Professor Susanna J Dunachie FRCP FRCPath

Research Area: Immunology
Technology Exchange: Cellular immunology, Flow cytometry, Transcript profiling and Vaccine production and evaluation
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health and Immunology & Infectious Disease
Keywords: malaria, T-cell, RT-PCR, vaccine, gene expression, melioidosis, transcriptomics, scrub typhus, Type 2 diabetes and immunometabolism
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People continue to die around the world from infections for which there is no vaccine. A greater understanding of immunity to a range of infectious diseases is desirable to improve treatments and vaccine design, especially for intra-cellular organisms which are harder to prevent and cure. My research establishes expertise in cellular immunology in tropical countries to address key questions that further vaccine discovery and immunogenicity monitoring. Current diseases of interest include melioidosis, scrub typhus and malaria. In addition, we are focusing on the role of metabolic dysfunction in impaired immunity in people with Type 2 diabetes to intracellular pathogens.

Burkholderia pseudomallei is a Gram negative bacterium which causes melioidosis in humans. Melioidosis is a common cause of illness and death in some regions of South East Asia and Northern Australia yet its international profile is low. The known risk factors include diabetes, alcoholism and renal disease but not HIV. The range of presentations includes pneumonia, liver and splenic abscesses and septic shock. A vaccine is therefore urgently required. There is evidence of exposure to melioidosis in up to 80% of the population in North East Thailand but only some become unwell with sepsis carrying a mortality of 40%. The intracellular nature of the pathogen and its potential to show latency and relapse suggest T-cells play a major part in defense against disease, but to date there has been little research in this area.

Key questions currently being addressed include:

  • Why are people with diabetes so susceptible to melioidosis, accounting for around 60% of hospital admissions?
  • Which B. pseudomallei proteins and HLA Class I restricted CD8 epitopes do patients with acute melioidosis in Thailand respond to?
  • What is the phenotype of cellular responses to B. pseudomallei?
  • What is the role of functional antibody responses to B. pseudomallei?
  • Are cellular responses important in host defence against Orientia tsutsugamushi, the causative bacteria for scrub typhus?

I have set up an immunology laboratory at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), and a satellite laboratory at Sappasithiprasong Hospital, Ubon Ratchathani in North East Thailand, which has around 400 annual admissions of culture-positive melioidosis (the highest in the world). A longitudinal study of 200 patients with acute melioidosis both with and without diabetes in Ubon Ratchathani completed in 2015 with a further study underway. PBMC have been isolated locally and used to evaluate T-cell by ex vivo IFN-ʏ ELISPOT to a panel of candidate proteins and peptides from B. pseudomallei. Techniques for assays in a field setting including low volume whole blood stimulation assays and plasma cytokine analysis are also in development.

Further work in Bangkok has established assays to quantitate cellular responses to scrub typhus, and field studies of immunology to scrub typhus are underway in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand. 

The Tropical Immunology laboratory at the Peter Medawar Building in Oxford was established in late 2015 with support from Prof Paul Klenerman, and the team includes post-doctoral immunologist Dr Barbara Kronsteiner-Dobramysl and Commonwealth DPhil student Dr Fazle Rabbi Chowdhury. In this laboratory we use cutting-edge approaches to characterising the immune response to tropical pathogens, including multiparameter flow cytometry and Zellscanner with Dr Chris Willberg. 

Capacity development is a key theme of my research programme and I twice delivered a popular course in basic immunology at MORU. Other activities include contributing to the Wellcome Trust’s “Foreign Bodies, Common Ground” exhibition and working with clinical microbiologists at multiple sites in South East Asia to standardise diagnostic microbiology lab SOPs for tropical settings. 

Name Department Institution Country
Professor Paul Klenerman Experimental Medicine Division Oxford University, Peter Medawar Building United Kingdom
Dr Direk Limmathurotsakul Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Bangkok Thailand
Dr Narisara Chantratita Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Bangkok Thailand
Professor Adrian VS Hill Jenner Institute Oxford University, Old Road Campus Research Building United Kingdom
Dr Eoin West University of Washington United States
Professor James McCullagh Chemistry University of Oxford United Kingdom
Dr Helen A Fletcher Oxford University, Old Road Campus Research Building United Kingdom
Professor Joann Prior Defence Science & Technology Laboratory United Kingdom
Dr Joost Wiersinga Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam Netherlands
Dr Jetsumon Sattabongkot Prachumsri Mahidol Vivax Research Unit Thailand
Professor Arturo Reyes-Sandoval Jenner Institute Oxford University, Henry Wellcome Building for Molecular Physiology United Kingdom
Professor Daniel Altmann Imperial College United Kingdom
Professor Rosemary Boyton MRCP Imperial College United Kingdom
Professor Tom Van Der Poll Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam Netherlands
Professor Brian J Angus FRCP Tropical Medicine Oxford University, John Radcliffe Hospital United Kingdom
Professor Daniel H Paris Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Bangkok Thailand
Professor Yoel Lubell Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Bangkok Thailand
Dr Vanaporn Wuthiekanun Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Bangkok Thailand
Ivo Steinmetz University of Greifswald Germany
Professor Sarah C Gilbert Jenner Institute Oxford University, Old Road Campus Research Building United Kingdom
Professor Constantino Lopez-Macias IMSS Mexico
Prof Katharine Owen (RDM) OCDEM Oxford University, Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism United Kingdom
Dr Robed Amin Dhaka Medical College Bangladesh
Dunachie SJ, Jenjaroen K, Reynolds CJ, Quigley KJ, Sergeant R, Sumonwiriya M, Chaichana P, Chumseng S, Ariyaprasert P, Lassaux P et al. 2017. Infection with Burkholderia pseudomallei - immune correlates of survival in acute melioidosis. Sci Rep, 7 (1), pp. 12143. | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis, caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei, is a potentially lethal infection with no licensed vaccine. There is little understanding of why some exposed individuals have no symptoms, while others rapidly progress to sepsis and death, or why diabetes confers increased susceptibility. We prospectively recruited a cohort of 183 acute melioidosis patients and 21 control subjects from Northeast Thailand and studied immune parameters in the context of survival status and the presence or absence of diabetes. HLA-B*46 (one of the commonest HLA class I alleles in SE Asia) and HLA-C*01 were associated with an increased risk of death (odds ratio 2.8 and 3.1 respectively). Transcriptomic analysis during acute infection in diabetics indicated the importance of interplay between immune pathways including those involved in antigen presentation, chemotaxis, innate and adaptive immunity and their regulation. Survival was associated with enhanced T cell immunity to nine of fifteen immunodominant antigens analysed including AhpC (BPSL2096), BopE (BPSS1525), PilO (BPSS1599), ATP binding protein (BPSS1385) and an uncharacterised protein (BPSL2520). T cell immunity to GroEL (BPSL2697) was specifically impaired in diabetic individuals. This characterization of immunity associated with survival during acute infection offers insights into correlates of protection and a foundation for design of an effective multivalent vaccine.

Sumonwiriya M, Paris DH, Sunyakumthorn P, Anantatat T, Jenjaroen K, Chumseng S, Im-Erbsin R, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Jintaworn S, Blacksell SD et al. 2017. Strong interferon-gamma mediated cellular immunity to scrub typhus demonstrated using a novel whole cell antigen ELISpot assay in rhesus macaques and humans. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11 (9), pp. e0005846. | Show Abstract | Read more

Scrub typhus is a febrile infection caused by the obligate intracellular bacterium Orientia tsutsugamushi, which causes significant morbidity and mortality across the Asia-Pacific region. The control of this vector-borne disease is challenging due to humans being dead-end hosts, vertical maintenance of the pathogen in the vector itself, and a potentially large rodent reservoir of unclear significance, coupled with a lack of accurate diagnostic tests. Development of an effective vaccine is highly desirable. This however requires better characterization of the natural immune response of this neglected but important disease. Here we implement a novel IFN-γ ELISpot assay as a tool for studying O. tsutsugamushi induced cellular immune responses in an experimental scrub typhus rhesus macaque model and human populations. Whole cell antigen for O. tsutsugamushi (OT-WCA) was prepared by heat inactivation of Karp-strain bacteria. Rhesus macaques were infected intradermally with O. tsutsugamushi. Freshly isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from infected (n = 10) and uninfected animals (n = 5) were stimulated with OT-WCA, and IFN-γ secreting cells quantitated by ELISpot assay at five time points over 28 days. PBMC were then assayed from people in a scrub typhus-endemic region of Thailand (n = 105) and responses compared to those from a partially exposed population in a non-endemic region (n = 14), and to a naïve population in UK (n = 12). Mean results at Day 0 prior to O. tsutsugamushi infection were 12 (95% CI 0-25) and 15 (2-27) spot-forming cells (SFC)/106 PBMC for infected and control macaques respectively. Strong O. tsutsugamushi-specific IFN-γ responses were seen post infection, with ELISpot responses 20-fold higher than baseline at Day 7 (mean 235, 95% CI 200-270 SFC/106 PBMC), 105-fold higher at Day 14 (mean 1261, 95% CI 1,097-1,425 SFC/106 PBMC), 125-fold higher at Day 21 (mean 1,498, 95% CI 1,496-1,500 SFC/106 PBMC) and 118-fold higher at Day 28 (mean 1,416, 95% CI 1,306-1,527 SFC/106 PBMC). No significant change was found in the control group at any time point compared to baseline. Humans from a scrub typhus endemic region of Thailand had mean responses of 189 (95% CI 88-290) SFC/106 PBMC compared to mean responses of 40 (95% CI 9-71) SFC/106 PBMC in people from a non-endemic region and 3 (95% CI 0-7) SFC/106 PBMC in naïve controls. In summary, this highly sensitive assay will enable field immunogenicity studies and further characterization of the host response to O. tsutsugamushi, and provides a link between human and animal models to accelerate vaccine development.

