Professor Trudie Lang

Research Area: Global Health
Technology Exchange: Drug discovery and Medical statistics
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health and Clinical Trials & Epidemiology
Keywords: clinical trials, GCP, Informed consent, Trial design, Trial operations and Trial regulations
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The Global Health Network

Principal Investigator Trudie Lang

Global Health Network accelerates and streamlines research through an innovative digital community, facilitating collaboration and resource sharing across global health

Background

Clinical research brings evidence base for prevention and treatment of disease and is critically important in the field of Global Health. This importance is threefold: there is the greatest potential for improving health in numerical terms, there is enormous potential gain from relatively simple interventions, and developing countries have been under represented in clinical studies to date.
Clinical trials in developing countries typically have endpoints that are severe disease outcomes or mortality. They more often involve children and are sponsored by not-for-profit organisations. There are also specific situations that merit more and better clinical trials to inform policy such as disease outbreaks, including those with pandemic potential, in displaced populations, refugee camps and natural disasters. These very specialist situations and environments need a research focus in order to identify highly practical and appropriate interpretation of guidelines and regulations to enable rapid and flexible trial implementation whilst maintaining the same degree of attention to ethical standards and to quality of processes and data as any international trial.
There is a high level of activity with externally sponsored product development trials. However disease management trials are equally important and product development trials alone do not leave sites with the ability to run their own broad programmes. To encourage more locally led trials we need to support researchers and provide skills and guidance in setting questions and operating protocols.

Objectives

We have established a dedicated and collaborative online science park. Global Health Network is a one-stop shop for sharing research methods and facilitating collaboration among global health professionals to fuel faster and better evidence to improve health in resource-limited settings

One of the areas within The Global Health Network is a cross-cutting resource called Global Health Trials which is  forum to help clinical researchers with trial operations, design, methods and interpretation of regulations. Global Health Trials offers guidance whilst also identifying problems and potential solutions and encouraging the sharing of best practices. Using a participatory mixed methods action research approach we are conducting methodology research to identify the real barriers and issues. The data gathered is being used to continuously update the web forum and to develop resources and guidance to enable the conduct of clinical trials to be both appealing and straightforward.

The main objective of this research is to identify where the interpretation of GCP and other regulatory requirements is problematic in resource poor settings and quantify the impact these issues are having. The identification of the problems will lead to studies that will generate new tools that will be made available on the web forum. This is a continuous iterative process so continuing the theme of participatory action research, with the web forum providing the open-access, open source and fully collaborative vehicle.

There is a need for well trained and qualified clinical trialists to lead and design their own trial programmes in developing countries in order to catch up with the career structures in the west. Therefore another aim of this collaboration is to develop training courses and resources to meet specific gaps. At present there are diplomas and MSc clinical trial courses that are taught and available through distance learning. Whilst these are good, they are focused on industry and US/European regulatory needs. Our research will also help to guide the design and content of courses specifically focused on developing country clinical trials based on what we have shown to work locally in vulnerable populations.
Our findings will also enable funders interested in capacity building to direct their resources appropriately and product developers to select trial sites. Although we are focusing our research on tropical medicine we expect some of our findings to be generally applicable to anyone engaged in non-commercial trials.

Name Department Institution Country
Kathryn Maitland FEAST trial Kenya
Kathryn Maitland FEAST trial Uganda
Kathryn Maitland FEAST trial Tanzania
Dr Raghib Ali MRCP University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Jeremy Farrar Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Rosanna Peeling London School Hygiene and Tropical Medicine United Kingdom
Professor Catherine (Sassy) Molyneux Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom

Treweek S, Altman DG, Bower P, Campbell M, Chalmers I, Cotton S, Craig P, Crosby D et al. 2015. Making randomised trials more efficient: report of the first meeting to discuss the Trial Forge platform. Trials, 16 (1), pp. 261. Read abstract | Read more

