[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: When introduced in the 1990s, immunization with DNA plasmids was considered potentially revolutionary for vaccine development, particularly for vaccines intended to induce protective CD8 T cell responses against multiple antigens. We conducted, in 1997-1998, the first clinical trial in healthy humans of a DNA vaccine, a single plasmid encoding Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein (PfCSP), as an initial step toward developing a multi-antigen malaria vaccine targeting the liver stages of the parasite. As the next step, we conducted in 2000-2001 a clinical trial of a five-plasmid mixture called MuStDO5 encoding pre-erythrocytic antigens PfCSP, PfSSP2/TRAP, PfEXP1, PfLSA1 and PfLSA3. Thirty-two, malaria-naïve, adult volunteers were enrolled sequentially into four cohorts receiving a mixture of 500 μg of each plasmid plus escalating doses (0, 20, 100 or 500 μg) of a sixth plasmid encoding human granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (hGM-CSF). Three doses of each formulation were administered intramuscularly by needle-less jet injection at 0, 4 and 8 weeks, and each cohort had controlled human malaria infection administered by five mosquito bites 18 d later. The vaccine was safe and well-tolerated, inducing moderate antigen-specific, MHC-restricted T cell interferon-γ responses but no antibodies. Although no volunteers were protected, T cell responses were boosted post malaria challenge. This trial demonstrated the MuStDO5 DNA and hGM-CSF plasmids to be safe and modestly immunogenic for T cell responses. It also laid the foundation for priming with DNA plasmids and boosting with recombinant viruses, an approach known for nearly 15 y to enhance the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of DNA vaccines.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Haemoglobin S (HbS) and C (HbC) are variants of the HBB gene which both protect against malaria. It is not clear, however, how these two alleles have evolved in the West African countries where they co-exist at high frequencies. Here we use haplotypic signatures of selection to investigate the evolutionary history of the malaria-protective alleles HbS and HbC in the Kassena-Nankana District (KND) of Ghana.
The haplotypic structure of HbS and HbC alleles was investigated, by genotyping 56 SNPs around the HBB locus. We found that, in the KND population, both alleles reside on extended haplotypes (approximately 1.5 Mb for HbS and 650 Kb for HbC) that are significantly less diverse than those of the ancestral HbA allele. The extended haplotypes span a recombination hotspot that is known to exist in this region of the genome
Our findings show strong support for recent positive selection of both the HbS and HbC alleles and provide insights into how these two alleles have both evolved in the population of northern Ghana.
PLoS ONE 04/2012; 7(4):e34565. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0034565 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To prepare field sites for malaria vaccine trials, it is important to determine baseline antibody and T cell responses to candidate malaria vaccine antigens. Assessing T cell responses is especially challenging, given genetic restriction, low responses observed in endemic areas, their variability over time, potential suppression by parasitaemia and the intrinsic variability of the assays.
In Part A of this study, antibody titres were measured in adults from urban and rural communities in Ghana to recombinant Plasmodium falciparum CSP, SSP2/TRAP, LSA1, EXP1, MSP1, MSP3 and EBA175 by ELISA, and to sporozoites and infected erythrocytes by IFA. Positive ELISA responses were determined using two methods. T cell responses to defined CD8 or CD4 T cell epitopes from CSP, SSP2/TRAP, LSA1 and EXP1 were measured by ex vivo IFN-γ ELISpot assays using HLA-matched Class I- and DR-restricted synthetic peptides. In Part B, the reproducibility of the ELISpot assay to CSP and AMA1 was measured by repeating assays of individual samples using peptide pools and low, medium or high stringency criteria for defining positive responses, and by comparing samples collected two weeks apart.
In Part A, positive antibody responses varied widely from 17%-100%, according to the antigen and statistical method, with blood stage antigens showing more frequent and higher magnitude responses. ELISA titres were higher in rural subjects, while IFA titres and the frequencies and magnitudes of ex vivo ELISpot activities were similar in both communities. DR-restricted peptides showed stronger responses than Class I-restricted peptides. In Part B, the most stringent statistical criteria gave the fewest, and the least stringent the most positive responses, with reproducibility slightly higher using the least stringent method when assays were repeated. Results varied significantly between the two-week time-points for many participants.