Pumpuang A, Dunachie SJ, Phokrai P, Jenjaroen K, Sintiprungrat K, Boonsilp S, Brett PJ, Burtnick MN, Chantratita N. 2017. Comparison of O-polysaccharide and hemolysin co-regulated protein as target antigens for serodiagnosis of melioidosis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11 (3), pp. e0005499. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Melioidosis is a severe disease caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei. Clinical manifestations are diverse and acute infections require immediate treatment with effective antibiotics. While culture is the current diagnostic standard, it is time-consuming and has low sensitivity. In endemic areas, inaccessibility to biosafety level 3 facilities and a lack of good serodiagnostic tools can impede diagnosis and disease surveillance. Recent studies have suggested that O-polysaccharide (OPS) and hemolysin co-regulated protein 1 (Hcp1) are promising target antigens for serodiagnosis of melioidosis. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPLE FINDINGS: We evaluated rapid ELISAs using crude antigens, purified OPS and Hcp1 to measure antibody levels in three sets of sera: (i) 419 serum samples from melioidosis patients, Thai and U.S. healthy donors, (ii) 120 serum samples from patients with other bacterial infections, and (iii) 423 serum samples from 200 melioidosis patients obtained upon admission and at 12 and 52 weeks post-recovery. We observed significantly higher antibody levels using the crude antigen prepared from wild type B. pseudomallei K96243 compared to that of an OPS-mutant. The areas under receiver operator characteristics (AUROCCs) for diagnosis were compared for individual Hcp1-ELISA or OPS-ELISA or combined Hcp1/OPS-ELISA. For Thai donors, AUROCCs were highest and comparable between the Hcp1-ELISA and the combined Hcp1/OPS-ELISA (0.95 versus 0.94). For U.S. donors, the AUROCC was highest for the combined Hcp1/OPS-ELISA (0.96). Significantly higher seropositivity was observed in diabetic patients compared to those without diabetes for both the Hcp1-ELISA (87.3% versus 69.7%) and OPS-ELISA (88.1% versus 60.6%). Although antibody levels for Hcp1 were highest upon admission, the titers declined by week 52 post-recovery. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Hcp1 and OPS are promising candidates for serodiagnosis of melioidosis in different groups of patients. The Hcp1-ELISA performed better than the OPS-ELISA in endemic areas, thus, Hcp1 represents a promising target antigen for the development of POC tests for acute melioidosis.

Chowdhury FR, Nur Z, Hassan N, von Seidlein L, Dunachie S. 2017. Pandemics, pathogenicity and changing molecular epidemiology of cholera in the era of global warming. Ann Clin Microbiol Antimicrob, 16 (1), pp. 10. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Vibrio cholerae, a Gram-negative, non-spore forming curved rod is found in diverse aquatic ecosystems around the planet. It is classified according to its major surface antigen into around 206 serogroups, of which O1 and O139 cause epidemic cholera. A recent spatial modelling technique estimated that around 2.86 million cholera cases occur globally every year, and of them approximately 95,000 die. About 1.3 billion people are currently at risk of infection from cholera. Meta-analysis and mathematical modelling have demonstrated that due to global warming the burden of vector-borne diseases like malaria, leishmaniasis, meningococcal meningitis, viral encephalitis, dengue and chikungunya will increase in the coming years in the tropics and beyond. CHOLERA AND CLIMATE: This review offers an overview of the interplay between global warming and the pathogenicity and epidemiology of V. cholerae. Several distinctive features of cholera survival (optimal thriving at 15% salinity, 30 °C water temperature, and pH 8.5) indicate a possible role of climate change in triggering the epidemic process. Genetic exchange (ctxAB, zot, ace, cep, and orfU) between strains and transduction process allows potential emergence of new toxigenic clones. These processes are probably controlled by precise environmental signals such as optimum temperature, sunlight and osmotic conditions. Environmental influences on phytoplankton growth and chitin remineralization will be discussed alongside the interplay of poor sanitary conditions, overcrowding, improper sewage disposal and global warming in promoting the growth and transmission of this deadly disease. CONCLUSION: The development of an effective early warning system based on climate data could help to prevent and control future outbreaks. It may become possible to integrate real-time monitoring of oceanic regions, climate variability and epidemiological and demographic population dynamics to predict cholera outbreaks and support the design of cost-effective public health strategies.

Chaichana P, Chantratita N, Brod F, Koosakulnirand S, Jenjaroen K, Chumseng S, Sumonwiriya M, Burtnick MN, Brett PJ, Teparrukkul P et al. 2017. A nonsense mutation in TLR5 is associated with survival and reduced IL-10 and TNF-α levels in human melioidosis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11 (5), pp. e0005587. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Melioidosis, caused by the flagellated bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, is a life-threatening and increasingly recognized emerging disease. Toll-like receptor (TLR) 5 is a germline-encoded pattern recognition receptor to bacterial flagellin. We evaluated the association of a nonsense TLR5 genetic variant that truncates the receptor with clinical outcomes and with immune responses in melioidosis. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We genotyped TLR5 c.1174C>T in 194 acute melioidosis patients in Thailand. Twenty-six (13%) were genotype CT or TT. In univariable analysis, carriage of the c.1174C>T variant was associated with lower 28-day mortality (odds ratio (OR) 0.21, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.05-0.94, P = 0.04) and with lower 90-day mortality (OR 0.25, 95% CI 0.07-086, P = 0.03). In multivariable analysis adjusting for age, sex, diabetes and renal disease, the adjusted OR for 28-day mortality in carriers of the variant was 0.24 (95% CI 0.05-1.08, P = 0.06); and the adjusted OR for 90-day mortality was 0.27 (95% CI 0.08-0.97, P = 0.04). c.1174C>T was associated with a lower rate of bacteremia (P = 0.04) and reduced plasma levels of IL-10 (P = 0.049) and TNF-α (P < 0.0001). We did not find an association between c.1174C>T and IFN-γ ELISPOT (T-cell) responses (P = 0.49), indirect haemagglutination titers or IgG antibodies to bacterial flagellin during acute melioidosis (P = 0.30 and 0.1, respectively). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This study independently confirms the association of TLR5 c.1174C>T with protection against death in melioidosis, identifies lower bacteremia, IL-10 and TNF-α production in carriers of the variant with melioidosis, but does not demonstrate an association of the variant with acute T-cell IFN-γ response, indirect haemagglutination antibody titer, or anti-flagellin IgG antibodies.

Brown A, Halliday JS, Swadling L, Madden RG, Bendall R, Hunter JG, Maggs J, Simmonds P, Smith DB, Vine L et al. 2016. Characterization of the Specificity, Functionality, and Durability of Host T-Cell Responses Against the Full-Length Hepatitis E Virus. Hepatology, 64 (6), pp. 1934-1950. | Show Abstract | Read more

The interplay between host antiviral immunity and immunopathology during hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection determines important clinical outcomes. We characterized the specificity, functionality, and durability of host T-cell responses against the full-length HEV virus and assessed a novel "Quantiferon" assay for the rapid diagnosis of HEV infection. Eighty-nine volunteers were recruited from Oxford, Truro (UK), and Toulouse (France), including 44 immune-competent patients with acute HEV infection, 18 HEV-exposed immunosuppressed organ-transplant recipients (8 with chronic HEV), and 27 healthy volunteers. A genotype 3a peptide library (616 overlapping peptides spanning open reading frames [ORFs] 1-3) was used in interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) T-cell ELISpot assays. CD4(+) /CD8(+) T-cell subsets and polyfunctionality were defined using ICCS and SPICE analysis. Quantification of IFN-γ used whole-blood stimulation with recombinant HEV-capsid protein in the QuantiFERON kit. HEV-specific T-cell responses were detected in 41/44 immune-competent HEV exposed volunteers (median magnitude: 397 spot-forming units/10(6) peripheral blood mononuclear cells), most frequently targeting ORF2. High-magnitude, polyfunctional CD4 and CD8(+) T cells were detected during acute disease and maintained to 12 years, but these declined over time, with CD8(+) responses becoming more monofunctional. Low-level responses were detectable in immunosuppressed patients. Twenty-three novel HEV CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell targets were mapped predominantly to conserved genomic regions. QuantiFERON testing demonstrated an inverse correlation between IFN-γ production and the time from clinical presentation, providing 100% specificity, and 71% sensitivity (area under the receiver operator characteristic curve of 0.86) for HEV exposure at 0.3 IU/mL. CONCLUSION: Robust HEV-specific T-cell responses generated during acute disease predominantly target ORF2, but decline in magnitude and polyfunctionality over time. Defining HEV T-cell targets will be important for the investigation of HEV-associated autoimmune disease. (Hepatology 2016;64:1934-1950).

Kohler C, Dunachie SJ, Müller E, Kohler A, Jenjaroen K, Teparrukkul P, Baier V, Ehricht R, Steinmetz I. 2016. Rapid and Sensitive Multiplex Detection of Burkholderia pseudomallei-Specific Antibodies in Melioidosis Patients Based on a Protein Microarray Approach. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 10 (7), pp. e0004847. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The environmental bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei causes the infectious disease melioidosis with a high case-fatality rate in tropical and subtropical regions. Direct pathogen detection can be difficult, and therefore an indirect serological test which might aid early diagnosis is desirable. However, current tests for antibodies against B. pseudomallei, including the reference indirect haemagglutination assay (IHA), lack sensitivity, specificity and standardization. Consequently, serological tests currently do not play a role in the diagnosis of melioidosis in endemic areas. Recently, a number of promising diagnostic antigens have been identified, but a standardized, easy-to-perform clinical laboratory test for sensitive multiplex detection of antibodies against B. pseudomallei is still lacking. METHODS AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In this study, we developed and validated a protein microarray which can be used in a standard 96-well format. Our array contains 20 recombinant and purified B. pseudomallei proteins, previously identified as serodiagnostic candidates in melioidosis. In total, we analyzed 196 sera and plasmas from melioidosis patients from northeast Thailand and 210 negative controls from melioidosis-endemic and non-endemic regions. Our protein array clearly discriminated between sera from melioidosis patients and controls with a specificity of 97%. Importantly, the array showed a higher sensitivity than did the IHA in melioidosis patients upon admission (cut-off IHA titer ≥1:160: IHA 57.3%, protein array: 86.7%; p = 0.0001). Testing of sera from single patients at 0, 12 and 52 weeks post-admission revealed that protein antigens induce either a short- or long-term antibody response. CONCLUSIONS: Our protein array provides a standardized, rapid, easy-to-perform test for the detection of B. pseudomallei-specific antibody patterns. Thus, this system has the potential to improve the serodiagnosis of melioidosis in clinical settings. Moreover, our high-throughput assay might be useful for the detection of anti-B. pseudomallei antibodies in epidemiological studies. Further studies are needed to elucidate the clinical and diagnostic significance of the different antibody kinetics observed during melioidosis.