Randomised trials are at the heart of evidence-based healthcare, but the methods and infrastructure for conducting these sometimes complex studies are largely evidence free. Trial Forge ( www.trialforge.org ) is an initiative that aims to increase the evidence base for trial decision making and, in doing so, to improve trial efficiency.This paper summarises a one-day workshop held in Edinburgh on 10 July 2014 to discuss Trial Forge and how to advance this initiative. We first outline the problem of inefficiency in randomised trials and go on to describe Trial Forge. We present participants' views on the processes in the life of a randomised trial that should be covered by Trial Forge.General support existed at the workshop for the Trial Forge approach to increase the evidence base for making randomised trial decisions and for improving trial efficiency. Agreed upon key processes included choosing the right research question; logistical planning for delivery, training of staff, recruitment, and retention; data management and dissemination; and close down. The process of linking to existing initiatives where possible was considered crucial. Trial Forge will not be a guideline or a checklist but a 'go to' website for research on randomised trials methods, with a linked programme of applied methodology research, coupled to an effective evidence-dissemination process. Moreover, it will support an informal network of interested trialists who meet virtually (online) and occasionally in person to build capacity and knowledge in the design and conduct of efficient randomised trials.Some of the resources invested in randomised trials are wasted because of limited evidence upon which to base many aspects of design, conduct, analysis, and reporting of clinical trials. Trial Forge will help to address this lack of evidence. Hide abstract

Cooper BS, Boni MF, Pan-ngum W, Day NP, Horby PW, Olliaro P, Lang T, White NJ, White LJ, Whitehead J. 2015. Evaluating clinical trial designs for investigational treatments of Ebola virus disease. PLoS Med, 12 (4), pp. e1001815. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Experimental treatments for Ebola virus disease (EVD) might reduce EVD mortality. There is uncertainty about the ability of different clinical trial designs to identify effective treatments, and about the feasibility of implementing individually randomised controlled trials during an Ebola epidemic. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A treatment evaluation programme for use in EVD was devised using a multi-stage approach (MSA) with two or three stages, including both non-randomised and randomised elements. The probabilities of rightly or wrongly recommending the experimental treatment, the required sample size, and the consequences for epidemic outcomes over 100 d under two epidemic scenarios were compared for the MSA, a sequential randomised controlled trial (SRCT) with up to 20 interim analyses, and, as a reference case, a conventional randomised controlled trial (RCT) without interim analyses. Assuming 50% 14-d survival in the population treated with the current standard of supportive care, all designs had similar probabilities of identifying effective treatments correctly, while the MSA was less likely to recommend treatments that were ineffective. The MSA led to a smaller number of cases receiving ineffective treatments and faster roll-out of highly effective treatments. For less effective treatments, the MSA had a high probability of including an RCT component, leading to a somewhat longer time to roll-out or rejection. Assuming 100 new EVD cases per day, the MSA led to between 6% and 15% greater reductions in epidemic mortality over the first 100 d for highly effective treatments compared to the SRCT. Both the MSA and SRCT led to substantially fewer deaths than a conventional RCT if the tested interventions were either highly effective or harmful. In the proposed MSA, the major threat to the validity of the results of the non-randomised components is that referral patterns, standard of care, or the virus itself may change during the study period in ways that affect mortality. Adverse events are also harder to quantify without a concurrent control group. CONCLUSIONS: The MSA discards ineffective treatments quickly, while reliably providing evidence concerning effective treatments. The MSA is appropriate for the clinical evaluation of EVD treatments. Hide abstract

