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2-Week Benzinidazole Course Found Effective Against Chagas & Other NTD News

News roundup

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 Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center.  

A study in Bolivia led by DNDi shows that the standard treatment for Chagas disease, which currently lasts 8 weeks, could be just as effective after only 2 weeks.


Lymphatic filariasis

Mapping of lymphatic filariasis in loiasis areas: A new strategy shows no evidence for Wuchereria bancrofti endemicity. . .

Sameul Wanji et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Our study provides a simple day blood-based algorithm for [lymphatic filariasis, or] LF mapping in loiasis areas. The results indicate that many districts that were formerly classified as endemic for LF in Cameroon are non-endemic and do not require mass drug administration for elimination of LF.

Implementing a community vector collection strategy for monitoring vector-borne diseases in Ghana

Daniel A. Boakye et al.
Gates Open Research
The study revealed that use of community volunteers for the collection of mosquitoes for xenomonitoring purposes can be a viable strategy in the monitoring of vector-borne diseases. However, further development of the strategies and assessments of the costs involved will be required to make this a sustainable approach to monitoring vector-borne disease interventions and enhance community ownership of the programmes.


Preclinical development of an oral anti-Wolbachia macrolide drug for the treatment of lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis

Mark J. Taylor et al.
Science Translational Medicine
New drugs are urgently needed for treating the neglected tropical diseases, onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis. As part of the A·WOL consortium, Taylor et al. launched a drug discovery program that identified macrolide antibiotic molecules that were capable of eliminating the bacterial endosymbiont, Wolbachia, which is necessary for the viability and fertility of filarial worms. Two macrolide compounds cleared Wolbachia from filarial nematodes in animal models of lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis


Over 2 million Nigerian children receive treatment against parasitic worms

Charity Warigon
World Health Organization Nigeria
“My son had blood in his urine for almost a year and I didn’t know what to do,” says Rahab Haruna, a 45-year-old mother from Adamawa State. . . Like Rahab, very few parents know Schistosomiasis and that it can be treated despite the fact that the disease is rampant in their communities. In Nigeria 44 million children are at risk of being infected with Schistosomiasis - an acute and chronic disease caused by parasitic worms. . . Over the past three months, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Expanded Special Project for the Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ESPEN) has supported Nigeria to reach over 2 million children who have never had Schistosomiasis treatment before.

FIND extends Neglected Tropical Diseases portfolio to include Schistosomiasis

Sarah-Jane Loveday
The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) announced today the launch of a new schistosomiasis programme within its neglected tropical diseases (NTD) portfolio. The programme focuses on developing rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for detection of circulating anodic antigen (CAA) in blood and/or urine, to support national control and/or elimination programmes in countries where schistosomiasis is regularly found. . . “Schistosomiasis is contracted from contaminated water, putting whole communities at risk,” said Joseph Ndung’u, Head of Neglected Tropical Diseases at FIND. “The new diagnostic technologies will be a huge step forward, but to achieve real impact their use cannot be confined to labs. The RDT format will allow testing in community settings and enable essential surveillance and disease tracking.”

One Health approach to schistosomiasis control in Africa - The CATTLES Project

London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research
The new Control And Targeted Treatment of Livestock Emerging Schistosomiasis (CATTLES) project, led by Prof Joanne Webster, will build the evidence base for the development of sustainable schistosomiasis control programme for livestock in Africa. The project ultimately aims to improve the health and productivity of both humans and animals through the implementation of a One Health approach to schistosomiasis control. The research builds on some of the key finding produced by the earlier Schistosoma Hybridization Evolution, Ecology and Prevention (SHEEP) project, also led by Prof Joanne Webster. This ZELS funded research elucidated the complex transmission dynamics where host-spots of schistosomiasis transmission and sickness among both children and adults in West Africa are being driven not just by the human of form of the parasite as previously assumed, but rather through hybridized animal and human schistosome species.