Kulsantiwong P, Pudla M, Boondit J, Wikraiphat C, Dunachie SJ, Chantratita N, Utaisincharoen P. 2016. Erratum to: Burkholderia pseudomallei induces IL-23 production in primary human monocytes. Med Microbiol Immunol, 205 (3), pp. 261. | Read more

Peto TJ, Tripura R, Lee SJ, Althaus T, Dunachie S, Nguon C, Dhorda M, Promnarate C, Chalk J, Imwong M et al. 2016. Association between Subclinical Malaria Infection and Inflammatory Host Response in a Pre-Elimination Setting. PLoS One, 11 (7), pp. e0158656. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Subclinical infections in endemic areas of Southeast Asia sustain malaria transmission. These asymptomatic infections might sustain immunity against clinical malaria and have been considered benign for the host, but if they are associated with chronic low-grade inflammation this could be harmful. We conducted a case-control study to explore the association between subclinical malaria and C-reactive protein (CRP), an established biomarker of inflammation. METHODS: Blood samples from asymptomatic villagers in Pailin, Western Cambodia were tested for malaria by high-volume ultra-sensitive polymerase chain reaction (uPCR) to determine the Plasmodium species. Plasma CRP concentration was measured in 328 individuals with parasitaemia (cases) and compared with: i) the same individual's value at the first time point when they had no detectable parasites (n = 282); and ii) age- sex- and village-matched controls (n = 328) free of Plasmodium infection. Plasma CRP concentrations were compared against thresholds of 3mg/L and 10mg/L. Subgroup analysis was carried out for cases with P vivax and P falciparum mono-infections. RESULTS: Median plasma CRP level for all samples was 0.59mg/L (interquartile range: 0.24-1.64mg/L). CRP concentrations were higher in parasitaemic individuals compared with same-person-controls (p = 0.050); and matched-controls (p = 0.025). 4.9% of samples had CRP concentrations above 10mg/L and 14.6% were above 3mg/L. Cases were more likely to have plasma CRP concentrations above these thresholds than age/sex matched controls, odds ratio 3.5 (95%CI 1.5-9.8) and 1.8 (95%CI 1.1-2.9), respectively. Amongst cases, parasite density and CRP were positively correlated (p<0.001), an association that remained significant when controlling for age and fever. Individuals with P.vivax mono-infections had the highest plasma CRP concentrations with the greatest association with parasitaemia. DISCUSSION: In this setting persistent malaria infections in asymptomatic individuals were associated with moderately elevated plasma CRP concentrations; chiefly evident in cases with P.vivax mono-infections. As well as interrupting malaria transmission within the community, treatment of asymptomatic malaria infections, in particular radical cure of vivax malaria, may benefit the health of infected individuals.

Longley RJ, Reyes-Sandoval A, Montoya-Díaz E, Dunachie S, Kumpitak C, Nguitragool W, Mueller I, Sattabongkot J. 2015. Acquisition and Longevity of Antibodies to Plasmodium vivax Preerythrocytic Antigens in Western Thailand. Clin Vaccine Immunol, 23 (2), pp. 117-124. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium vivax is now the dominant Plasmodium species causing malaria in Thailand, yet little is known about naturally acquired immune responses to this parasite in this low-transmission region. The preerythrocytic stage of the P. vivax life cycle is considered an excellent target for a malaria vaccine, and in this study, we assessed the stability of the seropositivity and the magnitude of IgG responses to three different preerythrocytic P. vivax proteins in two groups of adults from a region of western Thailand where malaria is endemic. These individuals were enrolled in a yearlong cohort study, which comprised one group that remained P. vivax free (by quantitative PCR [qPCR] detection, n = 31) and another that experienced two or more blood-stage P. vivax infections during the year of follow up (n = 31). Despite overall low levels of seropositivity, IgG positivity and magnitude were long-lived over the 1-year period in the absence of qPCR-detectable blood-stage P. vivax infections. In contrast, in the adults with two or more P. vivax infections during the year, IgG positivity was maintained, but the magnitude of the response to P. vivax circumsporozoite protein 210 (CSP210) decreased over time. These findings demonstrate that long-term humoral immunity can develop in low-transmission regions.

Kulsantiwong P, Pudla M, Boondit J, Wikraiphat C, Dunachie SJ, Chantratita N, Utaisincharoen P. 2016. Burkholderia pseudomallei induces IL-23 production in primary human monocytes. Med Microbiol Immunol, 205 (3), pp. 255-260. | Show Abstract | Read more

Burkholderia pseudomallei, a gram-negative intracellular bacterium, is a causative agent of melioidosis. The bacterium has been shown to induce the innate immune response, particularly pro-inflammatory cytokine production in several of both mouse and human cell types. In the present study, we investigate host immune response in B. pseudomallei-infected primary human monocytes. We discover that wild-type B. pseudomallei is able to survive and multiply inside the primary human monocytes. In contrast, B. pseudomallei LPS mutant, a less virulent strain, is susceptible to host killing during bacterial infection. Moreover, microarray result showed that wild-type B. pseudomallei but not B. pseudomallei LPS mutant is able to activate gene expression of IL-23 as demonstrated by the up-regulation of p19 and p40 subunit expression. Consistent with gene expression analysis, the secretion of IL-23 analyzed by ELISA also showed that wild-type B. pseudomallei induces a significantly higher level of IL-23 secretion than that of B. pseudomallei LPS mutant. These results implied that IL-23 may be an important cytokine for the innate immune response during B. pseudomallei infection. The regulation of IL-23 production may drive the different host innate immune responses between patients and may relate to the severity of melioidosis.

Lubell Y, Blacksell SD, Dunachie S, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Althaus T, Watthanaworawit W, Paris DH, Mayxay M, Peto TJ, Dondorp AM et al. 2015. Performance of C-reactive protein and procalcitonin to distinguish viral from bacterial and malarial causes of fever in Southeast Asia. BMC Infect Dis, 15 (1), pp. 511. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Poor targeting of antimicrobial drugs contributes to the millions of deaths each year from malaria, pneumonia, and other tropical infectious diseases. While malaria rapid diagnostic tests have improved use of antimalarial drugs, there are no similar tests to guide the use of antibiotics in undifferentiated fevers. In this study we estimate the diagnostic accuracy of two well established biomarkers of bacterial infection, procalcitonin and C-reactive protein (CRP) in discriminating between common viral and bacterial infections in malaria endemic settings of Southeast Asia. METHODS: Serum procalcitonin and CRP levels were measured in stored serum samples from febrile patients enrolled in three prospective studies conducted in Cambodia, Laos and, Thailand. Of the 1372 patients with a microbiologically confirmed diagnosis, 1105 had a single viral, bacterial or malarial infection. Procalcitonin and CRP levels were compared amongst these aetiological groups and their sensitivity and specificity in distinguishing bacterial infections and bacteraemias from viral infections were estimated using standard thresholds. RESULTS: Serum concentrations of both biomarkers were significantly higher in bacterial infections and malaria than in viral infections. The AUROC for CRP in discriminating between bacterial and viral infections was 0.83 (0.81-0.86) compared with 0.74 (0.71-0.77) for procalcitonin (p < 0.0001). This relative advantage was evident in all sites and when stratifying patients by age and admission status. For CRP at a threshold of 10 mg/L, the sensitivity of detecting bacterial infections was 95% with a specificity of 49%. At a threshold of 20 mg/L sensitivity was 86% with a specificity of 67%. For procalcitonin at a low threshold of 0.1 ng/mL the sensitivity was 90% with a specificity of 39%. At a higher threshold of 0.5 ng/ul sensitivity was 60% with a specificity of 76%. CONCLUSION: In samples from febrile patients with mono-infections from rural settings in Southeast Asia, CRP was a highly sensitive and moderately specific biomarker for discriminating between viral and bacterial infections. Use of a CRP rapid test in peripheral health settings could potentially be a simple and affordable measure to better identify patients in need of antibacterial treatment and part of a global strategy to combat the emergence of antibiotic resistance.

Jenjaroen K, Chumseng S, Sumonwiriya M, Ariyaprasert P, Chantratita N, Sunyakumthorn P, Hongsuwan M, Wuthiekanun V, Fletcher HA, Teparrukkul P et al. 2015. T-Cell Responses Are Associated with Survival in Acute Melioidosis Patients. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (10), pp. e0004152. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Melioidosis is an increasingly recognised cause of sepsis and death across South East Asia and Northern Australia, caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. Risk factors include diabetes, alcoholism and renal disease, and a vaccine targeting at-risk populations is urgently required. A better understanding of the protective immune response in naturally infected patients is essential for vaccine design. METHODS: We conducted a longitudinal clinical and immunological study of 200 patients with melioidosis on admission, 12 weeks (n = 113) and 52 weeks (n = 65) later. Responses to whole killed B. pseudomallei were measured in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) by interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) ELIspot assay and flow cytometry and compared to those of control subjects in the region with diabetes (n = 45) and without diabetes (n = 43). RESULTS: We demonstrated strong CD4+ and CD8+ responses to B. pseudomallei during acute disease, 12 weeks and 52 weeks later. 28-day mortality was 26% for melioidosis patients, and B. pseudomallei-specific cellular responses in fatal cases (mean 98 IFN-γ cells per million PBMC) were significantly lower than those in the survivors (mean 142 IFN-γ cells per million PBMC) in a multivariable logistic regression model (P = 0.01). A J-shaped curve association between circulating neutrophil count and mortality was seen with an optimal count of 4000 to 8000 neutrophils/μl. Melioidosis patients with known diabetes had poor diabetic control (median glycated haemoglobin HbA1c 10.2%, interquartile range 9.2-13.1) and showed a stunted B. pseudomallei-specific cellular response during acute illness compared to those without diabetes. CONCLUSIONS: The results demonstrate the role of both CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells in protection against melioidosis, and an interaction between diabetes and cellular responses. This supports development of vaccine strategies that induce strong T-cell responses for the control of intracellular pathogens such as B. pseudomallei.

