15 and 18 months of age and compared with the protective thresholds established in Kenyan children. RESULTS: Antibody titres were below the protective thresholds throughout the study period and we did not find any association with protection against febrile malaria. Antibodies to AMA1 and MSP1-19 appeared to be markers of exposure in the univariate analysis (and so associated with increasing risk) and adjusting for exposure reduced the strength and significance of this association. CONCLUSION: The antibody levels we measured are unlikely to be responsible for the apparent protection against febrile malaria seen in young infants. Further work to identify protective antibody responses might include functional assays and a wider range of antigens.

Mensah VA, Gueye A, Ndiaye M, Edwards NJ, Wright D, Anagnostou NA, Syll M, Ndaw A, Abiola A, Bliss C et al. 2016. Safety, Immunogenicity and Efficacy of Prime-Boost Vaccination with ChAd63 and MVA Encoding ME-TRAP against Plasmodium falciparum Infection in Adults in Senegal. PLoS One, 11 (12), pp. e0167951. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria transmission is in decline in some parts of Africa, partly due to the scaling up of control measures. If the goal of elimination is to be achieved, additional control measures including an effective and durable vaccine will be required. Studies utilising the prime-boost approach to deliver viral vectors encoding the pre-erythrocytic antigen ME-TRAP (multiple epitope thrombospondin-related adhesion protein) have shown promising safety, immunogenicity and efficacy in sporozoite challenge studies. More recently, a study in Kenyan adults, similar to that reported here, showed substantial efficacy against P. falciparum infection. One hundred and twenty healthy male volunteers, living in a malaria endemic area of Senegal were randomised to receive either the Chimpanzee adenovirus (ChAd63) ME-TRAP as prime vaccination, followed eight weeks later by modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) also encoding ME-TRAP as booster, or two doses of anti-rabies vaccine as a comparator. Prior to follow-up, antimalarials were administered to clear parasitaemia and then participants were monitored by PCR for malaria infection for eight weeks. The primary endpoint was time-to-infection with P. falciparum malaria, determined by two consecutive positive PCR results. Secondary endpoints included adverse event reporting, measures of cellular and humoral immunogenicity and a meta-analysis of combined vaccine efficacy with the parallel study in Kenyan adults.We show that this pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine is safe and induces significant immunogenicity, with a peak T-cell response at seven days after boosting of 932 Spot Forming Cells (SFC)/106 Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells(PBMC) compared to 57 SFC/ 106 PBMCs in the control group. However, a vaccine efficacy was not observed: 12 of 57 ME-TRAP vaccinees became PCR positive during the intensive monitoring period as compared to 13 of the 58 controls (P = 0.80). This trial confirms that vaccine efficacy against malaria infection in adults may be rapidly assessed using this efficient and cost-effective clinical trial design. Further efficacy evaluation of this vectored candidate vaccine approach in other malaria transmission settings and age-de-escalation into the main target age groups for a malaria vaccine is in progress.

Li HK, Scarborough M, Zambellas R, Cooper C, Rombach I, Walker AS, Lipsky BA, Briggs A, Seaton A, Atkins B et al. 2015. Oral versus intravenous antibiotic treatment for bone and joint infections (OVIVA): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials, 16 (1), pp. 583. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Bone and joint infection in adults arises most commonly as a complication of joint replacement surgery, fracture fixation and diabetic foot infection. The associated morbidity can be devastating to patients and costs the National Health Service an estimated £20,000 to £40,000 per patient. Current standard of care in most UK centres includes a prolonged course (4-6 weeks) of intravenous antibiotics supported, if available, by an outpatient parenteral antibiotic therapy service. Intravenous therapy carries with it substantial risks and inconvenience to patients, and the antibiotic-related costs are approximately ten times that of oral therapy. Despite this, there is no evidence to suggest that oral therapy results in inferior outcomes. We hypothesise that, by selecting oral agents with high bioavailability, good tissue penetration and activity against the known or likely pathogens, key outcomes in patients managed primarily with oral therapy are non-inferior to those in patients treated by intravenous therapy. METHODS: The OVIVA trial is a parallel group, randomised (1:1), un-blinded, non-inferiority trial conducted in thirty hospitals across the UK. Eligible participants are adults (>18 years) with a clinical syndrome consistent with a bone, joint or metalware-associated infection who have received ≤7 days of intravenous antibiotic therapy from the date of definitive surgery (or the start of planned curative therapy in patients treated without surgical intervention). Participants are randomised to receive either oral or intravenous antibiotics, selected by a specialist infection physician, for the first 6 weeks of therapy. The primary outcome measure is definite treatment failure within one year of randomisation, as assessed by a blinded endpoint committee, according to pre-defined microbiological, histological and clinical criteria. Enrolling 1,050 subjects will provide 90 % power to demonstrate non-inferiority, defined as less than 7.5 % absolute increase in treatment failure rate in patients randomised to oral therapy as compared to intravenous therapy (one-sided alpha of 0.05). DISCUSSION: If our results demonstrate non-inferiority of orally administered antibiotic therapy, this trial is likely to facilitate a dramatically improved patient experience and alleviate a substantial financial burden on healthcare services. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN91566927 - 14/02/2013.

Neafsey DE, Juraska M, Bedford T, Benkeser D, Valim C, Griggs A, Lievens M, Abdulla S, Adjei S, Agbenyega T et al. 2015. Genetic Diversity and Protective Efficacy of the RTS,S/AS01 Malaria Vaccine. N Engl J Med, 373 (21), pp. 2025-2037. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The RTS,S/AS01 vaccine targets the circumsporozoite protein of Plasmodium falciparum and has partial protective efficacy against clinical and severe malaria disease in infants and children. We investigated whether the vaccine efficacy was specific to certain parasite genotypes at the circumsporozoite protein locus. METHODS: We used polymerase chain reaction-based next-generation sequencing of DNA extracted from samples from 4985 participants to survey circumsporozoite protein polymorphisms. We evaluated the effect that polymorphic positions and haplotypic regions within the circumsporozoite protein had on vaccine efficacy against first episodes of clinical malaria within 1 year after vaccination. RESULTS: In the per-protocol group of 4577 RTS,S/AS01-vaccinated participants and 2335 control-vaccinated participants who were 5 to 17 months of age, the 1-year cumulative vaccine efficacy was 50.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 34.6 to 62.3) against clinical malaria in which parasites matched the vaccine in the entire circumsporozoite protein C-terminal (139 infections), as compared with 33.4% (95% CI, 29.3 to 37.2) against mismatched malaria (1951 infections) (P=0.04 for differential vaccine efficacy). The vaccine efficacy based on the hazard ratio was 62.7% (95% CI, 51.6 to 71.3) against matched infections versus 54.2% (95% CI, 49.9 to 58.1) against mismatched infections (P=0.06). In the group of infants 6 to 12 weeks of age, there was no evidence of differential allele-specific vaccine efficacy. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that among children 5 to 17 months of age, the RTS,S vaccine has greater activity against malaria parasites with the matched circumsporozoite protein allele than against mismatched malaria. The overall vaccine efficacy in this age category will depend on the proportion of matched alleles in the local parasite population; in this trial, less than 10% of parasites had matched alleles. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.).

Ndungu FM, Marsh K, Fegan G, Wambua J, Nyangweso G, Ogada E, Mwangi T, Nyundo C, Macharia A, Uyoga S et al. 2015. Identifying children with excess malaria episodes after adjusting for variation in exposure: identification from a longitudinal study using statistical count models. BMC Med, 13 (1), pp. 183. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The distribution of Plasmodium falciparum clinical malaria episodes is over-dispersed among children in endemic areas, with more children experiencing multiple clinical episodes than would be expected based on a Poisson distribution. There is consistent evidence for micro-epidemiological variation in exposure to P. falciparum. The aim of the current study was to identify children with excess malaria episodes after controlling for malaria exposure. METHODS: We selected the model that best fit the data out of the models examined and included the following covariates: age, a weighted local prevalence of infection as an index of exposure, and calendar time to predict episodes of malaria on active surveillance malaria data from 2,463 children of under 15 years of age followed for between 5 and 15 years each. Using parameters from the zero-inflated negative binomial model which best fitted our data, we ran 100 simulations of the model based on our population to determine the variation that might be seen due to chance. RESULTS: We identified 212 out of 2,463 children who had a number of clinical episodes above the 95(th) percentile of the simulations run from the model, hereafter referred to as "excess malaria (EM)". We then identified exposure-matched controls with "average numbers of malaria" episodes, and found that the EM group had higher parasite densities when asymptomatically infected or during clinical malaria, and were less likely to be of haemoglobin AS genotype. CONCLUSIONS: Of the models tested, the negative zero-inflated negative binomial distribution with exposure, calendar year, and age acting as independent predictors, fitted the distribution of clinical malaria the best. Despite accounting for these factors, a group of children suffer excess malaria episodes beyond those predicted by the model. An epidemiological framework for identifying these children will allow us to study factors that may explain excess malaria episodes.

Atkinson SH, Uyoga SM, Armitage AE, Khandwala S, Mugyenyi CK, Bejon P, Marsh K, Beeson JG, Prentice AM, Drakesmith H, Williams TN. 2015. Malaria and Age Variably but Critically Control Hepcidin Throughout Childhood in Kenya. EBioMedicine, 2 (10), pp. 1478-1486. | Show Abstract | Read more

Both iron deficiency (ID) and malaria are common among African children. Studies show that the iron-regulatory hormone hepcidin is induced by malaria, but few studies have investigated this relationship longitudinally. We measured hepcidin concentrations, markers of iron status, and antibodies to malaria antigens during two cross-sectional surveys within a cohort of 324 Kenyan children ≤ 8 years old who were under intensive surveillance for malaria and other febrile illnesses. Hepcidin concentrations were the highest in the youngest, and female infants, declined rapidly in infancy and more gradually thereafter. Asymptomatic malaria and malaria antibody titres were positively associated with hepcidin concentrations. Recent episodes of febrile malaria were associated with high hepcidin concentrations that fell over time. Hepcidin concentrations were not associated with the subsequent risk of either malaria or other febrile illnesses. Given that iron absorption is impaired by hepcidin, our data suggest that asymptomatic and febrile malaria contribute to the high burden of ID seen in African children. Further, the effectiveness of iron supplementation may be sub-optimal in the presence of asymptomatic malaria. Thus, strategies to prevent and eliminate malaria may have the added benefit of addressing an important cause of ID for African children.

Ogwang C, Kimani D, Edwards NJ, Roberts R, Mwacharo J, Bowyer G, Bliss C, Hodgson SH, Njuguna P, Viebig NK et al. 2015. Prime-boost vaccination with chimpanzee adenovirus and modified vaccinia Ankara encoding TRAP provides partial protection against Plasmodium falciparum infection in Kenyan adults. Sci Transl Med, 7 (286), pp. 286re5. | Show Abstract | Read more

Protective immunity to the liver stage of the malaria parasite can be conferred by vaccine-induced T cells, but no subunit vaccination approach based on cellular immunity has shown efficacy in field studies. We randomly allocated 121 healthy adult male volunteers in Kilifi, Kenya, to vaccination with the recombinant viral vectors chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (ChAd63) and modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA), both encoding the malaria peptide sequence ME-TRAP (the multiple epitope string and thrombospondin-related adhesion protein), or to vaccination with rabies vaccine as a control. We gave antimalarials to clear parasitemia and conducted PCR (polymerase chain reaction) analysis on blood samples three times a week to identify infection with the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. On Cox regression, vaccination reduced the risk of infection by 67% [95% confidence interval (CI), 33 to 83%; P = 0.002] during 8 weeks of monitoring. T cell responses to TRAP peptides 21 to 30 were significantly associated with protection (hazard ratio, 0.24; 95% CI, 0.08 to 0.75; P = 0.016).

Li HK, Agweyu A, English M, Bejon P. 2015. An unsupported preference for intravenous antibiotics. PLoS Med, 12 (5), pp. e1001825. | Read more

Hodgson SH, Ewer KJ, Bliss CM, Edwards NJ, Rampling T, Anagnostou NA, de Barra E, Havelock T, Bowyer G, Poulton ID et al. 2015. Evaluation of the efficacy of ChAd63-MVA vectored vaccines expressing circumsporozoite protein and ME-TRAP against controlled human malaria infection in malaria-naive individuals. J Infect Dis, 211 (7), pp. 1076-1086. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Circumsporozoite protein (CS) is the antigenic target for RTS,S, the most advanced malaria vaccine to date. Heterologous prime-boost with the viral vectors simian adenovirus 63 (ChAd63)-modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) is the most potent inducer of T-cells in humans, demonstrating significant efficacy when expressing the preerythrocytic antigen insert multiple epitope-thrombospondin-related adhesion protein (ME-TRAP). We hypothesized that ChAd63-MVA containing CS may result in a significant clinical protective efficacy. METHODS: We conducted an open-label, 2-site, partially randomized Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) study to compare the clinical efficacy of ChAd63-MVA CS with ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP. RESULTS: One of 15 vaccinees (7%) receiving ChAd63-MVA CS and 2 of 15 (13%) receiving ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP achieved sterile protection after CHMI. Three of 15 vaccinees (20%) receiving ChAd63-MVA CS and 5 of 15 (33%) receiving ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP demonstrated a delay in time to treatment, compared with unvaccinated controls. In quantitative polymerase chain reaction analyses, ChAd63-MVA CS was estimated to reduce the liver parasite burden by 69%-79%, compared with 79%-84% for ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP. CONCLUSIONS: ChAd63-MVA CS does reduce the liver parasite burden, but ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP remains the most promising antigenic insert for a vectored liver-stage vaccine. Detailed analyses of parasite kinetics may allow detection of smaller but biologically important differences in vaccine efficacy that can influence future vaccine development. CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION: NCT01623557.

Agnandji ST, Huttner A, Zinser ME, Njuguna P, Dahlke C, Fernandes JF, Yerly S, Dayer J-A, Kraehling V, Kasonta R et al. 2016. Phase 1 Trials of rVSV Ebola Vaccine in Africa and Europe New England Journal of Medicine, 374 (17), pp. 1647-1660. | Read more

Hodgson SH, Douglas AD, Edwards NJ, Kimani D, Elias SC, Chang M, Daza G, Seilie AM, Magiri C, Muia A et al. 2015. Increased sample volume and use of quantitative reverse-transcription PCR can improve prediction of liver-to-blood inoculum size in controlled human malaria infection studies. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 33. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) studies increasingly rely on nucleic acid test (NAT) methods to detect and quantify parasites in the blood of infected participants. The lower limits of detection and quantification vary amongst the assays used throughout the world, which may affect the ability of mathematical models to accurately estimate the liver-to-blood inoculum (LBI) values that are used to judge the efficacy of pre-erythrocytic vaccine and drug candidates. METHODS: Samples were collected around the time of onset of pre-patent parasitaemia from subjects who enrolled in two different CHMI clinical trials. Blood samples were tested for Plasmodium falciparum 18S rRNA and/or rDNA targets by different NAT methods and results were compared. Methods included an ultrasensitive, large volume modification of an established quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) assay that achieves detection of as little as one parasite/mL of whole blood. RESULTS: Large volume qRT-PCR at the University of Washington was the most sensitive test and generated quantifiable data more often than any other NAT methodology. Standard quantitative PCR (qPCR) performed at the University of Oxford and standard volume qRT-PCR performed at the University of Washington were less sensitive than the large volume qRT-PCR, especially at 6.5 days after CHMI. In these trials, the proportion of participants for whom LBI could be accurately quantified using parasite density value greater than or equal to the lower limit of quantification was increased. A greater improvement would be expected in trials in which numerous subjects receive a lower LBI or low dose challenge. CONCLUSIONS: Standard qPCR and qRT-PCR methods with analytical sensitivities of ~20 parasites/mL probably suffice for most CHMI purposes, but the newly developed large volume qRT-PCR may be able to answer specific questions when more analytical sensitivity is required.

Snow RW, Kibuchi E, Karuri SW, Sang G, Gitonga CW, Mwandawiro C, Bejon P, Noor AM. 2015. Changing Malaria Prevalence on the Kenyan Coast since 1974: Climate, Drugs and Vector Control. PLoS One, 10 (6), pp. e0128792. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Progress toward reducing the malaria burden in Africa has been measured, or modeled, using datasets with relatively short time-windows. These restricted temporal analyses may miss the wider context of longer-term cycles of malaria risk and hence may lead to incorrect inferences regarding the impact of intervention. METHODS: 1147 age-corrected Plasmodium falciparum parasite prevalence (PfPR2-10) surveys among rural communities along the Kenyan coast were assembled from 1974 to 2014. A Bayesian conditional autoregressive generalized linear mixed model was used to interpolate to 279 small areas for each of the 41 years since 1974. Best-fit polynomial splined curves of changing PfPR2-10 were compared to a sequence of plausible explanatory variables related to rainfall, drug resistance and insecticide-treated bed net (ITN) use. RESULTS: P. falciparum parasite prevalence initially rose from 1974 to 1987, dipped in 1991-92 but remained high until 1998. From 1998 onwards prevalence began to decline until 2011, then began to rise through to 2014. This major decline occurred before ITNs were widely distributed and variation in rainfall coincided with some, but not all, short-term transmission cycles. Emerging resistance to chloroquine and introduction of sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine provided plausible explanations for the rise and fall of malaria transmission along the Kenyan coast. CONCLUSIONS: Progress towards elimination might not be as predictable as we would like, where natural and extrinsic cycles of transmission confound evaluations of the effect of interventions. Deciding where a country lies on an elimination pathway requires careful empiric observation of the long-term epidemiology of malaria transmission.

White MT, Verity R, Griffin JT, Asante KP, Owusu-Agyei S, Greenwood B, Drakeley C, Gesase S, Lusingu J, Ansong D et al. 2015. Immunogenicity of the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine and implications for duration of vaccine efficacy: secondary analysis of data from a phase 3 randomised controlled trial. Lancet Infect Dis, 15 (12), pp. 1450-1458. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine targets the circumsporozoite protein, inducing antibodies associated with the prevention of Plasmodium falciparum infection. We assessed the association between anti-circumsporozoite antibody titres and the magnitude and duration of vaccine efficacy using data from a phase 3 trial done between 2009 and 2014. METHODS: Using data from 8922 African children aged 5-17 months and 6537 African infants aged 6-12 weeks at first vaccination, we analysed the determinants of immunogenicity after RTS,S/AS01 vaccination with or without a booster dose. We assessed the association between the incidence of clinical malaria and anti-circumsporozoite antibody titres using a model of anti-circumsporozoite antibody dynamics and the natural acquisition of protective immunity over time. FINDINGS: RTS,S/AS01-induced anti-circumsporozoite antibody titres were greater in children aged 5-17 months than in those aged 6-12 weeks. Pre-vaccination anti-circumsporozoite titres were associated with lower immunogenicity in children aged 6-12 weeks and higher immunogenicity in those aged 5-17 months. The immunogenicity of the booster dose was strongly associated with immunogenicity after primary vaccination. Anti-circumsporozoite titres wane according to a biphasic exponential distribution. In participants aged 5-17 months, the half-life of the short-lived component of the antibody response was 45 days (95% credible interval 42-48) and that of the long-lived component was 591 days (557-632). After primary vaccination 12% (11-13) of the response was estimated to be long-lived, rising to 30% (28-32%) after a booster dose. An anti-circumsporozoite antibody titre of 121 EU/mL (98-153) was estimated to prevent 50% of infections. Waning anti-circumsporozoite antibody titres predict the duration of efficacy against clinical malaria across different age categories and transmission intensities, and efficacy wanes more rapidly at higher transmission intensity. INTERPRETATION: Anti-circumsporozoite antibody titres are a surrogate of protection for the magnitude and duration of RTS,S/AS01 efficacy, with or without a booster dose, providing a valuable surrogate of effectiveness for new RTS,S formulations in the age groups considered. FUNDING: UK Medical Research Council.

Olotu A, Clement F, Jongert E, Vekemans J, Njuguna P, Ndungu FM, Marsh K, Leroux-Roels G, Bejon P. 2014. Avidity of anti-circumsporozoite antibodies following vaccination with RTS,S/AS01E in young children. PLoS One, 9 (12), pp. e115126. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The nature of protective immune responses elicited by immunization with the candidate malaria vaccine RTS,S is still incompletely understood. Antibody levels correlate with protection against malaria infection, but considerable variation in outcome is unexplained (e.g., children may experience malaria despite high anti-circumsporozoite [CS] titers). METHODS AND FINDINGS: We measured the avidity index (AI) of the anti-CS antibodies raised in subgroup of 5-17 month old children in Kenya who were vaccinated with three doses of RTS,S/AS01E between March and August 2007. We evaluated the association between the AI and the subsequent risk of clinical malaria. We selected 19 cases (i.e., with clinical malaria) and 42 controls (i.e., without clinical malaria), matching for anti-CS antibody levels and malaria exposure. We assessed their sera collected 1 month after the third dose of the vaccine, in March 2008 (range 4-10 months after the third vaccine), and at 12 months after the third vaccine dose. The mean AI was 45.2 (95% CI: 42.4 to 48.1), 45.3 (95% CI: 41.4 to 49.1) and 46.2 (95% CI; 43.2 to 49.3) at 1 month, in March 2008 (4-10 months), and at 12 months after the third vaccination, respectively (p = 0.9 by ANOVA test for variation over time). The AI was not associated with protection from clinical malaria (OR = 0.90; 95% CI: 0.49 to 1.66; p = 0.74). The AI was higher in children with high malaria exposure, as measured using the weighted local prevalence of malaria, compared to those with low malaria exposure at 1 month post dose 3 (p = 0.035). CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that in RTS,S/AS01E-vaccinated children residing in malaria endemic countries, the avidity of anti-circumsporozoite antibodies, as measured using an elution ELISA method, was not associated with protection from clinical malaria. Prior natural malaria exposure might have primed the response to RTS,S/AS01E vaccination.

White MT, Bejon P, Olotu A, Griffin JT, Bojang K, Lusingu J, Salim N, Abdulla S, Otsyula N, Agnandji ST et al. 2014. A combined analysis of immunogenicity, antibody kinetics and vaccine efficacy from phase 2 trials of the RTS,S malaria vaccine. BMC Med, 12 (1), pp. 117. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The RTS,S malaria vaccine is currently undergoing phase 3 trials. High vaccine-induced antibody titres to the circumsporozoite protein (CSP) antigen have been associated with protection from infection and episodes of clinical malaria. METHODS: Using data from 5,144 participants in nine phase 2 trials, we explore predictors of vaccine immunogenicity (anti-CSP antibody titres), decay in antibody titres, and the association between antibody titres and clinical outcomes. We use empirically-observed relationships between these factors to predict vaccine efficacy in a range of scenarios. RESULTS: Vaccine-induced anti-CSP antibody titres were significantly associated with age (P = 0.04), adjuvant (P <0.001), pre-vaccination anti-hepatitis B surface antigen titres (P = 0.005) and pre-vaccination anti-CSP titres (P <0.001). Co-administration with other vaccines reduced anti-CSP antibody titres although not significantly (P = 0.095). Antibody titres showed a bi-phasic decay over time with an initial rapid decay in the first three months and a second slower decay over the next three to four years. Antibody titres were significantly associated with protection, with a titre of 51 (95% Credible Interval (CrI): 29 to 85) ELISA units/ml (EU/mL) predicted to prevent 50% of infections in children. Vaccine efficacy was predicted to decline to zero over four years in a setting with entomological inoculation rate (EIR) = 20 infectious bites per year (ibpy). Over a five-year follow-up period at an EIR = 20 ibpy, we predict RTS,S will avert 1,782 cases per 1,000 vaccinated children, 1,452 cases per 1,000 vaccinated infants, and 887 cases per 1,000 infants when co-administered with expanded programme on immunisation (EPI) vaccines. Our main study limitations include an absence of vaccine-induced cellular immune responses and short duration of follow-up in some individuals. CONCLUSIONS: Vaccine-induced anti-CSP antibody titres and transmission intensity can explain variations in observed vaccine efficacy.

Kimani D, Jagne YJ, Cox M, Kimani E, Bliss CM, Gitau E, Ogwang C, Afolabi MO, Bowyer G, Collins KA et al. 2014. Translating the immunogenicity of prime-boost immunization with ChAd63 and MVA ME-TRAP from malaria naive to malaria-endemic populations. Mol Ther, 22 (11), pp. 1992-2003. | Show Abstract | Read more

To induce a deployable level of efficacy, a successful malaria vaccine would likely benefit from both potent cellular and humoral immunity. These requirements are met by a heterologous prime-boost immunization strategy employing a chimpanzee adenovirus vector followed by modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA), both encoding the pre-erythrocytic malaria antigen ME-thrombospondin-related adhesive protein (TRAP), with high immunogenicity and significant efficacy in UK adults. We undertook two phase 1b open-label studies in adults in Kenya and The Gambia in areas of similar seasonal malaria transmission dynamics and have previously reported safety and basic immunogenicity data. We now report flow cytometry and additional interferon (IFN)-γ enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) data characterizing pre-existing and induced cellular immunity as well as anti-TRAP IgG responses. T-cell responses induced by vaccination averaged 1,254 spot-forming cells (SFC) per million peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) across both trials and flow cytometry revealed cytokine production from both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells with the frequency of CD8(+) IFN-γ-secreting monofunctional T cells (previously shown to associate with vaccine efficacy) particularly high in Kenyan adults. Immunization with ChAd63 and MVA ME-TRAP induced strong cellular and humoral immune responses in adults living in two malaria-endemic regions of Africa. This prime-boost approach targeting the pre-erythrocytic stage of the malaria life-cycle is now being assessed for efficacy in a target population.

