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Concept: Malaria


Genetic engineering technologies can be used both to create transgenic mosquitoes carrying antipathogen effector genes targeting human malaria parasites and to generate gene-drive systems capable of introgressing the genes throughout wild vector populations. We developed a highly effective autonomous Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)-associated protein 9 (Cas9)-mediated gene-drive system in the Asian malaria vector Anopheles stephensi, adapted from the mutagenic chain reaction (MCR). This specific system results in progeny of males and females derived from transgenic males exhibiting a high frequency of germ-line gene conversion consistent with homology-directed repair (HDR). This system copies an ∼17-kb construct from its site of insertion to its homologous chromosome in a faithful, site-specific manner. Dual anti-Plasmodium falciparum effector genes, a marker gene, and the autonomous gene-drive components are introgressed into ∼99.5% of the progeny following outcrosses of transgenic lines to wild-type mosquitoes. The effector genes remain transcriptionally inducible upon blood feeding. In contrast to the efficient conversion in individuals expressing Cas9 only in the germ line, males and females derived from transgenic females, which are expected to have drive component molecules in the egg, produce progeny with a high frequency of mutations in the targeted genome sequence, resulting in near-Mendelian inheritance ratios of the transgene. Such mutant alleles result presumably from nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) events before the segregation of somatic and germ-line lineages early in development. These data support the design of this system to be active strictly within the germ line. Strains based on this technology could sustain control and elimination as part of the malaria eradication agenda.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Allele, Malaria, Plasmodium, Anopheles, Mosquito


Could some vaccines drive the evolution of more virulent pathogens? Conventional wisdom is that natural selection will remove highly lethal pathogens if host death greatly reduces transmission. Vaccines that keep hosts alive but still allow transmission could thus allow very virulent strains to circulate in a population. Here we show experimentally that immunization of chickens against Marek’s disease virus enhances the fitness of more virulent strains, making it possible for hyperpathogenic strains to transmit. Immunity elicited by direct vaccination or by maternal vaccination prolongs host survival but does not prevent infection, viral replication or transmission, thus extending the infectious periods of strains otherwise too lethal to persist. Our data show that anti-disease vaccines that do not prevent transmission can create conditions that promote the emergence of pathogen strains that cause more severe disease in unvaccinated hosts.

Concepts: Immune system, Infectious disease, Natural selection, Microbiology, Malaria, Vaccination, Smallpox, Marek's disease


Background Each year, rotavirus gastroenteritis is responsible for about 37% of deaths from diarrhea among children younger than 5 years of age worldwide, with a disproportionate effect in sub-Saharan Africa. Methods We conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled trial in Niger to evaluate the efficacy of a live, oral bovine rotavirus pentavalent vaccine (BRV-PV, Serum Institute of India) to prevent severe rotavirus gastroenteritis. Healthy infants received three doses of the vaccine or placebo at 6, 10, and 14 weeks of age. Episodes of gastroenteritis were assessed through active and passive surveillance and were graded on the basis of the score on the Vesikari scale (which ranges from 0 to 20, with higher scores indicating more severe disease). The primary end point was the efficacy of three doses of vaccine as compared with placebo against a first episode of laboratory-confirmed severe rotavirus gastroenteritis (Vesikari score, ≥11) beginning 28 days after dose 3. Results Among the 3508 infants who were included in the per-protocol efficacy analysis, there were 31 cases of severe rotavirus gastroenteritis in the vaccine group and 87 cases in the placebo group (2.14 and 6.44 cases per 100 person-years, respectively), for a vaccine efficacy of 66.7% (95% confidence interval [CI], 49.9 to 77.9). Similar efficacy was seen in the intention-to-treat analyses, which showed a vaccine efficacy of 69.1% (95% CI, 55.0 to 78.7). There was no significant between-group difference in the risk of adverse events, which were reported in 68.7% of the infants in the vaccine group and in 67.2% of those in the placebo group, or in the risk of serious adverse events (in 8.3% in the vaccine group and in 9.1% in the placebo group); there were 27 deaths in the vaccine group and 22 in the placebo group. None of the infants had confirmed intussusception. Conclusions Three doses of BRV-PV, an oral rotavirus vaccine, had an efficacy of 66.7% against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis among infants in Niger. (Funded by Médecins sans Frontières Operational Center and the Kavli Foundation; number, NCT02145000 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Malaria, Vaccine, Rotavirus, Placebo, Pediatrics, Diarrhea, Rotavirus vaccine