Negussie H, Kassahun MM, Fegan G, Njuguna P, Enquselassie F, McKay A, Newport M, Lang T, Davey G. 2015. Podoconiosis treatment in northern Ethiopia (GoLBet): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials, 16 (1), pp. 307. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Podoconiosis is one of the forgotten types of leg swelling (elephantiasis) in the tropics. Unlike the other, better-known types of leg swelling, podoconiosis is not caused by any parasite, virus or bacterium, but by an abnormal reaction to minerals found in the clay soils of some tropical highland areas. Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) have been responsible for the development of simple treatment methods without systematic evaluation of its effectiveness. It is essential that a large scale, fully controlled, pragmatic trial of the intervention is conducted. We aim to test the hypothesis that community-based treatment of podoconiosis lymphoedema reduces the frequency of acute dermatolymphangioadenitis episodes ('acute attacks') and improves other clinical, social and economic outcomes. METHODS/DESIGN: This is a pragmatic, individually randomised controlled trial. We plan to randomly allocate 680 podoconiosis patients from the East Gojjam Zone in northern Ethiopia to one of two groups: 'Standard Treatment' or 'Delayed Treatment'. Those randomised to standard treatment will receive the hygiene and foot-care intervention from May 2015 for one year, whereas those in the control arm will be followed through 2015 and be offered the intervention in 2016. The trial will be preceded by an economic context survey and a Rapid Ethical Assessment to identify optimal methods of conveying information about the trial and the approaches to obtaining informed consent preferred by the community. The primary outcome will be measured by recording patient recall and using a simple, patient-held diary that will be developed to record episodes of acute attacks. Adherence to treatment, clinical stage of disease, quality of life, disability and stigma will be considered secondary outcome measures. Other outcomes will include adverse events and economic productivity. Assessments will be made at baseline and at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months thereafter. DISCUSSION: The evidence is highly likely to inform implementation of the new master plan for integrated control of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), in which podoconiosis is identified as one of eight NTDs prioritised for control. Potentially, an estimated 3 million patients in Ethiopia will therefore benefit from the results of this trial. TRIAL REGISTRATION: International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number. REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN67805210. Date of registration: 24 January 2013. Hide abstract

Furtado T, Franzen S, van Loggerenberg F, Carn G, Grahek S, McBride M, Power M, O'Reilly J et al. 2014. Strengthening neglected tropical disease research through enhancing research-site capacity: an evaluation of a novel web application to facilitate research collaborations. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 8 (11), pp. e3225. | Read more

Chantler T, Cheah PY, Miiro G, Hantrakum V, Nanvubya A, Ayuo E, Kivaya E, Kidola J et al. 2014. International health research monitoring: exploring a scientific and a cooperative approach using participatory action research. BMJ Open, 4 (2), pp. e004104. Read abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate and determine the value of monitoring models developed by the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Research Unit and the East African Consortium for Clinical Research, consider how this can be measured and explore monitors' and investigators' experiences of and views about the nature, purpose and practice of monitoring. RESEARCH DESIGN: A case study approach was used within the context of participatory action research because one of the aims was to guide and improve practice. 34 interviews, five focus groups and observations of monitoring practice were conducted. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Fieldwork occurred in the places where the monitoring models are coordinated and applied in Thailand, Cambodia, Uganda and Kenya. Participants included those coordinating the monitoring schemes, monitors, senior investigators and research staff. ANALYSIS: Transcribed textual data from field notes, interviews and focus groups was imported into a qualitative data software program (NVIVO V. 10) and analysed inductively and thematically by a qualitative researcher. The initial coding framework was reviewed internally and two main categories emerged from the subsequent interrogation of the data. RESULTS: The categories that were identified related to the conceptual framing and nature of monitoring, and the practice of monitoring, including relational factors. Particular emphasis was given to the value of a scientific and cooperative style of monitoring as a means of enhancing data quality, trust and transparency. In terms of practice the primary purpose of monitoring was defined as improving the conduct of health research and increasing the capacity of researchers and trial sites. CONCLUSIONS: The models studied utilise internal and network wide expertise to improve the ethics and quality of clinical research. They demonstrate how monitoring can be a scientific and constructive exercise rather than a threatening process. The value of cooperative relations needs to be given more emphasis in monitoring activities, which seek to ensure that research protects human rights and produces reliable data. Hide abstract

Lang T, Marsh K, Peeling R, Farrar J. 2013. Sharing methods for global health research: an assessment of methodology LANCET, 382 pp. 5-5.

