Schistosomes as a threat to human reproduction 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: A community drug distributor measures a girl’s height against a dose pole in Cross River State, Nigeria to determine the proper dosage of medicine for LF. Photo Credit: RTI International/Ruth McDowall

Lymphatic filariasis

Lymphatic filarial serum proteome profiling for identification and characterization of diagnostic biomarkers

Vipin Kumar, Ayushi Mishra, Awadehesh Kumar Yadav, Sushma Rathaur and Anchal Singh, PLOS One

This study was undertaken to identify Lymphatic Filarial biomarkers which can detect LF infections in asymptomatic cases and would also serve as indicators for differentiating among different clinical stages of the disease. . . Functional pathway analysis suggested the involvement of differentially expressed proteins in vital physiological pathways like acute phase response, hemostasis, complement and coagulation cascades. Furthermore, the differentiation between different stages of LF cases and biomarkers identified in this study clearly demonstrates the potential of the human serum profiling approach for LF detection. 

Liberia gets a boost in aid for the management of Schistosomiasis and Lymphatic filariasis- receives 2,512,000 tablets of Praziquantel and 12,450 test strips for Filariasis | WHO

Global Courant

In continued efforts to ensure the government of Liberia is prepared to respond to vector borne infections such as Schistosomiasis and lymphatic filariasis, the World Health Organization (WHO) in Liberia with support from the WHO African Regional Office and HQ, today donated 2,512,000 tablets of praziquantel and 12,450 testing strips for Filariasis to the Ministry of Health in Liberia. These supplies will be distributed to 9 counties that have been earmarked due to their high prevalence rates in lymphatic disease mostly targeting school- going children. However, in 4 counties namely Bong, Nimba, Maryland and Lofa which have over 50% prevalence of schistosomiasis, both adults and school-going children will be targeted. It is estimated that at least 2 million children and adults will benefit from this consignment. These medications and testing kits are donated as part of the global fight to eliminate lymphatic filariasis.

Modelling lymphatic filariasis elimination in American Samoa: GEOFIL predicts need for new targets and six rounds of mass drug administration

AngusMcLure et al., Epidemics
  • GEOFIL simulates the transmission of lymphatic filariasis in American Samoa.
  • Reducing prevalence of microfilaremia <0.1% not enough to interrupt transmission.
  • At least three additional rounds of mass drug administration at 75% coverage needed.
  • Schistosomiasis

    Schistosomes as a threat to human reproduction

    Dingase Kumwenda, BugBitten

    Schistosomiasis is a serious threat to human sexual and reproductive health, as highlighted in this blog by Dingase Kumwneda, a specialist gynaecologist working at the Queen Elizabeth central hospital in Malawi. In this blog Dr Kumwenda describes the impact of FGS on women's health and ongoing research on Female Genital Schistosomiasis through collaborative projects such as the MORBID-FGS study.

    LASG commences mass administration of medicines against Schistosomiasis in nine LGAs, Alimosho to benefit

    Ayomide Eweje, Alimosho Today (Lagos)

    The Lagos State Government, through the Ministry of Health, on Wednesday, July 6, 2022, announced the commencement of Mass Administration of Medicines (MAM) for school-aged children against Schistosomiasis; . . He noted that the mass administration of medicines will be implemented in nine schistosomiasis endemic LGAs including Kosofe, Eti-Osa, Oshodi-Isolo, Ikorodu, Alimosho, Ikeja, Agege, Ifako-Ijaiye, and Surulere. He stated that the MAM would be implemented in two phases explaining that the first phase of implementation will run from the 29th of June to the 8th of July, 2022 in the aforementioned LGAs while the second phase of implementation will commence immediately at four other LGAs; Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Amuwo-Odofin, Ibeju-Lekki and Lagos Mainland where the disease is co-endemic with Soil-Transmitted Helminths.

    Screening for Schistosoma spp. and Leishmania spp. DNA in Serum of Ghanaian Patients with Acquired Immunodeficiency

    Franziska Weinreich et al., Pathogens

    So, it is concluded that factors other than HIV status are more likely to have influenced the occurrence of Schistosoma spp. infections in the assessed Ghanaian patients. Potential associations between HIV infection-associated factors, such as the viral load and the immune status of the patients, for which weak signals were observed in this hypothesis-forming retrospective assessment, should be confirmed by prospective, sufficiently powered investigations.

    Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

    Affordable artificial intelligence-based digital pathology for neglected tropical diseases: A proof-of-concept for the detection of soil-transmitted helminths and Schistosoma mansoni eggs in Kato-Katz stool thick smears

    Peter Ward et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

    As most NTD programs mainly rely on microscopic examination of slides, automation of slide scanning coupled with artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to close this diagnostic gap by 2030. Therefore, we developed a device to automate scanning of stool smears and deployed it in four endemic countries to build an image data base for both intestinal and blood-dwelling worms. After the images were annotated, we used 90% to train and 10% to validate an AI model. As the AI model was able to reliably recognise worm eggs, we provided a proof-of-concept for automated scanning and detection of worm eggs in stool smears. 

    Reduction in DALYs lost due to soil-transmitted helminthiases and schistosomiasis from 2000 to 2019 is parallel to the increase in coverage of the global control programmes

    Antonio Montreso, Pauline Mwinzi, Denise Mupfasoni and Amadou Garba, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

    The present paper analyses the concomitant reduction in the number of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost due to STH and schistosomiasis during the same period, from 6.3 to 3.5 million DALYs. The cumulative gain during the 19-year period was estimated at over 26 million DALYs. Given the low cost of the intervention, our study suggests that deworming for STH and schistosomiasis is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions.

    Status of Helminthic Infections in Residents around River Basins in the Republic of Korea for 10 Years (2011–2020)

    Myoung-Ro Lee et al., The Korean Journal of Parasitology

    This study evaluated the continuous intensive control program for parasitic diseases including clonorchiasis in areas near the 5 major river basins in Korea over the past 10 years (2011–2020). A total of 335,020 fecal samples (one sample per resident) prepared by the modified sedimentation technic were microscopically examined. Those who expelled helminth eggs were treated with anthelmintics through local health centers and re-examined 3 months later.

    Population genomics of ancient and modern Trichuris trichiura

    Stephen R. Doyle et al., Nature Communications

    Finally, genome-wide analyses between human samples and between human and non-human primate samples reveal local regions of genetic differentiation between geographically distinct populations. These data provide insight into zoonotic reservoirs of human-infective T. trichiura and will support future efforts toward the implementation of genomic epidemiology of this globally important helminth.


    Surgeries in anti-trachoma campaign help locals regain eyesight

    David Muchui, Nation (Kenya)

    Ms Mwari is among more than 130 residents of Igembe North, where trachoma is endemic, who have undergone surgeries this year in a campaign to eliminate the disease. . .“Over the last two years, we have concentrated on enhancing hygiene as well as house to house identification of trachoma patients. This has led to a reduction of prevalence to 0.84 per cent,” he [Mr Njeru] said.

    A day in the life: “It’s a blessing to have the power to change someone’s life”


    I received my scholarship through an inclusive eye health programme called ‘Improved access to affordable, quality eye care services for people with and without disabilities in south-west region, Malawi and Karamoja, Uganda’. It’s a three-year programme to improve the sustainability and equity of access to affordable and quality eye care services for people living in Uganda and Malawi. The programme is funded by the UK government through UK Aid Match, and one of its goals is to strengthen the country’s health systems. For example, in Uganda, there aren’t enough ophthalmologists. 

    Tanzania launch mass distribution of anti-biotics targeting trachoma

    Claire Wanja, KBC

    Kenya and Tanzania have embarked on a joint cross-border mass drug administration exercise as efforts to fight blindness-causing trachoma intensifies.

    Bortezomib Eliminates Persistent Chlamydia trachomatis Infection through Rapid and Specific Host Cell Apoptosis

    Ryota Itoh, Yusuke Kurihara, Michinobu Yoshimura and Kenji Hiromatsu, International Journal of Molecular Sciences

    These results strongly suggested the potential of boron compounds based on hydrophobic dipeptides for treating chlamydial infections, including persistent infections, which may be useful for future therapeutic use in chlamydial infectious diseases.