There is much evidence that some pathogens manipulate the behaviour of their mosquito hosts to enhance pathogen transmission. However, it is unknown whether this phenomenon exists in the interaction of Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto with the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum - one of the most important interactions in the context of humanity, with malaria causing over 200 million human cases and over 770 thousand deaths each year. Here we demonstrate, for the first time, that infection with P. falciparum causes alterations in behavioural responses to host-derived olfactory stimuli in host-seeking female An. gambiae s.s. mosquitoes. In behavioural experiments we showed that P. falciparum-infected An. gambiae mosquitoes were significantly more attracted to human odors than uninfected mosquitoes. Both P. falciparum-infected and uninfected mosquitoes landed significantly more on a substrate emanating human skin odor compared to a clean substrate. However, significantly more infected mosquitoes landed and probed on a substrate emanating human skin odor than uninfected mosquitoes. This is the first demonstration of a change of An. gambiae behaviour in response to olfactory stimuli caused by infection with P. falciparum. The results of our study provide vital information that could be used to provide better predictions of how malaria is transmitted from human being to human being by An. gambiae s.s. females. Additionally, it highlights the urgent need to investigate this interaction further to determine the olfactory mechanisms that underlie the differential behavioural responses. In doing so, new attractive compounds could be identified which could be used to develop improved mosquito traps for surveillance or trapping programmes that may even specifically target P. falciparum-infected An. gambiae s.s. females.

Concepts: Immune system, Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium, Plasmodium vivax, Anopheles, Apicomplexa, Mosquito


Malaria, caused by parasites of the genus Plasmodium, leads to over half a million deaths per year, 90% of which are caused by Plasmodium falciparum. P. vivax usually causes milder forms of malaria; however, P. vivax can remain dormant in the livers of infected patients for weeks or years before re-emerging in a new bout of the disease. The only drugs available that target all stages of the parasite can lead to severe side effects in patients with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency; hence, there is an urgent need to develop new drugs active against blood and liver stages of the parasite. Different groups have demonstrated that triclosan, a common antibacterial agent, targets the Plasmodium liver enzyme enoyl reductase. Here, we provide 4 independent lines of evidence demonstrating that triclosan specifically targets both wild-type and pyrimethamine-resistant P. falciparum and P. vivax dihydrofolate reductases, classic targets for the blood stage of the parasite. This makes triclosan an exciting candidate for further development as a dual specificity antimalarial, which could target both liver and blood stages of the parasite.

Concepts: Immune system, Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium, Plasmodium vivax, Quinine, Liver, Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency


Background Malaria control has not been routinely informed by the assessment of subnational variation in malaria deaths. We combined data from the Malaria Atlas Project and the Global Burden of Disease Study to estimate malaria mortality across sub-Saharan Africa on a grid of 5 km(2) from 1990 through 2015. Methods We estimated malaria mortality using a spatiotemporal modeling framework of geolocated data (i.e., with known latitude and longitude) on the clinical incidence of malaria, coverage of antimalarial drug treatment, case fatality rate, and population distribution according to age. Results Across sub-Saharan Africa during the past 15 years, we estimated that there was an overall decrease of 57% (95% uncertainty interval, 46 to 65) in the rate of malaria deaths, from 12.5 (95% uncertainty interval, 8.3 to 17.0) per 10,000 population in 2000 to 5.4 (95% uncertainty interval, 3.4 to 7.9) in 2015. This led to an overall decrease of 37% (95% uncertainty interval, 36 to 39) in the number of malaria deaths annually, from 1,007,000 (95% uncertainty interval, 666,000 to 1,376,000) to 631,000 (95% uncertainty interval, 394,000 to 914,000). The share of malaria deaths among children younger than 5 years of age ranged from more than 80% at a rate of death of more than 25 per 10,000 to less than 40% at rates below 1 per 10,000. Areas with high malaria mortality (>10 per 10,000) and low coverage (<50%) of insecticide-treated bed nets and antimalarial drugs included much of Nigeria, Angola, and Cameroon and parts of the Central African Republic, Congo, Guinea, and Equatorial Guinea. Conclusions We estimated that there was an overall decrease of 57% in the rate of death from malaria across sub-Saharan Africa over the past 15 years and identified several countries in which high rates of death were associated with low coverage of antimalarial treatment and prevention programs. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others.).

Concepts: Death, Malaria, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Gabon


In the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI)-funded Africa Indoor Residual Spraying Project (AIRS), end-of-day clean-up operations require the safe disposal of wash water resulting from washing the exterior of spray tanks and spray operators' personal protective equipment. Indoor residual spraying (IRS) programs typically use soak pits - large, in-ground filters - to adsorb, filter and then safely degrade the traces of insecticide found in the wash water. Usually these soak pits are permanent installations serving 30 or more operators, located in a central area that is accessible to multiple spray teams at the end of their workday. However, in remote areas, it is often impractical for teams to return to a central soak pit location for cleanup. To increase operational efficiency and improve environmental compliance, the PMI AIRS Project developed and tested mobile soak pits (MSP) in the laboratory and in field applications in Madagascar, Mali, Senegal, and Ethiopia where the distance between villages can be substantial and the road conditions poor. Laboratory testing confirmed the ability of the easily-assembled MSP to reduce effluent concentrations of two insecticides (Actellic 300-CS and Ficam VC) used by the PMI AIRS Project, and to generate the minimal practicable environmental “footprint” in these remote areas. Field testing in the Mali 2014 IRS campaign demonstrated ease of installation and use, resulted in improved and more consistent standards of clean-up, decreased transportation requirements, improved spray team working conditions, and reduced potential for operator exposure to insecticide.