Franzen SRP, Chandler C, Atashili J, Angus B, Lang T. 2013. Barriers and enablers of locally led clinical trials in Ethiopia and Cameroon: a prospective, qualitative study LANCET, 382 pp. 14-14.

Franzen SR, Chandler C, Enquselassie F, Siribaddana S, Atashili J, Angus B, Lang T. 2013. Understanding the investigators: a qualitative study investigating the barriers and enablers to the implementation of local investigator-initiated clinical trials in Ethiopia. BMJ Open, 3 (11), pp. e003616. Read abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: Clinical trials provide 'gold standard' evidence for policy, but insufficient locally relevant trials are conducted in low-income and middle-income countries. Local investigator-initiated trials could generate highly relevant data for national governments, but information is lacking on how to facilitate them. We aimed to identify barriers and enablers to investigator-initiated trials in Ethiopia to inform and direct capacity strengthening initiatives. DESIGN: Exploratory, qualitative study comprising of in-depth interviews (n=7) and focus group discussions (n=3). SETTING: Fieldwork took place in Ethiopia during March 2011. PARTICIPANTS: Local health researchers with previous experiences of clinical trials or stakeholders with an interest in trials were recruited through snowball sampling (n=20). OUTCOME MEASURES: Detailed discussion notes were analysed using thematic coding analysis and key themes were identified. RESULTS: All participants perceived investigator-initiated trials as important for generating local evidence. System and organisational barriers included: limited funding allocation, weak regulatory and administrative systems, few learning opportunities, limited human and material capacity and poor incentives for conducting research. Operational hurdles were symptomatic of these barriers. Lack of awareness, confidence and motivation to undertake trials were important individual barriers. Training, knowledge sharing and experience exchange were key enablers to trial conduct and collaboration was unanimously regarded as important for improving capacity. CONCLUSIONS: Barriers to trial conduct were found at individual, operational, organisational and system levels. These findings indicate that to increase locally led trial conduct in Ethiopia, system wide changes are needed to create a more receptive and enabling research environment. Crucially, the creation of research networks between potential trial groups could provide much needed practical collaborative support through sharing of financial and project management burdens, knowledge and resources. These findings could have important implications for capacity-strengthening initiatives but further research is needed before the results can be generalised more widely. Hide abstract

Lang T, Siribaddana S. 2012. Clinical trials have gone global: is this a good thing? PLoS Med, 9 (6), pp. e1001228. | Read more

Lang T. 2012. Using digital technology to support and enhance clinical trials in resource-limited settings TROPICAL MEDICINE & INTERNATIONAL HEALTH, 17 pp. 49-49.

Lang T. 2011. Adaptive trial design: could we use this approach to improve clinical trials in the field of global health? Am J Trop Med Hyg, 85 (6), pp. 967-970. Read abstract | Read more

We need more clinical trials in the world's poorest regions to evaluate new drugs and vaccines, and also to find better ways to manage health issues. Clinical trials are expensive, time consuming, and cumbersome. However, in wealthier regions these limiting factors are being addressed to make trials less administrative and improve the designs. A good example is adaptive trial design. This innovation is becoming accepted by the regulators and has been taken up by the pharmaceutical industry to reduce product development times and costs. If this approach makes trials easier and less expensive surely we should be implementing this approach in the field of tropical medicine and international health? As yet this has rarely been proposed and there are few examples. There is a need for raising the awareness of these design approaches because they could be used to make dramatic improvements to clinical research in developing countries. Hide abstract

Boga M, Davies A, Kamuya D, Kinyanjui SM, Kivaya E, Kombe F, Lang T, Marsh V et al. 2011. Strengthening the informed consent process in international health research through community engagement: The KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme Experience. PLoS Med, 8 (9), pp. e1001089. | Read more