In Vitro and In Vivo Studies of Spironolactone as an Antischistosomal Drug Capable of Clinical Repurposing

Rafael A. Guerra et al.
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
In this study, from a screening of 13 marketed diuretics, we identified that spironolactone, a potassium-sparing diuretic, had potent antischistosomal effects on Schistosoma mansoni in vitro and in vivo in a murine model of schistosomiasis. In vitro, spironolactone at low concentrations (<10 µM) is able to alter worm motor activity and the morphology of adult schistosomes, leading to parasitic death. In vivo, oral treatment with spironolactone at a single dose (400 mg/kg) or daily for five consecutive days (100 mg/kg/day) in mice harboring either patent or prepatent infections significantly reduced worm burden, egg production, and hepato- and splenomegaly (P < 0.05 to P < 0.001).

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Pharmacokinetics of ascending doses of ivermectin in Trichuris trichiura-infected children aged 2–12 years

Jessica D Schulz et al.
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Ivermectin is marketed for humans ≥15 kg (>5 years of age) to treat onchocerciasis, strongyloidiasis and lymphatic filariasis. Owing to the lack of an effective treatment against T. trichiura and other parasitic diseases, ivermectin appears to be a promising drug candidate with its broad antiparasitic activity. . . Ivermectin shows a lower exposure profile in children than in adults, highlighting the need to study drug dosing carefully, in particular given the great interest in applying this drug for novel indications.

What mathematical models tells us about the impact of WASH on STH control and elimination

Anouk Gouvras
A recent study by Coffeng and team uses mathematical model simulations to predict the short-term and long-term impact of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) interventions on soil-transmitted helminth control and elimination programmes. Their models demonstrate a clear added benefit of WASH interventions on sustaining the gains of preventative chemotherapy treatment (PCT), particularly after PCT is stopped, reducing the risk and speed of bounce-back of infections.

Strongyloides stercoralis infection: A systematic review of endemic cases in Spain

Maria Barroso et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
With the data provided by this review it is likely that in Spain strongyloidiasis might have been underestimated. It is highly probable that the infection remains undiagnosed in many cases due to low clinical suspicion among Spanish population without recent travel history in which the contagion probably took place decades ago.


On Commonwealth Day - two years since visiting Malawi - HRH The Countess of Wessex congratulates the country on progress. . .

The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust
The Countess of Wessex visited Malawi exactly two years ago to see the work of the Trust’s Trachoma Initiative in action. Reflecting on the visit, The Countess said, "When I visited the country in 2017, the last few cases of trachoma were being located and treated. For the next two years, the country will carefully monitor and manage any new cases of trachoma. All being well, in 2020 the World Health Organisation will be able to certify that the disease is eliminated as a public health problem in Malawi. What an achievement that will be.”

Health ministry tackles trachoma

Phyllis Mbanje
Zimbabwe Daily
The Health ministry has embarked on an aggressive drive to tackle trachoma, a leading cause of preventable blindness by conducting baseline surveys in districts most affected by the disease. . . “The country is going for a nationwide drive to push for a [World Health Organisation] WHO recommended planning and implementation strategy known as SAFE (Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness and Environmental improvements) in targeted districts. As straightforward as the SAFE strategy sounds, a significant rollout of all components of SAFE is needed in communities suffering from trachoma,” said [The Health ministry deputy director Isaac] Phiri.


Advancing the repurposing of ivermectin for malaria

Carlos Chaccour and N. Regina Rabinovich
The Lancet
Ivermectin lays the path for a whole new concept: drug-based vector control. Ivermectin, or indeed any effective endectocide, could be administered to eligible members of the at-risk community as a complementary tool for vector control. It could be administered alone or in combination with partner drugs to allow for integrated management of malaria or neglected tropical diseases, directly responding to residual transmission by targeting malaria and some lymphatic filariasis vectors, regardless of their feeding behaviour.