Dunachie S, Berthoud T, Hill AV, Fletcher HA. 2015. Transcriptional changes induced by candidate malaria vaccines and correlation with protection against malaria in a human challenge model. Vaccine, 33 (40), pp. 5321-5331. | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: The complexity of immunity to malaria is well known, and clear correlates of protection against malaria have not been established. A better understanding of immune markers induced by candidate malaria vaccines would greatly enhance vaccine development, immunogenicity monitoring and estimation of vaccine efficacy in the field. We have previously reported complete or partial efficacy against experimental sporozoite challenge by several vaccine regimens in healthy malaria-naïve subjects in Oxford. These include a prime-boost regimen with RTS,S/AS02A and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) expressing the CSP antigen, and a DNA-prime, MVA-boost regimen expressing the ME TRAP antigens. Using samples from these trials we performed transcriptional profiling, allowing a global assessment of responses to vaccination. METHODS: We used Human RefSeq8 Bead Chips from Illumina to examine gene expression using PBMC (peripheral blood mononuclear cells) from 16 human volunteers. To focus on antigen-specific changes, comparisons were made between PBMC stimulated with CSP or TRAP peptide pools and unstimulated PBMC post vaccination. We then correlated gene expression with protection against malaria in a human Plasmodium falciparum malaria challenge model. RESULTS: Differentially expressed genes induced by both vaccine regimens were predominantly in the IFN-γ pathway. Gene set enrichment analysis revealed antigen-specific effects on genes associated with IFN induction and proteasome modules after vaccination. Genes associated with IFN induction and antigen presentation modules were positively enriched in subjects with complete protection from malaria challenge, while genes associated with haemopoietic stem cells, regulatory monocytes and the myeloid lineage modules were negatively enriched in protected subjects. CONCLUSIONS: These results represent novel insights into the immune repertoires involved in malaria vaccination.

Dunachie S, Hill AV, Fletcher HA. 2015. Profiling the host response to malaria vaccination and malaria challenge. Vaccine, 33 (40), pp. 5316-5320. | Show Abstract | Read more

A vaccine for malaria is urgently required. The RTS,S vaccine represents major progress, but is only partially effective. Development of the next generation of highly effective vaccines requires elucidation of the protective immune response. Immunity to malaria is known to be complex, and pattern-based approaches such as global gene expression profiling are ideal for understanding response to vaccination and protection against disease. The availability of experimental sporozoite challenge in humans to test candidate malaria vaccines offers a precious opportunity unavailable for other current targets of vaccine research such as HIV, tuberculosis and Ebola. However, a limited number of transcriptional profiling studies in the context of malaria vaccine research have been published to date. This review outlines the background, existing studies, limits and opportunities for gene expression studies to accelerate malaria vaccine research.

Limmathurotsakul D, Funnell SG, Torres AG, Morici LA, Brett PJ, Dunachie S, Atkins T, Altmann DM, Bancroft G, Peacock SJ, Steering Group on Melioidosis Vaccine Development. 2015. Consensus on the development of vaccines against naturally acquired melioidosis. Emerg Infect Dis, 21 (6), pp. e1-e7. | Show Abstract | Read more

Several candidates for a vaccine against Burkholderia pseudomallei, the causal bacterium of melioidosis, have been developed, and a rational approach is now needed to select and advance candidates for testing in relevant nonhuman primate models and in human clinical trials. Development of such a vaccine was the topic of a meeting in the United Kingdom in March 2014 attended by international candidate vaccine developers, researchers, and government health officials. The focus of the meeting was advancement of vaccines for prevention of natural infection, rather than for protection from the organism's known potential for use as a biological weapon. A direct comparison of candidate vaccines in well-characterized mouse models was proposed. Knowledge gaps requiring further research were identified. Recommendations were made to accelerate the development of an effective vaccine against melioidosis.

Reynolds C, Goudet A, Jenjaroen K, Sumonwiriya M, Rinchai D, Musson J, Overbeek S, Makinde J, Quigley K, Manji J et al. 2015. T Cell Immunity to the Alkyl Hydroperoxide Reductase of Burkholderia pseudomallei: A Correlate of Disease Outcome in Acute Melioidosis. J Immunol, 194 (10), pp. 4814-4824. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is an urgent need for a better understanding of adaptive immunity to Burkholderia pseudomallei, the causative agent of melioidosis that is frequently associated with sepsis or death in patients in Southeast Asia and Northern Australia. The imperative to identify vaccine targets is driven both by the public health agenda in these regions and biological threat concerns. In several intracellular bacterial pathogens, alkyl hydroperoxidase reductases are upregulated as part of the response to host oxidative stress, and they can stimulate strong adaptive immunity. We show that alkyl hydroperoxidase reductase (AhpC) of B. pseudomallei is strongly immunogenic for T cells of 'humanized' HLA transgenic mice and seropositive human donors. Some T cell epitopes, such as p6, are able to bind diverse HLA class II heterodimers and stimulate strong T cell immunity in mice and humans. Importantly, patients with acute melioidosis who survive infection show stronger T cell responses to AhpC relative to those who do not. Although the sequence of AhpC is virtually invariant among global B. pseudomallei clinical isolates, a Cambodian isolate varies only in C-terminal truncation of the p6 T cell epitope, raising the possibility of selection by host immunity. This variant peptide is virtually unable to stimulate T cell immunity. For an infection in which there has been debate about centrality of T cell immunity in defense, these observations support a role for T cell immunity to AhpC in disease protection.

HPS2-THRIVE Collaborative Group, Landray MJ, Haynes R, Hopewell JC, Parish S, Aung T, Tomson J, Wallendszus K, Craig M, Jiang L et al. 2014. Effects of extended-release niacin with laropiprant in high-risk patients. N Engl J Med, 371 (3), pp. 203-212. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Patients with evidence of vascular disease are at increased risk for subsequent vascular events despite effective use of statins to lower the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol level. Niacin lowers the LDL cholesterol level and raises the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level, but its clinical efficacy and safety are uncertain. METHODS: After a prerandomization run-in phase to standardize the background statin-based LDL cholesterol-lowering therapy and to establish participants' ability to take extended-release niacin without clinically significant adverse effects, we randomly assigned 25,673 adults with vascular disease to receive 2 g of extended-release niacin and 40 mg of laropiprant or a matching placebo daily. The primary outcome was the first major vascular event (nonfatal myocardial infarction, death from coronary causes, stroke, or arterial revascularization). RESULTS: During a median follow-up period of 3.9 years, participants who were assigned to extended-release niacin-laropiprant had an LDL cholesterol level that was an average of 10 mg per deciliter (0.25 mmol per liter as measured in the central laboratory) lower and an HDL cholesterol level that was an average of 6 mg per deciliter (0.16 mmol per liter) higher than the levels in those assigned to placebo. Assignment to niacin-laropiprant, as compared with assignment to placebo, had no significant effect on the incidence of major vascular events (13.2% and 13.7% of participants with an event, respectively; rate ratio, 0.96; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.90 to 1.03; P=0.29). Niacin-laropiprant was associated with an increased incidence of disturbances in diabetes control that were considered to be serious (absolute excess as compared with placebo, 3.7 percentage points; P<0.001) and with an increased incidence of diabetes diagnoses (absolute excess, 1.3 percentage points; P<0.001), as well as increases in serious adverse events associated with the gastrointestinal system (absolute excess, 1.0 percentage point; P<0.001), musculoskeletal system (absolute excess, 0.7 percentage points; P<0.001), skin (absolute excess, 0.3 percentage points; P=0.003), and unexpectedly, infection (absolute excess, 1.4 percentage points; P<0.001) and bleeding (absolute excess, 0.7 percentage points; P<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Among participants with atherosclerotic vascular disease, the addition of extended-release niacin-laropiprant to statin-based LDL cholesterol-lowering therapy did not significantly reduce the risk of major vascular events but did increase the risk of serious adverse events. (Funded by Merck and others; HPS2-THRIVE ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00461630.).

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.

Douglas AD, Edwards NJ, Duncan CJ, 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.

Koh GC, Schreiber MF, Bautista R, Maude RR, Dunachie S, Limmathurotsakul D, Day NP, Dougan G, Peacock SJ. 2013. Host responses to melioidosis and tuberculosis are both dominated by interferon-mediated signaling. PLoS One, 8 (1), pp. e54961. | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis (Burkholderia pseudomallei infection) is a common cause of community-acquired sepsis in Northeast Thailand and northern Australia. B. pseudomallei is a soil saprophyte endemic to Southeast Asia and northern Australia. The clinical presentation of melioidosis may mimic tuberculosis (both cause chronic suppurative lesions unresponsive to conventional antibiotics and both commonly affect the lungs). The two diseases have overlapping risk profiles (e.g., diabetes, corticosteroid use), and both B. pseudomallei and Mycobacterium tuberculosis are intracellular pathogens. There are however important differences: the majority of melioidosis cases are acute, not chronic, and present with severe sepsis and a mortality rate that approaches 50% despite appropriate antimicrobial therapy. By contrast, tuberculosis is characteristically a chronic illness with mortality <2% with appropriate antimicrobial chemotherapy. We examined the gene expression profiles of total peripheral leukocytes in two cohorts of patients, one with acute melioidosis (30 patients and 30 controls) and another with tuberculosis (20 patients and 24 controls). Interferon-mediated responses dominate the host response to both infections, and both type 1 and type 2 interferon responses are important. An 86-gene signature previously thought to be specific for tuberculosis is also found in melioidosis. We conclude that the host responses to melioidosis and to tuberculosis are similar: both are dominated by interferon-signalling pathways and this similarity means gene expression signatures from whole blood do not distinguish between these two diseases.

Study of the Effectiveness of Additional Reductions in Cholesterol and Homocysteine (SEARCH) Collaborative Group, Armitage J, Bowman L, Wallendszus K, Bulbulia R, Rahimi K, Haynes R, Parish S, Peto R, Collins R. 2010. Intensive lowering of LDL cholesterol with 80 mg versus 20 mg simvastatin daily in 12,064 survivors of myocardial infarction: a double-blind randomised trial. Lancet, 376 (9753), pp. 1658-1669. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Lowering of LDL cholesterol reduces major vascular events, but whether more intensive therapy safely produces extra benefits is uncertain. We aimed to establish efficacy and safety of more intensive statin treatment in patients at high cardiovascular risk. METHODS: We undertook a double-blind randomised trial in 12,064 men and women aged 18-80 years with a history of myocardial infarction. Participants were either currently on or had clear indication for statin therapy, and had a total cholesterol concentration of at least 3·5 mmol/L if already on a statin or 4·5 mmol/L if not. Randomisation to either 80 mg or 20 mg simvastatin daily was done centrally using a minimisation algorithm. Participants were assessed at 2, 4, 8, and 12 months after randomisation and then every 6 months until final follow-up. The primary endpoint was major vascular events, defined as coronary death, myocardial infarction, stroke, or arterial revascularisation. Analysis was by intention to treat. This study is registered, number ISRCTN74348595. FINDINGS: 6031 participants were allocated 80 mg simvastatin daily, and 6033 allocated 20 mg simvastatin daily. During a mean follow-up of 6·7 (SD 1·5) years, allocation to 80 mg simvastatin produced an average 0·35 (SE 0·01) mmol/L greater reduction in LDL cholesterol compared with allocation to 20 mg. Major vascular events occurred in 1477 (24·5%) participants allocated 80 mg simvastatin versus 1553 (25·7%) of those allocated 20 mg, corresponding to a 6% proportional reduction (risk ratio 0·94, 95% CI 0·88-1·01; p=0·10). There were no apparent differences in numbers of haemorrhagic strokes (24 [0·4%] vs 25 [0·4%]) or deaths attributed to vascular (565 [9·4%] vs 572 [9·5%]) or non-vascular (399 [6·6%] vs 398 [6·6%]) causes. Compared with two (0·03%) cases of myopathy in patients taking 20 mg simvastatin daily, there were 53 (0·9%) cases in the 80 mg group. INTERPRETATION: The 6% (SE 3·5%) reduction in major vascular events with a further 0·35 mmol/L reduction in LDL cholesterol in our trial is consistent with previous trials. Myopathy was increased with 80 mg simvastatin daily, but intensive lowering of LDL cholesterol can be achieved safely with other regimens. FUNDING: Merck; The Clinical Trial Service Unit also receives funding from the UK Medical Research Council and the British Heart Foundation.