Concepts: Malaria, Africa, Personal protective equipment, Protection, Occupational safety and health, Pesticide application, DDT, Spray


Anopheles arabiensis is a dominant vector of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, which feeds indoors and outdoors on human and other vertebrate hosts, making it a difficult species to control with existing control methods. Novel methods that reduce human-vector interactions are, therefore, required to improve the impact of vector control programmes. Investigating the mechanisms underlying the host discrimination process in An. arabiensis could provide valuable knowledge leading to the development of novel control technologies. In this study, a host census and blood meal analysis were conducted to determine the host selection behaviour of An. arabiensis. Since mosquitoes select and discriminate among hosts primarily using olfaction, the volatile headspace of the preferred non-human host and non-host species, were collected. Using combined gas chromatography and electroantennographic detection analysis followed by combined gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, the bioactive compounds in the headspace collections were identified. The efficiency of the identified non-host compounds to repel host-seeking malaria mosquitoes was tested under field conditions.

Concepts: Human, Malaria, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Anopheles, Mosquito, Vector, Mosquito control


Background A candidate tetravalent dengue vaccine is being assessed in three clinical trials involving more than 35,000 children between the ages of 2 and 16 years in Asian-Pacific and Latin American countries. We report the results of long-term follow-up interim analyses and integrated efficacy analyses. Methods We are assessing the incidence of hospitalization for virologically confirmed dengue as a surrogate safety end point during follow-up in years 3 to 6 of two phase 3 trials, CYD14 and CYD15, and a phase 2b trial, CYD23/57. We estimated vaccine efficacy using pooled data from the first 25 months of CYD14 and CYD15. Results Follow-up data were available for 10,165 of 10,275 participants (99%) in CYD14 and 19,898 of 20,869 participants (95%) in CYD15. Data were available for 3203 of the 4002 participants (80%) in the CYD23 trial included in CYD57. During year 3 in the CYD14, CYD15, and CYD57 trials combined, hospitalization for virologically confirmed dengue occurred in 65 of 22,177 participants in the vaccine group and 39 of 11,089 participants in the control group. Pooled relative risks of hospitalization for dengue were 0.84 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.56 to 1.24) among all participants, 1.58 (95% CI, 0.83 to 3.02) among those under the age of 9 years, and 0.50 (95% CI, 0.29 to 0.86) among those 9 years of age or older. During year 3, hospitalization for severe dengue, as defined by the independent data monitoring committee criteria, occurred in 18 of 22,177 participants in the vaccine group and 6 of 11,089 participants in the control group. Pooled rates of efficacy for symptomatic dengue during the first 25 months were 60.3% (95% CI, 55.7 to 64.5) for all participants, 65.6% (95% CI, 60.7 to 69.9) for those 9 years of age or older, and 44.6% (95% CI, 31.6 to 55.0) for those younger than 9 years of age. Conclusions Although the unexplained higher incidence of hospitalization for dengue in year 3 among children younger than 9 years of age needs to be carefully monitored during long-term follow-up, the risk among children 2 to 16 years of age was lower in the vaccine group than in the control group. (Funded by Sanofi Pasteur; numbers, NCT00842530 , NCT01983553 , NCT01373281 , and NCT01374516 .).

Concepts: Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Malaria, Medical statistics, Vaccine, Effectiveness,, The Age


Each novel vaccine candidate needs to be evaluated for safety, immunogenicity, and protective efficacy in humans before it is licensed for use. After initial safety evaluation in healthy adults, each vaccine candidate follows a unique development path. This article on clinical development gives an overview on the development path based on the expectations of various guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA). The manuscript describes the objectives, study populations, study designs, study site, and outcome(s) of each phase (Phase I-III) of a clinical trial. Examples from the clinical development of a malaria vaccine candidate, a rotavirus vaccine, and two vaccines approved for human papillomavirus (HPV) have also been discussed. The article also tabulates relevant guidelines, which can be referred to while drafting the development path of a novel vaccine candidate.

Concepts: Immune system, Pharmacology, Clinical trial, HPV vaccine, Malaria, United States, World Health Organization, Food and Drug Administration