Minassian AM, Newnham R, Kalimeris E, Bejon P, Atkins BL, Bowler ICJW. 2014. Use of an automated blood culture system (BD BACTEC™) for diagnosis of prosthetic joint infections: easy and fast. BMC Infect Dis, 14 (1), pp. 233. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: For the diagnosis of prosthetic joint infection (PJI) automated BACTEC™ blood culture bottle methods have comparable sensitivity, specificity and a shorter time to positivity than traditional cooked meat enrichment broth methods. We evaluate the culture incubation period required to maximise sensitivity and specificity of microbiological diagnosis, and the ability of BACTEC™ to detect slow growing Propionibacteria spp. METHODS: Multiple periprosthetic tissue samples taken by a standardised method from 332 patients undergoing prosthetic joint revision arthroplasty were cultured for 14 days, using a BD BACTEC™ instrumented blood culture system, in a prospective study from 1st January to 31st August 2012. The "gold standard" definition for PJI was the presence of at least one histological criterion, the presence of a sinus tract or purulence around the device. Cases where > =2 samples yielded indistinguishable isolates were considered culture-positive. 1000 BACTEC™ bottle cultures which were negative after 14 days incubation were sub-cultured for Propionibacteria spp. RESULTS: 79 patients fulfilled the definition for PJI, and 66 of these were culture-positive. All but 1 of these 66 culture-positive cases of PJI were detected within 3 days of incubation. Only one additional (clinically-insignificant) Propionibacterium spp. was identified on terminal subculture of 1000 bottles. CONCLUSIONS: Prolonged microbiological culture for 2 weeks is unnecessary when using BACTEC™ culture methods. The majority of clinically significant organisms grow within 3 days, and Propionibacteria spp. are identified without the need for terminal subculture. These findings should facilitate earlier decisions on final antimicrobial prescribing.

Bejon P, Williams TN, Nyundo C, Hay SI, Benz D, Gething PW, Otiende M, Peshu J, Bashraheil M, Greenhouse B et al. 2014. A micro-epidemiological analysis of febrile malaria in Coastal Kenya showing hotspots within hotspots. Elife, 3 pp. e02130. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria transmission is spatially heterogeneous. This reduces the efficacy of control strategies, but focusing control strategies on clusters or 'hotspots' of transmission may be highly effective. Among 1500 homesteads in coastal Kenya we calculated (a) the fraction of febrile children with positive malaria smears per homestead, and (b) the mean age of children with malaria per homestead. These two measures were inversely correlated, indicating that children in homesteads at higher transmission acquire immunity more rapidly. This inverse correlation increased gradually with increasing spatial scale of analysis, and hotspots of febrile malaria were identified at every scale. We found hotspots within hotspots, down to the level of an individual homestead. Febrile malaria hotspots were temporally unstable, but 4 km radius hotspots could be targeted for 1 month following 1 month periods of surveillance.DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.02130.001.

Atkinson SH, Armitage AE, Khandwala S, Mwangi TW, Uyoga S, Bejon PA, Williams TN, Prentice AM, Drakesmith H. 2014. Combinatorial effects of malaria season, iron deficiency, and inflammation determine plasma hepcidin concentration in African children. Blood, 123 (21), pp. 3221-3229. | Show Abstract | Read more

Hepcidin is the master regulatory hormone that governs iron homeostasis and has a role in innate immunity. Although hepcidin has been studied extensively in model systems, there is less information on hepcidin regulation in global health contexts where iron deficiency (ID), anemia, and high infectious burdens (including malaria) all coexist but fluctuate over time. We evaluated iron status, hepcidin levels, and determinants of hepcidin in 2 populations of rural children aged ≤8 years, in the Gambia and Kenya (total n = 848), at the start and end of a malaria season. Regression analyses and structural equation modeling demonstrated, for both populations, similar combinatorial effects of upregulating stimuli (iron stores and to a lesser extent inflammation) and downregulating stimuli (erythropoietic drive) on hepcidin levels. However, malaria season was also a significant factor and was associated with an altered balance of these opposing factors. Consistent with these changes, hepcidin levels were reduced whereas the prevalence of ID was increased at the end of the malaria season. More prevalent ID and lower hepcidin likely reflect an enhanced requirement for iron and an ability to efficiently absorb it at the end of the malaria season. These results, therefore, have implications for ID and malaria control programs.

Hodgson SH, Juma E, Salim A, Magiri C, Kimani D, Njenga D, Muia A, Cole AO, Ogwang C, Awuondo K et al. 2014. Evaluating controlled human malaria infection in Kenyan adults with varying degrees of prior exposure to Plasmodium falciparum using sporozoites administered by intramuscular injection. Front Microbiol, 5 (DEC), pp. 686. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) studies are a vital tool to accelerate vaccine and drug development. As CHMI trials are performed in a controlled environment, they allow unprecedented, detailed evaluation of parasite growth dynamics (PGD) and immunological responses. However, CHMI studies have not been routinely performed in malaria-endemic countries or used to investigate mechanisms of naturally-acquired immunity (NAI) to Plasmodium falciparum. METHODS: We conducted an open-label, randomized CHMI pilot-study using aseptic, cryopreserved P. falciparum sporozoites (PfSPZ Challenge) to evaluate safety, infectivity and PGD in Kenyan adults with low to moderate prior exposure to P. falciparum (Pan African Clinical Trial Registry: PACTR20121100033272). RESULTS: All participants developed blood-stage infection confirmed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). However one volunteer (110) remained asymptomatic and blood-film negative until day 21 post-injection of PfSPZ Challenge. This volunteer had a reduced parasite multiplication rate (PMR) (1.3) in comparison to the other 27 volunteers (median 11.1). A significant correlation was seen between PMR and screening anti-schizont Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISA) OD (p = 0.044, R = -0.384) but not when volunteer 110 was excluded from the analysis (p = 0.112, R = -0.313). CONCLUSIONS: PfSPZ Challenge is safe and infectious in malaria-endemic populations and could be used to assess the efficacy of malaria vaccines and drugs in African populations. Whilst our findings are limited by sample size, our pilot study has demonstrated for the first time that NAI may impact on PMR post-CHMI in a detectable fashion, an important finding that should be evaluated in further CHMI studies.

Dunachie S, Teh J, Ejindu V, Bejon P, Pandit H, Byren I. 2014. Radiological features do not predict failure of two-stage arthroplasty for prosthetic joint infection: a retrospective case-control study. BMC Musculoskelet Disord, 15 (1), pp. 300. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The management of prosthetic joint infection is complex and there is a lack of standardisation of approaches. We evaluated the role of plain film radiography in predicting prosthesis failure after the first stage of a two-stage revision procedure in a retrospective case-control study. METHODS: Plain films for 41 patients aged 46 to 87 years (mean 69) were assessed by two musculoskeletal specialist radiologists for seven features (retained or new metalwork, retained cement or restrictor, new fracture, local antimicrobial delivery system and drain) we hypothesised may predict for failure. Inter-observer agreement was assessed by Kappa score and logistic regression analysis was performed to evaluate the relationship of the seven radiological features adjusting for patient age, gender and number of previous revisions. RESULTS: There was substantial inter-observer agreement, with a Kappa score of 0.73 (95% CI 0.72-0.74) for all data points collected. Concordance was 100% for evaluating the presence or absence of an antimicrobial delivery system or drain, with lower consensus for evaluating cement (Kappa 0.60, 95% CI 0.35-0.84) and fractures (Kappa 0.59, 95% CI 0.31-0.87). None of the variables' conditions significantly predicted failure. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings support the opinion that surgical expertise which maximizes removal of foreign material is sufficient in conjunction with antibiotic therapy.

Kangoye DT, Nebie I, Yaro J-B, Debe S, Traore S, Ouedraogo O, Sanou G, Soulama I, Diarra A, Tiono A et al. 2014. Plasmodium falciparum malaria in children aged 0-2 years: the role of foetal haemoglobin and maternal antibodies to two asexual malaria vaccine candidates (MSP3 and GLURP). PLoS One, 9 (9), pp. e107965. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Children below six months are reported to be less susceptible to clinical malaria. Maternally derived antibodies and foetal haemoglobin are important putative protective factors. We examined antibodies to Plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein 3 (MSP3) and glutamate-rich protein (GLURP), in children in their first two years of life in Burkina Faso and their risk of malaria. METHODS: A cohort of 140 infants aged between four and six weeks was recruited in a stable transmission area of south-western Burkina Faso and monitored for 24 months by active and passive surveillance. Malaria infections were detected by examining blood smears using light microscopy. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was used to quantify total Immunoglobulin G to Plasmodium falciparum antigens MSP3 and two regions of GLURP (R0 and R2) on blood samples collected at baseline, three, six, nine, 12, 18 and 24 months. Foetal haemoglobin and variant haemoglobin fractions were measured at the baseline visit using high pressure liquid chromatography. RESULTS: A total of 79.6% of children experienced one or more episodes of febrile malaria during monitoring. Antibody titres to MSP3 were prospectively associated with an increased risk of malaria while antibody responses to GLURP (R0 and R2) did not alter the risk. Antibody titres to MSP3 were higher among children in areas of high malaria risk. Foetal haemoglobin was associated with delayed first episode of febrile malaria and haemoglobin CC type was associated with reduced incidence of febrile malaria. CONCLUSIONS: We did not find any evidence of association between titres of antibodies to MSP3, GLURP-R0 or GLURP-R2 as measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and early protection against malaria, although anti-MSP3 antibody titres may reflect increased exposure to malaria and therefore greater risk. Foetal haemoglobin was associated with protection against febrile malaria despite the study limitations and its role is therefore worthy further investigation.

Wendler JP, Okombo J, Amato R, Miotto O, Kiara SM, Mwai L, Pole L, O'Brien J, Manske M, Alcock D et al. 2014. A genome wide association study of Plasmodium falciparum susceptibility to 22 antimalarial drugs in Kenya. PLoS One, 9 (5), pp. e96486. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Drug resistance remains a chief concern for malaria control. In order to determine the genetic markers of drug resistant parasites, we tested the genome-wide associations (GWA) of sequence-based genotypes from 35 Kenyan P. falciparum parasites with the activities of 22 antimalarial drugs. METHODS AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Parasites isolated from children with acute febrile malaria were adapted to culture, and sensitivity was determined by in vitro growth in the presence of anti-malarial drugs. Parasites were genotyped using whole genome sequencing techniques. Associations between 6250 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and resistance to individual anti-malarial agents were determined, with false discovery rate adjustment for multiple hypothesis testing. We identified expected associations in the pfcrt region with chloroquine (CQ) activity, and other novel loci associated with amodiaquine, quinazoline, and quinine activities. Signals for CQ and primaquine (PQ) overlap in and around pfcrt, and interestingly the phenotypes are inversely related for these two drugs. We catalog the variation in dhfr, dhps, mdr1, nhe, and crt, including novel SNPs, and confirm the presence of a dhfr-164L quadruple mutant in coastal Kenya. Mutations implicated in sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine resistance are at or near fixation in this sample set. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Sequence-based GWA studies are powerful tools for phenotypic association tests. Using this approach on falciparum parasites from coastal Kenya we identified known and previously unreported genes associated with phenotypic resistance to anti-malarial drugs, and observe in high-resolution haplotype visualizations a possible signature of an inverse selective relationship between CQ and PQ.

Von Seidlein L, Bejon P. 2013. Malaria vaccines: Past, present and future Archives of Disease in Childhood, 98 (12), pp. 981-985. | Show Abstract | Read more

The currently available malaria control tools have allowed malaria elimination in many regions but there remain many regions where malaria control has made little progress. A safe and protective malaria vaccine would be a huge asset for malaria control. Despite the many challenges, efforts continue to design and evaluate malaria vaccine candidates. These candidates target different stages in the life cycle of Plasmodia. The most advanced vaccine candidates target the pre-erythrocytic stages in the life cycle of the parasite and include RTS, S/AS01, which has progressed through clinical development to the stage that it may be licensed in 2015. Attenuated whole-parasite vaccine candidates are highly protective, but there are challenges to manufacture and to administration. Cellular immunity is targeted by the prime-boost approach. Priming vectors trigger only modest responses but these are focused on the recombinant antigen. Boosting vectors trigger strong but broad non-specific responses. The heterologous sequence produces strong immunological responses to the recombinant antigen. Candidates that target the blood stages of the parasite have to result in an immune response that is more effective than the response to an infection to abort or control the infection of merozoites and hence disease. Finally, the sexual stages of the parasite offer another target for vaccine development, which would prevent the transmission of malaria. Today it seems unlikely that any candidate targeting a single antigen will provide complete protection against an organism of the complexity of Plasmodium. A systematic search for vaccine targets and combinations of antigens may be a more promising approach.

Bejon P, Robinson E. 2013. Bone and joint infection Medicine, 41 (12), pp. 719-722. | Show Abstract | Read more

Bone and joint infections (BJI) are serious. They may be life-threatening or, more commonly, associated with long-term disability and reduced quality of life. The spectrum of disease has changed over time and the proportion of iatrogenic disease caused by prosthetic joints is increasing annually. Osteomyelitis is caused when bacteria colonize bone, usually a sterile tissue, via direct inoculation from trauma or operation, haematogenous seeding from bloodstream infection or contiguous spread from another infected site. The pathophysiology of biofilm formation leads to a chronic infection that is not readily accessible to either host immunity or antibiotics. Presentation is with pain, swelling, lack of mobility and systemic symptoms. Diagnosis requires clinical symptoms, appropriate radiological imaging and microbiological sampling. Early or very limited osteomyelitis may be managed with antibiotics alone, but surgical debridement is key for many infections. Therapy should be undertaken by multidisciplinary teams including infection specialists, surgeons, radiologists and other medical professionals. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Byren I, Bejon P, Atkins BL, Angus B, Masters S, McLardy-Smith P, Gundle R, Berendt A. 2013. One hundred and twelve infected arthroplasties treated with 'DAIR' (debridement, antibiotics and implant retention): antibiotic duration and outcome Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 68 (12), pp. 2964-2965. | Read more

von Seidlein L, Bejon P. 2013. Malaria vaccines: past, present and future. Arch Dis Child, 98 (12), pp. 981-985. | Show Abstract | Read more

The currently available malaria control tools have allowed malaria elimination in many regions but there remain many regions where malaria control has made little progress. A safe and protective malaria vaccine would be a huge asset for malaria control. Despite the many challenges, efforts continue to design and evaluate malaria vaccine candidates. These candidates target different stages in the life cycle of Plasmodia. The most advanced vaccine candidates target the pre-erythrocytic stages in the life cycle of the parasite and include RTS,S/AS01, which has progressed through clinical development to the stage that it may be licensed in 2015. Attenuated whole-parasite vaccine candidates are highly protective, but there are challenges to manufacture and to administration. Cellular immunity is targeted by the prime-boost approach. Priming vectors trigger only modest responses but these are focused on the recombinant antigen. Boosting vectors trigger strong but broad non-specific responses. The heterologous sequence produces strong immunological responses to the recombinant antigen. Candidates that target the blood stages of the parasite have to result in an immune response that is more effective than the response to an infection to abort or control the infection of merozoites and hence disease. Finally, the sexual stages of the parasite offer another target for vaccine development, which would prevent the transmission of malaria. Today it seems unlikely that any candidate targeting a single antigen will provide complete protection against an organism of the complexity of Plasmodium. A systematic search for vaccine targets and combinations of antigens may be a more promising approach.

Warimwe GM, Fletcher HA, Olotu A, Agnandji ST, Hill AVS, Marsh K, Bejon P. 2013. Peripheral blood monocyte-to-lymphocyte ratio at study enrollment predicts efficacy of the RTS,S malaria vaccine: analysis of pooled phase II clinical trial data. BMC Med, 11 (1), pp. 184. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: RTS,S is the most advanced candidate malaria vaccine but it is only partially protective and the causes of inter-individual variation in efficacy are poorly understood. Here, we investigated whether peripheral blood monocyte-to-lymphocyte ratios (ML ratio), previously shown to correlate with clinical malaria risk, could account for differences in RTS,S efficacy among phase II trial participants in Africa. METHODS: Of 11 geographical sites where RTS,S has been evaluated, pre-vaccination ML ratios were only available for trial participants in Kilifi, Kenya (N = 421) and Lambarene, Gabon (N = 189). Using time to first clinical malaria episode as the primary endpoint we evaluated the effect of accounting for ML ratio on RTS,S vaccine efficacy against clinical malaria by Cox regression modeling. RESULTS: The unadjusted efficacy of RTS,S in this combined dataset was 47% (95% confidence interval (CI) 26% to 62%, P <0.001). However, RTS,S efficacy decreased with increasing ML ratio, ranging from 67% (95% CI 64% to 70%) at an ML ratio of 0.1 to 5% (95% CI -3% to 13%) at an ML ratio of 0.6. The statistical interaction between RTS,S vaccination and ML ratio was still evident after adjustment for covariates associated with clinical malaria risk in this dataset. CONCLUSION: The results suggest that stratification of study participants by ML ratio, easily measured from full differential blood counts before vaccination, might help identify children who are highly protected and those that are refractory to protection with the RTS,S vaccine. Identifying causes of low vaccine efficacy among individuals with high ML ratio could inform strategies to improve overall RTS,S vaccine efficacy. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.Gov numbers NCT00380393 and NCT00436007.

Murungi LM, Kamuyu G, Lowe B, Bejon P, Theisen M, Kinyanjui SM, Marsh K, Osier FHA. 2013. A threshold concentration of anti-merozoite antibodies is required for protection from clinical episodes of malaria. Vaccine, 31 (37), pp. 3936-3942. | Show Abstract | Read more

Antibodies to selected Plasmodium falciparum merozoite antigens are often reported to be associated with protection from malaria in one epidemiological cohort, but not in another. Here, we sought to understand this paradox by exploring the hypothesis that a threshold concentration of antibodies is necessary for protection. We analyzed data from two independent cohorts along the Kenyan coast, one in which antibodies to AMA1, MSP-2 and MSP-3 were associated with protection from malaria (Chonyi) and another in which this association was not observed (Junju). We used a malaria reference reagent to standardize antibody measurements across both cohorts, and applied statistical methods to derive the threshold concentration of antibodies against each antigen that best correlated with a reduced risk of malaria (the protective threshold), in the Chonyi cohort. We then tested whether antibodies in Junju reached the protective threshold concentrations observed in the Chonyi cohort. Except for children under 3 years, the age-matched proportions of children achieving protective threshold concentrations of antibodies against AMA1 and MSP-2 were significantly lower in Junju compared to Chonyi (Fishers exact test, P<0.01). For MSP-3, this difference was significant only among 4-5 year olds. We conclude that although antibodies are commonly detected in malaria endemic populations, they may be present in concentrations that are insufficient for protection. Our results have implications for the analysis and interpretation of similar data from immuno-epidemiological studies.

Douglas AD, Edwards NJ, Duncan CJA, Thompson FM, Sheehy SH, O'Hara GA, Anagnostou N, Walther M, Webster DP, Dunachie SJ et al. 2013. Comparison of modeling methods to determine liver-to-blood inocula and parasite multiplication rates during controlled human malaria infection. J Infect Dis, 208 (2), pp. 340-345. | Show Abstract | Read more

Controlled human malaria infection is used to measure efficacy of candidate malaria vaccines before field studies are undertaken. Mathematical modeling using data from quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) parasitemia monitoring can discriminate between vaccine effects on the parasite's liver and blood stages. Uncertainty regarding the most appropriate modeling method hinders interpretation of such trials. We used qPCR data from 267 Plasmodium falciparum infections to compare linear, sine-wave, and normal-cumulative-density-function models. We find that the parameters estimated by these models are closely correlated, and their predictive accuracy for omitted data points was similar. We propose that future studies include the linear model.

Olotu A, Fegan G, Wambua J, Nyangweso G, Awuondo KO, Leach A, Lievens M, Leboulleux D, Njuguna P, Peshu N et al. 2013. Four-year efficacy of RTS,S/AS01E and its interaction with malaria exposure. N Engl J Med, 368 (12), pp. 1111-1120. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The candidate malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS01E has entered phase 3 trials, but data on long-term outcomes are limited. METHODS: For 4 years, we followed children who had been randomly assigned, at 5 to 17 months of age, to receive three doses of RTS,S/AS01E vaccine (223 children) or rabies vaccine (224 controls). The end point was clinical malaria (temperature of ≥37.5°C and Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia density of >2500 parasites per cubic millimeter). Each child's exposure to malaria was estimated with the use of the distance-weighted local prevalence of malaria. RESULTS: Over a period of 4 years, 118 of 223 children who received the RTS,S/AS01E vaccine and 138 of 224 of the controls had at least 1 episode of clinical malaria. Vaccine efficacies in the intention-to-treat and per-protocol analyses were 29.9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 10.3 to 45.3; P=0.005) and 32.1% (95% CI, 11.6 to 47.8; P=0.004), respectively, calculated by Cox regression. Multiple episodes were common, with 551 and 618 malarial episodes in the RTS,S/AS01E and control groups, respectively; vaccine efficacies in the intention-to-treat and per-protocol analyses were 16.8% (95% CI, -8.6 to 36.3; P=0.18) and 24.3% (95% CI, 1.9 to 41.6; P=0.04), respectively, calculated by the Andersen-Gill extension of the Cox model. For every 100 vaccinated children, 65 cases of clinical malaria were averted. Vaccine efficacy declined over time (P=0.004) and with increasing exposure to malaria (P=0.001) in the per-protocol analysis. Vaccine efficacy was 43.6% (95% CI, 15.5 to 62.3) in the first year but was -0.4% (95% CI, -32.1 to 45.3) in the fourth year. Among children with a malaria-exposure index that was average or lower than average, the vaccine efficacy was 45.1% (95% CI, 11.3 to 66.0), but among children with a malaria-exposure index that was higher than average it was 15.9% (95% CI, -11.0 to 36.4). CONCLUSIONS: The efficacy of RTS,S/AS01E vaccine over the 4-year period was 16.8%. Efficacy declined over time and with increasing malaria exposure. (Funded by the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative and Wellcome Trust; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00872963.).

Bejon P, White MT, Olotu A, Bojang K, Lusingu JPA, Salim N, Otsyula NN, Agnandji ST, Asante KP, Owusu-Agyei S et al. 2013. Efficacy of RTS,S malaria vaccines: individual-participant pooled analysis of phase 2 data. Lancet Infect Dis, 13 (4), pp. 319-327. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The efficacy of RTS,S/AS01 as a vaccine for malaria is being tested in a phase 3 clinical trial. Early results show significant, albeit partial, protection against clinical malaria and severe malaria. To ascertain variations in vaccine efficacy according to covariates such as transmission intensity, choice of adjuvant, age at vaccination, and bednet use, we did an individual-participant pooled analysis of phase 2 clinical data. METHODS: We analysed data from 11 different sites in Africa, including 4453 participants. We measured heterogeneity in vaccine efficacy by estimating the interactions between covariates and vaccination in pooled multivariable Cox regression and Poisson regression analyses. Endpoints for measurement of vaccine efficacy were infection, clinical malaria, severe malaria, and death. We defined transmission intensity levels according to the estimated local parasite prevalence in children aged 2-10 years (PrP₂₋₁₀), ranging from 5% to 80%. Choice of adjuvant was either AS01 or AS02. FINDINGS: Vaccine efficacy against all episodes of clinical malaria varied by transmission intensity (p=0·001). At low transmission (PrP₂₋₁₀ 10%) vaccine efficacy was 60% (95% CI 54 to 67), at moderate transmission (PrP₂₋₁₀ 20%) it was 41% (21 to 57), and at high transmission (PrP₂₋₁₀ 70%) the efficacy was 4% (-10 to 22). Vaccine efficacy also varied by adjuvant choice (p<0·0001)--eg, at low transmission (PrP₂₋₁₀ 10%), efficacy varied from 60% (95% CI 54 to 67) for AS01 to 47% (14 to 75) for AS02. Variations in efficacy by age at vaccination were of borderline significance (p=0·038), and bednet use and sex were not significant covariates. Vaccine efficacy (pooled across adjuvant choice and transmission intensity) varied significantly (p<0·0001) according to time since vaccination, from 36% efficacy (95% CI 24 to 45) at time of vaccination to 0% (-38 to 38) after 3 years. INTERPRETATION: Vaccine efficacy against clinical disease was of limited duration and was not detectable 3 years after vaccination. Furthermore, efficacy fell with increasing transmission intensity. Outcomes after vaccination cannot be gauged accurately on the basis of one pooled efficacy figure. However, predictions of public-health outcomes of vaccination will need to take account of variations in efficacy by transmission intensity and by time since vaccination. FUNDING: Medical Research Council (UK); Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Vaccine Modelling Initiative; Wellcome Trust.

Gikonyo C, Kamuya D, Mbete B, Njuguna P, Olotu A, Bejon P, Marsh V, Molyneux S. 2013. Feedback of research findings for vaccine trials: experiences from two malaria vaccine trials involving healthy children on the Kenyan Coast. Dev World Bioeth, 13 (1), pp. 48-56. | Show Abstract | Read more

Internationally, calls for feedback of findings to be made an 'ethical imperative' or mandatory have been met with both strong support and opposition. Challenges include differences in issues by type of study and context, disentangling between aggregate and individual study results, and inadequate empirical evidence on which to draw. In this paper we present data from observations and interviews with key stakeholders involved in feeding back aggregate study findings for two Phase II malaria vaccine trials among children under the age of 5 years old on the Kenyan Coast. In our setting, feeding back of aggregate findings was an appreciated set of activities. The inclusion of individual results was important from the point of view of both participants and researchers, to reassure participants of trial safety, and to ensure that positive results were not over-interpreted and that individual level issues around blinding and control were clarified. Feedback sessions also offered an opportunity to re-evaluate and re-negotiate trial relationships and benefits, with potentially important implications for perceptions of and involvement in follow-up work for the trials and in future research. We found that feedback of findings is a complex but key step in a continuing set of social interactions between community members and research staff (particularly field staff who work at the interface with communities), and among community members themselves; a step which needs careful planning from the outset. We agree with others that individual and aggregate results need to be considered separately, and that for individual results, both the nature and value of the information, and the context, including social relationships, need to be taken into account.

Warimwe GM, Murungi LM, Kamuyu G, Nyangweso GM, Wambua J, Naranbhai V, Fletcher HA, Hill AVS, Bejon P, Osier FHA, Marsh K. 2013. The ratio of monocytes to lymphocytes in peripheral blood correlates with increased susceptibility to clinical malaria in Kenyan children. PLoS One, 8 (2), pp. e57320. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum malaria remains a major cause of illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa. Young children bear the brunt of the disease and though older children and adults suffer relatively fewer clinical attacks, they remain susceptible to asymptomatic P. falciparum infection. A better understanding of the host factors associated with immunity to clinical malaria and the ability to sustain asymptomatic P. falciparum infection will aid the development of improved strategies for disease prevention. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Here we investigate whether full differential blood counts can predict susceptibility to clinical malaria among Kenyan children sampled at five annual cross-sectional surveys. We find that the ratio of monocytes to lymphocytes, measured in peripheral blood at the time of survey, directly correlates with risk of clinical malaria during follow-up. This association is evident among children with asymptomatic P. falciparum infection at the time the cell counts are measured (Hazard ratio (HR)  =  2.7 (95% CI 1.42, 5.01, P  =  0.002) but not in those without detectable parasitaemia (HR  =  1.0 (95% CI 0.74, 1.42, P  =  0.9). CONCLUSIONS: We propose that the monocyte to lymphocyte ratio, which is easily derived from routine full differential blood counts, reflects an individual's capacity to mount an effective immune response to P. falciparum infection.