Mbuagbaw L, Thabane L, Ongolo-Zogo P, Lang T. 2011. The challenges and opportunities of conducting a clinical trial in a low resource setting: the case of the Cameroon mobile phone SMS (CAMPS) trial, an investigator initiated trial. Trials, 12 (1), pp. 145. Read abstract | Read more

Conducting clinical trials in developing countries often presents significant ethical, organisational, cultural and infrastructural challenges to researchers, pharmaceutical companies, sponsors and regulatory bodies. Globally, these regions are under-represented in research, yet this population stands to gain more from research in these settings as the burdens on health are greater than those in developed resourceful countries. However, developing countries also offer an attractive setting for clinical trials because they often have larger treatment naive populations with higher incidence rates of disease and more advanced stages. These factors can present a reduction in costs and time required to recruit patients. So, balance needs to be found where research can be encouraged and supported in order to bring maximum public health benefits to these communities. The difficulties with such trials arise from problems with obtaining valid informed consent, ethical compensation mechanisms for extremely poor populations, poor health infrastructure and considerable socio-economic and cultural divides. Ethical concerns with trials in developing countries have received attention, even though many other non-ethical issues may arise. Local investigator initiated trials also face a variety of difficulties that have not been adequately reported in literature. This paper uses the example of the Cameroon Mobile Phone SMS trial to describe in detail, the specific difficulties encountered in an investigator-initiated trial in a developing country. It highlights administrative, ethical, financial and staff related issues, proposes solutions and gives a list of additional documentation to ease the organisational process. Hide abstract

Porter DW, Thompson FM, Berthoud TK, Hutchings CL, Andrews L, Biswas S, Poulton I, Prieur E et al. 2011. A human Phase I/IIa malaria challenge trial of a polyprotein malaria vaccine. Vaccine, 29 (43), pp. 7514-7522. Read abstract | Read more

We examined the safety, immunogenicity and efficacy of a prime-boost vaccination regime involving two poxvirus malaria subunit vaccines, FP9-PP and MVA-PP, expressing the same polyprotein consisting of six pre-erythrocytic antigens from Plasmodium falciparum. Following safety assessment of single doses, 15 volunteers received a heterologous prime-boost vaccination regime and underwent malaria sporozoite challenge. The vaccines were safe but interferon-γ ELISPOT responses were low compared to other poxvirus vectors, despite targeting multiple antigens. There was no vaccine efficacy as measured by delay in time to parasitaemia. A number of possible explanations are discussed, including the very large insert size of the polyprotein transgene. Hide abstract

Maitland K, Molyneux S, Boga M, Kiguli S, Lang T. 2011. Use of deferred consent for severely ill children in a multi-centre phase III trial. Trials, 12 (1), pp. 90. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Voluntary participation of a subject in research respects a subject's rights, strengthens its ethical conduct, and is formalized by the informed consent process. Clinical trials of life-saving interventions for medical emergencies often necessitate enrollment of patients where prior written individual informed consent is impossible. Although there are regulations and guidelines on protecting subjects in emergency research, these have been criticised for being limited and unnecessarily restrictive. Across Europe and the United States stringent regulations have resulted in a substantial decline of clinical trials involving emergency interventions. METHODS: We are conducting a trial of fluid resuscitation in children with hypovolaemic shock in six hospitals across three malaria-endemic African countries. The design is pragmatic as children are enrolled on clinical criteria alone and is being conducted in hospitals with facilities typical of many district hospitals across Africa. The trial aims to inform strategy for managing children with febrile illness and features of shock. In order to develop appropriate consent processes for the trial, we conducted a narrative review of current international recommendations for emergency consent. RESULTS: Practical or specific guidance was generally sparse or confusing with few examples in the literature to direct our informed consent process. For a sub-group of children who were critically sick or where parents themselves were otherwise too distressed to consider prior written consent, we opted for a modified form of deferred consent. This included verbal assent from guardians at the point of enrollment, with full written consent obtained after stabilising the child. For children who died prior to full written consent, ethical permission was received to waiver full consent. CONCLUSIONS: In light of the controversy around guidance and regulations in this area we report how and why we have used a modified system of deferred consent in an emergency intervention trial in children. Although approved by all relevant ethics committees and operational in 3 countries in Africa, formal research is now necessary to explore the perceptions and experiences of parents, health workers, researchers and ethics committees of the modified method of deferred consent. Hide abstract