All participants were positive for at least one malaria protein by ELISA, with results dependent on the criteria for positivity. Likewise, ELISpot responses varied among participants, but were relatively reproducible by the three methods tested, especially the least stringent, when assays were repeated. However, results often differed between samples taken two weeks apart, indicating significant biological variability over short intervals.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Demographics and health practices of 2,232 pregnant women in rural northeastern Ghana and characteristics of their 2,279 newborns were analyzed to determine benefits associated with intermittent preventive treatment (IPTp), antenatal care, and/or bed net use during pregnancy. More than half reported bed net use, 90% reported at least two antenatal care visits, and > 82% took at least one IPTp dose of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine. Most used a bed net and IPTp (45%) or IPTp alone (38%). Low birth weight (< 2,500 grams) characterized 18.3% of the newborns and was significantly associated with female sex, Nankam ethnicity, first-born status, and multiple births. Among newborns of primigravidae, IPTp was associated with a significantly greater birth weight, significantly fewer low birth weight newborns, improved hemoglobin levels, and less anemia. Babies of multigravidae derived no benefit to birth weight or hemoglobin level from single or multiple doses of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine during pregnancy. No differences or benefits were seen when a bed net was the only protective factor.
The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 07/2010; 83(1):79-89. DOI:10.4269/ajtmh.2010.10-0066 · 2.74 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We previously reported the capacity of the cationic lipid-based formulation, Vaxfectin, to enhance the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of a low dose plasmid DNA vaccine against Plasmodium yoelii malaria in mice. Here, we have extended this finding to human Plasmodium falciparum genes, evaluating the immune enhancing effect of Vaxfectin formulation on a mixture, designated CSLAM, of five plasmid DNA vaccines encoding antigens from the sporozoite (PfCSP, PfSSP2/TRAP), intrahepatic (PfLSA1), and erythrocytic (PfAMA1, PfMSP1) life cycle stages of P. falciparum administered at 2, 10 or 50microg doses. Vaxfectin formulation enhanced both antibody and cellular immune responses to each component of the multi-antigen vaccine mixture, as assessed by ELISA, IFAT, and IFN-gamma ELIspot, respectively. There was no apparent antigenic competition, as indicated by comparison of responses induced in mice immunized with PfCSP vs. CSLAM. These data showing that Vaxfectin can enhance the immunogenicity of plasmid DNA vaccines administered at low doses per body weight, and in combinations, has important clinical implications for the development of a vaccine against malaria, as well as against other public health threats.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pyrethroids are the insecticides of choice for the treatment of bednets for malaria control. Pyrethroid resistance in Anopheles spp. vectors may adversely impact malaria control measures, and therefore it is important to know the initial level of pyrethroid resistance before pyrethroid-treated bednets are introduced. Furthermore, a search for replacement insecticides is necessary to manage any eventual high-resistance levels to pyrethroid insecticides that may affect the effectiveness of treated bednets. This study reports on the susceptibility of Anopheles gambiae s.s. exposed for 1 h to the pyrethroid insecticide permethrin and the carbamate insecticide propoxur, at eight localities in the Greater Accra region of Ghana. The observed mortality rates ranged between 21 –92% and 92– 100% to permethrin and propoxur, respectively. The results also showed a reduction in the knockdown time (KD50 and KD95) in propoxur (mean KD 50 ¼ 20 min and mean KD 95 ¼ 31 min) when compared with permethrin (mean KD 50 ¼ 47 min and mean KD 95 ¼ 87 min). The results suggest that permethrin may not be effective in all areas. Where pyrethroid resistance is a problem, propoxur could be an alternative for indoor residual spraying and for insecticide-treated materials such as curtains and eave screens.
International Journal of Tropical Insect Science 09/2009; 29(3):124. DOI:10.1017/S1742758409990191
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The prevalence of CD36 deficiency in East Asian and African populations suggests that the causal variants are under selection
by severe malaria. Previous analysis of data from the International HapMap Project indicated that a CD36 haplotype bearing a nonsense mutation (T1264G; rs3211938) had undergone recent positive selection in the Yoruba of Nigeria.
To investigate the global distribution of this putative selection event, we genotyped T1264G in 3420 individuals from 66 populations.
We confirmed the high frequency of 1264G in the Yoruba (26%). However, the 1264G allele is less common in other African populations
and absent from all non-African populations without recent African admixture. Using long-range linkage disequilibrium, we
studied two West African groups in depth. Evidence for recent positive selection at the locus was demonstrable in the Yoruba,
although not in Gambians. We screened 70 variants from across CD36 for an association with severe malaria phenotypes, employing a case–control study of 1350 subjects and a family study of
1288 parent–offspring trios. No marker was significantly associated with severe malaria. We focused on T1264G, genotyping
10 922 samples from four African populations. The nonsense allele was not associated with severe malaria (pooled allelic odds
ratio 1.0; 95% confidence interval 0.89–1.12; P = 0.98). These results suggest a range of possible explanations including the existence of alternative selection pressures
on CD36, co-evolution between host and parasite or confounding caused by allelic heterogeneity of CD36 deficiency.