Philpott A, Weston-Simons JS, Grammatopoulos G, Bejon P, Gill HS, McLardy-Smith P, Gundle R, Murray DW, Pandit H. 2014. Predictive outcomes of revision total hip replacement--a consecutive series of 1176 patients with a minimum 10-year follow-up. Maturitas, 77 (2), pp. 185-190. | Show Abstract | Read more

The burden of revision total hip replacement (THR) surgery is increasing. With an increasing life expectancy and younger age of primary surgery this trend is set to continue. There are few data on the long-term outcome of revision THR. This retrospective study of 1176 consecutive revision THRs with a minimum 10-year follow-up from a University Teaching Hospital was undertaken to review implant survival and patient reported outcomes. Mean follow-up was 11 years with implant survival at 10 years of 82% (CI: 80-85). Implant survival varied between 58% (unexplained pain) to 84% (aseptic loosening) depending on the indication for revision surgery. Positive predictors of survival were age greater than 70 at the time of surgery (p=0.011), revision for aseptic loosening (p<0.01) and revision of both components or just the acetabular component (p<0.01). At the last review, mean Oxford Hip Score (OHS) was 34 (SD: 11.3) and 92% of the living patients with unrevised hips were satisfied with the outcome of revision surgery. This long term study has demonstrated that positive predictors of survival and outcome of revision THR surgery are age greater than 70 years, revision for aseptic loosening and component revision. This should aid surgeons in their counselling of patients prior to surgery.

White MT, Bejon P, Olotu A, Griffin JT, Riley EM, Kester KE, Ockenhouse CF, Ghani AC. 2013. The relationship between RTS,S vaccine-induced antibodies, CD4⁺ T cell responses and protection against Plasmodium falciparum infection. PLoS One, 8 (4), pp. e61395. | Show Abstract | Read more

Vaccination with the pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine RTS,S induces high levels of antibodies and CD4(+) T cells specific for the circumsporozoite protein (CSP). Using a biologically-motivated mathematical model of sporozoite infection fitted to data from malaria-naive adults vaccinated with RTS,S and subjected to experimental P. falciparum challenge, we characterised the relationship between antibodies, CD4(+) T cell responses and protection from infection. Both anti-CSP antibody titres and CSP-specific CD4(+) T cells were identified as immunological surrogates of protection, with RTS,S induced anti-CSP antibodies estimated to prevent 32% (95% confidence interval (CI) 24%-41%) of infections. The addition of RTS,S-induced CSP-specific CD4(+) T cells was estimated to increase vaccine efficacy against infection to 40% (95% CI, 34%-48%). This protective efficacy is estimated to result from a 96.1% (95% CI, 93.4%-97.8%) reduction in the liver-to-blood parasite inoculum, indicating that in volunteers who developed P. falciparum infection, a small number of parasites (often the progeny of a single surviving sporozoite) are responsible for breakthrough blood-stage infections.

Gikonyo C, Kamuya D, Mbete B, Njuguna P, Olotu A, Bejon P, Marsh V, Molyneux S. 2013. Feedback of Research Findings for Vaccine Trials: Experiences from Two Malaria Vaccine Trials Involving Healthy Children on the Kenyan Coast Developing World Bioethics, 13 (1), pp. 48-56. | Show Abstract | Read more

Internationally, calls for feedback of findings to be made an 'ethical imperative' or mandatory have been met with both strong support and opposition. Challenges include differences in issues by type of study and context, disentangling between aggregate and individual study results, and inadequate empirical evidence on which to draw. In this paper we present data from observations and interviews with key stakeholders involved in feeding back aggregate study findings for two Phase II malaria vaccine trials among children under the age of 5 years old on the Kenyan Coast. In our setting, feeding back of aggregate findings was an appreciated set of activities. The inclusion of individual results was important from the point of view of both participants and researchers, to reassure participants of trial safety, and to ensure that positive results were not over-interpreted and that individual level issues around blinding and control were clarified. Feedback sessions also offered an opportunity to re-evaluate and re-negotiate trial relationships and benefits, with potentially important implications for perceptions of and involvement in follow-up work for the trials and in future research. We found that feedback of findings is a complex but key step in a continuing set of social interactions between community members and research staff (particularly field staff who work at the interface with communities), and among community members themselves; a step which needs careful planning from the outset. We agree with others that individual and aggregate results need to be considered separately, and that for individual results, both the nature and value of the information, and the context, including social relationships, need to be taken into account. Copyright © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Cited:

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Bejon P, White MT, Olotu A, Bojang K, Lusingu JPA, Salim N, Otsyula NN, Agnandji ST, Asante KP, Owusu-Agyei S et al. 2013. Efficacy of RTS,S malaria vaccines: Individual-participant pooled analysis of phase 2 data The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 13 (4), pp. 319-327. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: The efficacy of RTS,S/AS01 as a vaccine for malaria is being tested in a phase 3 clinical trial. Early results show significant, albeit partial, protection against clinical malaria and severe malaria. To ascertain variations in vaccine efficacy according to covariates such as transmission intensity, choice of adjuvant, age at vaccination, and bednet use, we did an individual-participant pooled analysis of phase 2 clinical data. Methods: We analysed data from 11 different sites in Africa, including 4453 participants. We measured heterogeneity in vaccine efficacy by estimating the interactions between covariates and vaccination in pooled multivariable Cox regression and Poisson regression analyses. Endpoints for measurement of vaccine efficacy were infection, clinical malaria, severe malaria, and death. We defined transmission intensity levels according to the estimated local parasite prevalence in children aged 2-10 years (PrP 2-10 ), ranging from 5% to 80%. Choice of adjuvant was either AS01 or AS02. Findings: Vaccine efficacy against all episodes of clinical malaria varied by transmission intensity (p=0·001). At low transmission (PrP 2-10 10%) vaccine efficacy was 60% (95% CI 54 to 67), at moderate transmission (PrP 2-10 20%) it was 41% (21 to 57), and at high transmission (PrP 2-10 70%) the efficacy was 4% (-10 to 22). Vaccine efficacy also varied by adjuvant choice (p < 0·0001)-eg, at low transmission (PrP 2-10 10%), efficacy varied from 60% (95% CI 54 to 67) for AS01 to 47% (14 to 75) for AS02. Variations in efficacy by age at vaccination were of borderline significance (p=0·038), and bednet use and sex were not significant covariates. Vaccine efficacy (pooled across adjuvant choice and transmission intensity) varied significantly (p < 0·0001) according to time since vaccination, from 36% efficacy (95% CI 24 to 45) at time of vaccination to 0% (-38 to 38) after 3 years. Interpretation: Vaccine efficacy against clinical disease was of limited duration and was not detectable 3 years after vaccination. Furthermore, efficacy fell with increasing transmission intensity. Outcomes after vaccination cannot be gauged accurately on the basis of one pooled efficacy figure. However, predictions of public-health outcomes of vaccination will need to take account of variations in efficacy by transmission intensity and by time since vaccination. Funding: Medical Research Council (UK); Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Vaccine Modelling Initiative; Wellcome Trust. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Ogwang C, Afolabi M, Kimani D, Jagne YJ, Sheehy SH, Bliss CM, Duncan CJA, Collins KA, Garcia Knight MA, Kimani E et al. 2013. Safety and immunogenicity of heterologous prime-boost immunisation with Plasmodium falciparum malaria candidate vaccines, ChAd63 ME-TRAP and MVA ME-TRAP, in healthy Gambian and Kenyan adults. PLoS One, 8 (3), pp. e57726. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Heterologous prime boost immunization with chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (ChAd63) and Modified vaccinia Virus Ankara (MVA) vectored vaccines is a strategy recently shown to be capable of inducing strong cell mediated responses against several antigens from the malaria parasite. ChAd63-MVA expressing the Plasmodium falciparum pre-erythrocytic antigen ME-TRAP (multiple epitope string with thrombospondin-related adhesion protein) is a leading malaria vaccine candidate, capable of inducing sterile protection in malaria naïve adults following controlled human malaria infection (CHMI). METHODOLOGY: We conducted two Phase Ib dose escalation clinical trials assessing the safety and immunogenicity of ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP in 46 healthy malaria exposed adults in two African countries with similar malaria transmission patterns. RESULTS: ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP was shown to be safe and immunogenic, inducing high-level T cell responses (median >1300 SFU/million PBMC). CONCLUSIONS: ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP is a safe and highly immunogenic vaccine regimen in adults with prior exposure to malaria. Further clinical trials to assess safety and immunogenicity in children and infants and protective efficacy in the field are now warranted. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Pactr.org PACTR2010020001771828 Pactr.org PACTR201008000221638 ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01373879 NCT01373879 ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01379430 NCT01379430.

Illingworth J, Butler NS, Roetynck S, Mwacharo J, Pierce SK, Bejon P, Crompton PD, Marsh K, Ndungu FM. 2013. Chronic exposure to Plasmodium falciparum is associated with phenotypic evidence of B and T cell exhaustion. J Immunol, 190 (3), pp. 1038-1047. | Show Abstract | Read more

Naturally acquired immunity to malaria develops slowly, requiring several years of repeated exposure to be effective. The cellular and molecular factors underlying this observation are only partially understood. Recent studies suggest that chronic Plasmodium falciparum exposure may induce functional exhaustion of lymphocytes, potentially impeding optimal control of infection. However, it remains unclear whether the "atypical" memory B cells (MBCs) and "exhausted" CD4 T cells described in humans exposed to endemic malaria are driven by P. falciparum per se or by other factors commonly associated with malaria, such as coinfections and malnutrition. To address this critical question we took advantage of a "natural" experiment near Kilifi, Kenya, and compared profiles of B and T cells of children living in a rural community where P. falciparum transmission is ongoing to the profiles of age-matched children living under similar conditions in a nearby community where P. falciparum transmission ceased 5 y prior to this study. We found that continuous exposure to P. falciparum drives the expansion of atypical MBCs. Persistent P. falciparum exposure was associated with an increased frequency of CD4 T cells expressing phenotypic markers of exhaustion, both programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) alone and PD-1 in combination with lymphocyte-activation gene-3 (LAG-3). This expansion of PD-1-expressing and PD-1/LAG-3-coexpressing CD4 T cells was largely confined to CD45RA(+) CD4 T cells. The percentage of CD45RA(+)CD27(+) CD4 T cells coexpressing PD-1 and LAG-3 was inversely correlated with frequencies of activated and classical MBCs. Taken together, these results suggest that P. falciparum infection per se drives the expansion of atypical MBCs and phenotypically exhausted CD4 T cells, which has been reported in other endemic areas.

RTS,S Clinical Trials Partnership, Agnandji ST, Lell B, Fernandes JF, Abossolo BP, Methogo BGNO, Kabwende AL, Adegnika AA, Mordmüller B, Issifou S et al. 2012. A phase 3 trial of RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine in African infants. N Engl J Med, 367 (24), pp. 2284-2295. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The candidate malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS01 reduced episodes of both clinical and severe malaria in children 5 to 17 months of age by approximately 50% in an ongoing phase 3 trial. We studied infants 6 to 12 weeks of age recruited for the same trial. METHODS: We administered RTS,S/AS01 or a comparator vaccine to 6537 infants who were 6 to 12 weeks of age at the time of the first vaccination in conjunction with Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) vaccines in a three-dose monthly schedule. Vaccine efficacy against the first or only episode of clinical malaria during the 12 months after vaccination, a coprimary end point, was analyzed with the use of Cox regression. Vaccine efficacy against all malaria episodes, vaccine efficacy against severe malaria, safety, and immunogenicity were also assessed. RESULTS: The incidence of the first or only episode of clinical malaria in the intention-to-treat population during the 14 months after the first dose of vaccine was 0.31 per person-year in the RTS,S/AS01 group and 0.40 per person-year in the control group, for a vaccine efficacy of 30.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], 23.6 to 36.1). Vaccine efficacy in the per-protocol population was 31.3% (97.5% CI, 23.6 to 38.3). Vaccine efficacy against severe malaria was 26.0% (95% CI, -7.4 to 48.6) in the intention-to-treat population and 36.6% (95% CI, 4.6 to 57.7) in the per-protocol population. Serious adverse events occurred with a similar frequency in the two study groups. One month after administration of the third dose of RTS,S/AS01, 99.7% of children were positive for anti-circumsporozoite antibodies, with a geometric mean titer of 209 EU per milliliter (95% CI, 197 to 222). CONCLUSIONS: The RTS,S/AS01 vaccine coadministered with EPI vaccines provided modest protection against both clinical and severe malaria in young infants. (Funded by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative; RTS,S ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00866619.).

Ndungu FM, Olotu A, Mwacharo J, Nyonda M, Apfeld J, Mramba LK, Fegan GW, Bejon P, Marsh K. 2012. Memory B cells are a more reliable archive for historical antimalarial responses than plasma antibodies in no-longer exposed children. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 109 (21), pp. 8247-8252. | Show Abstract | Read more

Humans respond to foreign antigen by generating plasma Abs and memory B cells (MBCs). The Ab response then declines, sometimes to below the limit of detection. In contrast, MBCs are generally thought to be long-lived. We tested and compared Plasmodium falciparum (Pf)-specific Ab and MBC responses in two populations of children: (i) previously exposed children who had documented Pf infections several years ago, but minimal exposure since then; and (ii) persistently exposed children living in a separate but nearby endemic area. We found that although Pf-specific plasma Abs were lower in previously exposed children compared with persistently exposed children, their cognate MBCs were maintained at similar frequencies. We conclude that serological analysis by itself would greatly underestimate the true memory of Pf-specific Ab responses in previously exposed children living in areas where Pf transmission has been reduced or eliminated.

Horowitz A, Hafalla JCR, King E, Lusingu J, Dekker D, Leach A, Moris P, Cohen J, Vekemans J, Villafana T et al. 2012. Antigen-specific IL-2 secretion correlates with NK cell responses after immunization of Tanzanian children with the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine. J Immunol, 188 (10), pp. 5054-5062. | Show Abstract | Read more

RTS,S/AS01, a vaccine targeting pre-erythrocytic stages of Plasmodium falciparum, is undergoing clinical trials. We report an analysis of cellular immune response to component Ags of RTS,S-hepatitis B surface Ag (HBs) and P. falciparum circumsporozoite (CS) protein-among Tanzanian children in a phase IIb RTS,S/AS01(E) trial. RTS,S/AS01 (E) vaccinees make stronger T cell IFN-γ, CD69, and CD25 responses to HBs peptides than do controls, indicating that RTS,S boosts pre-existing HBs responses. T cell CD69 and CD25 responses to CS and CS-specific secreted IL-2 were augmented by RTS,S vaccination. Importantly, more than 50% of peptide-induced IFN-γ(+) lymphocytes were NK cells, and the magnitude of the NK cell CD69 response to HBs peptides correlated with secreted IL-2 concentration. CD69 and CD25 expression and IL-2 secretion may represent sensitive markers of RTS,S-induced, CS-specific T cells. The potential for T cell-derived IL-2 to augment NK cell activation in RTS,S-vaccinated individuals, and the relevance of this for protection, needs to be explored further.

Schlackow I, Stoesser N, Walker AS, Crook DW, Peto TEA, Wyllie DH, Infections in Oxfordshire Research Database Team. 2012. Increasing incidence of Escherichia coli bacteraemia is driven by an increase in antibiotic-resistant isolates: electronic database study in Oxfordshire 1999-2011. J Antimicrob Chemother, 67 (6), pp. 1514-1524. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: To investigate trends in Escherichia coli resistance, bacteraemia rates and post-bacteraemia outcomes over time. METHODS: Trends in E. coli bacteraemia incidence were monitored from January 1999 to June 2011 using an infection surveillance database including microbiological, clinical risk factor, infection severity and outcome data in Oxfordshire, UK, with imported temperature/rainfall data. RESULTS: A total of 2240 E. coli (from 2080 patients) were studied, of which 1728 (77%) were susceptible to co-amoxiclav, cefotaxime, ciprofloxacin and gentamicin. E. coli bacteraemia incidence increased from 3.4/10,000 bedstays in 1999 to 5.7/10,000 bedstays in 2011. The increase was fastest around 2006, and was essentially confined to organisms resistant to ciprofloxacin, co-amoxiclav, cefotaxime and/or aminoglycosides. Resistant E. coli isolation rates increased similarly in those with and without recent hospital contact. The sharp increase also occurred in urinary isolates, with similar timing. In addition to these long-term trends, increases in ambient temperature, but not rainfall, were associated with increased E. coli bacteraemia rates. It is unclear whether resistant E. coli bacteraemia rates are currently still increasing [incidence rate ratio = 1.07 per annum (95% CI = 0.99-1.16), P = 0.07], whereas current susceptible E. coli bacteraemia rates are not changing significantly [incidence rate ratio = 1.01 (95% CI = 0.99-1.02)]. However, neither mortality nor biomarkers associated with mortality (blood creatinine, urea/albumin concentrations, neutrophil counts) changed during the study. CONCLUSIONS: E. coli bacteraemia rates have risen due to rising rates of resistant organisms; little change occurred in susceptible E. coli. Although the severity of resistant infections, and their outcome, appear similar to susceptible E. coli in the setting studied, the increasing burden of highly resistant organisms is alarming and merits on-going surveillance.

Ibison F, Olotu A, Muema DM, Mwacharo J, Ohuma E, Kimani D, Marsh K, Bejon P, Ndungu FM. 2012. Lack of avidity maturation of merozoite antigen-specific antibodies with increasing exposure to Plasmodium falciparum amongst children and adults exposed to endemic malaria in Kenya. PLoS One, 7 (12), pp. e52939. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Although antibodies are critical for immunity to malaria, their functional attributes that determine protection remain unclear. We tested for associations between antibody avidities to Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) antigens and age, asymptomatic parasitaemia, malaria exposure index (a distance weighted local malaria prevalence) and immunity to febrile malaria during 10-months of prospective follow up. METHODS: Cross-sectional antibody levels and avidities to Apical Membrane Antigen 1 (AMA1), Merozoite Surface Protein 1(42) (MSP1) and Merozoite Surface Protein 3 (MSP3) were measured by Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay in 275 children, who had experienced at least one episode of clinical malaria by the time of this study, as determined by active weekly surveillance. RESULTS: Antibody levels to AMA1, MSP1 and MSP3 increased with age. Anti-AMA1 and MSP1 antibody avidities were (respectively) positively and negatively associated with age, while anti-MSP3 antibody avidities did not change. Antibody levels to all three antigens were elevated in the presence of asymptomatic parasitaemia, but their associated avidities were not. Unlike antibody levels, antibody avidities to the three-merozoite antigens did not increase with exposure to Pf malaria. There were no consistent prospective associations between antibody avidities and malaria episodes. CONCLUSION: We found no evidence that antibody avidities to Pf-merozoite antigens are associated with either exposure or immunity to malaria.

Ndungu FM, Mwacharo J, Kimani D, Kai O, Moris P, Jongert E, Vekemans J, Olotu A, Bejon P. 2012. A statistical interaction between circumsporozoite protein-specific T cell and antibody responses and risk of clinical malaria episodes following vaccination with RTS,S/AS01E. PLoS One, 7 (12), pp. e52870. | Show Abstract | Read more

The candidate malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS01(E) provides significant but partial protection from clinical malaria. On in vitro circumsporozoite protein (CSP) peptide stimulation and intra-cellular cytokine staining of whole blood taken from 407 5-17 month-old children in a phase IIb trial of RTS,S/AS01(E), we identified significantly increased frequencies of two CSP-specific CD4+ T cells phenotypes among RTS,S/AS01(E) vaccinees (IFNγ-IL2+TNF- and IFNγ-IL2+TNF+ CD4+ T cells), and increased frequency of IFNγ-IL2-TNF+ CD4+ T cells after natural exposure. All these T cells phenotypes were individually associated with reductions in the risk of clinical malaria, but IFNγ-IL2-TNF+ CD4+ T cells independently predicted reduced risk of clinical malaria on multi-variable analysis (HR = 0.29, 95% confidence intervals 0.15-0.54, p<0.0005). Furthermore, there was a strongly significant synergistic interaction between CSP-specific IFNγ-IL2-TNF+ CD4+ T cells and anti-CSP antibodies in determining protection against clinical malaria (p = 0.002). Vaccination strategies that combine potent cellular and antibody responses may enhance protection against malaria.

Cited:

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Scopus

Midega JT, Smith DL, Olotu A, Mwangangi JM, Nzovu JG, Wambua J, Nyangweso G, Mbogo CM, Christophides GK, Marsh K, Bejon P. 2012. Wind direction and proximity to larval sites determines malaria risk in Kilifi District in Kenya Nature Communications, 3 | Show Abstract | Read more

Studies of the fine-scale spatial epidemiology of malaria consistently identify malaria hotspots, comprising clusters of homesteads at high transmission intensity. These hotspots sustain transmission, and may be targeted by malaria-control programmes. Here we describe the spatial relationship between the location of Anopheles larval sites and human malaria infection in a cohort study of 642 children, aged 1-10-years-old. Our data suggest that proximity to larval sites predict human malaria infection, when homesteads are upwind of larval sites, but not when homesteads are downwind of larval sites. We conclude that following oviposition, female Anophelines fly upwind in search for human hosts and, thus, malaria transmission may be disrupted by targeting vector larval sites in close proximity, and downwind to malaria hotspots. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Lang TA, Gould J, von Seidlein L, Lusingu JP, Mshamu S, Ismael S, Liheluka E, Kamuya D, Mwachiro D, Olotu A et al. 2012. Approaching the community about screening children for a multicentre malaria vaccine trial International Health, 4 (1), pp. 47-54. | Show Abstract | Read more

Community sensitisation, as a component of community engagement, plays an important role in strengthening the ethics of community-based trials in developing countries and is fundamental to trial success. However, few researchers have shared their community sensitisation strategies and experiences. We report on our perspective as researchers on the sensitisation activities undertaken for a phase II malaria vaccine trial in Kilifi District (Kenya) and Korogwe District (Tanzania), with the aim of informing and guiding the operational planning of future trials. We report wide variability in recruitment rates within both sites; a variability that occurred against a backdrop of similarity in overall approaches to sensitisation across the two sites but significant differences in community exposure to biomedical research. We present a range of potential factors contributing to these differences in recruitment rates, which we believe are worth considering in future community sensitisation plans. We conclude by arguing for carefully designed social science research around the implementation and impact of community sensitisation activities. © 2011 Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Midega JT, Smith DL, Olotu A, Mwangangi JM, Nzovu JG, Wambua J, Nyangweso G, Mbogo CM, Christophides GK, Marsh K, Bejon P. 2012. Wind direction and proximity to larval sites determines malaria risk in Kilifi District in Kenya. Nat Commun, 3 (1), pp. 674. | Show Abstract | Read more

Studies of the fine-scale spatial epidemiology of malaria consistently identify malaria hotspots, comprising clusters of homesteads at high transmission intensity. These hotspots sustain transmission, and may be targeted by malaria-control programmes. Here we describe the spatial relationship between the location of Anopheles larval sites and human malaria infection in a cohort study of 642 children, aged 1-10-years-old. Our data suggest that proximity to larval sites predict human malaria infection, when homesteads are upwind of larval sites, but not when homesteads are downwind of larval sites. We conclude that following oviposition, female Anophelines fly upwind in search for human hosts and, thus, malaria transmission may be disrupted by targeting vector larval sites in close proximity, and downwind to malaria hotspots.

Olotu A, Fegan G, Wambua J, Nyangweso G, Ogada E, Drakeley C, Marsh K, Bejon P. 2012. Estimating individual exposure to malaria using local prevalence of malaria infection in the field. PLoS One, 7 (3), pp. e32929. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Heterogeneity in malaria exposure complicates survival analyses of vaccine efficacy trials and confounds the association between immune correlates of protection and malaria infection in longitudinal studies. Analysis may be facilitated by taking into account the variability in individual exposure levels, but it is unclear how exposure can be estimated at an individual level. METHOD AND FINDINGS: We studied three cohorts (Chonyi, Junju and Ngerenya) in Kilifi District, Kenya to assess measures of malaria exposure. Prospective data were available on malaria episodes, geospatial coordinates, proximity to infected and uninfected individuals and residence in predefined malaria hotspots for 2,425 individuals. Antibody levels to the malaria antigens AMA1 and MSP1(142) were available for 291 children from Junju. We calculated distance-weighted local prevalence of malaria infection within 1 km radius as a marker of individual's malaria exposure. We used multivariable modified Poisson regression model to assess the discriminatory power of these markers for malaria infection (i.e. asymptomatic parasitaemia or clinical malaria). The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was used to assess the discriminatory power of the models. Local malaria prevalence within 1 km radius and AMA1 and MSP1(142) antibodies levels were independently associated with malaria infection. Weighted local malaria prevalence had an area under ROC curve of 0.72 (95%CI: 0.66-0.73), 0.71 (95%CI: 0.69-0.73) and 0.82 (95%CI: 0.80-0.83) among cohorts in Chonyi, Junju and Ngerenya respectively. In a small subset of children from Junju, a model incorporating weighted local malaria prevalence with AMA1 and MSP1(142) antibody levels provided an AUC of 0.83 (95%CI: 0.79-0.88). CONCLUSION: We have proposed an approach to estimating the intensity of an individual's malaria exposure in the field. The weighted local malaria prevalence can be used as individual marker of malaria exposure in malaria vaccine trials and longitudinal studies of natural immunity to malaria.