Dunachie SJ, Berthoud T, Keating SM, Hill AV, Fletcher HA. 2010. MIG and the regulatory cytokines IL-10 and TGF-β1 correlate with malaria vaccine immunogenicity and efficacy. PLoS One, 5 (9), pp. e12557. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria remains one of the world's greatest killers and a vaccine is urgently required. There are no established correlates of protection against malaria either for natural immunity to the disease or for immunity conferred by candidate malaria vaccines. The RTS,S/AS02A vaccine offers significant partial efficacy against malaria.mRNA expression of five key cytokines interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), monokine induced by gamma (MIG), interleukin-10 (IL-10), transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) and forkhead box P3 (FoxP3) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells were measured by real-time RT-PCR before and after vaccination with RTS,S/AS02A and Modified Vaccinia virus Ankara encoding the circumsporozoite protein (MVA-CS) in healthy malaria-naïve adult volunteers. The only significant change was in IFN-γ mRNA expression, which was increased seven days after vaccination (P  =  0.04). Expression of MIG mRNA seven days after vaccination correlated inversely with time to detection of parasites by blood film in an experimental sporozoite challenge (r = 0.94 P  =  0.005). An inverse relationship was seen between both TGF-β1 and IL-10 mRNA at baseline and the anti-circumsporozoite IgG antibody response (r  =  -0.644 P  =  0.022 and r =  -0.554 P = 0.031 respectively). This study demonstrates the potential for MIG expression as a correlate of protection against malaria. Baseline levels of the regulatory cytokines TGF-β and IL-10 inversely correlated with antibody levels post vaccination and warrant further studies to improve understanding of individual differences in response to vaccination.

Mwacharo J, Dunachie SJ, Kai O, Hill AV, 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.

Heart Protection Study Collaborative Group. 2009. Statin cost-effectiveness in the United States for people at different vascular risk levels. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes, 2 (2), pp. 65-72. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Statins reduce the rates of heart attacks, strokes, and revascularization procedures (ie, major vascular events) in a wide range of circumstances. Randomized controlled trial data from 20,536 adults have been used to estimate the cost-effectiveness of prescribing statin therapy in the United States for people at different levels of vascular disease risk and to explore whether wider use of generic statins beyond the populations currently recommended for treatment in clinical guidelines is indicated. METHODS AND RESULTS: Randomized controlled trial data, an internally validated vascular disease model, and US costs of statin therapy and other medical care were used to project lifetime risks of vascular events and evaluate the cost-effectiveness of 40 mg simvastatin daily. For an average of 5 years, allocation to simvastatin reduced the estimated US costs of hospitalizations for vascular events by approximately 20% (95% CI, 15 to 24) in the different subcategories of participants studied. At a daily cost of $1 for 40 mg generic simvastatin, the estimated costs of preventing a vascular death within the 5-year study period ranged from a net saving of $1300 (95% CI, $15,600 saving to $13,200 cost) among participants with a 42% 5-year major vascular event risk to a net cost of $216,500 ($123,700 to $460,000 cost) among those with a 12% 5-year risk. The costs per life year gained with lifetime simvastatin treatment ranged from $2500 (-$40 to $3820) in people aged 40 to 49 years with a 42% 5-year major vascular event risk to $10,990 ($9430 to $14,700) in people aged 70 years and older with a 12% 5-year risk. CONCLUSIONS: Treatment with generic simvastatin appears to be cost-effective for a much wider population in the United States than that recommended by current guidelines.

Berthoud TK, Dunachie SJ, Todryk S, Hill AV, Fletcher HA. 2009. MIG (CXCL9) is a more sensitive measure than IFN-gamma of vaccine induced T-cell responses in volunteers receiving investigated malaria vaccines. J Immunol Methods, 340 (1), pp. 33-41. | Show Abstract | Read more

For many years the IFN-gamma ex vivo ELISPOT has been a major assay for assessing human T-cell responses generated by malaria vaccines. The ELISPOT assay is a sensitive assay, but an imperfect correlate of protection against malaria. Monokine induced by gamma (MIG), or CXCL9, is a chemokine induced by IFN-gamma and has the potential to provide amplification of the IFN-gamma signal. MIG secretion could provide a measure of bio-active IFN-gamma and a functional IFN-gamma signalling pathway. We report that detecting MIG by flow cytometry and by RT-PCR can be more sensitive than the detection of IFN-gamma using these methods. We also find that there is little inter-individual variability in MIG secretion when detected by flow cytometry and that the MIG assay may be used to estimate the amount of bio-active IFN-gamma present. Measurement of MIG alongside IFN-gamma may provide a fuller picture of Th1 type responses post-vaccination.

Fletcher HA, Pathan AA, Berthoud TK, Dunachie SJ, Whelan KT, Alder NC, Sander CR, Hill AV, McShane H. 2008. Boosting BCG vaccination with MVA85A down-regulates the immunoregulatory cytokine TGF-beta1. Vaccine, 26 (41), pp. 5269-5275. | Show Abstract | Read more

In clinical trials recombinant-modified vaccinia virus Ankara expressing the Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigen 85A (MVA85A) induces approximately 10 times more effector T cells than any other recombinant MVA vaccine. We have found that in BCG primed subjects MVA85A vaccination reduces transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-beta1) mRNA in peripheral blood lymphocytes and reduces TGF-beta1 protein in the serum, but increases IFN-gamma ELISPOT responses to the recall antigen SK/SD. TGF-beta1 is essential for the generation of regulatory T cells and we see a correlation across vaccinees between CD4+CD25hiFoxP3+ cells and TGF-beta1 serum levels. This apparent ability to counteract regulatory T cell effects suggests a potential use of MVA85A as an adjuvant for less immunogenic vaccines.

Thompson FM, Porter DW, Okitsu SL, Westerfeld N, Vogel D, Todryk S, Poulton I, Correa S, Hutchings C, Berthoud T et al. 2008. Evidence of blood stage efficacy with a virosomal malaria vaccine in a phase IIa clinical trial. PLoS One, 3 (1), pp. e1493. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Previous research indicates that a combination vaccine targeting different stages of the malaria life cycle is likely to provide the most effective malaria vaccine. This trial was the first to combine two existing vaccination strategies to produce a vaccine that induces immune responses to both the pre-erythrocytic and blood stages of the P. falciparum life cycle. METHODS: This was a Phase I/IIa study of a new combination malaria vaccine FFM ME-TRAP+PEV3A. PEV3A includes peptides from both the pre-erythrocytic circumsporozoite protein and the blood-stage antigen AMA-1. This study was conducted at the Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. The participants were healthy, malaria naïve volunteers, from Oxford. The interventions were vaccination with PEV3A alone, or PEV3A+FFM ME-TRAP. The main outcome measure was protection from malaria in a sporozoite challenge model. Other outcomes included measures of parasite specific immune responses induced by either vaccine; and safety, assessed by collection of adverse event data. RESULTS: We observed evidence of blood stage immunity in PEV3A vaccinated volunteers, but no volunteers were completely protected from malaria. PEV3A induced high antibody titres, and antibodies bound parasites in immunofluorescence assays. Moreover, we observed boosting of the vaccine-induced immune response by sporozoite challenge. Immune responses induced by FFM ME-TRAP were unexpectedly low. The vaccines were safe, with comparable side effect profiles to previous trials. Although there was no sterile protection two major observations support an effect of the vaccine-induced response on blood stage parasites: (i) Lower rates of parasite growth were observed in volunteers vaccinated with PEV3A compared to unvaccinated controls (p = 0.012), and this was reflected in the PCR results from PEV3A vaccinated volunteers. These showed early control of parasitaemia by some volunteers in this group. One volunteer, who received PEV3A alone, was diagnosed very late, on day 20 compared to an average of 11.8 days in unvaccinated controls. (ii). Morphologically abnormal parasites were present in the blood of all (n = 24) PEV3A vaccinated volunteers, and in only 2/6 controls (p = 0.001). We describe evidence of vaccine-induced blood stage efficacy for the first time in a sporozoite challenge study.

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.

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.

Walther M, Thompson FM, Dunachie S, Keating S, Todryk S, Berthoud T, Andrews L, Andersen RF, Moore A, Gilbert SC et al. 2006. Safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy of prime-boost immunization with recombinant poxvirus FP9 and modified vaccinia virus Ankara encoding the full-length Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein. Infect Immun, 74 (5), pp. 2706-2716. | Show Abstract | Read more

Heterologous prime-boost immunization with DNA and various recombinant poxviruses encoding malaria antigens is capable of inducing strong cell-mediated immune responses and partial protection in human sporozoite challenges. Here we report a series of trials assessing recombinant fowlpox virus and modified vaccinia virus Ankara encoding the Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein in various prime-boost combinations, doses, and application routes. For the first time, these vaccines were administered intramuscularly and at doses of up to 5 x 10(8) PFU. Vaccines containing this antigen proved safe and induced modest immune responses but showed no evidence of efficacy in a sporozoite challenge.

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.