Human Molecular Genetics 05/2009; 18(14):2683-92. DOI:10.1093/hmg/ddp192 · 6.68 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have evaluated the effect of mammalian codon optimization on the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of plasmid DNA vaccines encoding pre-erythrocytic stage Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium yoelii antigens in mice. Codon optimization significantly enhanced in vitro expression and in vivo antibody responses for P. falciparum circumsporozoite protein (PfCSP) and P. yoelii hepatocyte erythrocyte protein 17 kDa (PyHEP17) but not for P. yoelii circumsporozoite protein (PyCSP). Unexpectedly, more robust CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses as measured by IFN-gamma ELIspot, lymphoproliferation, and cytotoxic T lymphocyte assays were noted with native as compared with codon optimization constructs. Codon optimization also failed to enhance CD8+ T cell dependent protection against P. yoelii sporozoite challenge as measured by liver-stage parasite burden. These data demonstrate that the effect of mammalian codon optimization is antigen-dependent and may not be beneficial for vaccines designed to induce T cell dependent protective immunity in this malaria model.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Functional studies have demonstrated an interaction between the stimulatory G protein alpha subunit (G-alpha-s) and the malaria parasite at a cellular level. Obstruction of signal transduction via the erythrocyte G-alpha-s subunit reduced invasion by Plasmodium falciparum parasites. We sought to determine whether this signal pathway had an impact at the disease level by testing polymorphisms in the gene encoding G-alpha-s (GNAS) for association with severe malaria in a large multi-centre study encompassing family and case-control studies from The Gambia, Kenya and Malawi, and a case-control study from Ghana. We gained power to detect association using meta-analysis across the seven studies, with an overall sample size approximating 4,000 cases and 4,000 controls. Out of 12 SNPs investigated in the 19 kb GNAS region, four presented signals of association (P < 0.05) with severe malaria. The strongest single-locus association demonstrated an odds ratio of 1.13 (1.05-1.21), P = 0.001. Three of the loci presenting significant associations were clustered at the 5-prime end of the GNAS gene. Accordingly, haplotypes constructed from these loci demonstrated significant associations with severe malaria [OR = 0.88 (0.81-0.96), P = 0.005 and OR = 1.12 (1.03-1.20), P = 0.005]. The evidence presented here indicates that the influence of G-alpha-s on erythrocyte invasion efficacy may, indeed, alter individual susceptibility to disease.
Human Genetics 10/2008; 124(5):499-506. DOI:10.1007/s00439-008-0575-8 · 4.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several associations between specific HLA alleles and susceptibility or resistance to Plasmodium falciparum malaria have been previously reported, but no associations have been confirmed in multiple populations. We studied associations between HLA-A, -B, and DRB1 alleles and severe malaria in northern Ghana. We analyzed HLA-DRB1*04 in 4,032 subjects from a severe malaria case-control study, 790 severe malaria cases, 1,611 mild malaria controls, and 1631 asymptomatic controls. The presence of HLA-DRB1*04 was associated with severe malaria (OR = 2.42, 95% CI = 1.64, 3.58). The allele frequency of DRB1*04 was similar in the two major ethnic groups in the study population, Kassem (4.4%) and Nankam (4.7%), and the OR for the association between DRB1*04 and severe malaria was similar in both ethnic groups. These findings are consistent with results from Gabon suggesting that DRB1*04 is a risk factor for severe malaria.