RTS,S Clinical Trials Partnership, Agnandji ST, Lell B, Soulanoudjingar SS, Fernandes JF, Abossolo BP, Conzelmann C, Methogo BGNO, Doucka Y, Flamen A et al. 2011. First results of phase 3 trial of RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine in African children. N Engl J Med, 365 (20), pp. 1863-1875. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: An ongoing phase 3 study of the efficacy, safety, and immunogenicity of candidate malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS01 is being conducted in seven African countries. METHODS: From March 2009 through January 2011, we enrolled 15,460 children in two age categories--6 to 12 weeks of age and 5 to 17 months of age--for vaccination with either RTS,S/AS01 or a non-malaria comparator vaccine. The primary end point of the analysis was vaccine efficacy against clinical malaria during the 12 months after vaccination in the first 6000 children 5 to 17 months of age at enrollment who received all three doses of vaccine according to protocol. After 250 children had an episode of severe malaria, we evaluated vaccine efficacy against severe malaria in both age categories. RESULTS: In the 14 months after the first dose of vaccine, the incidence of first episodes of clinical malaria in the first 6000 children in the older age category was 0.32 episodes per person-year in the RTS,S/AS01 group and 0.55 episodes per person-year in the control group, for an efficacy of 50.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 45.8 to 54.6) in the intention-to-treat population and 55.8% (97.5% CI, 50.6 to 60.4) in the per-protocol population. Vaccine efficacy against severe malaria was 45.1% (95% CI, 23.8 to 60.5) in the intention-to-treat population and 47.3% (95% CI, 22.4 to 64.2) in the per-protocol population. Vaccine efficacy against severe malaria in the combined age categories was 34.8% (95% CI, 16.2 to 49.2) in the per-protocol population during an average follow-up of 11 months. Serious adverse events occurred with a similar frequency in the two study groups. Among children in the older age category, the rate of generalized convulsive seizures after RTS,S/AS01 vaccination was 1.04 per 1000 doses (95% CI, 0.62 to 1.64). CONCLUSIONS: The RTS,S/AS01 vaccine provided protection against both clinical and severe malaria in African children. (Funded by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative; RTS,S ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00866619 .).

Webster DP, Young BC, Morton R, Collyer D, Batchelor B, Turton JF, Maharjan S, Livermore DM, Bejon P, Cookson BD, Bowler ICJW. 2011. Impact of a clonal outbreak of extended-spectrum β-lactamase-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae in the development and evolution of bloodstream infections by K. pneumoniae and Escherichia coli: an 11 year experience in Oxfordshire, UK. J Antimicrob Chemother, 66 (9), pp. 2126-2135. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study were: (i) to describe an outbreak of multidrug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae in our population; (ii) to identify the potential source of this outbreak by examining antibiotic resistance trends in urocultures; (iii) to evaluate the contribution of this outbreak to resistance patterns over time in the two commonest Gram-negative blood culture isolates, namely K. pneumoniae and Escherichia coli; and (iv) to assess risk factors for multidrug resistance and the impact of this resistance on mortality and length of stay. METHODS: We searched Microbiology and Patient Administration Service databases retrospectively and describe resistance trends in E. coli and K. pneumoniae bloodstream infections (BSIs) in Oxfordshire, UK, over an 11 year period. RESULTS: An outbreak of a multidrug-resistant, CTX-M-15 extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing K. pneumoniae clone was identified and shown by multilocus sequence typing to belong to a novel sequence type designated ST490. This was associated with a sporadic change in resistance rates in K. pneumoniae BSIs with rates of multidrug resistance (defined as resistance to three or more antibiotic classes) reaching 40%. A case-control study showed prior antibiotic exposure as a risk factor for infection with this organism. During the same time period, rates of ESBL-producing Klebsiella spp. isolated from urocultures increased from 0.5% to almost 6%. By contrast, the rate of multidrug resistance in E. coli rose more steadily from 0% in 2000 to 10% in 2010. CONCLUSIONS: Changes in resistance rates may be associated with outbreaks of resistant clones in K. pneumoniae. Changing resistance patterns may affect important health economic issues such as length of stay.

Vekemans J, Marsh K, Greenwood B, Leach A, Kabore W, Soulanoudjingar S, Asante KP, Ansong D, Evans J, Sacarlal J et al. 2011. Assessment of severe malaria in a multicenter, phase III, RTS, S/AS01 malaria candidate vaccine trial: case definition, standardization of data collection and patient care. Malar J, 10 (1), pp. 221. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: An effective malaria vaccine, deployed in conjunction with other malaria interventions, is likely to substantially reduce the malaria burden. Efficacy against severe malaria will be a key driver for decisions on implementation. An initial study of an RTS, S vaccine candidate showed promising efficacy against severe malaria in children in Mozambique. Further evidence of its protective efficacy will be gained in a pivotal, multi-centre, phase III study. This paper describes the case definitions of severe malaria used in this study and the programme for standardized assessment of severe malaria according to the case definition. METHODS: Case definitions of severe malaria were developed from a literature review and a consensus meeting of expert consultants and the RTS, S Clinical Trial Partnership Committee, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the Malaria Clinical Trials Alliance. The same groups, with input from an Independent Data Monitoring Committee, developed and implemented a programme for standardized data collection.The case definitions developed reflect the typical presentations of severe malaria in African hospitals. Markers of disease severity were chosen on the basis of their association with poor outcome, occurrence in a significant proportion of cases and on an ability to standardize their measurement across research centres. For the primary case definition, one or more clinical and/or laboratory markers of disease severity have to be present, four major co-morbidities (pneumonia, meningitis, bacteraemia or gastroenteritis with severe dehydration) are excluded, and a Plasmodium falciparum parasite density threshold is introduced, in order to maximize the specificity of the case definition. Secondary case definitions allow inclusion of co-morbidities and/or allow for the presence of parasitaemia at any density. The programmatic implementation of standardized case assessment included a clinical algorithm for evaluating seriously sick children, improvements to care delivery and a robust training and evaluation programme for clinicians. CONCLUSIONS: The case definition developed for the pivotal phase III RTS, S vaccine study is consistent with WHO recommendations, is locally applicable and appropriately balances sensitivity and specificity in the diagnosis of severe malaria. Processes set up to standardize severe malaria data collection will allow robust assessment of the efficacy of the RTS, S vaccine against severe malaria, strengthen local capacity and benefit patient care for subjects in the trial. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT00866619.

Bejon P, Cook J, Bergmann-Leitner E, Olotu A, Lusingu J, Mwacharo J, Vekemans J, Njuguna P, Leach A, Lievens M et al. 2011. Effect of the pre-erythrocytic candidate malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS01E on blood stage immunity in young children. J Infect Dis, 204 (1), pp. 9-18. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: RTS,S/AS01(E) is the lead candidate malaria vaccine and confers pre-erythrocytic immunity. Vaccination may therefore impact acquired immunity to blood-stage malaria parasites after natural infection. METHODS: We measured, by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, antibodies to 4 Plasmodium falciparum merozoite antigens (AMA-1, MSP-1(42), EBA-175, and MSP-3) and by growth inhibitory activity (GIA) using 2 parasite clones (FV0 and 3D7) at 4 times on 860 children who were randomized to receive with RTS,S/AS01(E) or a control vaccine. RESULTS:  Antibody concentrations to AMA-1, EBA-175, and MSP-1(42) decreased with age during the first year of life, then increased to 32 months of age. Anti-MSP-3 antibody concentrations gradually increased, and GIA gradually decreased up to 32 months. Vaccination with RTS,S/AS01(E) resulted in modest reductions in AMA-1, EBA-175, MSP-1(42), and MSP-3 antibody concentrations and no significant change in GIA. Increasing anti-merozoite antibody concentrations and GIA were prospectively associated with increased risk of clinical malaria. CONCLUSIONS: Vaccination with RTS,S/AS01E reduces exposure to blood-stage parasites and, thus, reduces anti-merozoite antigen antibody concentrations. However, in this study, these antibodies were not correlates of clinical immunity to malaria. Instead, heterogeneous exposure led to confounded, positive associations between increasing antibody concentration and increasing risk of clinical malaria.

Bejon P, Byren I, Atkins BL, Scarborough M, Woodhouse A, McLardy-Smith P, Gundle R, Berendt AR. 2011. Serial measurement of the C-reactive protein is a poor predictor of treatment outcome in prosthetic joint infection. J Antimicrob Chemother, 66 (7), pp. 1590-1593. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: Prosthetic joint infection is usually treated using surgery and antibiotics. The response to the treatment regimen is often evaluated using serial monitoring of plasma C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations. In order to examine how useful this monitoring is, we calculated the sensitivity and specificity of CRP concentrations for predicting treatment failure. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We examined 3732 CRP measurements from 260 patients who were treated by either two-stage revision or debridement and retention. We tested the association between CRP concentration and outcome using logistic regression models, and assessed sensitivity and specificity by using receiver operator curves. RESULTS: The areas under receiver operator curves for CRP concentrations predicting outcome ranged from 0.55 to 0.65. CONCLUSIONS: CRP concentrations did not accurately predict treatment failure. Serial monitoring may not be of benefit.

Byren I, Bejon P, Atkins BL, Angus B, Masters S, McLardy-Smith P, Gundle R, Berendt A. 2011. One hundred and twelve infected arthroplasties treated with 'DAIR' (debridement, antibiotics and implant retention): antibiotic duration and outcome (vol 63, pg 1264, 2009) JOURNAL OF ANTIMICROBIAL CHEMOTHERAPY, 66 (5), pp. 1203-1203. | Read more

Bejon P, Berendt A, Atkins BL, Green N, Parry H, Masters S, McLardy-Smith P, Gundle R, Byren I. 2011. Two-stage revision for prosthetic joint infection: predictors of outcome and the role of reimplantation microbiology (vol 65, 569, 2010) JOURNAL OF ANTIMICROBIAL CHEMOTHERAPY, 66 (5), pp. 1204-1204. | Read more

Kariuki SM, Ikumi M, Ojal J, Sadarangani M, Idro R, Olotu A, Bejon P, Berkley JA, Marsh K, Newton CRJC. 2011. Acute seizures attributable to falciparum malaria in an endemic area on the Kenyan coast. Brain, 134 (Pt 5), pp. 1519-1528. | Show Abstract | Read more

Falciparum malaria is an important cause of acute symptomatic seizures in children admitted to hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa, and these seizures are associated with neurological disabilities and epilepsy. However, it is difficult to determine the proportion of seizures attributable to malaria in endemic areas since a significant proportion of asymptomatic children have malaria parasitaemia. We studied children aged 0-13 years who had been admitted with a history of seizures to a rural Kenyan hospital between 2002 and 2008. We examined the changes in the incidence of seizures with the reduction of malaria. Logistic regression was used to model malaria-attributable fractions for seizures (the proportion of seizures caused by malaria) to determine if the observed decrease in acute symptomatic seizures was a measure of seizures that are attributable to malaria. The overall incidence of acute symptomatic seizures over the period was 651/100,000/year (95% confidence interval 632-670) and it was 400/100,000/year (95% confidence interval 385-415) for acute complex symptomatic seizures (convulsive status epilepticus, repetitive or focal) and 163/100,000/year (95% confidence interval 154-173) for febrile seizures. From 2002 to 2008, the incidence of all acute symptomatic seizures decreased by 809/100,000/year (69.2%) with 93.1% of this decrease in malaria-associated seizures. The decrease in the incidence of acute complex symptomatic seizures during the period was 111/100,000/year (57.2%) for convulsive status epilepticus, 440/100,000/year (73.7%) for repetitive seizures and 153/100,000/year (80.5%) for focal seizures. The adjusted malaria-attributable fractions for seizures with parasitaemia were 92.9% (95% confidence interval 90.4-95.1%) for all acute symptomatic seizures, 92.9% (95% confidence interval 89.4-95.5%) for convulsive status epilepticus, 93.6% (95% confidence interval 90.9-95.9%) for repetitive seizures and 91.8% (95% confidence interval 85.6-95.5%) for focal seizures. The adjusted malaria-attributable fractions for seizures in children above 6 months of age decreased with age. The observed decrease in all acute symptomatic seizures (809/100 000/year) was similar to the predicted decline (794/100,000/year) estimated by malaria-attributable fractions at the beginning of the study. In endemic areas, falciparum malaria is the most common cause of seizures and the risk for seizures in malaria decreases with age. The reduction in malaria has decreased the burden of seizures that are attributable to malaria and this could lead to reduced neurological disabilities and epilepsy in the area.

Walker TM, Bowler ICJW, Bejon P. 2011. Risk factors for recurrence after Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia. A retrospective matched case-control study (vol 58, pg 411, 2009) JOURNAL OF INFECTION, 62 (4), pp. 328-328. | Read more

Liljander A, Bejon P, Mwacharo J, Kai O, Ogada E, Peshu N, Marsh K, Färnert A. 2011. Clearance of asymptomatic P. falciparum Infections Interacts with the number of clones to predict the risk of subsequent malaria in Kenyan children. PLoS One, 6 (2), pp. e16940. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Protective immunity to malaria is acquired after repeated infections in endemic areas. Asymptomatic multiclonal P. falciparum infections are common and may predict host protection. Here, we have investigated the effect of clearing asymptomatic infections on the risk of clinical malaria. METHODS: Malaria episodes were continuously monitored in 405 children (1-6 years) in an area of moderate transmission, coastal Kenya. Blood samples collected on four occasions were assessed by genotyping the polymorphic P. falciparum merozoite surface protein 2 using fluorescent PCR and capillary electrophoresis. Following the second survey, asymptomatic infections were cleared with a full course of dihydroartemisinin. RESULTS: Children who were parasite negative by PCR had a lower risk of subsequent malaria regardless of whether treatment had been given. Children with ≥ 2 clones had a reduced risk of febrile malaria compared with 1 clone after clearance of asymptomatic infections, but not if asymptomatic infections were not cleared. Multiclonal infection was associated with an increased risk of re-infection after drug treatment. However, among the children who were re-infected, multiclonal infections were associated with a shift from clinical malaria to asymptomatic parasitaemia. CONCLUSION: The number of clones was associated with exposure as well as blood stage immunity. These effects were distinguished by clearing asymptomatic infection with anti-malarials. Exposure to multiple P. falciparum infections is associated with protective immunity, but there appears to be an additional effect in untreated multiclonal infections that offsets this protective effect.

Olotu A, Moris P, Mwacharo J, Vekemans J, Kimani D, Janssens M, Kai O, Jongert E, Lievens M, Leach A et al. 2011. Circumsporozoite-specific T cell responses in children vaccinated with RTS,S/AS01E and protection against P falciparum clinical malaria. PLoS One, 6 (10), pp. e25786. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: RTS,S/AS01(E) is the lead candidate pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine. In Phase IIb field trials the safety profile was acceptable and the efficacy was 53% (95%CI 31%-72%) for protecting children against clinical malaria caused by P. falciparum. We studied CS-specific T cell responses in order to identify correlates of protection. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We used intracellular cytokine staining (for IL2, IFNγ, and TNFα), ex-vivo ELISPOTs (IFNγ and IL2) and IFNγ cultured ELISPOT assays to characterize the CS-specific cellular responses in 407 children (5-17 months of age) in a phase IIb randomized controlled trial of RTS,S/AS01(E) (NCT00380393). RTS,S/ AS01(E) vaccinees had higher frequencies of CS-specific CD4+ T cells producing IFNγ, TNFα or IL2 compared to control vaccinees. In a multivariable analysis TNFα(+) CD4(+) T cells were independently associated with a reduced risk for clinical malaria among RTS,S/AS01(E) vaccinees (HR = 0.64, 95%CI 0.49-0.86, p = 0.002). There was a non-significant tendency towards reduced risk among control vaccinees (HR = 0.80, 95%CI 0.62-1.03, p = 0.084), albeit with lower CS-specific T cell frequencies and higher rates of clinical malaria. When data from both RTS,S/AS01(E) vaccinees and control vaccinees were combined (with adjusting for vaccination group), the HR was 0.74 (95%CI 0.62-0.89, p = 0.001). After a Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons (n-18), the finding was still significant at p = 0.018. There was no significant correlation between cultured or ex vivo ELISPOT data and protection from clinical malaria. The combination of TNFα(+) CD4(+) T cells and anti-CS antibody statistically accounted for the protective effect of vaccination in a Cox regression model. CONCLUSIONS: RTS,S/AS01(E) induces CS-specific Th1 T cell responses in young children living in a malaria endemic area. The combination of anti-CS antibody concentrations titers and CS-specific TNFα(+) CD4(+) T cells could account for the level of protection conferred by RTS,S/AS01(E). The correlation between CS-specific TNFα(+) CD4(+) T cells and protection needs confirmation in other datasets.

Lang TA, Gould J, von Seidlein L, Lusingu JP, Mshamu S, Ismael S, Liheluka E, Kamuya D, Mwachiro D, Olotu A et al. 2012. Approaching the community about screening children for a multicentre malaria vaccine trial. Int Health, 4 (1), pp. 47-54. | Show Abstract | Read more

Community sensitisation, as a component of community engagement, plays an important role in strengthening the ethics of community-based trials in developing countries and is fundamental to trial success. However, few researchers have shared their community sensitisation strategies and experiences. We report on our perspective as researchers on the sensitisation activities undertaken for a phase II malaria vaccine trial in Kilifi District (Kenya) and Korogwe District (Tanzania), with the aim of informing and guiding the operational planning of future trials. We report wide variability in recruitment rates within both sites; a variability that occurred against a backdrop of similarity in overall approaches to sensitisation across the two sites but significant differences in community exposure to biomedical research. We present a range of potential factors contributing to these differences in recruitment rates, which we believe are worth considering in future community sensitisation plans. We conclude by arguing for carefully designed social science research around the implementation and impact of community sensitisation activities.

Cited:

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Scopus

Hughes HC, Newnham R, Athanasou N, Atkins BL, Bejon P, Bowler ICJW. 2011. Microbiological diagnosis of prosthetic joint infections: a prospective evaluation of four bacterial culture media in the routine laboratory CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY AND INFECTION, 17 (10), pp. 1528-1530. | Show Abstract | Read more

The diagnosis of prosthetic joint infection (PJI) in the routine microbiology laboratory is labour-intensive, but semi-automated methods may be appropriate. We prospectively compared four microbiological culture methods on samples taken at prosthetic joint revision surgery. Automated BACTEC blood culture bottles and cooked meat enrichment broth were the most sensitive methods (87% and 83%, respectively, as compared with fastidious anaerobic broth (57%) and direct plates (39%)); all were highly specific (97-100%). To our knowledge, this is the first prospective study aimed at comparing culture methods in routine use in UK clinical laboratories for the diagnosis of PJI. © 2011 The Authors. Clinical Microbiology and Infection © 2011 European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

Bejon P, Warimwe G, Mackintosh CL, Mackinnon MJ, Kinyanjui SM, Musyoki JN, Bull PC, Marsh K. 2011. Analysis of Immunity to Febrile Malaria in Children That Distinguishes Immunity from Lack of Exposure (vol 77, pg 1917, 2009) INFECTION AND IMMUNITY, 79 (4), pp. 1804-1804. | Read more

Lievens M, Aponte JJ, Williamson J, Mmbando B, Mohamed A, Bejon P, Leach A. 2011. Statistical methodology for the evaluation of vaccine efficacy in a phase III multi-centre trial of the RTS, S/AS01 malaria vaccine in African children. Malar J, 10 (1), pp. 222. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: There has been much debate about the appropriate statistical methodology for the evaluation of malaria field studies and the challenges in interpreting data arising from these trials. METHODS: The present paper describes, for a pivotal phase III efficacy of the RTS, S/AS01 malaria vaccine, the methods of the statistical analysis and the rationale for their selection. The methods used to estimate efficacy of the primary course of vaccination, and of a booster dose, in preventing clinical episodes of uncomplicated and severe malaria, and to determine the duration of protection, are described. The interpretation of various measures of efficacy in terms of the potential public health impact of the vaccine is discussed. CONCLUSIONS: The methodology selected to analyse the clinical trial must be scientifically sound, acceptable to regulatory authorities and meaningful to those responsible for malaria control and public health policy.

Berkley JA, Bejon P, Mwangi T, Gwer S, Maitland K, Williams TN. 2011. Erratum Clinical Infectious Diseases, 52 (9), pp. 1202-1202. | Read more

Bejon P, Berendt A, Atkins BL, Green N, Parry H, Masters S, McLardy-Smith P, Gundle R, Byren I. 2011. Erratum: Two-stage revision for prosthetic joint infection: Predictors of outcome and the role of reimplantation microbiology Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 66 (5), pp. 1204. | Read more

Byren I, Bejon P, Atkins BL, Angus B, Masters S, McLardy-Smith P, Gundle R, Berendt A. 2011. Erratum: One hundred and twelve infected arthroplasties treated with 'DAIR' (debridement, antibiotics and implant retention): Antibiotic duration and outcome Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 66 (5), pp. 1203. | Read more

Walker TM, Bowler ICJW, Bejon P. 2011. Corrigendum to “Risk factors for recurrence after Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia. A retrospective matched case-control study” [Journal of Infection 58 (2009) 411–416] Journal of Infection, 62 (4), pp. 328-328. | Read more

Todryk SM, Walther M, Bejon P, Hutchings C, Thompson FM, Urban BC, Porter DW, Hill AVS. 2011. Correction: Multiple functions of human T cells generated by experimental malaria challenge European Journal of Immunology, 41 (4), pp. 1176-1176. | Read more

Todryk S, Bejon P. 2011. Correction: Malaria vaccine development: Lessons from the field European Journal of Immunology, 41 (4), pp. 1176-1176. | Read more

Olotu A, Lusingu J, Leach A, Lievens M, Vekemans J, Msham S, Lang T, Gould J, Dubois M-C, Jongert E et al. 2011. Efficacy of RTS,S/AS01E malaria vaccine and exploratory analysis on anti-circumsporozoite antibody titres and protection in children aged 5-17 months in Kenya and Tanzania: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet Infect Dis, 11 (2), pp. 102-109. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: RTS,S/AS01E is the lead candidate malaria vaccine. We recently showed efficacy against clinical falciparum malaria in 5-17 month old children, during an average of 8 months follow-up. We aimed to assess the efficacy of RTS,S/AS01E during 15 months of follow-up. METHODS: Between March, 2007, and October, 2008, we enrolled healthy children aged 5-17 months in Kilifi, Kenya, and Korogwe, Tanzania. Computer-generated block randomisation was used to randomly assign participants (1:1) to receive three doses (at month 0, 1, and 2) of either RTS,S/AS01E or human diploid-cell rabies vaccine. The primary endpoint was time to first clinical malaria episode, defined as the presence of fever (temperature ≥37·5°C) and a Plasmodium falciparum density of 2500/μL or more. Follow-up was 12 months for children from Korogwe and 15 months for children from Kilifi. Primary analysis was per protocol. In a post-hoc modelling analysis we characterised the associations between anti-circumsporozoite antibodies and protection against clinical malaria episodes. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00380393. FINDINGS: 894 children were assigned, 447 in each treatment group. In the per-protocol analysis, 82 of 415 children in the RTS,S/AS01E group and 125 of 420 in the rabies vaccine group had first or only clinical malaria episode by 12 months, vaccine efficacy 39·2% (95% CI 19·5-54·1, p=0·0005). At 15 months follow-up, 58 of 209 children in the RTS,S/AS01E group and 85 of 206 in the rabies vaccine group had first or only clinical malaria episode, vaccine efficacy 45·8% (24·1-61·3, p=0·0004). At 12 months after the third dose, anti-circumsporozoite antibody titre data were available for 390 children in the RTS,S/AS01E group and 391 in the rabies group. A mean of 15 months (range 12-18 months) data were available for 172 children in the RTS,S/AS01E group and 155 in the rabies group. These titres at 1 month after the third dose were not associated with protection, but titres at 6·5 months were. The level of protection increased abruptly over a narrow range of antibody concentrations. The most common adverse events were pneumonia, febrile convulsion, gastroenteritis, and P falciparum malaria. INTERPRETATION: RTS,S/AS01E confers sustained efficacy for at least 15 months and shows promise as a potential public health intervention against childhood malaria in malaria endemic countries. FUNDING: PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI), GlaxoSmithKline.

Bejon P, Turner L, Lavstsen T, Cham G, Olotu A, Drakeley CJ, Lievens M, Vekemans J, Savarese B, Lusingu J et al. 2011. Serological evidence of discrete spatial clusters of Plasmodium falciparum parasites. PLoS One, 6 (6), pp. e21711. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria transmission may be considered to be homogenous with well-mixed parasite populations (as in the classic Ross/Macdonald models). Marked fine-scale heterogeneity of transmission has been observed in the field (i.e., over a few kilometres), but there are relatively few data on the degree of mixing. Since the Plasmodium falciparum Erythrocyte Membrane Protein 1 (PfEMP1) is highly polymorphic, the host's serological responses may be used to infer exposure to parasite sub-populations. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We measured the antibody responses to 46 individual PfEMP1 domains at four time points among 450 children in Kenya, and identified distinct spatial clusters of antibody responses to individual domains. 35 domains showed strongly significant sero-clusters at p = 0.001. Individuals within the high transmission hotspot showed the greatest diversity of anti-PfEMP1 responses. Individuals outside the hotspot had a less diverse range of responses, even if as individuals they were at relatively intense exposure. CONCLUSIONS: We infer that antigenically distinct sub-populations of parasites exist on a fine spatial scale in a study area of rural Kenya. Further studies should examine antigenic variation over longer periods of time and in different study areas.

Olotu A, Fegan G, Williams TN, Sasi P, Ogada E, Bauni E, Wambua J, Marsh K, Borrmann S, Bejon P. 2010. Defining clinical malaria: the specificity and incidence of endpoints from active and passive surveillance of children in rural Kenya. PLoS One, 5 (12), pp. e15569. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Febrile malaria is the most common clinical manifestation of P. falciparum infection, and is often the primary endpoint in clinical trials and epidemiological studies. Subjective and objective fevers are both used to define the endpoint, but have not been carefully compared, and the relative incidence of clinical malaria by active and passive case detection is unknown. METHODS: We analyzed data from cohorts under active and passive surveillance, including 19,462 presentations with fever and 5,551 blood tests for asymptomatic parasitaemia. A logistic regression model was used to calculate Malaria Attributable Fractions (MAFs) for various case definitions. Incidences of febrile malaria by active and passive surveillance were compared in a subset of children matched for age and location. RESULTS: Active surveillance identified three times the incidence of clinical malaria as passive surveillance in a subset of children matched for age and location. Objective fever (temperature≥37.5°C) gave consistently higher MAFs than case definitions based on subjective fever. CONCLUSION: The endpoints from active and passive surveillance have high specificity, but the incidence of endpoints is lower on passive surveillance. Subjective fever had low specificity and should not be used in primary endpoint. Passive surveillance will reduce the power of clinical trials but may cost-effectively deliver acceptable sensitivity in studies of large populations.