Webster DP, Dunachie S, McConkey S, Poulton I, Moore AC, Walther M, Laidlaw SM, Peto T, Skinner MA, Gilbert SC, Hill AV. 2006. Safety of recombinant fowlpox strain FP9 and modified vaccinia virus Ankara vaccines against liver-stage P. falciparum malaria in non-immune volunteers. Vaccine, 24 (15), pp. 3026-3034. | Show Abstract | Read more

The ability to generate potent antigen-specific T cell responses by vaccination has been a major hurdle in vaccinology. Vaccinia virus and avipox viruses have been shown to be capable of expressing antigens in mammalian cells and can induce a protective immune response against several mammalian pathogens. We report on two such vaccine constructs, modified vaccinia virus Ankara and FP9 (an attenuated fowlpox virus) both expressing the pre-erythrocytic malaria antigen thrombospondin-related adhesion protein and a string of CD8+ epitopes (ME-TRAP). In prime-boost combinations in a mouse model MVA and FP9 are highly immunogenic and induce substantial protective efficacy. A series of human clinical trials using the recombinant MVA and FP9 malaria vaccines encoding ME-TRAP, both independently and in prime-boost combinations with or without the DNA vaccine DNA ME-TRAP, has shown them to be both immunogenic for CD8+ T cells and capable of inducing protective efficacy. We report here a detailed analysis of the safety profiles of these viral vectors and show that anti-vector antibody responses induced by the vectors are generally low to moderate. We conclude that these vectors are safe and show acceptable side effect profiles for prophylactic vaccination.

Keating SM, Bejon P, Berthoud T, Vuola JM, Todryk S, Webster DP, Dunachie SJ, Moorthy VS, McConkey SJ, Gilbert SC, Hill AV. 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

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 AV, 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.

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 AV. 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]).

Walther M, Dunachie S, Keating S, Vuola JM, Berthoud T, Schmidt A, Maier C, Andrews L, Andersen RF, Gilbert S et al. 2005. Safety, immunogenicity and efficacy of a pre-erythrocytic malaria candidate vaccine, ICC-1132 formulated in Seppic ISA 720. Vaccine, 23 (7), pp. 857-864. | Show Abstract | Read more

ICC-1132, a recombinant virus-like particle comprising of a modified hepatitis B core protein with a B cell (NANP) and two T cell epitopes of Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein (CSP), was administered i.m. as a single 50 microg dose in Seppic ISA 720 to 11 volunteers. Local reactogenicity and systemic side effects were acceptable with the predominant finding being mild pain at the injection site. This regimen induced anti-NANP antibodies in 10/11 and modest T cell responses. There was no evidence of protection from experimental challenge with P. falciparum sporozoites. Other formulations and/or multi-dose regimens will be required to enhance the immunogenicity and efficacy of ICC-1132.

Vuola JM, Keating S, Webster DP, Berthoud T, Dunachie S, Gilbert SC, Hill AV. 2005. Differential immunogenicity of various heterologous prime-boost vaccine regimens using DNA and viral vectors in healthy volunteers. J Immunol, 174 (1), pp. 449-455. | Show Abstract

Heterologous prime-boost vaccination has been shown to be an efficient way of inducing T cell responses in animals and in humans. We have used three vaccine vectors, naked DNA, modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), and attenuated fowlpox strain, FP9, for prime-boost vaccination approaches against Plasmodium falciparum malaria in humans. In this study, we characterize, using two types of ELISPOT assays and FACS analysis, cell-mediated immune responses induced by different prime-boost combinations where all vectors encode a multiepitope string fused to the pre-erythrocytic Ag thrombospondin-related adhesion protein. We show that these different vectors need to be used in a specific order for an optimal ex vivo IFN-gamma response. From the different combinations, DNA priming followed by MVA boosting and FP9 priming followed by MVA boosting were most immunogenic and in both cases the IFN-gamma response was of broad specificity and cross-reactive against two P. falciparum strains (3D7 and T9/96). Immunization with all three vectors showed no improvement over optimal two vector regimes. Strong ex vivo IFN-gamma responses peaked 1 wk after the booster dose, but cultured ELISPOT assays revealed longer-lasting T cell memory responses for at least 6 mo. In the DNA-primed vaccinees the IFN-gamma response was mainly due to CD4(+) T cells, whereas in the FP9-primed vaccinees it was mainly due to CD4-dependent CD8(+) T cells. This difference may be of importance for the protective efficacy of these vaccination approaches against various diseases.

Gardner S, Dunachie SJ, Levy JC. 2004. Real gains but practical limitations to glycaemic control with insulin in type 2 diabetes The British Journal of Diabetes & Vascular Disease, 4 (2), pp. 98-102. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background. Insulin is increasingly used for type 2 diabetes when oral therapy is inadequate. We have examined the results in unselected patients in a UK hospital diabetes clinic. Methods. Clinical database records from 1994 to 2002 were analysed for anthropomorphic data, blood pressure, HbA 1C and plasma cholesterol in type 2 diabetic patients starting insulin therapy. Results. In 335 patients, HbA 1C at four years correlated positively with HbA 1C before starting insulin (r=0.31, p < 0.01) and negatively correlated with age at the time of starting insulin (r=-0.19, p < 0.01). In two cohorts changed to insulin therapy before and after publication of the results of the UKPDS (1998), HbA 1C improved in the first year, with little subsequent change over four years, while weight continued to rise. The later cohort had a significantly greater reduction in HbA 1C (p=0.001). Even in this group, only 21.6% of patients achieved HbA 1C < 7.5%. Conclusions. In a UK diabetes clinic, insulin therapy for type 2 diabetes improved glycaemic control in the first year, but not thereafter, while weight gain continued in subsequent years. Tighter targets may have promoted improved results.

Dunachie SJ, Hill AV. 2003. Prime-boost strategies for malaria vaccine development. J Exp Biol, 206 (Pt 21), pp. 3771-3779. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria is an intracellular pathogen, for which an effective vaccine is likely to require induction of cell-mediated immunity. Immunisation approaches that stimulate strong and persistent levels of effector T-cells are being sought by many researchers. DNA vaccines, recombinant protein and viral vectors were amongst the vaccine delivery systems that appeared promising for the generation of cellular immunity, and in some initial studies in small animals this goal was achieved. However, clinical trials of these candidate vaccines when used alone or in repeated homologous boosting regimes have been disappointing, with short-lived low levels of induced specific T-cell responses. Recent years have seen the development of immunisation strategies using a combination of different antigen delivery systems encoding the same epitopes or antigen, delivered at an interval of a few weeks apart. This sequential immunisation approach with different vectors is known as heterologous prime-boosting and is capable of inducing greatly enhanced and persistent levels of CD8+ T-cells and Th1-type CD4+ T-cells compared to homologous boosting. This review will summarise the key pre-clinical studies of prime-boost strategy and outline recent progress in clinical trials of this approach. Possible mechanisms of action and potential improvements to existing delivery systems will be discussed. The prime-boost approach represents an encouraging step towards establishing an effective preventative vaccine to one of the world's greatest killers.

McConkey SJ, Reece WH, Moorthy VS, Webster D, Dunachie S, Butcher G, Vuola JM, Blanchard TJ, Gothard P, Watkins K et al. 2003. Enhanced T-cell immunogenicity of plasmid DNA vaccines boosted by recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara in humans. Nat Med, 9 (6), pp. 729-735. | Show Abstract | Read more

In animals, effective immune responses against malignancies and against several infectious pathogens, including malaria, are mediated by T cells. Here we show that a heterologous prime-boost vaccination regime of DNA either intramuscularly or epidermally, followed by intradermal recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), induces high frequencies of interferon (IFN)-gamma-secreting, antigen-specific T-cell responses in humans to a pre-erythrocytic malaria antigen, thrombospondin-related adhesion protein (TRAP). These responses are five- to tenfold higher than the T-cell responses induced by the DNA vaccine or recombinant MVA vaccine alone, and produce partial protection manifest as delayed parasitemia after sporozoite challenge with a different strain of Plasmodium falciparum. Such heterologous prime-boost immunization approaches may provide a basis for preventative and therapeutic vaccination in humans.

Coombs MD, Dunachie SJ, Brooker S, Haynes J, Church J, Warrell DA. 1997. Snake bites in Kenya: a preliminary survey of four areas. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 91 (3), pp. 319-321. | Show Abstract | Read more

Primary data were collected on the incidence, severity and species responsible for snake bites in 4 areas of Kenya: (i) Kakamega and western Kenya, (ii) Lake Baringo and Laikipia, (iii) Kilifi and Malindi, and (iv) northern Kenya. The overall average frequency of snake bite was 13.8 per 100,000 population per year (range 1.9-67.9). The minimum rate of snake bite mortality was 0.45/100,000/year. Thirty-four of the 50 units visited reported no knowledge of death from snake bite in the last 5 years. Possible reasons for the low estimates are discussed. Traditional treatments were common, especially the use of herbal remedies and incisions at the wound site.

Dunachie SJ, Jenjaroen K, Reynolds CJ, Quigley KJ, Sergeant R, Sumonwiriya M, Chaichana P, Chumseng S, Ariyaprasert P, Lassaux P et al. 2017. Infection with Burkholderia pseudomallei - immune correlates of survival in acute melioidosis. Sci Rep, 7 (1), pp. 12143. | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis, caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei, is a potentially lethal infection with no licensed vaccine. There is little understanding of why some exposed individuals have no symptoms, while others rapidly progress to sepsis and death, or why diabetes confers increased susceptibility. We prospectively recruited a cohort of 183 acute melioidosis patients and 21 control subjects from Northeast Thailand and studied immune parameters in the context of survival status and the presence or absence of diabetes. HLA-B*46 (one of the commonest HLA class I alleles in SE Asia) and HLA-C*01 were associated with an increased risk of death (odds ratio 2.8 and 3.1 respectively). Transcriptomic analysis during acute infection in diabetics indicated the importance of interplay between immune pathways including those involved in antigen presentation, chemotaxis, innate and adaptive immunity and their regulation. Survival was associated with enhanced T cell immunity to nine of fifteen immunodominant antigens analysed including AhpC (BPSL2096), BopE (BPSS1525), PilO (BPSS1599), ATP binding protein (BPSS1385) and an uncharacterised protein (BPSL2520). T cell immunity to GroEL (BPSL2697) was specifically impaired in diabetic individuals. This characterization of immunity associated with survival during acute infection offers insights into correlates of protection and a foundation for design of an effective multivalent vaccine.

