Scientific articles by FIND team and partners
Socio-economic and cultural determinants of human African trypanosomiasis at the Kenya - Uganda transboundary
Background: Kenya and Uganda have reported different Human African Trypanosomiasis incidences in the past more than three decades, with the latter recording more cases. This cross-sectional study assessed the demographic characteristics, tsetse and trypanosomiasis control practices, socio-economic and cultural risk factors influencing Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense (T.b.r.) infection in Teso and Busia Districts, Western Kenya and Tororo and Busia Districts, Southeast Uganda. A conceptual framework was postulated to explain interactions of various socio-economic, cultural and tsetse control factors that predispose individuals and populations to HAT.
PLoS Negl Trop Dis 7(4): e2186. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002186Open access
Advances in tuberculosis diagnostics: the Xpert MTB/RIF assay and future prospects for a point-of-care test
Rapid progress has been made in the development of new diagnostic assays for tuberculosis in recent years. New technologies have been developed and assessed, and are now being implemented. The Xpert MTB/RIF assay, which enables simultaneous detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) and rifampicin (RIF) resistance, was endorsed by WHO in December, 2010. This assay was specifically recommended for use as the initial diagnostic test for suspected drug-resistant or HIV-associated pulmonary tuberculosis. By June, 2012, two-thirds of countries with a high tuberculosis burden and half of countries with a high multidrug-resistant tuberculosis burden had incorporated the assay into their national tuberculosis programme guidelines. Although the development of the Xpert MTB/RIF assay is undoubtedly a landmark event, clinical and programmatic effects and cost-effectiveness remain to be defined. We review the rapidly growing body of scientific literature and discuss the advantages and challenges of using the Xpert MTB/RIF assay in areas where tuberculosis is endemic. We also review other prospects within the developmental pipeline. A rapid, accurate point-of-care diagnostic test that is affordable and can be readily implemented is urgently needed. Investment in the tuberculosis diagnostics pipeline should remain a major priority for funders and researchers.
The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Volume 13, Issue 4, Pages 349 - 361;doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(13)70008-2Open access
Is bleach-sedimented smear microscopy an alternative to direct microscopy under programme conditions in India?
Abstract: This cross-sectional multi-centric study compared the yield of and potential benefit for detecting smear-positive pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) by bleach sedimentation (2% sodium-hypochlorite) versus direct microscopy under programme conditions in India. Among 3168 PTB suspects, 684 (21.6%) were detected by bleach sedimentation vs. 625 (19.7%) by direct microscopy, with a proportional overall agreement of 96% ( 0.88). While 594 patients were smear-positive with both methods, 31 patients detected by direct microscopy were missed and an additional 90 patients were detected by bleach sedimentation. Overall, bleach sedimentation increased the yield of smear-positive TB detection; however; it also increased the time to results.
Public Health Action, Volume 3, Number 1, 21 March 2013 , pp. 23-25(3)Open access
New biomarkers for stage determination in Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense sleeping sickness patients
Accurate stage determination is crucial in the choice of treatment for patients suffering from sleeping sickness, also known as human African trypanosomiasis (HAT). Current staging methods, based on the counting of white blood cells (WBC) and the detection of parasites in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) have limited accuracy. We hypothesized that immune mediators reliable for staging T. b. gambiense HAT could also be used to stratify T. b. rhodesiense patients, the less common form of HAT. A population comprising 85 T. b. rhodesiense patients, 14 stage 1 (S1) and 71 stage 2 (S2) enrolled in Malawi and Uganda, was investigated. The CSF levels of IgM, MMP-9, CXCL13, CXCL10, ICAM-1, VCAM-1, neopterin and B2MG were measured and their staging performances evaluated using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses.IgM, MMP-9 and CXCL13 were the most accurate markers for stage determination (partial AUC 88%, 86% and 85%, respectively). The combination in panels of three molecules comprising CXCL13-CXCL10-MMP-9 or CXCL13-CXCL10-IgM significantly increased their staging ability to partial AUC 94% (p value < 0.01).The present study highlighted new potential markers for stage determination of T. b. rhodesiense patients. Further investigations are needed to better evaluate these molecules, alone or in panels, as alternatives to WBC to make reliable choice of treatment.
Clin Transl Med. 2013 Jan 7;2(1):1. doi: 10.1186/2001-1326-2-1PDF
Neopterin is a cerebrospinal fluid marker for treatment outcome evaluation in patients affected by Trypanosoma brucei gambiense sleeping sickness
Author Summary: The reduction of the number of lumbar punctures performed during the follow-up of patients affected by sleeping sickness (HAT) is considered a research priority. Follow-up, consisting of the examination of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for presence of parasites and for the number of leukocytes, is necessary to assess treatment outcome. However, diagnosis of treatment failure is still imperfect and WHO encourages improvements in defining criteria. Many studies have attempted to standardize actual methods and to define a cut-off for the number of white blood cells in CSF to define relapses, while only few have proposed alternatives to current practice. Here we show that neopterin, already proven to be a powerful marker for staging T. b. gambiense HAT, is also useful in evaluating post-therapeutic outcome. The measurement of neopterin concentration in CSF during the follow-up may allow reduction in the number of lumbar punctures from five to three for the majority of cured patients.
PLoS Negl Trop Dis 7(2): e2088. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002088Open access
Shark variable new antigen receptor (Vnar) single domain antibody fragments: stability and diagnostic applications
The single variable new antigen receptor domain antibody fragments (VNARs) derived from shark immunoglobulin new antigen receptor antibodies (IgNARs) represent some of the smallest known immunoglobulin-based protein scaffolds. As single domains, they demonstrate favorable size and cryptic epitope recognition properties, making them attractive in diagnosis and therapy of numerous disease states. Here, we examine the stability of VNAR domains with a focus on a family of VNARs specific for apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA-1) from Plasmodium falciparum. The VNARs are compared to traditional monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in liquid, lyophilized and immobilized nitrocellulose formats. When maintained in various formats at 45 °C, VNARs have improved stability compared to mAbs for periods of up to four weeks. Using circular dichroism spectroscopy we demonstrate that VNAR domains are able to refold following heating to 80°C. We also demonstrate that VNAR domains are stable during incubation under potential in vivo conditions such as stomach acid, but not to the protease rich environment of murine stomach scrapings. Taken together, our results demonstrate the suitability of shark VNAR domains for various diagnostic platforms and related applications.
Antibodies 2013, 2(1), 66-81; doi:10.3390/antib2010066Open access
Genomic analysis of smooth tubercle bacilli provides insights into ancestry and pathoadptation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis
Global spread and limited genetic variation are hallmarks of M. tuberculosis, the agent of human tuberculosis. In contrast, Mycobacterium canettii and related tubercle bacilli that also cause human tuberculosis and exhibit unusual smooth colony morphology are restricted to East Africa. Here, we sequenced and analyzed the whole genomes of five representative strains of smooth tubercle bacilli (STB) using Sanger (4–5× coverage), 454/Roche (13–18× coverage) and/or Illumina DNA sequencing (45–105× coverage). We show that STB isolates are highly recombinogenic and evolutionarily early branching, with larger genome sizes, higher rates of genetic variation, fewer molecular scars and distinct CRISPR-Cas systems relative to M. tuberculosis. Despite the differences, all tuberculosis-causing mycobacteria share a highly conserved core genome. Mouse infection experiments showed that STB strains are less persistent and virulent than M. tuberculosis. We conclude that M. tuberculosis emerged from an ancestral STB-like pool of mycobacteria by gain of persistence and virulence mechanisms, and we provide insights into the molecular events involved.
Nature Genetics(2013)doi:10.1038/ng.2517Open access