Lusingu J, Olotu A, Leach A, Lievens M, Vekemans J, Olivier A, Benns S, Olomi R, Msham S, Lang T et al. 2010. Safety of the malaria vaccine candidate, RTS,S/AS01E in 5 to 17 month old Kenyan and Tanzanian Children. PLoS One, 5 (11), pp. e14090. | Show Abstract | Read more

The malaria vaccine candidate, RTS,S/AS01(E), showed promising protective efficacy in a trial of Kenyan and Tanzanian children aged 5 to 17 months. Here we report on the vaccine's safety and tolerability. The experimental design was a Phase 2b, two-centre, double-blind (observer- and participant-blind), randomised (1∶1 ratio) controlled trial. Three doses of study or control (rabies) vaccines were administered intramuscularly at 1 month intervals. Solicited adverse events (AEs) were collected for 7 days after each vaccination. There was surveillance and reporting for unsolicited adverse events for 30 days after each vaccination. Serious adverse events (SAEs) were recorded throughout the study period which lasted for 14 months after dose 1 in Korogwe, Tanzania and an average of 18 months post-dose 1 in Kilifi, Kenya. Blood samples for safety monitoring of haematological, renal and hepatic functions were taken at baseline, 3, 10 and 14 months after dose 1. A total of 894 children received RTS,S/AS01(E) or rabies vaccine between March and August 2007. Overall, children vaccinated with RTS,S/AS01(E) had fewer SAEs (51/447) than children in the control group (88/447). One SAE episode in a RTS,S/AS01(E) recipient and nine episodes among eight rabies vaccine recipients met the criteria for severe malaria. Unsolicited AEs were reported in 78% of subjects in the RTS,S/AS01(E) group and 74% of subjects in the rabies vaccine group. In both vaccine groups, gastroenteritis and pneumonia were the most frequently reported unsolicited AE. Fever was the most frequently observed solicited AE and was recorded after 11% of RTS,S/AS01(E) doses compared to 31% of doses of rabies vaccine. The candidate vaccine RTS,S/AS01(E) showed an acceptable safety profile in children living in a malaria-endemic area in East Africa. More data on the safety of RTS,S/AS01(E) will become available from the Phase 3 programme.

Bejon P, Williams TN, Liljander A, Noor AM, Wambua J, Ogada E, Olotu A, Osier FHA, Hay SI, Färnert A, Marsh K. 2010. Stable and unstable malaria hotspots in longitudinal cohort studies in Kenya. PLoS Med, 7 (7), pp. e1000304. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Infectious diseases often demonstrate heterogeneity of transmission among host populations. This heterogeneity reduces the efficacy of control strategies, but also implies that focusing control strategies on "hotspots" of transmission could be highly effective. METHODS AND FINDINGS: In order to identify hotspots of malaria transmission, we analysed longitudinal data on febrile malaria episodes, asymptomatic parasitaemia, and antibody titres over 12 y from 256 homesteads in three study areas in Kilifi District on the Kenyan coast. We examined heterogeneity by homestead, and identified groups of homesteads that formed hotspots using a spatial scan statistic. Two types of statistically significant hotspots were detected; stable hotspots of asymptomatic parasitaemia and unstable hotspots of febrile malaria. The stable hotspots were associated with higher average AMA-1 antibody titres than the unstable clusters (optical density [OD] = 1.24, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.02-1.47 versus OD = 1.1, 95% CI 0.88-1.33) and lower mean ages of febrile malaria episodes (5.8 y, 95% CI 5.6-6.0 versus 5.91 y, 95% CI 5.7-6.1). A falling gradient of febrile malaria incidence was identified in the penumbrae of both hotspots. Hotspots were associated with AMA-1 titres, but not seroconversion rates. In order to target control measures, homesteads at risk of febrile malaria could be predicted by identifying the 20% of homesteads that experienced an episode of febrile malaria during one month in the dry season. That 20% subsequently experienced 65% of all febrile malaria episodes during the following year. A definition based on remote sensing data was 81% sensitive and 63% specific for the stable hotspots of asymptomatic malaria. CONCLUSIONS: Hotspots of asymptomatic parasitaemia are stable over time, but hotspots of febrile malaria are unstable. This finding may be because immunity offsets the high rate of febrile malaria that might otherwise result in stable hotspots, whereas unstable hotspots necessarily affect a population with less prior exposure to malaria.

Sheehy SH, Atkins BA, Bejon P, Byren I, Wyllie D, Athanasou NA, Berendt AR, McNally MA. 2010. The microbiology of chronic osteomyelitis: prevalence of resistance to common empirical anti-microbial regimens. J Infect, 60 (5), pp. 338-343. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: This study describes the microbiological spectrum of chronic osteomyelitis and so guides the choice of empirical antibiotics for this condition. METHODS: We performed a prospective review of a 166 prospective patient series of chronic osteomyelitis from Oxford, UK in which a standardised surgical sampling protocol was used. RESULTS: Staphylococcus aureus was most commonly isolated (32%) amongst a wide range of organisms including gram negative bacilli, anaerobes and coagulase negative staphylococci. Low grade pathogens were not confined to patients with a history of metalwork, a high proportion of cases were polymicrobial (29%) and culture negative cases were common (28%). No clear predictors of causative organism could be established. Many isolates were found to be resistant to commonly used empirical anti-microbial regimens. CONCLUSIONS: The wide range of causative organisms and degree of resistance to commonly used anti-microbials supports the importance of extensive intra-operative sampling and provides important information to guide clinicians' choice of empirical antibiotics.

Olotu AI, Fegan G, Bejon P. 2010. Further analysis of correlates of protection from a phase 2a trial of the falciparum malaria vaccines RTS,S/AS01B and RTS,S/AS02A in malaria-naive adults. J Infect Dis, 201 (6), pp. 970-971. | Read more

Bejon P, Berendt A, Atkins BL, Green N, Parry H, Masters S, McLardy-Smith P, Gundle R, Byren I. 2010. Two-stage revision for prosthetic joint infection: predictors of outcome and the role of reimplantation microbiology. J Antimicrob Chemother, 65 (3), pp. 569-575. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: We describe rates of success for two-stage revision of prosthetic joint infection (PJI), including data on reimplantation microbiology. METHODS: We retrospectively collected data from all the cases of PJI that were managed with two-stage revision over a 4 year period. Patients were managed with an antibiotic-free period before reimplantation, in order to confirm, clinically and microbiologically, that infection was successfully treated. RESULTS: One hundred and fifty-two cases were identified. The overall success rate (i.e. retention of the prosthesis over 5.75 years of follow-up) was 83%, but was 89% for first revisions and 73% for re-revisions [hazard ratio = 2.9, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2-7.4, P = 0.023]. Reimplantation microbiology was frequently positive (14%), but did not predict outcome (hazard ratio = 1.3, 95% CI 0.4-3.7, P = 0.6). Furthermore, most unplanned debridements following the first stage were carried out before antibiotics were stopped (25 versus 2 debridements). CONCLUSIONS: We did not identify evidence supporting the use of an antibiotic-free period before reimplantation and routine reimplantation microbiology. Re-revision was associated with a significantly worse outcome.

Olotu A, Fegan G, Williams TN, Sasi P, Ogada E, Bauni E, Wambua J, Marsh K, Borrmann S, Bejon P. 2010. Defining clinical malaria: the specificity and incidence of endpoints from active and passive surveillance of children in rural Kenya. PloS one, 5 (12), | Show Abstract

Febrile malaria is the most common clinical manifestation of P. falciparum infection, and is often the primary endpoint in clinical trials and epidemiological studies. Subjective and objective fevers are both used to define the endpoint, but have not been carefully compared, and the relative incidence of clinical malaria by active and passive case detection is unknown. We analyzed data from cohorts under active and passive surveillance, including 19,462 presentations with fever and 5,551 blood tests for asymptomatic parasitaemia. A logistic regression model was used to calculate Malaria Attributable Fractions (MAFs) for various case definitions. Incidences of febrile malaria by active and passive surveillance were compared in a subset of children matched for age and location. Active surveillance identified three times the incidence of clinical malaria as passive surveillance in a subset of children matched for age and location. Objective fever (temperature≥37.5°C) gave consistently higher MAFs than case definitions based on subjective fever. The endpoints from active and passive surveillance have high specificity, but the incidence of endpoints is lower on passive surveillance. Subjective fever had low specificity and should not be used in primary endpoint. Passive surveillance will reduce the power of clinical trials but may cost-effectively deliver acceptable sensitivity in studies of large populations.

Bejon P, Ogada E, Peshu N, Marsh K. 2009. Interactions between age and ITN use determine the risk of febrile malaria in children. PLoS One, 4 (12), pp. e8321. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Control measures which reduce individual exposure to malaria are expected to reduce disease, but also to eventually reduce immunity. Reassuringly, long term data following community wide ITN distribution show sustained benefits at a population level. However, the more common practice in Sub-Saharan Africa is to target ITN distribution on young children. There are few data on the long term outcomes of this practice. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Episodes of febrile malaria were identified by active surveillance in 383 children over 18 months of follow up. In order to compare the short and long term outcomes of ITN use, we examined interactions between ITN use and age (12-42 months of age versus 42-80 months) in determining the risk of febrile malaria. ITN use and older age protected against the first or only episode of malaria (Hazard Ratio [HR] = 0.33, 95%CI 0.17-0.65 and HR = 0.30, 95%CI 0.17-0.51, respectively). The interaction term between ITN use and older age was HR = 2.91, 95%CI 1.02-8.3, p = 0.045, indicating that ITNs did not protect older children. When multiple episodes were included in analysis, ITN use and older age were again protective against malaria episodes (Incident Rate Ratio [IRR] = 0.43 95%CI 0.27-0.7) and IRR = 0.23, 95%CI 0.13-0.42, respectively) and the interaction term indicated that ITNs did not protect older children (IRR = 2.71, 95%CI 1.3-5.7, p = 0.008). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: These data on age interactions with ITN use suggest that larger scale studies on the long term individual outcomes should be undertaken if the policy of targeted ITN use for vulnerable groups is to continue.

Mwacharo J, Dunachie SJ, Kai O, Hill AVS, Bejon P, Fletcher HA. 2009. Quantitative PCR evaluation of cellular immune responses in Kenyan children vaccinated with a candidate malaria vaccine. PLoS One, 4 (12), pp. e8434. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The T-cell mediated immune response plays a central role in the control of malaria after natural infection or vaccination. There is increasing evidence that T-cell responses are heterogeneous and that both the quality of the immune response and the balance between pro-inflammatory and regulatory T-cells determines the outcome of an infection. As Malaria parasites have been shown to induce immunosuppressive responses to the parasite and non-related antigens this study examined T-cell mediated pro-inflammatory and regulatory immune responses induced by malaria vaccination in children in an endemic area to determine if these responses were associated with vaccine immunogenicity. METHODS: Using real-time RT- PCR we profiled the expression of a panel of key markers of immunogenecity at different time points after vaccination with two viral vector vaccines expressing the malaria TRAP antigen (FP9-TRAP and MVA-TRAP) or following rabies vaccination as a control. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The vaccine induced modest levels of IFN-gamma mRNA one week after vaccination. There was also an increase in FoxP3 mRNA expression in both TRAP stimulated and media stimulated cells in the FFM ME-TRAP vaccine group; however, this may have been driven by natural exposure to parasite rather than by vaccination. CONCLUSION: Quantitative PCR is a useful method for evaluating vaccine induced cell mediated immune responses in frozen PBMC from children in a malaria endemic country. Future studies should seek to use vaccine vectors that increase the magnitude and quality of the IFN-gamma immune response in naturally exposed populations and should monitor the induction of a regulatory T cell response.

Hughes HC, Newnham R, Athanasou N, Atkins BL, Bejon P, Bowler ICJW. 2011. Microbiological diagnosis of prosthetic joint infections: a prospective evaluation of four bacterial culture media in the routine laboratory. Clin Microbiol Infect, 17 (10), pp. 1528-1530. | Show Abstract | Read more

The diagnosis of prosthetic joint infection (PJI) in the routine microbiology laboratory is labour-intensive, but semi-automated methods may be appropriate. We prospectively compared four microbiological culture methods on samples taken at prosthetic joint revision surgery. Automated BACTEC blood culture bottles and cooked meat enrichment broth were the most sensitive methods (87% and 83%, respectively, as compared with fastidious anaerobic broth (57%) and direct plates (39%)); all were highly specific (97-100%). To our knowledge, this is the first prospective study aimed at comparing culture methods in routine use in UK clinical laboratories for the diagnosis of PJI.

Kinyanjui SM, Bejon P, Osier FH, Bull PC, Marsh K. 2009. What you see is not what you get: implications of the brevity of antibody responses to malaria antigens and transmission heterogeneity in longitudinal studies of malaria immunity. Malar J, 8 (1), pp. 242. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: A major handicap in developing a malaria vaccine is the difficulty in pinpointing the immune responses that protect against malaria. The protective efficacy of natural or vaccine-induced immune responses against malaria is normally assessed by relating the level of the responses in an individual at the beginning of a follow-up period and the individual's experience of malaria infection or disease during the follow-up. This approach has identified a number of important responses against malaria, but their protective efficacies vary considerably between studies. HYPOTHESIS: It is likely that apart from differences in study methodologies, differences in exposure among study subjects within each study and brevity of antibody responses to malaria antigen are important sources of the variation in protective efficacy of anti-malaria immune responses mentioned above. Since malaria immunity is not complete, anyone in an area of stable malaria transmission who does not become asymptomatically or symptomatically infected during follow-up subsequent to treatment is most likely unexposed rather than immune. TESTING THE HYPOTHESIS: It is proposed that individuals involved in a longitudinal study of malaria immunity should be treated for malaria prior to the start of the study and only those who present with at least an asymptomatic infection during the follow-up should be included in the analysis. In addition, it is proposed that more closely repeated serological survey should be carried out during follow-up in order to get a better picture of an individual's serological status. IMPLICATIONS OF THE HYPOTHESIS: Failure to distinguish between individuals who do not get a clinical episode during follow-up because they were unexposed and those who are genuinely immune undermines our ability to assign a protective role to immune responses against malaria. The brevity of antibodies responses makes it difficult to assign the true serological status of an individual at any given time, i.e. those positive at a survey may be negative by the time they encounter the next infection.

Todryk SM, Walther M, Bejon P, Hutchings C, Thompson FM, Urban BC, Porter DW, Hill AVS. 2009. Multiple functions of human T cells generated by experimental malaria challenge. Eur J Immunol, 39 (11), pp. 3042-3051. | Show Abstract | Read more

Protective immunity generated following malaria infection may be comprised of Ab or T cells against malaria Ag of different stages; however, the short-lived immunity that is observed suggests deficiency in immune memory or regulatory activity. In this study, cellular immune responses were investigated in individuals receiving Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite challenge by the natural (mosquito bite) route as part of a malaria vaccine efficacy trial. Parasitemia, monitored by blood film microscopy and PCR, was subsequently cleared with drugs. All individuals demonstrated stable IFN-gamma, IL-2 and IL-4 ex vivo ELISPOT effector responses against P. falciparum-infected RBC (iRBC) Ag, 28 and 90 days after challenge. However, infected RBC-specific central memory responses, as measured by IFN-gamma cultured ELISPOT, were low and unstable over time, despite CD4(+) T cells being highly proliferative by CFSE dilution, and showed an inverse relationship to parasite density. In support of the observation of poor memory, co-culture experiments showed reduced responses to common recall Ag, indicating malaria-specific regulatory activity. This activity could not be accounted for by the expression of IL-10, TGF-beta, FOXP3 or CTLA-4, but proliferating T cells expressed high levels of CD95, indicating a pro-apoptotic phenotype. Lastly, there was an inverse relationship between FOXP3 expression, when measured 10 days after challenge, and ex vivo IFN-gamma measured more than 100 days later. This study shows that malaria infection elicits specific Th1 and Th2 effector cells, but concomitant weak central memory and regulatory activity, which may help to explain the short-lived immunity observed.

Berkley JA, Bejon P, Mwangi T, Gwer S, Maitland K, Williams TN, Mohammed S, Osier F, Kinyanjui S, Fegan G et al. 2009. HIV infection, malnutrition, and invasive bacterial infection among children with severe malaria. Clin Infect Dis, 49 (3), pp. 336-343. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, malnutrition, and invasive bacterial infection (IBI) are reported among children with severe malaria. However, it is unclear whether their cooccurrence with falciparum parasitization and severe disease happens by chance or by association among children in areas where malaria is endemic. METHODS: We examined 3068 consecutive children admitted to a Kenyan district hospital with clinical features of severe malaria and 592 control subjects from the community. We performed multivariable regression analysis, with each case weighted for its probability of being due to falciparum malaria, using estimates of the fraction of severe disease attributable to malaria at different parasite densities derived from cross-sectional parasitological surveys of healthy children from the same community. RESULTS: HIV infection was present in 133 (12%) of 1071 consecutive parasitemic admitted children (95% confidence interval [CI], 11%-15%). Parasite densities were higher in HIV-infected children. The odds ratio for admission associated with HIV infection for admission with true severe falciparum malaria was 9.6 (95% CI, 4.9-19); however, this effect was restricted to children aged 1 year. Malnutrition was present in 507 (25%) of 2048 consecutive parasitemic admitted children (95% CI, 23%-27%). The odd ratio associated with malnutrition for admission with true severe falciparum malaria was 4.0 (95% CI, 2.9-5.5). IBI was detected in 127 (6%) of 2048 consecutive parasitemic admitted children (95% CI, 5.2%-7.3%). All 3 comorbidities were associated with increased case fatality. CONCLUSIONS: HIV, malnutrition and IBI are biologically associated with severe disease due to falciparum malaria rather than being simply alternative diagnoses in co-incidentally parasitized children in an endemic area.

Todryk S, Bejon P. 2009. Malaria vaccine development: lessons from the field. Eur J Immunol, 39 (8), pp. 2007-2010. | Show Abstract | Read more

Studies and trials in the field are key to the development of a vaccine for malaria. Our limited knowledge of naturally acquired immunity and of transmission dynamics and disease causation in the field imposes limitations on our ability to predict the efficacy of candidate vaccinations, and the eventual outcome on deploying an efficacious vaccine at a population level.

Bejon P, Abdulla S, Lusingu J, Olotu A, Leach A, Lievens M, Tanner M, von Seidlein L. 2009. Response to "Poor control vaccines in two randomised trials of malaria vaccine?". Vaccine, 27 (35), pp. 4745-4746. | Read more

Dudareva M, Andrews L, Gilbert SC, Bejon P, Marsh K, Mwacharo J, Kai O, Nicosia A, Hill AVS. 2009. Prevalence of serum neutralizing antibodies against chimpanzee adenovirus 63 and human adenovirus 5 in Kenyan children, in the context of vaccine vector efficacy. Vaccine, 27 (27), pp. 3501-3504. | Show Abstract | Read more

Vaccination against Plasmodium falciparum malaria could reduce the worldwide burden of this disease, and decrease its high mortality in children. Replication-defective recombinant adenovirus vectors carrying P. falciparum epitopes may be useful as part of a vaccine that raises cellular immunity to the pre-erythrocytic stage of malaria infection. However, existing immunity to the adenovirus vector results in antibody-mediated neutralization of the vaccine vector, and reduced vaccine immunogenicity. Our aim was to examine a population of children who are at risk from P. falciparum malaria for neutralizing immunity to replication-deficient recombinant chimpanzee adenovirus 63 vector (AdC63), compared to human adenovirus 5 vector (AdHu5). We measured 50% and 90% vector neutralization titers in 200 individual sera, taken from a cohort of children from Kenya, using a secreted alkaline phosphatase neutralization assay. We found that 23% of the children (aged 1-6 years) had high-titer neutralizing antibodies to AdHu5, and 4% had high-titer neutralizing antibodies to AdC63. Immunity to both vectors was age-dependent. Low-level neutralization of AdC63 was significantly less frequent than AdHu5 neutralization at the 90% neutralization level. We conclude that AdC63 may be a useful vector as part of a prime-boost malaria vaccine in children.

Byren I, Bejon P, Atkins BL, Angus B, Masters S, McLardy-Smith P, Gundle R, Berendt A. 2009. One hundred and twelve infected arthroplasties treated with 'DAIR' (debridement, antibiotics and implant retention): antibiotic duration and outcome. J Antimicrob Chemother, 63 (6), pp. 1264-1271. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: We describe treatment failure rates by antibiotic duration for prosthetic joint infection (PJI) managed with debridement, antibiotics and implant retention (DAIR). METHODS: We retrospectively collected data from all the cases of PJI that were managed with DAIR over a 5 year period. Surgical debridement, microbiological sampling, early intravenous antibiotics and prolonged oral follow-on antibiotics were used. RESULTS: One hundred and twelve cases of PJI were identified. Twenty infections (18%) recurred during a mean follow-up of 2.3 years. The mean duration of antibiotic use was 1.5 years. Failure was more common after arthroscopic debridement, for previously revised joints and for Staphylococcus aureus infection. There were 12 failures after stopping antibiotics and 8 while on antibiotics [hazard ratio (HR) = 4.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.4-12.8, P = 0.01]. However, during the first 3 months of follow-up, there were eight failures after stopping antibiotics and two while on antibiotics (HR = 7.0, 95% CI 1.5-33, P = 0.015). The duration of antibiotic therapy prior to stopping did not predict outcome. CONCLUSIONS: PJI may be managed by DAIR. The risk of failure with this strategy rises after stopping oral antibiotics, but lengthening antibiotic therapy may simply postpone, rather than prevent, failure.

Walker TM, Bowler ICJW, Bejon P. 2009. Risk factors for recurrence after Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia. A retrospective matched case-control study. J Infect, 58 (6), pp. 411-416. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: We sought to identify risk factors for recurrence of Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (SAB) by auditing compliance with guidelines on its treatment in our hospital. METHODS: We retrospectively identified patients over the preceding 8 years whose SAB had recurred, matching each to a control patient with non-recurrent SAB. RESULTS: 40/1870 patients with SAB had suffered recurrent disease (2.1%), 33 of whom were available for study. Where 2, 4 and 6 weeks of intravenous therapy were recommended, 78%, 29% and 25% of patients received it, and there was no association with recurrence. Glycopeptide use in patients with methicillin sensitive SAB (MSSA) was significantly associated with recurrence (p=0.015). Where the source of the bacteraemia was a peripheral venous catheter the odds of recurrence were less than where an SAB originated at another site (p=0.047). All patients with SAB in whom a central venous catheter was not removed suffered recurrence. CONCLUSIONS: We found the recurrence rate after SAB was low despite poor compliance with guidelines on treatment duration. Glycopeptide therapy for MSSA bacteraemia was more likely to result in recurrent SAB than beta-lactam therapy. Recurrence was significantly less likely in patients where the source of the SAB was a peripheral line than in those with another source.

Bejon P, Warimwe G, Mackintosh CL, Mackinnon MJ, Kinyanjui SM, Musyoki JN, Bull PC, Marsh K. 2009. Analysis of immunity to febrile malaria in children that distinguishes immunity from lack of exposure. Infect Immun, 77 (5), pp. 1917-1923. | Show Abstract | Read more

In studies of immunity to malaria, the absence of febrile malaria is commonly considered evidence of "protection." However, apparent "protection" may be due to a lack of exposure to infective mosquito bites or due to immunity. We studied a cohort that was given curative antimalarials before monitoring began and documented newly acquired asymptomatic parasitemia and febrile malaria episodes during 3 months of surveillance. With increasing age, there was a shift away from febrile malaria to acquiring asymptomatic parasitemia, with no change in the overall incidence of infection. Antibodies to the infected red cell surface were associated with acquiring asymptomatic infection rather than febrile malaria or remaining uninfected. Bed net use was associated with remaining uninfected rather than acquiring asymptomatic infection or febrile malaria. These observations suggest that most uninfected children were unexposed rather than "immune." Had they been immune, we would have expected the proportion of uninfected children to rise with age and that the uninfected children would have been distinguished from children with febrile malaria by the protective antibody response. We show that removing the less exposed children from conventional analyses clarifies the effects of immunity, transmission intensity, bed nets, and age. Observational studies and vaccine trials will have increased power if they differentiate between unexposed and immune children.

Bejon P, Leach A, von Seidlein L. 2009. RTS,S/AS01E Vaccine against Malaria THE AUTHORS REPLY NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, 360 (12), pp. 1253-1254.

Bejon P, Ogada E, Peshu N, Marsh K. 2009. Interactions between age and ITN use determine the risk of febrile malaria in children PLoS ONE, 4 (12), | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Control measures which reduce individual exposure to malaria are expected to reduce disease, but also to eventually reduce immunity. Reassuringly, long term data following community wide ITN distribution show sustained benefits at a population level. However, the more common practice in Sub-Saharan Africa is to target ITN distribution on young children. There are few data on the long term outcomes of this practice.Methodology/Principal Findings: Episodes of febrile malaria were identified by active surveillance in 383 children over 18 months of follow up. In order to compare the short and long term outcomes of ITN use, we examined interactions between ITN use and age (12-42 months of age versus 42-80 months) in determining the risk of febrile malaria. ITN use and older age protected against the first or only episode of malaria (Hazard Ratio [HR] =0.33, 95%CI 0.17-0.65 and HR =0.30, 95%CI0.17-0.51, respectively). The interaction term between ITN use and older age was HR =2.91, 95%CI 1.02-8.3, p=0.045, indicating that ITNs did not protect older children. When multiple episodes were included in analysis, ITN use and older age were again protective against malaria episodes (Incident Rate Ratio [IRR] =0.43 95%CI 0.27-0.7) and IRR = 0.23, 95%CI 0.13-0.42, respectively) and the interaction term indicated that ITNs did not protect older children (IRR =2.71, 95%CI 1.3-5.7, p=0.008). Conclusions/Significance: These data on age interactions with ITN use suggest that larger scale studies on the long term individual outcomes should be undertaken if the policy of targeted ITN use for vulnerable groups is to continue. © 2009 Bejon et al.

