Accelerating Innovation to Impact for LF and Other NTD News

This news roundup is a collection of headlines and other items on neglected tropical diseases, and does not reflect the work or the views of the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases or the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center.

Photo: With the assistance of the mother, a nurse is obtaining a blood sample during the paediatric pharmacokinetic and safety study of moxidectin Credit: TDR; UHAS RC/Edem Nelson/2022

Lymphatic filariasis

Dziedzom Komi de Souza: Working towards addressing the endgame challenges ...

TDR

The study is following up individuals that missed the previous MDA, while testing and treating those who might be systemically non-compliant or afraid of adverse events. The study is also using MDA registers to help locate non-compliant individuals – an approach that could be adapted for NTD programmes in other countries. Dziedzom says the grant from the Task Force is especially exciting for him not just because the study is based in Ghana, where he was born and grew up, but because “a successful execution of the project will hopefully get us from proof of concept to widespread implementation” of the approach to non-compliance.

Accelerating Innovation to Impact: Learning from Triple Drug Therapy ...

American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene

This supplement is focused on sharing learnings from successful innovations to reflect on and document elements that are frequently overlooked in the published literature.  We will, first, recognize and analyze in detail the recently developed and newly deployed treatment for LF: IDA Triple Drug Therapy (ivermectin, DEC, and albendazole); then review the experience and lessons learned from the development of other innovations that include a vaccine, a diagnostic, and a novel therapeutic.  From these examples we end with a conceptual framework for consideration to accelerate introduction and scale-up of future innovations to contribute to achieving the WHO 2030 NTD Roadmap targets and the SDGs more broadly.

Onchocerciasis

Drug development for the treatment of onchocerciasis...

Frauke Assmus et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Pharmacokinetic modeling and simulation were used to derive an optimized, body weight-based dosing regimen, which allows for achievement of extended emodepside exposures above target concentrations while maintaining acceptable tolerability margins.

Progress on moxidectin for onchocerciasis elimination

TDR

Some onchocerciasis endemic countries and the NGDO supporting their onchocerciasis elimination programmes are planning moxidectin pilot implementation projects. Such projects will demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of moxidectin in programmatic settings, a need identified in the WHO road map for NTDs 2021-2030 in view of moxidectin’s potential to replace the need for semiannual ivermectin treatment.

Schistosomiasis

Eliminating schistosomiasis in the Gambia

TDR

The Gambia’s Ministry of Health is applying implementation research (IR) tools offered through TDR’s Massive Open Online Course on IR to explore new approaches to eliminating schistosomiasis.

Increased ShTAL1 IgE responses post-Praziquantel treatment may be associated ...

Elias K. Asuming-Brempong et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

These findings demonstrate that increased IgE levels to ShTAL1 7 weeks after PZQ treatment could be associated with a reduced risk to re-infection, and adds to the large body of evidence suggesting a protective role of the treatment-induced ShTAL1 antigen in schistosomiasis infections.

Deep Learning Segmentation of Satellite Imagery Identifies Aquatic Vegetation ...

Zac Yung-Chun Liu et al., Remote Sensing

...Standard techniques for monitoring snails are labor-intensive, time-consuming, and provide information limited to the small areas that can be manually sampled. Consequently, in low-income countries where schistosomiasis control is most needed, there are formidable challenges to identifying potential transmission hotspots for targeted medical and environmental interventions. In this study, we developed a new framework to map the spatial distribution of suitable snail habitat across large spatial scales in the Senegal River Basin by integrating satellite data, high-definition, low-cost drone imagery, and an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered computer vision technique called semantic segmentation. 

Characterisation of tetraspanins from Schistosoma haematobium and evaluation of their potential as novel diagnostic markers

Gebeyaw G. Mekonnen et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Herein, we have characterised six molecules belonging to the tetraspanin family of membrane proteins, providing details about their relative expression during parasite’s development and their localization in adult forms of Shaematobium. Furthermore, we have characterised the antibody responses against three of these molecules in urine from infected human subjects from an endemic area, providing compelling evidence for the use of these molecules to diagnose urogenital schistosomiasis.

Association Between the Prevalence of Schistosomiasis in Elementary School ...

Yan Jin et al., The Korean Journal of Parasitology

This study shows that schistosomiasis represents a disease of poverty and that farmers’ children constituted a high-risk group.

Schistosomiasis and Hookworm: Eastern Uganda’s Neglected Tropical Diseases

Uma Paithankar and Holly Lam, Pulitzer Center

It is clear that deworming drug administrations alone cannot eliminate the disease because they don’t prevent it. As a result, many researchers argue that achieving long-lasting eradication of the helminth infections must involve health education programs. . . For the time being, mass drug administrations will aid in treating current infections. Moving forward, it will be crucial to provide community members with health education about transmission and preventative measures that can be taken against infection and re-infection.

Prevalence and risk factors of schistosomiasis among primary school children in four selected regions of The Gambia

Ebrima Joof et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

This was useful for the schistosomiasis control efforts of the country, as it guided mass drug administration campaigns in eligible districts in the study area. More studies on Smansoni and its intermediate snail hosts are required to establish its true status in The Gambia. As children sometimes tend to provide responses that potentially please the research or their teacher, data collection frameworks and approaches that ensure true responses in studies involving children should be devised and used.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

High prevalence of soil-transmitted helminth infections in Myanmar ...