Lang T, Cheah PY, White NJ. 2011. Clinical research: time for sensible global guidelines. Lancet, 377 (9777), pp. 1553-1555. | Read more

Lang T. 2011. Advancing global health research through digital technology and sharing data. Science, 331 (6018), pp. 714-717. Read abstract | Read more

The imperative for improving health in the world's poorest regions lies in research, yet there is no question that low participation, a lack of trained staff, and limited opportunities for data sharing in developing countries impede advances in medical practice and public health knowledge. Extensive studies are essential to develop new treatments and to identify better ways to manage healthcare issues. Recent rapid advances in availability and uptake of digital technologies, especially of mobile networks, have the potential to overcome several barriers to collaborative research in remote places with limited access to resources. Many research groups are already taking advantage of these technologies for data sharing and capture, and these initiatives indicate that increasing acceptance and use of digital technology could promote rapid improvements in global medical science. Hide abstract

Porter DW, Thompson FM, Berthoud TK, Hutchings CL, Andrews L, Biswas S, Poulton I, Prieur E et al. 2011. A human phase I/IIa malaria challenge trial of a polyprotein malaria vaccine Vaccine, 29 (43), pp. 7514-7522. Read abstract | Read more

We examined the safety, immunogenicity and efficacy of a prime-boost vaccination regime involving two poxvirus malaria subunit vaccines, FP9-PP and MVA-PP, expressing the same polyprotein consisting of six pre-erythrocytic antigens from Plasmodium falciparum. Following safety assessment of single doses, 15 volunteers received a heterologous prime-boost vaccination regime and underwent malaria sporozoite challenge. The vaccines were safe but interferon-γ ELISPOT responses were low compared to other poxvirus vectors, despite targeting multiple antigens. There was no vaccine efficacy as measured by delay in time to parasitaemia. A number of possible explanations are discussed, including the very large insert size of the polyprotein transgene. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Hide abstract

Chilengi R, Juma R, Abdallah AM, Bashraheil M, Lodenyo H, Nyakundi P, Anabwani E, Salim A et al. 2011. A phase I trial to evaluate the safety and pharmacokinetics of low-dose methotrexate as an anti-malarial drug in Kenyan adult healthy volunteers. Malar J, 10 (1), pp. 63. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Previous investigations indicate that methotrexate, an old anticancer drug, could be used at low doses to treat malaria. A phase I evaluation was conducted to assess the safety and pharmacokinetic profile of this drug in healthy adult male Kenyan volunteers. METHODS: Twenty five healthy adult volunteers were recruited and admitted to receive a 5 mg dose of methotrexate/day/5 days. Pharmacokinetics blood sampling was carried out at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 24 hours following each dose. Nausea, vomiting, oral ulcers and other adverse events were solicited during follow up of 42 days. RESULTS: The mean age of participants was 23.9 ± 3.3 years. Adherence to protocol was 100%. No grade 3 solicited adverse events were observed. However, one case of transiently elevated liver enzymes, and one serious adverse event (not related to the product) were reported. The maximum concentration (C(max)) was 160-200 nM and after 6 hours, the effective concentration (C(eff)) was <150 nM. CONCLUSION: Low-dose methotraxate had an acceptable safety profile. However, methotrexate blood levels did not reach the desirable C(eff) of 250-400-nM required to clear malaria infection in vivo. Further dose finding and safety studies are necessary to confirm suitability of this drug as an anti-malarial agent. Hide abstract