The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 03/2008; 78(2):251-5. · 2.74 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An effective malaria vaccine which protects against all stages of Plasmodium infection may need to elicit robust CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cell and antibody responses. To achieve this, we have investigated strategies designed to improve the immunogenicity of DNA vaccines encoding the Plasmodium yoelii pre-erythrocytic stage antigens PyCSP and PyHEP17, by targeting the encoded proteins to the MHC Classes I and II processing and presentation pathways. For enhancement of CD8(+) T cell responses, we targeted the antigens for degradation by the ubiquitin (Ub)/proteosome pathway following the N-terminal rule. We constructed plasmids containing PyCSP or PyHEP17 genes fused to the Ub gene: plasmids where the N-terminal antigen residues were mutated from the stabilizing amino acid methionine to destabilizing arginine, plasmids where the C-terminal residues of Ub were mutated from glycine to alanine, and plasmids in which the potential hydrophobic leader sequences of the antigens were deleted. For enhancement of CD4(+) T cell and antibody responses, we targeted the antigens for degradation by the endosomal/lysosomal pathway by linking the antigen to the lysosome-associated membrane protein (LAMP). We found that immunization with DNA vaccine encoding PyHEP17 fused to Ub and bearing arginine induced higher IFN-gamma, cytotoxic and proliferative T cell responses than unmodified vaccines. However, no effect was seen for PyCSP using the same targeting strategies. Regarding Class II antigen targeting, fusion to LAMP did not enhance antibody responses to either PyHEP17 or PyCSP, and resulted in a marginal increase in lymphoproliferative CD4(+) T cell responses. Our data highlight the antigen dependence of immune enhancement strategies that target antigen to the MHC Class I and II pathways for vaccine development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We investigated whether immune responses induced by immunization with plasmid DNA are restricted predominantly to immunodominant CD8+ T cell epitopes, or are raised against a breadth of epitopes including subdominant CD8+ and CD4+ T cell epitopes. Site-directed mutagenesis was used to change one or more primary anchor residues of the immunodominant CD8+ T cell epitope on the Plasmodium yoelii circumsporozoite protein, and in vivo protective efficacy and immune responses against defined PyCSP CD8+ and/or CD4+ epitopes were determined. Mutation of the P2 but not P9 or P10 anchor residues decreased protection and completely abrogated the antigen-specific CD8+ CTL activity and CD8+ dependent IFN-gamma responses to the immunodominant CD8+ epitope and overlapping CD8+/CD4+ epitope. Moreover, mutation deviated the immune response towards a CD4+ T cell IFN-gamma dependent profile, with enhanced lymphoproliferative responses to the immunodominant and subdominant CD4+ epitopes and enhanced antibody responses. Responses to the subdominant CD8+ epitope were not induced. Our data demonstrate that protective immunity induced by PyCSP DNA vaccination is directed predominantly against the single immunodominant CD8+ epitope, and that although responses can be induced against other epitopes, these are mediated by CD4+ T cells and are not capable of conferring optimal protection against challenge.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Severe falciparum malaria in children was studied as part of the characterization of the Kassena-Nankana District Ghana for future malaria vaccine trials. Children aged 6-59 months with diagnosis suggestive of acute disease were characterized using the standard WHO definition for severe malaria.
Of the total children screened, 45.2% (868/1921) satisfied the criteria for severe malaria. Estimated incidence of severe malaria was 3.4% (range: 0.4-8.3%) cases per year. The disease incidence was seasonal: 560 cases per year, of which 70.4% occurred during the wet season (June-October). The main manifestations were severe anaemia (36.5%); prolonged or multiple convulsions (21.6%); respiratory distress (24.4%) and cerebral malaria (5.4%). Others were hyperpyrexia (11.1%); hyperparasitaemia (18.5%); hyperlactaemia (33.4%); and hypoglycaemia (3.2%). The frequency of severe anaemia was 39.8% in children of six to 24 months of age and 25.9% in children of 25-60 months of age. More children (8.7%) in the 25-60 months age group had cerebral malaria compared with 4.4% in the 6-24 months age group. The overall case fatality ratio was 3.5%. Cerebral malaria and hyperlactataemia were the significant risk factors associated with death. Severe anaemia, though a major presentation, was not significantly associated with risk of death.
Severe malaria is a frequent and seasonal childhood disease in northern Ghana and maybe an adequate endpoint for future malaria vaccine trials.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We evaluated the capacity of the cationic lipid based formulation, Vaxfectin, to enhance the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of DNA-based vaccine regimens in the Plasmodium yoelii murine malaria model. We immunized Balb/c mice with varying doses (0.4-50 microg) of plasmid DNA (pDNA) encoding the P. yoelii circumsporozoite protein (PyCSP), either in a homologous DNA/DNA regimen (D-D) or a heterologous prime-boost DNA-poxvirus regimen (D-V). At the lowest pDNA doses, Vaxfectin substantially enhanced IFA titers, ELISPOT frequencies, and protective efficacy. Clinical trials of pDNA vaccines have often used low pDNA doses based on a per kilogram weight basis. Formulation of pDNA vaccines in Vaxfectin may improve their potency in human clinical trials.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Reported efficacies from vaccine trials may depend heavily on the clinical case definition used in the trial. The dependence may be particularly striking for diseases such as malaria, in which no single case definition is appropriate. We used logistic regression modeling of the relationship between parasitemia and fever in data sets from Ghanaian children to determine the fraction of fevers attributable to malaria and to model how the choice of a threshold parasitemia in the clinical case definition affects the measured efficacy of malaria vaccines. Calculated clinical attack rates varied 10-fold as a function of the threshold parasitemia. Strikingly, measured vaccine efficacies in reducing clinical malaria depended heavily on the threshold parasitemia, varying between 20% and 80% as the threshold varied between 1 and 5000 parasites/ microL. We suggest that clinical case definitions of malaria that incorporate a threshold parasitemia are arbitrary and do not yield stable estimates of vaccine trial end points.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases 03/2006; 193(3):467-73. DOI:10.1086/499314 · 5.78 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The circumsporozoite surface protein is the primary target of human antibodies against Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites, these antibodies are predominantly directed to the major repetitive epitope (Asn-Pro-Asn-Ala)n, (NPNA)n. In individuals immunized by the bites of irradiated Anopheles mosquitoes carrying P. falciparum sporozoites in their salivary glands, the anti-repeat response dominates and is thought by many to play a role in protective immunity.
