The essential role of infection-detection technologies for malaria elimination and eradication.
ABSTRACT Recent emphasis on malaria elimination and eradication (E&E) goals is changing the way that experts evaluate malaria diagnostic tools and tactics. As prevalence declines, the focus of malaria management is pivoting toward low-density, subclinical infections and geographically and demographically concentrated reservoirs. These and other changes present challenges and opportunities for innovations in malaria diagnostics aimed at meeting the needs of malaria elimination programs. Developing such technologies requires a review of the operational approaches to detecting malaria infections in areas of declining prevalence. Here we review recent research on epidemiology and biology related to malaria elimination and operational factors that influence E&E strategies. We further propose use-scenarios and a target product profile framework to define and prioritize the required attributes of infection-detection technologies.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases 05/2014; 210(8). DOI:10.1093/infdis/jiu253 · 5.78 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The presentation of the World Health Organization (WHO)'s Roadmap for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in January 2012 raised optimism that many NTDs can indeed be eliminated. To make this happen, the endemic, often low-income countries with still heavy NTD burdens must substantially strengthen their health systems. In particular, they need not only to apply validated, highly sensitive diagnostic tools and sustainable effective control approaches for treatment and transmission control, but also to participate in the development and use of surveillance-response schemes to ensure that progress made also is consolidated and sustained. Surveillance followed-up by public health actions consisting of response packages tailored to interruption of transmission in different settings will help to effectively achieve the disease control/elimination goals by 2020, as anticipated by the WHO Roadmap. Risk-mapping geared at detection of transmission hotspots by means of geospatial and other dynamic approaches facilitates decision-making at the technical as well as the political level. Surveillance should thus be conceived and developed as an intervention approach and at the same time function as an early warning system for the potential re-emergence of endemic infections as well as for new, rapidly spread epidemics and pandemics.Acta Tropica 10/2014; 141. DOI:10.1016/j.actatropica.2014.09.017 · 2.52 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Planning and evaluating malaria control strategies relies on accurate definition of parasite prevalence in the population. A large proportion of asymptomatic parasite infections can only be identified by surveillance with molecular methods, yet these infections also contribute to onward transmission to mosquitoes. The sensitivity of molecular detection by PCR is limited by the abundance of the target sequence in a DNA sample; thus, detection becomes imperfect at low densities. We aimed to increase PCR diagnostic sensitivity by targeting multi-copy genomic sequences for reliable detection of low-density infections, and investigated the impact of these PCR assays on community prevalence data. Two quantitative PCR (qPCR) assays were developed for ultra-sensitive detection of Plasmodium falciparum, targeting the high-copy telomere-associated repetitive element 2 (TARE-2, ∼250 copies/genome) and the var gene acidic terminal sequence (varATS, 59 copies/genome). Our assays reached a limit of detection of 0.03 to 0.15 parasites/μl blood and were 10× more sensitive than standard 18S rRNA qPCR. In a population cross-sectional study in Tanzania, 295/498 samples tested positive using ultra-sensitive assays. Light microscopy missed 169 infections (57%). 18S rRNA qPCR failed to identify 48 infections (16%), of which 40% carried gametocytes detected by pfs25 quantitative reverse-transcription PCR. To judge the suitability of the TARE-2 and varATS assays for high-throughput screens, their performance was tested on sample pools. Both ultra-sensitive assays correctly detected all pools containing one low-density P. falciparum-positive sample, which went undetected by 18S rRNA qPCR, among nine negatives. TARE-2 and varATS qPCRs improve estimates of prevalence rates, yet other infections might still remain undetected when absent in the limited blood volume sampled. Measured malaria prevalence in communities is largely determined by the sensitivity of the diagnostic tool used. Even when applying standard molecular diagnostics, prevalence in our study population was underestimated by 8% compared to the new assays. Our findings highlight the need for highly sensitive tools such as TARE-2 and varATS qPCR in community surveillance and for monitoring interventions to better describe malaria epidemiology and inform malaria elimination efforts.PLoS Medicine 03/2015; 12(3):e1001788. DOI:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001788 · 14.00 Impact Factor