Eindra Aung et al., Infectious Diseases of Poverty

Despite bi-annual deworming of schoolchildren in the fourth-grade and below, STH prevalence remains stubbornly high. These results informed the expansion of the Myanmar National STH control programme to include all school-aged children by the Ministry of Health and Sports in 2017, however further expansion to the whole community should be considered along with improving sanitation and hygiene measures.

Prevalence of Intestinal Protozoa and Soil Transmitted Helminths Infections ...

Melaku Wale et al., Journal of Tropical Medicine

Results showed that the overall prevalence of intestinal parasitic infections was 65.4%. . .The logistic regression analysis showed that grade, level of students, water source, habit of consuming raw meat, and level of income had a strong effect on intestinal parasitic infection. Other explanatory variables were not significant. High prevalence of parasites indicates improper disposal of waste, low socioeconomic level, low living standard, and poor water quality.

South Korea Contributes $7.8 Million to Improve Health of Children ...

Wahyu Dwi Anggoro, Medcom.id

For the next four years, over 300,000 children will benefit from the "Say No to 5S" (Starvation, Soil-transmitted helminthiasis, Skin diseases, Smoking and Sugary/alcoholic drinks) project implemented across the country.

Trachoma

Action needed on trachoma

Melissa Stoneham, Medical Forum

The Environmental Health Trachoma Project was created to fill this gap. We aim to reduce the incidence of trachoma in 41 ‘trachoma at risk’ Aboriginal communities in remote WA through environmental health. We specifically address risk factors inside the home with a combination of long-term planning processes that support the development of community-led prevention plans combined with hands-on service provision delivered by Aboriginal environmental health workers (AEHW) who are employed in remote communities.

Prevalence of Trachoma in 72 Districts of Afghanistan in 2018−2019: Results of 35 Population-based Prevalence Surveys

Ahmad Shah Salam et al., Ophthalmic Epidemiology

Trachoma is not a public health problem in the majority of EUs surveyed. However, antibiotic mass drug administration, promotion of facial cleanliness and environmental improvement (the A, F and E components of the SAFE strategy) are needed for trachoma elimination purposes in three of the EUs surveyed in Afghanistan.

Global progress toward the elimination of active trachoma: an analysis of 38 ...

Kristen K Renneker et al., The Lancet Global Health

Implementation units in high baseline categories and recrudescent TF1–9 might prolong the attainment of elimination of active trachoma. Elimination is delayed but, with an understanding of the patterns and timelines to reaching elimination targets and a commitment toward meeting future targets, global elimination can still be achieved by 2030.

Cross-cutting

Community perceptions and acceptability of mass drug administration ...

Elke Mitchell et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

For many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the “low hanging fruit has been picked” in terms of where mass drug administration has worked and transmission has been stopped. The settings that remain–such as remote areas of Fiji and Papua New Guinea, or large, highly populated, multi-cultural urban settings in India and Indonesia–present huge challenges going forward.

Intersectionality and Elephantiasis: A Case Study

Gavin Choong, BMC On Medicine Blog

Looking at public health through an intersectional lens allows for the development of holistic responses to tackle highly complex, rare diseases. In the case of elephantiasis, perhaps instead of pharmaceutical companies freely donating antibiotics to endemic countries as they currently are, treaties could be drafted to ensure drugs are only provided if a recipient government invests in educational or awareness campaigns, as well as sets aside funding for the livelihood of individuals suffering from the condition.

Two billion mosquitoes to be freed in Florida and California, but don't worry — they won't bite

Greg Wilson, Washington Examiner

Two billion genetically modified mosquitoes are about to be released in the United States — but don't worry: They're all blank-shooting males that won't bite. The release, in Florida and California, follows one of 750 million last year in Florida by British company Oxitec. The mosquitoes are a new species, known as OX5034, and are all males. If the plan works, they should produce female larvae that die off before they reach adulthood.

Other

Celebrating the life of Dr Noel Juban

John Reeder, TDR

Noel established the SIHI Philippines Hub, which aims to utilize social innovation in addressing persistent and systemic health challenges through research, capacity building and advocacy. . .His kindness, caring leadership and strategic vision will be missed yet they will continue inspiring his SIHI colleagues and friends. We would like to celebrate a life very well lived and keep the flame of his vision for Health for All alive.

‘Bench to bedside’ gets new meaning in Global South in TDR’s flagship research training programme

TDR

In 2015, TDR issued a call inviting institutions in the Global South to host students for PhD and Masters programmes in implementation research, with TDR providing the course material and full scholarships for the students. . . The aim is to ensure that the research is done by the researchers based in the disease-endemic countries and for the institutions and students to network. 

COVID-19

How COVID has affected the control of neglected tropical diseases

Francisca Mutapi, The Conversation

...Interrupting control programmes could lead to rebound infections and disease. These could be worse than the original levels. This is now an imminent reality for neglected tropical diseases if control programmes do not resume quickly enough.

UPCOMING EVENTS

NOTE - Events may be postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please check with event organizers to confirm events. 

Promising Practices in Collaborative Planning for Integrated Campaigns
March 22, 2022
Health Campaign Effectiveness Coalition

47th Annual Topics in Infection
June 17, 2022
RSTMH, Barts Health and UKHSA

2022 COR-NTD Annual Meeting
October 4-5, 2022
Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases

2022 ASTMH Annual Meeting
October 30-November 3, 2022
American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene 

21st International Leprosy Congress 2022
November 8-10, 2022