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

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

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

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

Lang T. 2010. Diverse ethics of translational research in the developing world. Am J Bioeth, 10 (8), pp. 41-42. | Read more

Nzila A, Okombo J, Becker RP, Chilengi R, Lang T, Niehues T. 2010. Anticancer agents against malaria: time to revisit? Trends Parasitol, 26 (3), pp. 125-129. Read abstract | Read more

The emergence of artemisinin resistance could adversely impact the current strategy for malaria treatment; thus, new drugs are urgently needed. A possible approach to developing new antimalarials is to find new uses for old drugs. Some anticancer agents such as methotrexate and trimetrexate are active against malaria. However, they are commonly perceived to be toxic and thus not suitable for malaria treatment. In this opinion article, we examine how the toxicity of anticancer agents is just a matter of dose or 'only dose makes the poison', as coined in Paracelsus' law. Thus, the opportunity exists to discover new antimalarials using the anticancer pharmacopoeia. Hide abstract

Lang TA, White NJ, Tran HT, Farrar JJ, Day NP, Fitzpatrick R, Angus BJ, Denis E et al. 2010. Clinical research in resource-limited settings: enhancing research capacity and working together to make trials less complicated. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 4 (6), pp. e619. | Read more

O'Meara WP, Lang T. 2009. Malaria vaccine trial endpoints - bridging the gaps between trial design, public health and the next generation of vaccines. Parasite Immunol, 31 (9), pp. 574-581. Read abstract | Read more

A recent working group convened by the World Health Organization recommended that time to first or only episode of clinical malaria should be used to evaluate vaccine efficacy in phase III trials. However, calculating vaccine efficacy based on this endpoint misses important aspects of malaria disease and transmission. Here, we discuss the gaps that this approach leaves in predicting the potential public health impact of a vaccine and the challenges faced by vaccine trial designers. We examine the implications of current vaccine trial design on effectiveness studies and the next generation of malaria vaccines. Hide abstract

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

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

Lang T, Hughes D, Kanyok T, Kengeya-Kayondo J, Marsh V, Haaland A, Pirmohamed M, Winstanley P. 2006. Beyond registration--measuring the public-health potential of new treatments for malaria in Africa. Lancet Infect Dis, 6 (1), pp. 46-52. Read abstract | Read more

Malaria claims over one million lives a year in some of the poorest countries of the world. Affected populations and governments cannot afford to pay for expensive new therapies. Most antimalarial treatments are purchased from local shops and administered in the home. These factors make for a complex set of requirements for any new treatment for malaria if a substantial reduction in mortality is ever to be achieved. Thankfully there are several treatments being developed, mostly within public-private partnerships. Typically, the goal of public-private partnerships is the granting of a product license, so work plans end after phase III trials. As these drugs will ultimately be used unsupervised, malaria control programme managers will require further data on safety and whether the drug is as efficacious when used outside of controlled clinical trials before allowing widespread use of these new products. These data need to be collected in highly specific phase IV programmes. We explain why public-private partnerships should extend their development plans well beyond drug registration, and set out the requirements of such a programme. We aim to generate debate and discussion so that guidelines that are internationally accepted and adhered to can be developed not only for antimalarials but for all drugs that are being developed specifically for use in resource-poor settings. Hide abstract

Lang T, Hill AV, McShane H, Shah R, Towse A, Pritchard C, Garau M. 2005. New TB vaccine granted orphan drug status. BMJ, 331 (7530), pp. 1476. | Read more

The potential for developing pragmatic clinical trials that require ‘point of care’ randomisation within routine settings in low-income settings.

Typical randomised controlled trials (RCT) focus on internal validity and efficacy, often focusing on highly selected patient populations that represent distinct subgroups of the large mix of patients who present to routine services. They also operate through parallel, tightly regulated systems that can make them expensive and time consuming. They often do not therefore identify which interventions work for which patient populations and they do not address questions of feasibility or optimal imp ...

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