Mwacharo J, Dunachie SJ, Kai O, Hill AVS, Bejon P, Fletcher HA. 2009. Quantitative PCR evaluation of cellular immune responses in kenyan children vaccinated with a candidate malaria vaccine PLoS ONE, 4 (12), | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: The T-cell mediated immune response plays a central role in the control of malaria after natural infection or vaccination. There is increasing evidence that T-cell responses are heterogeneous and that both the quality of the immune response and the balance between pro-inflammatory and regulatory T-cells determines the outcome of an infection. As Malaria parasites have been shown to induce immunosuppressive responses to the parasite and non-related antigens this study examined T-cell mediated pro-inflammatory and regulatory immune responses induced by malaria vaccination in children in an endemic area to determine if these responses were associated with vaccine immunogenicity. Methods: Using real-time RT- PCR we profiled the expression of a panel of key markers of immunogenecity at different time points after vaccination with two viral vector vaccines expressing the malaria TRAP antigen (FP9-TRAP and MVA-TRAP) or following rabies vaccination as a control. Principal Findings: The vaccine induced modest levels of IFN-γ mRNA one week after vaccination. There was also an increase in FoxP3 mRNA expression in both TRAP stimulated and media stimulated cells in the FFM ME-TRAP vaccine group; however, this may have been driven by natural exposure to parasite rather than by vaccination. Conclusion: Quantitative PCR is a useful method for evaluating vaccine induced cell mediated immune responses in frozen PBMC from children in a malaria endemic country. Future studies should seek to use vaccine vectors that increase the magnitude and quality of the IFN-γ immune response in naturally exposed populations and should monitor the induction of a regulatory T cell response. © 2009 Mwacharo et al.

Bejon P, Leach A, Von Seidlein L. 2009. The authors reply New England Journal of Medicine, 360 (12), pp. 1253-1254. | Read more

Bejon P, Lusingu J, Olotu A, Leach A, Lievens M, Vekemans J, Mshamu S, Lang T, Gould J, Dubois M-C et al. 2008. Efficacy of RTS,S/AS01E vaccine against malaria in children 5 to 17 months of age. N Engl J Med, 359 (24), pp. 2521-2532. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum malaria is a pressing global health problem. A previous study of the malaria vaccine RTS,S (which targets the circumsporozoite protein), given with an adjuvant system (AS02A), showed a 30% rate of protection against clinical malaria in children 1 to 4 years of age. We evaluated the efficacy of RTS,S given with a more immunogenic adjuvant system (AS01E) in children 5 to 17 months of age, a target population for vaccine licensure. METHODS: We conducted a double-blind, randomized trial of RTS,S/AS01E vaccine as compared with rabies vaccine in children in Kilifi, Kenya, and Korogwe, Tanzania. The primary end point was fever with a falciparum parasitemia density of more than 2500 parasites per microliter, and the mean duration of follow-up was 7.9 months (range, 4.5 to 10.5). RESULTS: A total of 894 children were randomly assigned to receive the RTS,S/AS01E vaccine or the control (rabies) vaccine. Among the 809 children who completed the study procedures according to the protocol, the cumulative number in whom clinical malaria developed was 32 of 402 assigned to receive RTS,S/AS01E and 66 of 407 assigned to receive the rabies vaccine; the adjusted efficacy rate for RTS,S/AS01E was 53% (95% confidence interval [CI], 28 to 69; P<0.001) on the basis of Cox regression. Overall, there were 38 episodes of clinical malaria among recipients of RTS,S/AS01E, as compared with 86 episodes among recipients of the rabies vaccine, with an adjusted rate of efficacy against all malarial episodes of 56% (95% CI, 31 to 72; P<0.001). All 894 children were included in the intention-to-treat analysis, which showed an unadjusted efficacy rate of 49% (95% CI, 26 to 65; P<0.001). There were fewer serious adverse events among recipients of RTS,S/AS01E, and this reduction was not only due to a difference in the number of admissions directly attributable to malaria. CONCLUSIONS: RTS,S/AS01E shows promise as a candidate malaria vaccine. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00380393.)

Bejon P, Mohammed S, Mwangi I, Atkinson SH, Osier F, Peshu N, Newton CR, Maitland K, Berkley JA. 2008. Fraction of all hospital admissions and deaths attributable to malnutrition among children in rural Kenya. Am J Clin Nutr, 88 (6), pp. 1626-1631. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malnutrition is common in the developing world and associated with disease and mortality. Because malnutrition frequently occurs among children in the community as well as those with acute illness, and because anthropometric indicators of nutritional status are continuous variables that preclude a single definition of malnutrition, malnutrition-attributable fractions of admissions and deaths cannot be calculated by simply enumerating individual children. OBJECTIVE: We determined the malnutrition-attributable fractions among children admitted to a rural district hospital in Kenya, among inpatient deaths and among children with the major causes of severe disease. DESIGN: We analyzed data from children between 6 and 60 mo of age, comprising 13,307 admissions, 674 deaths, 3068 admissions with severe disease, and 562 community controls by logistic regression, using anthropometric z scores as the independent variable and admission or death as the outcome, to calculate the probability of admission as a result of "true malnutrition" for individual cases. Probabilities were averaged to calculate attributable fractions. RESULTS: Z scores < -3 were insensitive for malnutrition-attributable deaths and admissions, and no single threshold was both specific and sensitive. The overall malnutrition-attributable fraction for in-hospital deaths was 51% (95% CI: 42%, 61%) with midupper arm circumference. Similar malnutrition-attributable fractions were seen for the major causes of severe disease (severe malaria, gastroenteritis, lower respiratory tract infection, HIV, and invasive bacterial disease). CONCLUSIONS: Despite global improvements, malnutrition still underlies half of the inpatient morbidity and mortality rates among children in rural Kenya. This contribution is underestimated by using conventional clinical definitions of severe malnutrition.

Atkinson SH, Rockett KA, Morgan G, Bejon PA, Sirugo G, O'Connell MA, Hanchard N, Kwiatkowski DP, Prentice AM. 2008. Tumor necrosis factor SNP haplotypes are associated with iron deficiency anemia in West African children. Blood, 112 (10), pp. 4276-4283. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasma levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) are significantly raised in malaria infection and TNF-alpha is thought to inhibit intestinal iron absorption and macrophage iron release. This study investigated putative functional single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and haplotypes across the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class III region, including TNF and its immediate neighbors nuclear factor of kappa light polypeptide gene enhancer in B cells (lkappaBL), inhibitor-like 1 and lymphotoxin alpha (LTA), in relation to nutritional iron status and anemia, in a cohort of 780 children across a malaria season. The prevalence of iron deficiency anemia (IDA) increased over the malaria season (P < .001). The TNF(-308) AA genotype was associated with an increased risk of iron deficiency (adjusted OR 8.1; P = .001) and IDA (adjusted OR 5.1; P = .01) at the end of the malaria season. No genotypes were associated with IDA before the malaria season. Thus, TNF appears to be a risk factor for iron deficiency and IDA in children in a malaria-endemic environment and this is likely to be due to a TNF-alpha-induced block in iron absorption.

O'Meara WP, Bejon P, Mwangi TW, Okiro EA, Peshu N, Snow RW, Newton CRJC, Marsh K. 2008. Effect of a fall in malaria transmission on morbidity and mortality in Kilifi, Kenya. Lancet, 372 (9649), pp. 1555-1562. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: As efforts to control malaria are expanded across the world, understanding the role of transmission intensity in determining the burden of clinical malaria is crucial to the prediction and measurement of the effectiveness of interventions to reduce transmission. Furthermore, studies comparing several endemic sites led to speculation that as transmission decreases morbidity and mortality caused by severe malaria might increase. We aimed to assess the epidemiological characteristics of malaria in Kilifi, Kenya, during a period of decreasing transmission intensity. METHODS: We analyse 18 years (1990-2007) of surveillance data from a paediatric ward in a malaria-endemic region of Kenya. The hospital has a catchment area of 250 000 people. Clinical data and blood-film results for more than 61 000 admissions are reported. FINDINGS: Hospital admissions for malaria decreased from 18.43 per 1000 children in 2003 to 3.42 in 2007. Over 18 years of surveillance, the incidence of cerebral malaria initially increased; however, malaria mortality decreased overall because of a decrease in incidence of severe malarial anaemia since 1997 (4.75 to 0.37 per 1000 children) and improved survival among children admitted with non-severe malaria. Parasite prevalence, the mean age of children admitted with malaria, and the proportion of children with cerebral malaria began to change 10 years before hospitalisation for malaria started to fall. INTERPRETATION: Sustained reduction in exposure to infection leads to changes in mean age and presentation of disease similar to those described in multisite studies. Changes in transmission might not lead to immediate reductions in incidence of clinical disease. However, longitudinal data do not indicate that reductions in transmission intensity lead to transient increases in morbidity and mortality.

Gikonyo C, Bejon P, Marsh V, Molyneux S. 2008. Taking social relationships seriously: lessons learned from the informed consent practices of a vaccine trial on the Kenyan Coast. Soc Sci Med, 67 (5), pp. 708-720. | Show Abstract | Read more

Individual informed consent is a key ethical obligation for clinical studies, but empirical studies show that key requirements are often not met. Common recommendations to strengthen consent in low income settings include seeking permission from community members through existing structures before approaching individuals, considering informed consent as a process rather than a single event, and assessing participant understanding using questionnaires. In this paper, we report on a qualitative study exploring community understanding and perceptions of a malaria vaccine trial (MVT) conducted in a rural setting on the Kenyan Coast. The MVT incorporated all of the above recommendations into its information-giving processes. The findings support the importance of community level information-giving and of giving information on several different occasions before seeking final individual consent. However, an emerging issue was that inter-personal interactions and relationships between researchers and community members, and within the community, play a critical role in participants' perceptions of a study, their decisions to consent or withdraw, and their advice to researchers on study practicalities and information to feedback at the end of the trial. These relationships are based on and continually tested by information-giving processes, and by context specific concerns and interests that can be difficult to predict and are well beyond the timescale and reach of single research activities. On the basis of these findings, we suggest that the current move towards increasingly ambitious and stringent formal standards for information-giving to individuals be counter-balanced with greater attention to the diverse social relationships that are essential to the successful application of these procedures. This may be assisted by emphasising respecting communities as well as persons, and by recognising that current guidelines and regulations may be an inadequate response to the complex, often unpredictable and ever shifting ethical dilemmas facing research teams working 'in the field'.

Sanderson F, Andrews L, Douglas AD, Hunt-Cooke A, Bejon P, Hill AVS. 2008. Blood-stage challenge for malaria vaccine efficacy trials: a pilot study with discussion of safety and potential value. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 78 (6), pp. 878-883. | Show Abstract

There is increasing interest in malaria vaccines targeting the asexual blood stage of Plasmodium falciparum. Without accepted immunologic correlates of clinical protection, challenge studies are useful for assessing the efficacy of candidate vaccines in vivo in healthy volunteers. We report a pilot study of a safe and robust challenge protocol using a blood-stage inoculum. We have applied well-validated trial endpoints and twice daily real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction monitoring of parasitemia to blood-stage challenge, which enabled direct comparison with sporozoite challenge. We found that greater accuracy in quantification of blood-stage growth rates can be achieved with blood-stage challenge. This finding may provide greater power to detect partial efficacy of many blood-stage candidate vaccines. We discuss the potential utility of blood-stage challenge studies in accelerating malaria vaccine development.

Agak GW, Bejon P, Fegan G, Gicheru N, Villard V, Kajava AV, Marsh K, Corradin G. 2008. Longitudinal analyses of immune responses to Plasmodium falciparum derived peptides corresponding to novel blood stage antigens in coastal Kenya. Vaccine, 26 (16), pp. 1963-1971. | Show Abstract | Read more

We have recently described 95 predicted alpha-helical coiled-coil peptides derived from putative Plasmodium falciparum erythrocytic stage proteins. Seventy peptides recognized with the highest level of prevalence by sera from three endemic areas were selected for further studies. In this study, we sequentially examined antibody responses to these synthetic peptides in two cohorts of children at risk of clinical malaria in Kilifi district in coastal Kenya, in order to characterize the level of peptide recognition by age, and the role of anti-peptide antibodies in protection from clinical malaria. Antibody levels from 268 children in the first cohort (Chonyi) were assayed against 70 peptides. Thirty-nine peptides were selected for further study in a second cohort (Junju). The rationale for the second cohort was to confirm those peptides identified as protective in the first cohort. The Junju cohort comprised of children aged 1-6 years old (inclusive). Children were actively followed up to identify episodes of febrile malaria in both cohorts. Of the 70 peptides examined, 32 showed significantly (p<0.05) increased antibody recognition in older children and 40 showed significantly increased antibody recognition in parasitaemic children. Ten peptides were associated with a significantly reduced odds ratio (OR) for an episode of clinical malaria in the first cohort of children and two of these peptides (LR146 and AS202.11) were associated with a significantly reduced OR in both cohorts. LR146 is derived from hypothetical protein PFB0145c in PlasmoDB. Previous work has identified this protein as a target of antibodies effective in antibody dependent cellular inhibition (ADCI). The current study substantiates further the potential of protein PFB0145c and also identifies protein PF11_0424 as another likely target of protective antibodies against P. falciparum malaria.

Bejon P, Mwangi TW, Lowe B, Peshu N, Hill AVS, Marsh K. 2008. Helminth infection and eosinophilia and the risk of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in 1- to 6-year-old children in a malaria endemic area. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 2 (1), pp. e164. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Helminth infection is common in malaria endemic areas, and an interaction between the two would be of considerable public health importance. Animal models suggest that helminth infections may increase susceptibility to malaria, but epidemiological data has been limited and contradictory. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In a vaccine trial, we studied 387 one- to six-year-old children for the effect of helminth infections on febrile Plasmodium falciparum malaria episodes. Gastrointestinal helminth infection and eosinophilia were prevalent (25% and 50% respectively), but did not influence susceptibility to malaria. Hazard ratios were 1 for gastrointestinal helminth infection (95% CI 0.6-1.6) and 0.85 and 0.85 for mild and marked eosinophilia, respectively (95% CI 0.56-1.76 and 0.69-1.96). Incident rate ratios for multiple episodes were 0.83 for gastro-intestinal helminth infection (95% CI 0.5-1.33) and 0.86 and 0.98 for mild and marked eosinophilia (95% CI 0.5-1.4 and 0.6-1.5). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: There was no evidence that infection with gastrointestinal helminths or urinary schistosomiasis increased susceptibility to Plasmodium falciparum malaria in this study. Larger studies including populations with a greater prevalence of helminth infection should be undertaken.

Todryk SM, Bejon P, Mwangi T, Plebanski M, Urban B, Marsh K, Hill AVS, Flanagan KL. 2008. Correlation of memory T cell responses against TRAP with protection from clinical malaria, and CD4 CD25 high T cells with susceptibility in Kenyans. PLoS One, 3 (4), pp. e2027. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Immunity to malaria develops naturally in endemic regions, but the protective immune mechanisms are poorly understood. Many vaccination strategies aim to induce T cells against diverse pre-erythrocytic antigens, but correlates of protection in the field have been limited. The objective of this study was to investigate cell-mediated immune correlates of protection in natural malaria. Memory T cells reactive against thrombospondin-related adhesive protein (TRAP) and circumsporozoite (CS) protein, major vaccine candidate antigens, were measured, as were frequencies of CD4(+) CD25(high) T cells, which may suppress immunity, and CD56(+) NK cells and gammadelta T cells, which may be effectors or may modulate immunity. METHODOLOGY AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: 112 healthy volunteers living in rural Kenya were entered in the study. Memory T cells reactive against TRAP and CS were measured using a cultured IFNgamma ELISPOT approach, whilst CD4(+) CD25(high) T cells, CD56(+) NK cells, and gammadelta T cells were measured by flow cytometry. We found that T cell responses against TRAP were established early in life (<5 years) in contrast to CS, and cultured ELISPOT memory T cell responses did not correlate with ex-vivo IFNgamma ELISPOT effector responses. Data was examined for associations with risk of clinical malaria for a period of 300 days. Multivariate logistic analysis incorporating age and CS response showed that cultured memory T cell responses against TRAP were associated with a significantly reduced incidence of malaria (p = 0.028). This was not seen for CS responses. Higher numbers of CD4(+) CD25(high) T cells, potentially regulatory T cells, were associated with a significantly increased risk of clinical malaria (p = 0.039). CONCLUSIONS: These data demonstrate a role for central memory T cells in natural malarial immunity and support current vaccination strategies aimed at inducing durable protective T cell responses against the TRAP antigen. They also suggest that CD4(+) CD25(high) T cells may negatively affect naturally acquired malarial immunity.

Bejon P, Mwangi TW, Lowe B, Peshu N, Hill AVS, Marsh K. 2008. Helminth infection and eosinophilia and the risk of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in 1- to 6-year-old children in a malaria endemic area. PLoS neglected tropical diseases, 2 (1), | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: Helminth infection is common in malaria endemic areas, and an interaction between the two would be of considerable public health importance. Animal models suggest that helminth infections may increase susceptibility to malaria, but epidemiological data has been limited and contradictory. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In a vaccine trial, we studied 387 one- to six-year-old children for the effect of helminth infections on febrile Plasmodium falciparum malaria episodes. Gastrointestinal helminth infection and eosinophilia were prevalent (25% and 50% respectively), but did not influence susceptibility to malaria. Hazard ratios were 1 for gastrointestinal helminth infection (95% CI 0.6-1.6) and 0.85 and 0.85 for mild and marked eosinophilia, respectively (95% CI 0.56-1.76 and 0.69-1.96). Incident rate ratios for multiple episodes were 0.83 for gastro-intestinal helminth infection (95% CI 0.5-1.33) and 0.86 and 0.98 for mild and marked eosinophilia (95% CI 0.5-1.4 and 0.6-1.5). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: There was no evidence that infection with gastrointestinal helminths or urinary schistosomiasis increased susceptibility to Plasmodium falciparum malaria in this study. Larger studies including populations with a greater prevalence of helminth infection should be undertaken.

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Bejon P, Mwangi TW, Lowe B, Peshu N, Hill AVS, Marsh K. 2008. Helminth infection and eosinophilia and the risk of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in 1- to 6-year-old children in a malaria endemic area PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 2 (2), | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Helminth infection is common in malaria endemic areas, and an interaction between the two would be of considerable public health importance. Animal models suggest that helminth infections may increase susceptibility to malaria, but epidemiological data has been limited and contradictory. Methodology/Principal Findings: In a vaccine trial, we studied 387 one- to six-year-old children for the effect of helminth infections on febrile Plasmodium falciparum malaria episodes. Gastrointestinal helminth infection and eosinophilia were prevalent (25% and 50% respectively), but did not influence susceptibility to malaria. Hazard ratios were 1 for gastrointestinal helminth infection (95% CI 0.6-1.6) and 0.85 and 0.85 for mild and marked eosinophilia, respectively (95% CI 0.56-1.76 and 0.69-1.96). Incident rate ratios for multiple episodes were 0.83 for gastro-intestinal helminth infection (95% CI 0.5-1.33) and 0.86 and 0.98 for mild and marked eosinophilia (95% CI 0.5-1.4 and 0.6-1.5). Conclusions/Significance: There was no evidence that infection with gastrointestinal helminths or urinary schistosomiasis increased susceptibility to Plasmodium falciparum malaria in this study. Larger studies including populations with a greater prevalence of helminth infection should be undertaken. © 2008 Bejon et al.

Bejon P, Mwangi T, Lowe B, Peshu N, Hill AVS, Marsh K. 2007. Clearing asymptomatic parasitaemia increases the specificity of the definition of mild febrile malaria. Vaccine, 25 (48), pp. 8198-8202. | Show Abstract | Read more

In clinical trials, the specificity of the disease endpoint is critical to an accurate estimate of vaccine efficacy. We used a logistic regression model to analyse parasite densities among children before and after treatment with antimalarials, in order to estimate the impact that clearing asymptomatic parasitaemia had on the specificity of the endpoint of febrile malaria. The malaria attributable fever fraction was higher after antimalarial treatment (i.e. fever and parasitaemia were more likely to be causally related), implying that drug treatment prior to monitoring decreased the misclassification of febrile malaria. In intervention studies with febrile malaria as an endpoint, clearing asymptomatic parasitaemia increases the study's power more effectively than raising the threshold parasitaemia.

Bejon P, Mwacharo J, Kai O, Todryk S, Keating S, Lowe B, Lang T, Mwangi TW, Gilbert SC, Peshu N et al. 2007. The induction and persistence of T cell IFN-gamma responses after vaccination or natural exposure is suppressed by Plasmodium falciparum. J Immunol, 179 (6), pp. 4193-4201. | Show Abstract | Read more

Epidemiological observations suggest that T cell immunity may be suppressed in malaria-endemic areas. In vitro studies, animal models, and limited data in humans link immunosuppression with malaria, malnutrition, and other parasitic infections. However, there are no data to determine whether malaria-induced immunosuppression is significant in the long-term, or relative data comparing it with other factors in malaria-endemic areas, so as to measure the impact of malaria, other parasitic disease, nutritional status, age. and location on the acquisition and longevity of IFN-gamma responses in children in Kenya. We studied these factors in two cohorts of 1- to 6-year-old children in a malaria-endemic area. T cell responses were induced by vaccination in one cohort, and acquired as a result of natural exposure in a second cohort. Serial ELISPOT assays conducted over a 1-year period measured the induction and kinetics of IFN-gamma production in response to the malaria Ag thrombospondin-related adhesion protein. Induced responses in both cohorts and the longevity of response in the vaccinated cohort were fitted to potential explanatory variables. Parasitemia was prospectively associated with reduced IFN-gamma-producing T cells in both cohorts (by 15-25%), and both parasitemia and episodes of febrile malaria were associated with 19 and 31% greater attrition of T cell responses, respectively. Malaria may reduce the efficacy vaccinations such as bacillus Calmette-Guérin and investigational T cell-inducing vaccines, and may delay the acquisition of immunity following natural exposure to malaria and other pathogens.

Bejon P, Ogada E, Mwangi T, Milligan P, Lang T, Fegan G, Gilbert SC, Peshu N, Marsh K, Hill AVS. 2007. Extended follow-up following a phase 2b randomized trial of the candidate malaria vaccines FP9 ME-TRAP and MVA ME-TRAP among children in Kenya. PLoS One, 2 (8), pp. e707. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: "FFM ME-TRAP" is sequential immunisation with two attenuated poxvirus vectors (FP9 and modified vaccinia virus Ankara) delivering the pre-erythrocytic malaria antigen ME-TRAP. Over nine months follow-up in our original study, there was no evidence that FFM ME-TRAP provided protection against malaria. The incidence of malaria was slightly higher in children who received FFM ME-TRAP, but this was not statistically significant (hazard ratio 1.5, 95% CI 1.0-2.3). Although the study was unblinded, another nine months follow-up was planned to monitor the incidence of malaria and other serious adverse events. METHODS AND FINDINGS: 405 children aged 1-6 yrs were initially randomized to vaccination with either FFM ME-TRAP or control (rabies vaccine). 380 children were still available for follow-up after the first nine months. Children were seen weekly and whenever they were unwell for nine months monitoring. The axillary temperature was measured, and blood films taken when febrile. The primary analysis was time to parasitaemia >2,500/microl. During the second nine months monitoring, 49 events met the primary endpoint (febrile malaria with parasites >2,500/microl) in the Intention To Treat (ITT) group. 23 events occurred among the 189 children in the FFM ME-TRAP group, and 26 among the 194 children in the control group. In the full 18 months of monitoring, there were 63 events in the FFM ME-TRAP group and 60 in the control group (HR = 1.2, CI 0.84-1.73, p = 0.35). There was no evidence that the HR changed over the 18 months (test for interaction between time and vaccination p = 0.11). CONCLUSIONS: Vaccination with FFM ME-TRAP was not protective against malaria in this study. Malaria incidence during 18 months of surveillance was similar in both vaccine groups. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN88335123.

Bejon P, Berkley JA, Mwangi T, Ogada E, Mwangi I, Maitland K, Williams T, Scott JAG, English M, Lowe BS et al. 2007. Defining childhood severe falciparum malaria for intervention studies. PLoS Med, 4 (8), pp. e251. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Clinical trials of interventions designed to prevent severe falciparum malaria in children require a clear endpoint. The internationally accepted definition of severe malaria is sensitive, and appropriate for clinical purposes. However, this definition includes individuals with severe nonmalarial disease and coincident parasitaemia, so may lack specificity in vaccine trials. Although there is no "gold standard" individual test for severe malaria, malaria-attributable fractions (MAFs) can be estimated among groups of children using a logistic model, which we use to test the suitability of various case definitions as trial endpoints. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A total of 4,583 blood samples were taken from well children in cross-sectional surveys and from 1,361 children admitted to a Kenyan District hospital with severe disease. Among children under 2 y old with severe disease and over 2,500 parasites per microliter of blood, the MAFs were above 85% in moderate- and low-transmission areas, but only 61% in a high-transmission area. HIV and malnutrition were not associated with reduced MAFs, but gastroenteritis with severe dehydration (defined by reduced skin turgor), lower respiratory tract infection (clinician's final diagnosis), meningitis (on cerebrospinal fluid [CSF] examination), and bacteraemia were associated with reduced MAFs. The overall MAF was 85% (95% confidence interval [CI] 83.8%-86.1%) without excluding these conditions, 89% (95% CI 88.4%-90.2%) after exclusions, and 95% (95% CI 94.0%-95.5%) when a threshold of 2,500 parasites/mul was also applied. Applying a threshold and exclusion criteria reduced sensitivity to 80% (95% CI 77%-83%). CONCLUSIONS: The specificity of a case definition for severe malaria is improved by applying a parasite density threshold and by excluding children with meningitis, lower respiratory tract infection (clinician's diagnosis), bacteraemia, and gastroenteritis with severe dehydration, but not by excluding children with HIV or malnutrition.