Sumonwiriya M, Paris DH, Sunyakumthorn P, Anantatat T, Jenjaroen K, Chumseng S, Im-Erbsin R, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Jintaworn S, Blacksell SD et al. 2017. Strong interferon-gamma mediated cellular immunity to scrub typhus demonstrated using a novel whole cell antigen ELISpot assay in rhesus macaques and humans. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11 (9), pp. e0005846. | Show Abstract | Read more

Scrub typhus is a febrile infection caused by the obligate intracellular bacterium Orientia tsutsugamushi, which causes significant morbidity and mortality across the Asia-Pacific region. The control of this vector-borne disease is challenging due to humans being dead-end hosts, vertical maintenance of the pathogen in the vector itself, and a potentially large rodent reservoir of unclear significance, coupled with a lack of accurate diagnostic tests. Development of an effective vaccine is highly desirable. This however requires better characterization of the natural immune response of this neglected but important disease. Here we implement a novel IFN-γ ELISpot assay as a tool for studying O. tsutsugamushi induced cellular immune responses in an experimental scrub typhus rhesus macaque model and human populations. Whole cell antigen for O. tsutsugamushi (OT-WCA) was prepared by heat inactivation of Karp-strain bacteria. Rhesus macaques were infected intradermally with O. tsutsugamushi. Freshly isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from infected (n = 10) and uninfected animals (n = 5) were stimulated with OT-WCA, and IFN-γ secreting cells quantitated by ELISpot assay at five time points over 28 days. PBMC were then assayed from people in a scrub typhus-endemic region of Thailand (n = 105) and responses compared to those from a partially exposed population in a non-endemic region (n = 14), and to a naïve population in UK (n = 12). Mean results at Day 0 prior to O. tsutsugamushi infection were 12 (95% CI 0-25) and 15 (2-27) spot-forming cells (SFC)/106 PBMC for infected and control macaques respectively. Strong O. tsutsugamushi-specific IFN-γ responses were seen post infection, with ELISpot responses 20-fold higher than baseline at Day 7 (mean 235, 95% CI 200-270 SFC/106 PBMC), 105-fold higher at Day 14 (mean 1261, 95% CI 1,097-1,425 SFC/106 PBMC), 125-fold higher at Day 21 (mean 1,498, 95% CI 1,496-1,500 SFC/106 PBMC) and 118-fold higher at Day 28 (mean 1,416, 95% CI 1,306-1,527 SFC/106 PBMC). No significant change was found in the control group at any time point compared to baseline. Humans from a scrub typhus endemic region of Thailand had mean responses of 189 (95% CI 88-290) SFC/106 PBMC compared to mean responses of 40 (95% CI 9-71) SFC/106 PBMC in people from a non-endemic region and 3 (95% CI 0-7) SFC/106 PBMC in naïve controls. In summary, this highly sensitive assay will enable field immunogenicity studies and further characterization of the host response to O. tsutsugamushi, and provides a link between human and animal models to accelerate vaccine development.

Pumpuang A, Dunachie SJ, Phokrai P, Jenjaroen K, Sintiprungrat K, Boonsilp S, Brett PJ, Burtnick MN, Chantratita N. 2017. Comparison of O-polysaccharide and hemolysin co-regulated protein as target antigens for serodiagnosis of melioidosis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11 (3), pp. e0005499. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Melioidosis is a severe disease caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei. Clinical manifestations are diverse and acute infections require immediate treatment with effective antibiotics. While culture is the current diagnostic standard, it is time-consuming and has low sensitivity. In endemic areas, inaccessibility to biosafety level 3 facilities and a lack of good serodiagnostic tools can impede diagnosis and disease surveillance. Recent studies have suggested that O-polysaccharide (OPS) and hemolysin co-regulated protein 1 (Hcp1) are promising target antigens for serodiagnosis of melioidosis. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPLE FINDINGS: We evaluated rapid ELISAs using crude antigens, purified OPS and Hcp1 to measure antibody levels in three sets of sera: (i) 419 serum samples from melioidosis patients, Thai and U.S. healthy donors, (ii) 120 serum samples from patients with other bacterial infections, and (iii) 423 serum samples from 200 melioidosis patients obtained upon admission and at 12 and 52 weeks post-recovery. We observed significantly higher antibody levels using the crude antigen prepared from wild type B. pseudomallei K96243 compared to that of an OPS-mutant. The areas under receiver operator characteristics (AUROCCs) for diagnosis were compared for individual Hcp1-ELISA or OPS-ELISA or combined Hcp1/OPS-ELISA. For Thai donors, AUROCCs were highest and comparable between the Hcp1-ELISA and the combined Hcp1/OPS-ELISA (0.95 versus 0.94). For U.S. donors, the AUROCC was highest for the combined Hcp1/OPS-ELISA (0.96). Significantly higher seropositivity was observed in diabetic patients compared to those without diabetes for both the Hcp1-ELISA (87.3% versus 69.7%) and OPS-ELISA (88.1% versus 60.6%). Although antibody levels for Hcp1 were highest upon admission, the titers declined by week 52 post-recovery. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Hcp1 and OPS are promising candidates for serodiagnosis of melioidosis in different groups of patients. The Hcp1-ELISA performed better than the OPS-ELISA in endemic areas, thus, Hcp1 represents a promising target antigen for the development of POC tests for acute melioidosis.

Chowdhury FR, Nur Z, Hassan N, von Seidlein L, Dunachie S. 2017. Pandemics, pathogenicity and changing molecular epidemiology of cholera in the era of global warming. Ann Clin Microbiol Antimicrob, 16 (1), pp. 10. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Vibrio cholerae, a Gram-negative, non-spore forming curved rod is found in diverse aquatic ecosystems around the planet. It is classified according to its major surface antigen into around 206 serogroups, of which O1 and O139 cause epidemic cholera. A recent spatial modelling technique estimated that around 2.86 million cholera cases occur globally every year, and of them approximately 95,000 die. About 1.3 billion people are currently at risk of infection from cholera. Meta-analysis and mathematical modelling have demonstrated that due to global warming the burden of vector-borne diseases like malaria, leishmaniasis, meningococcal meningitis, viral encephalitis, dengue and chikungunya will increase in the coming years in the tropics and beyond. CHOLERA AND CLIMATE: This review offers an overview of the interplay between global warming and the pathogenicity and epidemiology of V. cholerae. Several distinctive features of cholera survival (optimal thriving at 15% salinity, 30 °C water temperature, and pH 8.5) indicate a possible role of climate change in triggering the epidemic process. Genetic exchange (ctxAB, zot, ace, cep, and orfU) between strains and transduction process allows potential emergence of new toxigenic clones. These processes are probably controlled by precise environmental signals such as optimum temperature, sunlight and osmotic conditions. Environmental influences on phytoplankton growth and chitin remineralization will be discussed alongside the interplay of poor sanitary conditions, overcrowding, improper sewage disposal and global warming in promoting the growth and transmission of this deadly disease. CONCLUSION: The development of an effective early warning system based on climate data could help to prevent and control future outbreaks. It may become possible to integrate real-time monitoring of oceanic regions, climate variability and epidemiological and demographic population dynamics to predict cholera outbreaks and support the design of cost-effective public health strategies.

Chaichana P, Chantratita N, Brod F, Koosakulnirand S, Jenjaroen K, Chumseng S, Sumonwiriya M, Burtnick MN, Brett PJ, Teparrukkul P et al. 2017. A nonsense mutation in TLR5 is associated with survival and reduced IL-10 and TNF-α levels in human melioidosis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11 (5), pp. e0005587. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Melioidosis, caused by the flagellated bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, is a life-threatening and increasingly recognized emerging disease. Toll-like receptor (TLR) 5 is a germline-encoded pattern recognition receptor to bacterial flagellin. We evaluated the association of a nonsense TLR5 genetic variant that truncates the receptor with clinical outcomes and with immune responses in melioidosis. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We genotyped TLR5 c.1174C>T in 194 acute melioidosis patients in Thailand. Twenty-six (13%) were genotype CT or TT. In univariable analysis, carriage of the c.1174C>T variant was associated with lower 28-day mortality (odds ratio (OR) 0.21, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.05-0.94, P = 0.04) and with lower 90-day mortality (OR 0.25, 95% CI 0.07-086, P = 0.03). In multivariable analysis adjusting for age, sex, diabetes and renal disease, the adjusted OR for 28-day mortality in carriers of the variant was 0.24 (95% CI 0.05-1.08, P = 0.06); and the adjusted OR for 90-day mortality was 0.27 (95% CI 0.08-0.97, P = 0.04). c.1174C>T was associated with a lower rate of bacteremia (P = 0.04) and reduced plasma levels of IL-10 (P = 0.049) and TNF-α (P < 0.0001). We did not find an association between c.1174C>T and IFN-γ ELISPOT (T-cell) responses (P = 0.49), indirect haemagglutination titers or IgG antibodies to bacterial flagellin during acute melioidosis (P = 0.30 and 0.1, respectively). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This study independently confirms the association of TLR5 c.1174C>T with protection against death in melioidosis, identifies lower bacteremia, IL-10 and TNF-α production in carriers of the variant with melioidosis, but does not demonstrate an association of the variant with acute T-cell IFN-γ response, indirect haemagglutination antibody titer, or anti-flagellin IgG antibodies.

Brown A, Halliday JS, Swadling L, Madden RG, Bendall R, Hunter JG, Maggs J, Simmonds P, Smith DB, Vine L et al. 2016. Characterization of the Specificity, Functionality, and Durability of Host T-Cell Responses Against the Full-Length Hepatitis E Virus. Hepatology, 64 (6), pp. 1934-1950. | Show Abstract | Read more

The interplay between host antiviral immunity and immunopathology during hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection determines important clinical outcomes. We characterized the specificity, functionality, and durability of host T-cell responses against the full-length HEV virus and assessed a novel "Quantiferon" assay for the rapid diagnosis of HEV infection. Eighty-nine volunteers were recruited from Oxford, Truro (UK), and Toulouse (France), including 44 immune-competent patients with acute HEV infection, 18 HEV-exposed immunosuppressed organ-transplant recipients (8 with chronic HEV), and 27 healthy volunteers. A genotype 3a peptide library (616 overlapping peptides spanning open reading frames [ORFs] 1-3) was used in interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) T-cell ELISpot assays. CD4(+) /CD8(+) T-cell subsets and polyfunctionality were defined using ICCS and SPICE analysis. Quantification of IFN-γ used whole-blood stimulation with recombinant HEV-capsid protein in the QuantiFERON kit. HEV-specific T-cell responses were detected in 41/44 immune-competent HEV exposed volunteers (median magnitude: 397 spot-forming units/10(6) peripheral blood mononuclear cells), most frequently targeting ORF2. High-magnitude, polyfunctional CD4 and CD8(+) T cells were detected during acute disease and maintained to 12 years, but these declined over time, with CD8(+) responses becoming more monofunctional. Low-level responses were detectable in immunosuppressed patients. Twenty-three novel HEV CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell targets were mapped predominantly to conserved genomic regions. QuantiFERON testing demonstrated an inverse correlation between IFN-γ production and the time from clinical presentation, providing 100% specificity, and 71% sensitivity (area under the receiver operator characteristic curve of 0.86) for HEV exposure at 0.3 IU/mL. CONCLUSION: Robust HEV-specific T-cell responses generated during acute disease predominantly target ORF2, but decline in magnitude and polyfunctionality over time. Defining HEV T-cell targets will be important for the investigation of HEV-associated autoimmune disease. (Hepatology 2016;64:1934-1950).