    ICMR's VCRC plans repurposing RT-PCR Covid testing facilities to monitor vector-borne diseases

    News Nine

    The ICMR's Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC) is planning to repurpose the existing RT-PCR Covid testing facilities for monitoring vector-borne diseases to understand their distribution and assess the impact of their control and elimination programmes. Scientists at VCRC have developed a simple and less expensive RT-PCR-based Xeno monitoring (XM) test for filariasis which is being used as a pilot in Odisha's Khurda district, Tamil Nadu's Cuddalore and Puducherry.

    Experts warn about the need for seeking novel treatments for parasitic worm diseases

    Fundacao De Amparo A Pesquisa Do Estado De Sao Paulo, Eureka Alert

    Advances in biology and medicinal chemistry, in conjunction with rising investment in research, have led to the development of promising new candidate treatments for some of the main neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in recent years. However, scant progress has been made on parasitic worm diseases, which affect more people worldwide than other NTDs in absolute numbers, in terms of moving on from in vitro studies to clinical and pre-clinical trials. This is one of the conclusions of a study published in the journal Drug Discovery Today by researchers affiliated with the University of São Paulo (USP) and Universidade Guarulhos (UnG) in Brazil.


    Comparison of 8 weeks standard treatment (rifampicin plus clarithromycin) vs. 4 weeks standard plus amoxicillin/clavulanate treatment [RC8 vs. RCA4] to shorten Buruli ulcer disease therapy (the BLMs4BU trial): study protocol for a randomized controlled mu

    Roch Christian Johnson et al., Trials

    If successful, this study will create a new paradigm for BU treatment, which could inform World Health Organization policy and practice. A shortened, highly effective, all-oral regimen will improve care of BU patients and will lead to a decrease in hospitalization-related expenses and indirect and social costs and improve treatment adherence. This trial may also provide information on treatment shortening strategies for other mycobacterial infections (tuberculosis, leprosy, or non-tuberculous mycobacteria infections).

    The Simple Tool Used to Determine Dosage when Treating for NTDs

    Brian Guzman, USAID

    In every country in the world, health care happens at the community level. When fighting disabling, disfiguring diseases called Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), simple, affordable tools help disease-affected countries in the fight. A dose pole or measuring stick is one such tool that is especially important in low-resource settings. Highly effective, the dose pole is powerful in its simplicity.

    Access to data on vectors and vector-borne diseases is improved through the release of a special issue publication of a series of data papers


    Publication of a series of 11 papers with data on vectors that transmit vector-borne diseases is a significant advance in the availability of such data in an easy and open access format. Published by the journal GigaByte by GigaScience Press, in partnership with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and supported by TDR, the papers improve knowledge on vectors and pave the way forward in data sharing.

    TDR's Impact Grants for Regional Priorities

    Garry Aslanyan, TDR

     Formerly known as the Small Grants Scheme, these grants support researchers and public health practitioners as part of TDR’s collaboration with all WHO regional offices. The objective is to produce implementation research findings that can help build national strategies and action plans for better control and treatment of infectious diseases of poverty. These include malaria, tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases, among others. TDR has compiled a report summarizing the results of this grant programme between 2014 and 2020. . . 

    Insights from the field: Legatum’s visit to the END Fund program in Kenya

    Dakota Morrell, Legatum

    In Legatum’s first field visit since the outset of the pandemic, seven colleagues and I visited Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya to participate in a mass drug administration and meet our exceptional partners on the ground working to eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Kenya.


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

    Using Rapid Qualitative Assessments to Improve Mass Drug Administration
    July 21, 2022

    Research Links-COR-NTD Research Review: Peer Support Group Models for NTDs
    July 26, 2022
    COR-NTD and NNN

    Worldleish7 (the international Congress on leishmaniasis)
    Aug. 1-6, 2022

    11th International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases (ICEID)
    Aug. 7-10, 2022
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    2022 NNN Conference
    Sept. 13-15, 2022
    Neglected Tropical Disease NGO Network

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

    The 20th International Congress for Tropical Medicine and Malaria (ICTMM)
    October 24 - 28, 2022
    MESA Alliance 

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

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