Molyneux S, Gikonyo C, Marsh V, Bejon P. 2007. Incorporating a quiz into informed consent processes: qualitative study of participants' reactions. Malar J, 6 (1), pp. 145. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Formal checks of participant understanding are now widely recommended to improve informed consent processes. However, the views of the participants these assessments are designed to protect are rarely considered. In this paper the findings of a qualitative study aimed at documenting community reactions to a semi-structured questionnaire ('quiz') are reported. The quiz was administered to 189 mothers after consenting for their children to participate in a malaria vaccine trial on the Kenyan Coast. METHODS: Once the malaria vaccine trial was underway, focus group discussions were held with some of these mothers (nine groups; 103 mothers), and with community-based field staff attached to the malaria vaccine trial (two groups of five workers). Individual interviews with other trial staff were also held. RESULTS: The quiz prompted community members to voice concerns about blood sampling and vaccine side-effects, thereby encouraging additional discussions and interactions between the research team and potential study participants. However, it also caused significant upset and concern. Some of the quiz questions, or the way in which they were asked, appeared to fuel misconceptions and fears, with potentially negative consequences for both the study and community members. CONCLUSION: Formal approaches to checking study understanding should be employed with sensitivity and caution. They are influenced by and impact upon complex social relationships between and among researchers and community members. Adequate consideration of these contexts in assessments of understanding, and in responding to the issues raised, requires strong social science capacity.

Bejon P, Ogada E, Mwangi T, Milligan P, Lang T, Fegan G, Gilbert SC, Peshu N, Marsh K, Hill AVS. 2007. Extended Follow-Up Following a Phase 2b Randomized Trial of the Candidate Malaria Vaccines FP9 ME-TRAP and MVA ME-TRAP among Children in Kenya PLOS ONE, 2 (8), | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: "FFM ME-TRAP" is sequential immunisation with two attenuated poxvirus vectors (FP9 and modified vaccinia virus Ankara) delivering the pre-erythrocytic malaria antigen ME-TRAP. Over nine months follow-up in our original study, there was no evidence that FFM ME-TRAP provided protection against malaria. The incidence of malaria was slightly higher in children who received FFM ME-TRAP, but this was not statistically significant (hazard ratio 1.5, 95% CI 1.0-2.3). Although the study was unblinded, another nine months follow-up was planned to monitor the incidence of malaria and other serious adverse events. METHODS AND FINDINGS: 405 children aged 1-6 yrs were initially randomized to vaccination with either FFM ME-TRAP or control (rabies vaccine). 380 children were still available for follow-up after the first nine months. Children were seen weekly and whenever they were unwell for nine months monitoring. The axillary temperature was measured, and blood films taken when febrile. The primary analysis was time to parasitaemia >2,500/microl. During the second nine months monitoring, 49 events met the primary endpoint (febrile malaria with parasites >2,500/microl) in the Intention To Treat (ITT) group. 23 events occurred among the 189 children in the FFM ME-TRAP group, and 26 among the 194 children in the control group. In the full 18 months of monitoring, there were 63 events in the FFM ME-TRAP group and 60 in the control group (HR = 1.2, CI 0.84-1.73, p = 0.35). There was no evidence that the HR changed over the 18 months (test for interaction between time and vaccination p = 0.11). CONCLUSIONS: Vaccination with FFM ME-TRAP was not protective against malaria in this study. Malaria incidence during 18 months of surveillance was similar in both vaccine groups. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN88335123.

Bejon P, Keating S, Mwacharo J, Kai OK, Dunachie S, Walther M, Berthoud T, Lang T, Epstein J, Carucci D et al. 2006. Early gamma interferon and interleukin-2 responses to vaccination predict the late resting memory in malaria-naïve and malaria-exposed individuals. Infect Immun, 74 (11), pp. 6331-6338. | Show Abstract | Read more

Two different cell populations respond to potent T-cell-inducing vaccinations. The induction and loss of effector cells can be seen using an ex vivo enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay, but the more durable resting memory response is demonstrable by a cultured ELISPOT assay. The relationship of the early effector response to durable resting memory is incompletely understood. Effector phenotype is usually identified by gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) production, but interleukin-2 (IL-2) has been specifically linked to the differentiation of memory cells. Here, IFN-gamma- and IL-2-secreting effector cells were identified by an ex vivo ELISPOT assay 1 week after vaccination and compared with the resting memory responses detected by a cultured ELISPOT assay 3 months later. The different kinetics and induction of IL-2 by different vaccines and natural exposure are described. Furthermore, both early IFN-gamma and IL-2 production independently predicted subsequent memory responses at 3 months in malaria-naïve volunteers, but only IFN-gamma predicted memory in malaria-exposed volunteers. However, dual ELISPOT assays were also performed on malaria-exposed volunteers to identify cells producing both cytokines simultaneously. This demonstrated that double-cytokine-producing cells were highly predictive of memory. This assay may be useful in predicting vaccinations most likely to generate stable, long-term memory responses.

Bejon P, Mwacharo J, Kai O, Mwangi T, Milligan P, Todryk S, Keating S, Lang T, Lowe B, Gikonyo C et al. 2006. A phase 2b randomised trial of the candidate malaria vaccines FP9 ME-TRAP and MVA ME-TRAP among children in Kenya. PLoS Clin Trials, 1 (6), pp. e29. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: The objective was to measure the efficacy of the vaccination regimen FFM ME-TRAP in preventing episodes of clinical malaria among children in a malaria endemic area. FFM ME-TRAP is sequential immunisation with two attenuated poxvirus vectors (FP9 and modified vaccinia virus Ankara), which both deliver the pre-erythrocytic malaria antigen construct multiple epitope-thrombospondin-related adhesion protein (ME-TRAP). DESIGN: The trial was randomised and double-blinded. SETTING: The setting was a rural, malaria-endemic area of coastal Kenya. PARTICIPANTS: We vaccinated 405 healthy 1- to 6-year-old children. INTERVENTIONS: Participants were randomised to vaccination with either FFM ME-TRAP or control (rabies vaccine). OUTCOME MEASURES: Following antimalarial drug treatment children were seen weekly and whenever they were unwell during nine months of monitoring. The axillary temperature was measured, and blood films taken when febrile. The primary analysis was time to a parasitaemia of over 2,500 parasites/mul. RESULTS: The regime was moderately immunogenic, but the magnitude of T cell responses was lower than in previous studies. In intention to treat (ITT) analysis, time to first episode was shorter in the FFM ME-TRAP group. The cumulative incidence of febrile malaria was 52/190 (27%) for FFM ME-TRAP and 40/197 (20%) among controls (hazard ratio = 1.52). This was not statistically significant (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.0-2.3; p = 0.14 by log-rank). A group of 346 children were vaccinated according to protocol (ATP). Among these children, the hazard ratio was 1.3 (95% CI 0.8-2.1; p = 0.55 by log-rank). When multiple malaria episodes were included in the analyses, the incidence rate ratios were 1.6 (95% CI 1.1-2.3); p = 0.017 for ITT, and 1.4 (95% CI 0.9-2.1); p = 0.16 for ATP. Haemoglobin and parasitaemia in cross-sectional surveys at 3 and 9 mo did not differ by treatment group. Among children vaccinated with FFM ME-TRAP, there was no correlation between immunogenicity and malaria incidence. CONCLUSIONS: No protection was induced against febrile malaria by this vaccine regimen. Future field studies will require vaccinations with stronger immunogenicity in children living in malarious areas.

Walther M, Woodruff J, Edele F, Jeffries D, Tongren JE, King E, Andrews L, Bejon P, Gilbert SC, De Souza JB et al. 2006. Innate immune responses to human malaria: heterogeneous cytokine responses to blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum correlate with parasitological and clinical outcomes. J Immunol, 177 (8), pp. 5736-5745. | Show Abstract | Read more

Taking advantage of a sporozoite challenge model established to evaluate the efficacy of new malaria vaccine candidates, we have explored the kinetics of systemic cytokine responses during the prepatent period of Plasmodium falciparum infection in 18 unvaccinated, previously malaria-naive subjects, using a highly sensitive, bead-based multiplex assay, and relate these data to peripheral parasite densities as measured by quantitative real-time PCR. These data are complemented with the analysis of cytokine production measured in vitro from whole blood or PBMC, stimulated with P. falciparum-infected RBC. We found considerable qualitative and quantitative interindividual variability in the innate responses, with subjects falling into three groups according to the strength of their inflammatory response. One group secreted moderate levels of IFN-gamma and IL-10, but no detectable IL-12p70. A second group produced detectable levels of circulating IL-12p70 and developed very high levels of IFN-gamma and IL-10. The third group failed to up-regulate any significant proinflammatory responses, but showed the highest levels of TGF-beta. Proinflammatory responses were associated with more rapid control of parasite growth but only at the cost of developing clinical symptoms, suggesting that the initial innate response may have far-reaching consequences on disease outcome. Furthermore, the in vitro observations on cytokine kinetics presented here, suggest that intact schizont-stage infected RBC can trigger innate responses before rupture of the infected RBC.

Dunachie SJ, Walther M, Epstein JE, Keating S, Berthoud T, Andrews L, Andersen RF, Bejon P, Goonetilleke N, Poulton I et al. 2006. A DNA prime-modified vaccinia virus ankara boost vaccine encoding thrombospondin-related adhesion protein but not circumsporozoite protein partially protects healthy malaria-naive adults against Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite challenge. Infect Immun, 74 (10), pp. 5933-5942. | Show Abstract | Read more

The safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy of DNA and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) prime-boost regimes were assessed by using either thrombospondin-related adhesion protein (TRAP) with a multiple-epitope string ME (ME-TRAP) or the circumsporozoite protein (CS) of Plasmodium falciparum. Sixteen healthy subjects who never had malaria (malaria-naive subjects) received two priming vaccinations with DNA, followed by one boosting immunization with MVA, with either ME-TRAP or CS as the antigen. Immunogenicity was assessed by ex vivo gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) enzyme-linked immunospot assay (ELISPOT) and antibody assay. Two weeks after the final vaccination, the subjects underwent P. falciparum sporozoite challenge, with six unvaccinated controls. The vaccines were well tolerated and immunogenic, with the DDM-ME TRAP regimen producing stronger ex vivo IFN-gamma ELISPOT responses than DDM-CS. One of eight subjects receiving the DDM-ME TRAP regimen was completely protected against malaria challenge, with this group as a whole showing significant delay to parasitemia compared to controls (P = 0.045). The peak ex vivo IFN-gamma ELISPOT response in this group correlated strongly with the number of days to parasitemia (P = 0.033). No protection was observed in the DDM-CS group. Prime-boost vaccination with DNA and MVA encoding ME-TRAP but not CS resulted in partial protection against P. falciparum sporozoite challenge in the present study.

Bejon P, Kai OK, Mwacharo J, Keating S, Lang T, Gilbert SC, Peshu N, Marsh K, Hill AVS. 2006. Alternating vector immunizations encoding pre-erythrocytic malaria antigens enhance memory responses in a malaria endemic area. Eur J Immunol, 36 (8), pp. 2264-2272. | Show Abstract | Read more

A heterologous prime-boost strategy has been developed to potently induce T cell responses to pre-erythrocytic malaria antigens. Efficacy in the field is likely to depend on both peak immunogenicity and the durability of responses. To improve both immunogenicity and durability of responses, 54 adult males from a malaria endemic area were immunized with different vaccination regimens, systematically varying antigenic insert and the number and sequence of component vaccinations. The component vaccinations were recombinant attenuated viruses, either fowlpox (FP) 9 or modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA). These were recombinant for either of two pre-erythrocytic malaria antigens (multiple epitope-thrombospondin-related adhesion protein, ME-TRAP, or circumsporozoite antigen (CS). ELISPOT assays were used to measure the effector and resting memory T cell responses. Sequence, antigen insert and number of vaccinations influenced immunogenicity, but the novel alternating vector immunizations generated the largest resting memory T cell populations. Effector responses were maintained at 84% of the peak response after 270 days. This durability of response is unprecedented. Classical prime-boost vaccination responses were at 5% of the peak after 270 days. Vaccines administered by heterologous prime-boost regimes are being developed for diverse pathogens and cancer. These data suggest these vaccines should also be administered by alternating vector regimens in clinical development.

Bejon P, Mwacharo J, Kai OK, Todryk S, Keating S, Lang T, Gilbert SC, Peshu N, Marsh K, Hill AVS. 2006. Immunogenicity of the candidate malaria vaccines FP9 and modified vaccinia virus Ankara encoding the pre-erythrocytic antigen ME-TRAP in 1-6 year old children in a malaria endemic area. Vaccine, 24 (22), pp. 4709-4715. | Show Abstract | Read more

In a phase 1 trial, 22 children in a malaria endemic area were immunised with candidate malaria vaccination regimes. The regimes used two recombinant viral vectors, attenuated fowlpox strain FP9 and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA). Both encoded the pre-erythrocytic malaria antigen construct ME-TRAP. Strong T cell responses were detected by both ex vivo and cultured ELISpot assays. Data from phase 1 trials in adults on anti-vector responses raised by FP9 is presented. These responses partially cross-reacted with MVA, and detectably reduced the immunogenicity of vaccination with MVA. This prompted the comparison of half dose and full dose FP9 priming vaccinations in children. Regimes using half dose FP9 priming tended to be more immunogenic than full dose. The potential for enhanced immunogenicity with half doses of priming vectors warrants further investigation, and larger studies to determine protection against malaria in children are required.

Bejon P, Peshu N, Gilbert SC, Lowe BS, Molyneux CS, Forsdyke J, Lang T, Hill AVS, Marsh K. 2006. Safety profile of the viral vectors of attenuated fowlpox strain FP9 and modified vaccinia virus Ankara recombinant for either of 2 preerythrocytic malaria antigens, ME-TRAP or the circumsporozoite protein, in children and adults in Kenya. Clin Infect Dis, 42 (8), pp. 1102-1110. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: We are developing a heterologous prime-boost vaccine strategy against malaria. This approach uses sequential immunization with different vectors to deliver a common preerythrocytic malaria antigen. Preliminary evidence of efficacy and safety has been previously documented in studies from an area where malaria is nonendemic. Additional safety data from an area where malaria is endemic are now required before larger-scale studies are undertaken to determine the efficacy of this vaccine strategy in the field. Other modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) recombinants and prime-boost immunizations are being developed as vaccines against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, tuberculosis, and cancer, and MVA is a candidate attenuated smallpox vaccine. METHODS: Candidate vaccines against malaria were intradermally administered to 73 adults (7 of whom were HIV positive) and 22 children in Kenya. These vaccines used the attenuated fowlpox strain FP9 and the MVA recombinant for either of 2 preerythrocytic malaria antigens, multiple preerythrocytic-stage epitopes joined with the preerythrocytic-stage antigen TRAP (ME-TRAP) and the circumsporozoite protein (CS). Adverse events were recorded. RESULTS: Reactogenicity was mild. MVA caused less frequent and less severe cutaneous reaction if given after FP9 priming. Half doses reduced the frequency and the severity of systemic reactogenicity, and particular vaccine lots were associated with different reactogenicities. Unexpectedly, prior immunity to the ME-TRAP antigen appeared to be protective against local reactions after immunization. CONCLUSIONS: Where the final intention is to use MVA after FP9 priming, previous testing of MVA alone overestimates reactogenicity. These recombinant vectors appear to be safe and suitable for use in larger-scale studies of children in Africa and of HIV-positive individuals.

Dunachie SJ, Walther M, Vuola JM, Webster DP, Keating SM, Berthoud T, Andrews L, Bejon P, Poulton I, Butcher G et al. 2006. A clinical trial of prime-boost immunisation with the candidate malaria vaccines RTS,S/AS02A and MVA-CS. Vaccine, 24 (15), pp. 2850-2859. | Show Abstract | Read more

Heterologous prime-boost immunisation with RTS,S/AS02A and the poxvirus MVA-CS was evaluated in 18 healthy malaria-naïve subjects in Oxford. Both priming with RTS,S and boosting MVA-CS, and the reverse, were found to be safe and well tolerated. T cell responses as measured by IFN-gamma ex vivo ELISPOT were induced, but the responses were low to moderate in both groups, with heterologous boosting yielding only small increments in T cell immunogenicity and no increased antibody response. Protection against 3D7 Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite challenge 4 weeks after the final vaccination was equal for both regimens at 33% (95% C.I. 4.3-77.7%), with one subject remaining fully protected on rechallenge at 5 months.

Bejon P, Andrews L, Hunt-Cooke A, Sanderson F, Gilbert SC, Hill AVS. 2006. Thick blood film examination for Plasmodium falciparum malaria has reduced sensitivity and underestimates parasite density. Malar J, 5 pp. 104. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Thick blood films are routinely used to diagnose Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Here, they were used to diagnose volunteers exposed to experimental malaria challenge. METHODS: The frequency with which blood films were positive at given parasite densities measured by PCR were analysed. The poisson distribution was used to calculate the theoretical likelihood of diagnosis. Further in vitro studies used serial dilutions to prepare thick films from malaria cultures at known parasitaemia. RESULTS: Even in expert hands, thick blood films were considerably less sensitive than might have been expected from the parasite numbers measured by quantitative PCR. In vitro work showed that thick films prepared from malaria cultures at known parasitaemia consistently underestimated parasite densities. CONCLUSION: It appears large numbers of parasites are lost during staining. This limits their sensitivity, and leads to erroneous estimates of parasite density.

Atkinson SH, Rockett K, Sirugo G, Bejon PA, Fulford A, O'Connell MA, Bailey R, Kwiatkowski DP, Prentice AM. 2006. Seasonal childhood anaemia in West Africa is associated with the haptoglobin 2-2 genotype. PLoS Med, 3 (5), pp. e172. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Anaemia is a major cause of morbidity and mortality for children in Africa. The plasma protein haptoglobin (Hp) binds avidly to free haemoglobin released following malaria-induced haemolysis. Haptoglobin polymorphisms result in proteins with altered haemoglobin-binding capacity and different antioxidant, iron-recycling, and immune functions. Previous studies examined the importance of haptoglobin polymorphism in malaria and iron homeostasis, but it is unknown whether haptoglobin genotype might be a risk factor for anaemia in children in a malaria-endemic area. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A cohort of 780 rural Gambian children aged 2-6 y was surveyed at the start and end of the malaria season. Samples were taken to assess haemoglobin (Hb) concentration, iron status (ferritin, zinc protoporphyrin, transferrin saturation, and soluble transferrin receptor concentration), haptoglobin concentration, alpha-1-antichymotrypsin (a measure of inflammation), and malaria parasites on blood film. We extracted DNA and genotyped for haptoglobin, sickle cell, and glucose-6-phosphate (G6PD) deficiency. Mean Hb levels fell over the malaria season. Children with the haptoglobin 2-2 genotype (17%) had a greater mean drop in Hb level over the malaria season (an 8.9 g/l drop; confidence interval [CI] 5.7, 12.1) compared to other children (a 5.1 g/l drop; CI 3.8, 6.4). In multivariate regression analysis, controlling for baseline Hb level, age group, village, malaria parasites on blood film, iron status, haptoglobin concentration, and G6PD deficiency, haptoglobin genotype predicted Hb level at the end of the malaria season (p = 0.0009, coefficient = -4.2). Iron status was not influenced by haptoglobin genotype. CONCLUSIONS: The finding that haptoglobin 2-2 genotype is a risk factor for anaemia in children in a malaria-endemic area may reflect the reduced ability of the Hp2-2 polymer to scavenge free haemoglobin-iron following malaria-induced haemolysis. The magnitude of the effect of haptoglobin genotype (4 g/l Hb difference, p = 0.0009) was comparable to that of G6PD deficiency or HbAS (3 g/l difference, p = 0.03; and 2 g/l difference, p = 0.68, respectively).

Keating SM, Bejon P, Berthoud T, Vuola JM, Todryk S, Webster DP, Dunachie SJ, Moorthy VS, McConkey SJ, Gilbert SC, Hill AVS. 2005. Durable human memory T cells quantifiable by cultured enzyme-linked immunospot assays are induced by heterologous prime boost immunization and correlate with protection against malaria. J Immunol, 175 (9), pp. 5675-5680. | Show Abstract | Read more

Immunological memory is a required component of protective antimalarial responses raised by T cell-inducing vaccines. The magnitude of ex vivo IFN-gamma T cell responses is widely used to identify immunogenic vaccines although this response usually wanes and may disappear within weeks. However, protection in the field is likely to depend on durable central memory T cells that are not detected by this assay. To identify longer-lived memory T cells, PBMC from malaria-naive vaccinated volunteers who had received prime boost vaccinations with a combination of DNA and/or viral vectors encoding the multiepitope string-thrombospondin-related adhesion protein Ag were cultured in vitro with Ag for 10 days before the ELISPOT assay. Ex vivo T cell responses peaked at 7 days after the final immunization and declined substantially over 6 mo, but responses identified after T cell culture increased over the 6-mo period after the final immunization. Moreover, individual cultured ELISPOT responses at the day of challenge time point correlated significantly with degree of protection against malaria sporozoite challenge, whereas ex vivo responses did not, despite a correlation between the peak ex vivo response and magnitude of memory responses 6 mo later. This cultured assay identifies long-lasting protective T cell responses and therefore offers an attractive option for assessments of vaccine immunogenicity.

Walther M, Tongren JE, Andrews L, Korbel D, King E, Fletcher H, Andersen RF, Bejon P, Thompson F, Dunachie SJ et al. 2005. Upregulation of TGF-beta, FOXP3, and CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells correlates with more rapid parasite growth in human malaria infection. Immunity, 23 (3), pp. 287-296. | Show Abstract | Read more

Understanding the regulation of immune responses is central for control of autoimmune and infectious disease. In murine models of autoimmunity and chronic inflammatory disease, potent regulatory T lymphocytes have recently been characterized. Despite an explosion of interest in these cells, their relevance to human disease has been uncertain. In a longitudinal study of malaria sporozoite infection via the natural route, we provide evidence that regulatory T cells have modifying effects on blood-stage infection in vivo in humans. Cells with the characteristics of regulatory T cells are rapidly induced following blood-stage infection and are associated with a burst of TGF-beta production, decreased proinflammatory cytokine production, and decreased antigen-specific immune responses. Both the production of TGF-beta and the presence of CD4+CD25+FOXP3+ regulatory T cells are associated with higher rates of parasite growth in vivo. P. falciparum-mediated induction of regulatory T cells may represent a parasite-specific virulence factor.

Andrews L, Andersen RF, Webster D, Dunachie S, Walther RM, Bejon P, Hunt-Cooke A, Bergson G, Sanderson F, Hill AVS, Gilbert SC. 2005. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction for malaria diagnosis and its use in malaria vaccine clinical trials. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 73 (1), pp. 191-198. | Show Abstract

The demand for an effective malaria vaccine is high, with millions of people being affected by the disease every year. A large variety of potential vaccines are under investigation worldwide, and when tested in clinical trials, researchers need to extract as much data as possible from every vaccinated and control volunteer. The use of quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), carried out in real-time during the clinical trials of vaccines designed to act against the liver stage of the parasite's life cycle, provides more information than the gold standard method of microscopy alone and increases both safety and accuracy. PCR can detect malaria parasites in the blood up to 5 days before experienced microscopists see parasites on blood films, with a sensitivity of 20 parasites/mL blood. This PCR method has so far been used to follow 137 vaccinee and control volunteers in Phase IIa trials in Oxford and on 220 volunteer samples during a Phase IIb field trial in The Gambia.

Bejon P, Mwangi I, Ngetsa C, Mwarumba S, Berkley JA, Lowe BS, Maitland K, Marsh K, English M, Scott JAG. 2005. Invasive Gram-negative bacilli are frequently resistant to standard antibiotics for children admitted to hospital in Kilifi, Kenya. J Antimicrob Chemother, 56 (1), pp. 232-235. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: To determine the pattern of resistance among Gram-negative bacilli causing invasive bacterial disease for the antibiotics that are already in common use in Kilifi, Kenya and for two potential alternatives, ciprofloxacin and cefotaxime. Also, to determine whether prevalence and severity of resistance was increasing over time, to identify patients who are particularly at risk of resistant infections, and to explore which factors are associated with the development of resistance in our setting. METHODS: We used Etest to study antibiotic susceptibility patterns of 90 Gram-negative bacilli cultured in blood or CSF from paediatric inpatients over 8 years. RESULTS: Susceptibility to amoxicillin 28%, cefotaxime 95% and ciprofloxacin 99% did not vary significantly with age. Susceptibilities for isolates from children aged less than 14 days were: chloramphenicol, 81%; trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, 71%; and gentamicin, 91%. From older children, susceptibilities were: chloramphenicol, 62%; trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, 39%; and gentamicin, 73%. Chloramphenicol susceptibility was significantly more common among non-typhi salmonellae than other species (79% versus 53%, P < 0.0005). The combination of gentamicin and chloramphenicol covered 91% of all isolates. The prevalence of resistance did not increase over time and was not more common in patients with HIV or malnutrition. Age was the only clinical feature that predicted resistance. CONCLUSIONS: Gentamicin or chloramphenicol alone was suboptimal therapy for Gram-negative sepsis, although in this retrospective study, there was no association between resistance and mortality.

Dorfman JR, Bejon P, Ndungu FM, Langhorne J, Kortok MM, Lowe BS, Mwangi TW, Williams TN, Marsh K. 2005. B cell memory to 3 Plasmodium falciparum blood-stage antigens in a malaria-endemic area. J Infect Dis, 191 (10), pp. 1623-1630. | Show Abstract | Read more

To gain insight into why antibody responses to malarial antigens tend to be short lived, we studied antigen-specific memory B cells from donors in an area where malaria is endemic. We compared antibody and memory B cell responses to tetanus toxoid with those to 3 Plasmodium falciparum candidate vaccine antigens: the C-terminal portion of merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1(19)), apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1), and the cysteine-rich interdomain region 1 alpha (CIDR1 alpha ) of a protein from the P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) family. These data are the first to be generated on memory B cells in children who are in the process of acquiring antimalarial immunity, and they reveal defects in B cell memory to P. falciparum antigens. Compared with the results for tetanus toxoid, more donors who were positive for antibody to AMA1 and CIDR1 alpha were negative for memory B cells. These data imply that some exposures to malaria do not result in the establishment of stable populations of circulating antigen-specific memory B cells, suggesting possible mechanisms for the short-lived nature of many anti-malarial antibody responses.