Longley RJ, Reyes-Sandoval A, Montoya-Díaz E, Dunachie S, Kumpitak C, Nguitragool W, Mueller I, Sattabongkot J. 2015. Acquisition and Longevity of Antibodies to Plasmodium vivax Preerythrocytic Antigens in Western Thailand. Clin Vaccine Immunol, 23 (2), pp. 117-124. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium vivax is now the dominant Plasmodium species causing malaria in Thailand, yet little is known about naturally acquired immune responses to this parasite in this low-transmission region. The preerythrocytic stage of the P. vivax life cycle is considered an excellent target for a malaria vaccine, and in this study, we assessed the stability of the seropositivity and the magnitude of IgG responses to three different preerythrocytic P. vivax proteins in two groups of adults from a region of western Thailand where malaria is endemic. These individuals were enrolled in a yearlong cohort study, which comprised one group that remained P. vivax free (by quantitative PCR [qPCR] detection, n = 31) and another that experienced two or more blood-stage P. vivax infections during the year of follow up (n = 31). Despite overall low levels of seropositivity, IgG positivity and magnitude were long-lived over the 1-year period in the absence of qPCR-detectable blood-stage P. vivax infections. In contrast, in the adults with two or more P. vivax infections during the year, IgG positivity was maintained, but the magnitude of the response to P. vivax circumsporozoite protein 210 (CSP210) decreased over time. These findings demonstrate that long-term humoral immunity can develop in low-transmission regions.

Kulsantiwong P, Pudla M, Boondit J, Wikraiphat C, Dunachie SJ, Chantratita N, Utaisincharoen P. 2016. Burkholderia pseudomallei induces IL-23 production in primary human monocytes. Med Microbiol Immunol, 205 (3), pp. 255-260. | Show Abstract | Read more

Burkholderia pseudomallei, a gram-negative intracellular bacterium, is a causative agent of melioidosis. The bacterium has been shown to induce the innate immune response, particularly pro-inflammatory cytokine production in several of both mouse and human cell types. In the present study, we investigate host immune response in B. pseudomallei-infected primary human monocytes. We discover that wild-type B. pseudomallei is able to survive and multiply inside the primary human monocytes. In contrast, B. pseudomallei LPS mutant, a less virulent strain, is susceptible to host killing during bacterial infection. Moreover, microarray result showed that wild-type B. pseudomallei but not B. pseudomallei LPS mutant is able to activate gene expression of IL-23 as demonstrated by the up-regulation of p19 and p40 subunit expression. Consistent with gene expression analysis, the secretion of IL-23 analyzed by ELISA also showed that wild-type B. pseudomallei induces a significantly higher level of IL-23 secretion than that of B. pseudomallei LPS mutant. These results implied that IL-23 may be an important cytokine for the innate immune response during B. pseudomallei infection. The regulation of IL-23 production may drive the different host innate immune responses between patients and may relate to the severity of melioidosis.

Lubell Y, Blacksell SD, Dunachie S, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Althaus T, Watthanaworawit W, Paris DH, Mayxay M, Peto TJ, Dondorp AM et al. 2015. Performance of C-reactive protein and procalcitonin to distinguish viral from bacterial and malarial causes of fever in Southeast Asia. BMC Infect Dis, 15 (1), pp. 511. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Poor targeting of antimicrobial drugs contributes to the millions of deaths each year from malaria, pneumonia, and other tropical infectious diseases. While malaria rapid diagnostic tests have improved use of antimalarial drugs, there are no similar tests to guide the use of antibiotics in undifferentiated fevers. In this study we estimate the diagnostic accuracy of two well established biomarkers of bacterial infection, procalcitonin and C-reactive protein (CRP) in discriminating between common viral and bacterial infections in malaria endemic settings of Southeast Asia. METHODS: Serum procalcitonin and CRP levels were measured in stored serum samples from febrile patients enrolled in three prospective studies conducted in Cambodia, Laos and, Thailand. Of the 1372 patients with a microbiologically confirmed diagnosis, 1105 had a single viral, bacterial or malarial infection. Procalcitonin and CRP levels were compared amongst these aetiological groups and their sensitivity and specificity in distinguishing bacterial infections and bacteraemias from viral infections were estimated using standard thresholds. RESULTS: Serum concentrations of both biomarkers were significantly higher in bacterial infections and malaria than in viral infections. The AUROC for CRP in discriminating between bacterial and viral infections was 0.83 (0.81-0.86) compared with 0.74 (0.71-0.77) for procalcitonin (p < 0.0001). This relative advantage was evident in all sites and when stratifying patients by age and admission status. For CRP at a threshold of 10 mg/L, the sensitivity of detecting bacterial infections was 95% with a specificity of 49%. At a threshold of 20 mg/L sensitivity was 86% with a specificity of 67%. For procalcitonin at a low threshold of 0.1 ng/mL the sensitivity was 90% with a specificity of 39%. At a higher threshold of 0.5 ng/ul sensitivity was 60% with a specificity of 76%. CONCLUSION: In samples from febrile patients with mono-infections from rural settings in Southeast Asia, CRP was a highly sensitive and moderately specific biomarker for discriminating between viral and bacterial infections. Use of a CRP rapid test in peripheral health settings could potentially be a simple and affordable measure to better identify patients in need of antibacterial treatment and part of a global strategy to combat the emergence of antibiotic resistance.

Jenjaroen K, Chumseng S, Sumonwiriya M, Ariyaprasert P, Chantratita N, Sunyakumthorn P, Hongsuwan M, Wuthiekanun V, Fletcher HA, Teparrukkul P et al. 2015. T-Cell Responses Are Associated with Survival in Acute Melioidosis Patients. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (10), pp. e0004152. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Melioidosis is an increasingly recognised cause of sepsis and death across South East Asia and Northern Australia, caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. Risk factors include diabetes, alcoholism and renal disease, and a vaccine targeting at-risk populations is urgently required. A better understanding of the protective immune response in naturally infected patients is essential for vaccine design. METHODS: We conducted a longitudinal clinical and immunological study of 200 patients with melioidosis on admission, 12 weeks (n = 113) and 52 weeks (n = 65) later. Responses to whole killed B. pseudomallei were measured in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) by interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) ELIspot assay and flow cytometry and compared to those of control subjects in the region with diabetes (n = 45) and without diabetes (n = 43). RESULTS: We demonstrated strong CD4+ and CD8+ responses to B. pseudomallei during acute disease, 12 weeks and 52 weeks later. 28-day mortality was 26% for melioidosis patients, and B. pseudomallei-specific cellular responses in fatal cases (mean 98 IFN-γ cells per million PBMC) were significantly lower than those in the survivors (mean 142 IFN-γ cells per million PBMC) in a multivariable logistic regression model (P = 0.01). A J-shaped curve association between circulating neutrophil count and mortality was seen with an optimal count of 4000 to 8000 neutrophils/μl. Melioidosis patients with known diabetes had poor diabetic control (median glycated haemoglobin HbA1c 10.2%, interquartile range 9.2-13.1) and showed a stunted B. pseudomallei-specific cellular response during acute illness compared to those without diabetes. CONCLUSIONS: The results demonstrate the role of both CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells in protection against melioidosis, and an interaction between diabetes and cellular responses. This supports development of vaccine strategies that induce strong T-cell responses for the control of intracellular pathogens such as B. pseudomallei.

Dunachie S, Berthoud T, Hill AV, Fletcher HA. 2015. Transcriptional changes induced by candidate malaria vaccines and correlation with protection against malaria in a human challenge model. Vaccine, 33 (40), pp. 5321-5331. | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: The complexity of immunity to malaria is well known, and clear correlates of protection against malaria have not been established. A better understanding of immune markers induced by candidate malaria vaccines would greatly enhance vaccine development, immunogenicity monitoring and estimation of vaccine efficacy in the field. We have previously reported complete or partial efficacy against experimental sporozoite challenge by several vaccine regimens in healthy malaria-naïve subjects in Oxford. These include a prime-boost regimen with RTS,S/AS02A and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) expressing the CSP antigen, and a DNA-prime, MVA-boost regimen expressing the ME TRAP antigens. Using samples from these trials we performed transcriptional profiling, allowing a global assessment of responses to vaccination. METHODS: We used Human RefSeq8 Bead Chips from Illumina to examine gene expression using PBMC (peripheral blood mononuclear cells) from 16 human volunteers. To focus on antigen-specific changes, comparisons were made between PBMC stimulated with CSP or TRAP peptide pools and unstimulated PBMC post vaccination. We then correlated gene expression with protection against malaria in a human Plasmodium falciparum malaria challenge model. RESULTS: Differentially expressed genes induced by both vaccine regimens were predominantly in the IFN-γ pathway. Gene set enrichment analysis revealed antigen-specific effects on genes associated with IFN induction and proteasome modules after vaccination. Genes associated with IFN induction and antigen presentation modules were positively enriched in subjects with complete protection from malaria challenge, while genes associated with haemopoietic stem cells, regulatory monocytes and the myeloid lineage modules were negatively enriched in protected subjects. CONCLUSIONS: These results represent novel insights into the immune repertoires involved in malaria vaccination.

Dunachie S, Hill AV, Fletcher HA. 2015. Profiling the host response to malaria vaccination and malaria challenge. Vaccine, 33 (40), pp. 5316-5320. | Show Abstract | Read more

A vaccine for malaria is urgently required. The RTS,S vaccine represents major progress, but is only partially effective. Development of the next generation of highly effective vaccines requires elucidation of the protective immune response. Immunity to malaria is known to be complex, and pattern-based approaches such as global gene expression profiling are ideal for understanding response to vaccination and protection against disease. The availability of experimental sporozoite challenge in humans to test candidate malaria vaccines offers a precious opportunity unavailable for other current targets of vaccine research such as HIV, tuberculosis and Ebola. However, a limited number of transcriptional profiling studies in the context of malaria vaccine research have been published to date. This review outlines the background, existing studies, limits and opportunities for gene expression studies to accelerate malaria vaccine research.

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