The antibody repertoire from a protected individual immunized by the bites of irradiated P. falciparum infected Anopheles stephensi was recapitulated in a phage display library. Following affinity based selection against (NPNA)3 antibody fragments that recognized the PfCSP repeat epitope were rescued.
Analysis of selected antibody fragments implied the response was restricted to a single antibody fragment consisting of VH3 and VkappaI families for heavy and light chain respectively with moderate affinity for the ligand.
The dissection of the protective antibody response against the repeat epitope revealed that the response was apparently restricted to a single VH/VL pairing (PfNPNA-1). The affinity for the ligand was in the microM range. If anti-repeat antibodies are involved in the protective immunity elicited by exposure to radiation attenuated P. falciparum sporozoites, then high circulating levels of antibodies against the repeat region may be more important than intrinsic high affinity for protection. The ability to attain and sustain high levels of anti-(NPNA)n will be one of the key determinants of efficacy for a vaccine that relies upon anti-PfCSP repeat antibodies as the primary mechanism of protective immunity against P. falciparum.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We measured the ability of nine DNA vaccine plasmids encoding candidate malaria vaccine antigens to induce antibodies and interferon-gamma responses when delivered alone or in a mixture containing all nine plasmids. We further examined the possible immunosuppressive effect of individual plasmids, by assessing a series of mixtures in which each of the nine vaccine plasmids was replaced with a control plasmid. Given alone, each of the vaccine plasmids induced significant antibody titers and, in the four cases for which appropriate assays were available, IFN-gamma responses. Significant suppression or complete abrogation of responses were seen when the plasmids were pooled in a nine-plasmid cocktail and injected in a single site. Removal of single genes from the mixture frequently reduced the observed suppression. Boosting with recombinant poxvirus increased the antibody response in animals primed with either a single gene or the mixture, but, even after boosting, responses were higher in animals primed with single plasmids than in those primed with the nine-plasmid mixture. Boosting did not overcome the suppressive effect of mixing for IFN-gamma responses. Interactions between components in a multiplasmid DNA vaccine may limit the ability to use plasmid pools alone to induce responses against multiple targets simultaneously.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We studied the malaria transmission dynamics in Kassena Nankana district (KND), a site in northern Ghana proposed for testing malaria vaccines. Intensive mosquito sampling for 1 year using human landing catches in three micro-ecological sites (irrigated, lowland and rocky highland) yielded 18 228 mosquitoes. Anopheles gambiae s.l. and Anopheles funestus constituted 94.3% of the total collection with 76.8% captured from the irrigated communities. Other species collected but in relatively few numbers were Anopheles pharoensis (5.4%) and Anopheles rufipes (0.3%). Molecular analysis of 728 An. gambiae.s.l. identified Anopheles gambiae s.s. as the most dominant sibling species (97.7%) of the An. gambiae complex from the three ecological sites. Biting rates of the vectors (36.7 bites per man per night) were significantly higher (P<0.05) in the irrigated area than in the non-irrigated lowland (5.2) and rocky highlands (5.9). Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite rates of 7.2% (295/4075) and 7.1% (269/3773) were estimated for An. gambiae s.s. and An. funestus, respectively. Transmission was highly seasonal, and the heaviest transmission occurred from June to October. The intensity of transmission was higher for people in the irrigated communities than the non-irrigated ones. An overall annual entomological inoculation rate (EIR) of 418 infective bites was estimated in KND. There were micro-ecological variations in the EIRs, with values of 228 infective bites in the rocky highlands, 360 in the lowlands and 630 in the irrigated area. Approximately 60% of malaria transmission in KND occurred indoors during the second half of the night, peaking at daybreak between 04.00 and 06.00 hours. Vaccine trials could be conducted in this district, with timing dependent on the seasonal patterns and intensity of transmission taking into consideration the micro-geographical differences and vaccine trial objectives.
Tropical Medicine & International Health 01/2004; 9(1):164-70. DOI:10.1046/j.1365-3156.2003.01162.x · 2.30 Impact Factor