Webster DP, Dunachie S, Vuola JM, Berthoud T, Keating S, Laidlaw SM, McConkey SJ, Poulton I, Andrews L, Andersen RF et al. 2005. Enhanced T cell-mediated protection against malaria in human challenges by using the recombinant poxviruses FP9 and modified vaccinia virus Ankara. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 102 (13), pp. 4836-4841. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria is a major global health problem for which an effective vaccine is required urgently. Prime-boost vaccination regimes involving plasmid DNA and recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara-encoding liver-stage malaria antigens have been shown to be powerfully immunogenic for T cells and capable of inducing partial protection against experimental malaria challenge in humans, manifested as a delay in time to patent parasitemia. Here, we report that substitution of plasmid DNA as the priming vector with a specific attenuated recombinant fowlpox virus, FP9, vaccine in such prime-boost regimes can elicit complete sterile protection that can last for 20 months. Protection at 20 months was associated with persisting memory but not effector T cell responses. The protective efficacy of various immunization regimes correlated with the magnitude of induced immune responses, supporting the strategy of maximizing durable T cell immunogenicity to develop more effective liver-stage vaccines against Plasmodium falciparum malaria.

Bejon P, Andrews L, Andersen RF, Dunachie S, Webster D, Walther M, Gilbert SC, Peto T, Hill AVS. 2005. Calculation of liver-to-blood inocula, parasite growth rates, and preerythrocytic vaccine efficacy, from serial quantitative polymerase chain reaction studies of volunteers challenged with malaria sporozoites. J Infect Dis, 191 (4), pp. 619-626. | Show Abstract | Read more

We calculated the number and growth rate of Plasmodium falciparum parasites emerging in recipients of candidate preerythrocytic malaria vaccines and unvaccinated control subjects undergoing mosquito-bite challenge. This was done to measure vaccine efficacy and to distinguish the effects on blood-stage multiplication from those on liver-stage parasites. Real-time polymerase chain reaction measurements of parasite densities were analyzed by nonlinear regression and mixed-effects models. Substantial reductions in numbers of liver parasites resulted from the use of 2 immunization regimens: FP9 boosted by modified virus Ankara (MVA) encoding the malaria epitope-thrombospondin-related adhesion protein insert (92% reduction) and RTS,S/AS02 used in heterologous prime-boost immunization regimens, with MVA encoding the circumsporozoite protein (97% reduction). Forty-eight-hour growth rates in blood from control subjects were not different from those in blood from any vaccination group (mean, 14.4-fold [95% confidence interval, 11-19-fold]).

Bejon P. 2005. Steps towards a malaria vaccine Evidence-based Healthcare and Public Health, 9 (3), pp. 177-178. | Read more

Bejon P, Mwacharo J, Kai O, Lowe B, Todryk S, Peshu N, Gilbert S, Lang T, Marsh K, Hill A. 2005. Safety, immunogenicity and efficacy studies of candidate malaria vaccines FP9 and MVA encoding ME-TRAP in Kenyan children [MIM-PB-224908] ACTA TROPICA, 95 pp. S84-S84.

Kai O, Mwacharo J, Bejon P, Lowe B, Molyneux S, Peshu N, Marsh K, Hill A. 2005. Safety and immunogenicity of the candidate malaria vaccines FP9 ME-TRAP and MVA METRAP in semi-immune adult males [MIM-OK-87312] ACTA TROPICA, 95 pp. S421-S421.

Maitland K, Bejon P, Newton CRJC. 2003. Malaria. Curr Opin Infect Dis, 16 (5), pp. 389-395. | Show Abstract | Read more

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This review addresses recent developments that relate to the pathogenesis of severe malaria and its treatment, and also highlights the increase in the global burden of malaria and provides a summary of clinical trials of malaria vaccines. RECENT FINDINGS: Malaria, one of the world's most important parasitic infections, is on the increase globally. This has resulted in an increase in the morbidity and mortality from malaria in endemic areas, a resurgence in areas where it was previous eradicated, and an increase in imported malaria in Europe and North America. Mortality from severe malaria continues to be high, even when effective drugs are available, because most deaths occur within hours of admission to hospital. In severe malaria, the presence of acidosis is the most important prognostic factor in children and adults. A number of therapies have resulted in clinical improvements and the correction of acidosis in phase I and II studies, but larger trials are required to examine the effect on mortality. More malaria vaccines are now in phase I or II trials; however, available data do not yet promise an imminent impact on malaria control. SUMMARY: Recent developments include a better understanding of the pathogenesis of severe malaria, and have given rise to a number of novel therapeutic strategies that should be examined in larger phase III trials. Similarly, there has been considerable progress in the field of vaccine development.

Levy MJ, Bejon P, Barakat M, Goadsby PJ, Meeran K. 2003. Acromegaly: a unique human headache model. Headache, 43 (7), pp. 794-797. | Read more

Bejon PA, Bannister LH, Fowler RE, Fookes RE, Webb SE, Wright A, Mitchell GH. 1997. A role for microtubules in Plasmodium falciparum merozoite invasion. Parasitology, 114 ( Pt 1) (1), pp. 1-6. | Show Abstract | Read more

Colchicine, a drug which poisons the polymerization of microtubules, was assayed for effects on the invasion of Plasmodium falciparum merozoites into red cells in order to investigate if merozoite microtubules have a function in invasion. Culture conditions and concentrations of colchicine were established where the maturation and rupture of schizonts was unaffected by the drug. This was judged first by light microscopy, including morphology and counts of nuclear particle numbers, then by ultrastructural studies which excluded deranged organellogenesis as a cause of merozoite failure, and finally by diachronic cultures in which both recruitment and loss of schizonts could be counted. Specific invasion inhibition was seen when 10 microM-1 mM colchicine was present. Red cells pre-incubated in colchicine and then washed showed no reduction in their extent of invasion, and neither red cell lysis, sphering nor blebbing were apparent. We conclude that intact microtubules are necessary for successful merozoite function.

Douglas AD, Edwards NJ, Duncan CJA, Thompson FM, Sheehy SH, O'Hara GA, Anagnostou N, Walther M, Webster DP, Dunachie SJ et al. 2013. Comparison of modeling methods to determine liver-to-blood inocula and parasite multiplication rates during controlled human malaria infection. J Infect Dis, 208 (2), pp. 340-345. | Show Abstract | Read more

Controlled human malaria infection is used to measure efficacy of candidate malaria vaccines before field studies are undertaken. Mathematical modeling using data from quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) parasitemia monitoring can discriminate between vaccine effects on the parasite's liver and blood stages. Uncertainty regarding the most appropriate modeling method hinders interpretation of such trials. We used qPCR data from 267 Plasmodium falciparum infections to compare linear, sine-wave, and normal-cumulative-density-function models. We find that the parameters estimated by these models are closely correlated, and their predictive accuracy for omitted data points was similar. We propose that future studies include the linear model.

Olotu A, Fegan G, Wambua J, Nyangweso G, Awuondo KO, Leach A, Lievens M, Leboulleux D, Njuguna P, Peshu N et al. 2013. Four-year efficacy of RTS,S/AS01E and its interaction with malaria exposure. N Engl J Med, 368 (12), pp. 1111-1120. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The candidate malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS01E has entered phase 3 trials, but data on long-term outcomes are limited. METHODS: For 4 years, we followed children who had been randomly assigned, at 5 to 17 months of age, to receive three doses of RTS,S/AS01E vaccine (223 children) or rabies vaccine (224 controls). The end point was clinical malaria (temperature of ≥37.5°C and Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia density of >2500 parasites per cubic millimeter). Each child's exposure to malaria was estimated with the use of the distance-weighted local prevalence of malaria. RESULTS: Over a period of 4 years, 118 of 223 children who received the RTS,S/AS01E vaccine and 138 of 224 of the controls had at least 1 episode of clinical malaria. Vaccine efficacies in the intention-to-treat and per-protocol analyses were 29.9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 10.3 to 45.3; P=0.005) and 32.1% (95% CI, 11.6 to 47.8; P=0.004), respectively, calculated by Cox regression. Multiple episodes were common, with 551 and 618 malarial episodes in the RTS,S/AS01E and control groups, respectively; vaccine efficacies in the intention-to-treat and per-protocol analyses were 16.8% (95% CI, -8.6 to 36.3; P=0.18) and 24.3% (95% CI, 1.9 to 41.6; P=0.04), respectively, calculated by the Andersen-Gill extension of the Cox model. For every 100 vaccinated children, 65 cases of clinical malaria were averted. Vaccine efficacy declined over time (P=0.004) and with increasing exposure to malaria (P=0.001) in the per-protocol analysis. Vaccine efficacy was 43.6% (95% CI, 15.5 to 62.3) in the first year but was -0.4% (95% CI, -32.1 to 45.3) in the fourth year. Among children with a malaria-exposure index that was average or lower than average, the vaccine efficacy was 45.1% (95% CI, 11.3 to 66.0), but among children with a malaria-exposure index that was higher than average it was 15.9% (95% CI, -11.0 to 36.4). CONCLUSIONS: The efficacy of RTS,S/AS01E vaccine over the 4-year period was 16.8%. Efficacy declined over time and with increasing malaria exposure. (Funded by the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative and Wellcome Trust; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00872963.).

Midega JT, Smith DL, Olotu A, Mwangangi JM, Nzovu JG, Wambua J, Nyangweso G, Mbogo CM, Christophides GK, Marsh K, Bejon P. 2012. Wind direction and proximity to larval sites determines malaria risk in Kilifi District in Kenya. Nat Commun, 3 (1), pp. 674. | Show Abstract | Read more

Studies of the fine-scale spatial epidemiology of malaria consistently identify malaria hotspots, comprising clusters of homesteads at high transmission intensity. These hotspots sustain transmission, and may be targeted by malaria-control programmes. Here we describe the spatial relationship between the location of Anopheles larval sites and human malaria infection in a cohort study of 642 children, aged 1-10-years-old. Our data suggest that proximity to larval sites predict human malaria infection, when homesteads are upwind of larval sites, but not when homesteads are downwind of larval sites. We conclude that following oviposition, female Anophelines fly upwind in search for human hosts and, thus, malaria transmission may be disrupted by targeting vector larval sites in close proximity, and downwind to malaria hotspots.

Olotu A, Fegan G, Wambua J, Nyangweso G, Ogada E, Drakeley C, Marsh K, Bejon P. 2012. Estimating individual exposure to malaria using local prevalence of malaria infection in the field. PLoS One, 7 (3), pp. e32929. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Heterogeneity in malaria exposure complicates survival analyses of vaccine efficacy trials and confounds the association between immune correlates of protection and malaria infection in longitudinal studies. Analysis may be facilitated by taking into account the variability in individual exposure levels, but it is unclear how exposure can be estimated at an individual level. METHOD AND FINDINGS: We studied three cohorts (Chonyi, Junju and Ngerenya) in Kilifi District, Kenya to assess measures of malaria exposure. Prospective data were available on malaria episodes, geospatial coordinates, proximity to infected and uninfected individuals and residence in predefined malaria hotspots for 2,425 individuals. Antibody levels to the malaria antigens AMA1 and MSP1(142) were available for 291 children from Junju. We calculated distance-weighted local prevalence of malaria infection within 1 km radius as a marker of individual's malaria exposure. We used multivariable modified Poisson regression model to assess the discriminatory power of these markers for malaria infection (i.e. asymptomatic parasitaemia or clinical malaria). The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was used to assess the discriminatory power of the models. Local malaria prevalence within 1 km radius and AMA1 and MSP1(142) antibodies levels were independently associated with malaria infection. Weighted local malaria prevalence had an area under ROC curve of 0.72 (95%CI: 0.66-0.73), 0.71 (95%CI: 0.69-0.73) and 0.82 (95%CI: 0.80-0.83) among cohorts in Chonyi, Junju and Ngerenya respectively. In a small subset of children from Junju, a model incorporating weighted local malaria prevalence with AMA1 and MSP1(142) antibody levels provided an AUC of 0.83 (95%CI: 0.79-0.88). CONCLUSION: We have proposed an approach to estimating the intensity of an individual's malaria exposure in the field. The weighted local malaria prevalence can be used as individual marker of malaria exposure in malaria vaccine trials and longitudinal studies of natural immunity to malaria.

RTS,S Clinical Trials Partnership, Agnandji ST, Lell B, Soulanoudjingar SS, Fernandes JF, Abossolo BP, Conzelmann C, Methogo BGNO, Doucka Y, Flamen A et al. 2011. First results of phase 3 trial of RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine in African children. N Engl J Med, 365 (20), pp. 1863-1875. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: An ongoing phase 3 study of the efficacy, safety, and immunogenicity of candidate malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS01 is being conducted in seven African countries. METHODS: From March 2009 through January 2011, we enrolled 15,460 children in two age categories--6 to 12 weeks of age and 5 to 17 months of age--for vaccination with either RTS,S/AS01 or a non-malaria comparator vaccine. The primary end point of the analysis was vaccine efficacy against clinical malaria during the 12 months after vaccination in the first 6000 children 5 to 17 months of age at enrollment who received all three doses of vaccine according to protocol. After 250 children had an episode of severe malaria, we evaluated vaccine efficacy against severe malaria in both age categories. RESULTS: In the 14 months after the first dose of vaccine, the incidence of first episodes of clinical malaria in the first 6000 children in the older age category was 0.32 episodes per person-year in the RTS,S/AS01 group and 0.55 episodes per person-year in the control group, for an efficacy of 50.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 45.8 to 54.6) in the intention-to-treat population and 55.8% (97.5% CI, 50.6 to 60.4) in the per-protocol population. Vaccine efficacy against severe malaria was 45.1% (95% CI, 23.8 to 60.5) in the intention-to-treat population and 47.3% (95% CI, 22.4 to 64.2) in the per-protocol population. Vaccine efficacy against severe malaria in the combined age categories was 34.8% (95% CI, 16.2 to 49.2) in the per-protocol population during an average follow-up of 11 months. Serious adverse events occurred with a similar frequency in the two study groups. Among children in the older age category, the rate of generalized convulsive seizures after RTS,S/AS01 vaccination was 1.04 per 1000 doses (95% CI, 0.62 to 1.64). CONCLUSIONS: The RTS,S/AS01 vaccine provided protection against both clinical and severe malaria in African children. (Funded by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative; RTS,S ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00866619 .).

Bejon P, Turner L, Lavstsen T, Cham G, Olotu A, Drakeley CJ, Lievens M, Vekemans J, Savarese B, Lusingu J et al. 2011. Serological evidence of discrete spatial clusters of Plasmodium falciparum parasites. PLoS One, 6 (6), pp. e21711. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria transmission may be considered to be homogenous with well-mixed parasite populations (as in the classic Ross/Macdonald models). Marked fine-scale heterogeneity of transmission has been observed in the field (i.e., over a few kilometres), but there are relatively few data on the degree of mixing. Since the Plasmodium falciparum Erythrocyte Membrane Protein 1 (PfEMP1) is highly polymorphic, the host's serological responses may be used to infer exposure to parasite sub-populations. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We measured the antibody responses to 46 individual PfEMP1 domains at four time points among 450 children in Kenya, and identified distinct spatial clusters of antibody responses to individual domains. 35 domains showed strongly significant sero-clusters at p = 0.001. Individuals within the high transmission hotspot showed the greatest diversity of anti-PfEMP1 responses. Individuals outside the hotspot had a less diverse range of responses, even if as individuals they were at relatively intense exposure. CONCLUSIONS: We infer that antigenically distinct sub-populations of parasites exist on a fine spatial scale in a study area of rural Kenya. Further studies should examine antigenic variation over longer periods of time and in different study areas.

Bejon P, Williams TN, Liljander A, Noor AM, Wambua J, Ogada E, Olotu A, Osier FHA, Hay SI, Färnert A, Marsh K. 2010. Stable and unstable malaria hotspots in longitudinal cohort studies in Kenya. PLoS Med, 7 (7), pp. e1000304. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Infectious diseases often demonstrate heterogeneity of transmission among host populations. This heterogeneity reduces the efficacy of control strategies, but also implies that focusing control strategies on "hotspots" of transmission could be highly effective. METHODS AND FINDINGS: In order to identify hotspots of malaria transmission, we analysed longitudinal data on febrile malaria episodes, asymptomatic parasitaemia, and antibody titres over 12 y from 256 homesteads in three study areas in Kilifi District on the Kenyan coast. We examined heterogeneity by homestead, and identified groups of homesteads that formed hotspots using a spatial scan statistic. Two types of statistically significant hotspots were detected; stable hotspots of asymptomatic parasitaemia and unstable hotspots of febrile malaria. The stable hotspots were associated with higher average AMA-1 antibody titres than the unstable clusters (optical density [OD] = 1.24, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.02-1.47 versus OD = 1.1, 95% CI 0.88-1.33) and lower mean ages of febrile malaria episodes (5.8 y, 95% CI 5.6-6.0 versus 5.91 y, 95% CI 5.7-6.1). A falling gradient of febrile malaria incidence was identified in the penumbrae of both hotspots. Hotspots were associated with AMA-1 titres, but not seroconversion rates. In order to target control measures, homesteads at risk of febrile malaria could be predicted by identifying the 20% of homesteads that experienced an episode of febrile malaria during one month in the dry season. That 20% subsequently experienced 65% of all febrile malaria episodes during the following year. A definition based on remote sensing data was 81% sensitive and 63% specific for the stable hotspots of asymptomatic malaria. CONCLUSIONS: Hotspots of asymptomatic parasitaemia are stable over time, but hotspots of febrile malaria are unstable. This finding may be because immunity offsets the high rate of febrile malaria that might otherwise result in stable hotspots, whereas unstable hotspots necessarily affect a population with less prior exposure to malaria.

Bejon P, Lusingu J, Olotu A, Leach A, Lievens M, Vekemans J, Mshamu S, Lang T, Gould J, Dubois M-C et al. 2008. Efficacy of RTS,S/AS01E vaccine against malaria in children 5 to 17 months of age. N Engl J Med, 359 (24), pp. 2521-2532. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum malaria is a pressing global health problem. A previous study of the malaria vaccine RTS,S (which targets the circumsporozoite protein), given with an adjuvant system (AS02A), showed a 30% rate of protection against clinical malaria in children 1 to 4 years of age. We evaluated the efficacy of RTS,S given with a more immunogenic adjuvant system (AS01E) in children 5 to 17 months of age, a target population for vaccine licensure. METHODS: We conducted a double-blind, randomized trial of RTS,S/AS01E vaccine as compared with rabies vaccine in children in Kilifi, Kenya, and Korogwe, Tanzania. The primary end point was fever with a falciparum parasitemia density of more than 2500 parasites per microliter, and the mean duration of follow-up was 7.9 months (range, 4.5 to 10.5). RESULTS: A total of 894 children were randomly assigned to receive the RTS,S/AS01E vaccine or the control (rabies) vaccine. Among the 809 children who completed the study procedures according to the protocol, the cumulative number in whom clinical malaria developed was 32 of 402 assigned to receive RTS,S/AS01E and 66 of 407 assigned to receive the rabies vaccine; the adjusted efficacy rate for RTS,S/AS01E was 53% (95% confidence interval [CI], 28 to 69; P<0.001) on the basis of Cox regression. Overall, there were 38 episodes of clinical malaria among recipients of RTS,S/AS01E, as compared with 86 episodes among recipients of the rabies vaccine, with an adjusted rate of efficacy against all malarial episodes of 56% (95% CI, 31 to 72; P<0.001). All 894 children were included in the intention-to-treat analysis, which showed an unadjusted efficacy rate of 49% (95% CI, 26 to 65; P<0.001). There were fewer serious adverse events among recipients of RTS,S/AS01E, and this reduction was not only due to a difference in the number of admissions directly attributable to malaria. CONCLUSIONS: RTS,S/AS01E shows promise as a candidate malaria vaccine. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00380393.)

O'Meara WP, Bejon P, Mwangi TW, Okiro EA, Peshu N, Snow RW, Newton CRJC, Marsh K. 2008. Effect of a fall in malaria transmission on morbidity and mortality in Kilifi, Kenya. Lancet, 372 (9649), pp. 1555-1562. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: As efforts to control malaria are expanded across the world, understanding the role of transmission intensity in determining the burden of clinical malaria is crucial to the prediction and measurement of the effectiveness of interventions to reduce transmission. Furthermore, studies comparing several endemic sites led to speculation that as transmission decreases morbidity and mortality caused by severe malaria might increase. We aimed to assess the epidemiological characteristics of malaria in Kilifi, Kenya, during a period of decreasing transmission intensity. METHODS: We analyse 18 years (1990-2007) of surveillance data from a paediatric ward in a malaria-endemic region of Kenya. The hospital has a catchment area of 250 000 people. Clinical data and blood-film results for more than 61 000 admissions are reported. FINDINGS: Hospital admissions for malaria decreased from 18.43 per 1000 children in 2003 to 3.42 in 2007. Over 18 years of surveillance, the incidence of cerebral malaria initially increased; however, malaria mortality decreased overall because of a decrease in incidence of severe malarial anaemia since 1997 (4.75 to 0.37 per 1000 children) and improved survival among children admitted with non-severe malaria. Parasite prevalence, the mean age of children admitted with malaria, and the proportion of children with cerebral malaria began to change 10 years before hospitalisation for malaria started to fall. INTERPRETATION: Sustained reduction in exposure to infection leads to changes in mean age and presentation of disease similar to those described in multisite studies. Changes in transmission might not lead to immediate reductions in incidence of clinical disease. However, longitudinal data do not indicate that reductions in transmission intensity lead to transient increases in morbidity and mortality.

Bejon P, Mwacharo J, Kai O, Todryk S, Keating S, Lowe B, Lang T, Mwangi TW, Gilbert SC, Peshu N et al. 2007. The induction and persistence of T cell IFN-gamma responses after vaccination or natural exposure is suppressed by Plasmodium falciparum. J Immunol, 179 (6), pp. 4193-4201. | Show Abstract | Read more

Epidemiological observations suggest that T cell immunity may be suppressed in malaria-endemic areas. In vitro studies, animal models, and limited data in humans link immunosuppression with malaria, malnutrition, and other parasitic infections. However, there are no data to determine whether malaria-induced immunosuppression is significant in the long-term, or relative data comparing it with other factors in malaria-endemic areas, so as to measure the impact of malaria, other parasitic disease, nutritional status, age. and location on the acquisition and longevity of IFN-gamma responses in children in Kenya. We studied these factors in two cohorts of 1- to 6-year-old children in a malaria-endemic area. T cell responses were induced by vaccination in one cohort, and acquired as a result of natural exposure in a second cohort. Serial ELISPOT assays conducted over a 1-year period measured the induction and kinetics of IFN-gamma production in response to the malaria Ag thrombospondin-related adhesion protein. Induced responses in both cohorts and the longevity of response in the vaccinated cohort were fitted to potential explanatory variables. Parasitemia was prospectively associated with reduced IFN-gamma-producing T cells in both cohorts (by 15-25%), and both parasitemia and episodes of febrile malaria were associated with 19 and 31% greater attrition of T cell responses, respectively. Malaria may reduce the efficacy vaccinations such as bacillus Calmette-Guérin and investigational T cell-inducing vaccines, and may delay the acquisition of immunity following natural exposure to malaria and other pathogens.

Bejon P, Berkley JA, Mwangi T, Ogada E, Mwangi I, Maitland K, Williams T, Scott JAG, English M, Lowe BS et al. 2007. Defining childhood severe falciparum malaria for intervention studies. PLoS Med, 4 (8), pp. e251. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Clinical trials of interventions designed to prevent severe falciparum malaria in children require a clear endpoint. The internationally accepted definition of severe malaria is sensitive, and appropriate for clinical purposes. However, this definition includes individuals with severe nonmalarial disease and coincident parasitaemia, so may lack specificity in vaccine trials. Although there is no "gold standard" individual test for severe malaria, malaria-attributable fractions (MAFs) can be estimated among groups of children using a logistic model, which we use to test the suitability of various case definitions as trial endpoints. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A total of 4,583 blood samples were taken from well children in cross-sectional surveys and from 1,361 children admitted to a Kenyan District hospital with severe disease. Among children under 2 y old with severe disease and over 2,500 parasites per microliter of blood, the MAFs were above 85% in moderate- and low-transmission areas, but only 61% in a high-transmission area. HIV and malnutrition were not associated with reduced MAFs, but gastroenteritis with severe dehydration (defined by reduced skin turgor), lower respiratory tract infection (clinician's final diagnosis), meningitis (on cerebrospinal fluid [CSF] examination), and bacteraemia were associated with reduced MAFs. The overall MAF was 85% (95% confidence interval [CI] 83.8%-86.1%) without excluding these conditions, 89% (95% CI 88.4%-90.2%) after exclusions, and 95% (95% CI 94.0%-95.5%) when a threshold of 2,500 parasites/mul was also applied. Applying a threshold and exclusion criteria reduced sensitivity to 80% (95% CI 77%-83%). CONCLUSIONS: The specificity of a case definition for severe malaria is improved by applying a parasite density threshold and by excluding children with meningitis, lower respiratory tract infection (clinician's diagnosis), bacteraemia, and gastroenteritis with severe dehydration, but not by excluding children with HIV or malnutrition.

Bejon P, Andrews L, Andersen RF, Dunachie S, Webster D, Walther M, Gilbert SC, Peto T, Hill AVS. 2005. Calculation of liver-to-blood inocula, parasite growth rates, and preerythrocytic vaccine efficacy, from serial quantitative polymerase chain reaction studies of volunteers challenged with malaria sporozoites. J Infect Dis, 191 (4), pp. 619-626. | Show Abstract | Read more

We calculated the number and growth rate of Plasmodium falciparum parasites emerging in recipients of candidate preerythrocytic malaria vaccines and unvaccinated control subjects undergoing mosquito-bite challenge. This was done to measure vaccine efficacy and to distinguish the effects on blood-stage multiplication from those on liver-stage parasites. Real-time polymerase chain reaction measurements of parasite densities were analyzed by nonlinear regression and mixed-effects models. Substantial reductions in numbers of liver parasites resulted from the use of 2 immunization regimens: FP9 boosted by modified virus Ankara (MVA) encoding the malaria epitope-thrombospondin-related adhesion protein insert (92% reduction) and RTS,S/AS02 used in heterologous prime-boost immunization regimens, with MVA encoding the circumsporozoite protein (97% reduction). Forty-eight-hour growth rates in blood from control subjects were not different from those in blood from any vaccination group (mean, 14.4-fold [95% confidence interval, 11-19-fold]).

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