Research to Practice: COUNTDOWN Findings lead to improved Community Awareness for Neglected Tropical Diseases in Nigeria

James Nuphi Yashiyi and Victoria Lebrun
COUNTDOWN research conducted in Ogun State, Nigeria indicates that understanding in relation to Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and associated awareness campaigns is limited in some areas. Consequently, the NTDs programme unit in the state recently organized an NTD awareness creation campaign across the 20 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the State. The goal of such campaigns is to increase participation in the distribution of medicines to control diseases like onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, and lymphatic filariasis and help people manage side effects if they encounter any after taking the medicine.

Treating parasite infections during pregnancy thought to boost babies’ immune responses

Erin Digitale
[Desiree] LaBeaud and her colleagues previously found that when a mother is infected with parasites during pregnancy, her baby doesn’t respond as effectively to these antibacterial vaccinations in infancy.. . . In the new study, the scientists monitored another group of 576 women who lived in rural Kenya and were pregnant between 2013 and 2015. The mothers were tested for eight different parasitic infections; 75 percent had at least one such infection during pregnancy, with malaria the most common. . . The babies in the new cohort had stronger immune responses to their infant vaccinations than babies in the earlier study.

Why fixing Africa’s data gaps will lead to better health policies

Michelle Mbuthia
The Conversation
There are multiple sources of health data. These include household surveys, census, health facilities, disease surveillance, policy data and research studies. Datasets are increasingly spatially referenced and would be valuable in informing health programmes and monitoring performance. But they remain relatively under-used. It’s important to find a way to bridge this gap and increase discovery and use of data.

How is implementation research applied to advance health in low-income and middle-income countries?

Olakunle Alonge et al.
BMJ Global Health
This paper examines the characteristics of implementation research (IR) efforts in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) by describing how key IR principles and concepts have been used in published health research in LMICs between 1998 and 2016, with focus on how to better apply these principles and concepts to support large-scale impact of health interventions in LMICs. There is a stark discrepancy between principles of IR and what has been published.


Study shows dramatically shorter treatment for Chagas disease could be just as effective, and significantly safer

Alessandra Vilas Boas
A two-week treatment course for adult patients with chronic Chagas disease showed, when compared to placebo, similar efficacy and significantly fewer side effects than the standard treatment duration of eight weeks, according to the results of a clinical trial in Bolivia led by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi). . . “We’ve shown that shorter treatment could be just as effective, and much safer. This could change the paradigm for Chagas treatment, by improving adherence and encouraging wider adoption by the medical community”, said Dr Faustino Torrico, President of CEADES Foundation, Bolivia, and a principal investigator in the trial.

Novartis joins the Global Chagas Disease Coalition and also announces first multinational, prospective, randomized study. . .

Eric Althoff and Katerina Kontzalis
At the Annual Meeting of the Global Chagas Disease Coalition in Barcelona, Spain, Novartis announced that it is joining the Coalition as a member contributor. In addition, the company announced its commitment to launch a multinational, prospective, randomized study with heart failure drug, Entresto® (sacubitril / valsartan), in people with chronic Chagas cardiomyopathy, one form of heart failure with reduced ejection fraction. This is the first definitive morbidity and mortality study to assess a potential therapy for cardiac disease in this underserved patient population.

Scaling up Malaria in Pregnancy Prevention at the Community Level

William Brieger
Tropical Health Matters
The World Health Organization (WHO) 2018 World Malaria Report revealed that of 33 countries where intermittent preventive treatment (with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine/SP) is recommended for pregnant women, only 22% of eligible pregnant women received three doses of intermittent preventive treatment during pregnancy (IPTp3) with SP in 2017. Therefore, it is crucial that innovative interventions to scale up the provision of IPTp are needed to protect lives of mothers, fetuses and newborns. The Transforming Intermittent Preventive Treatment for Optimal Pregnancy (TIPTOP), a five-year project, is one such innovative effort that aims to contribute to reduced maternal and neonatal mortality in four countries: DRC, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Nigeria by expanding access to quality-assured (QA) SP.

Training surgeons through simulation: A BCBP-funded project

Emma McGuigan
The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness
In some regions there is less than one ophthalmologist per one million people. So, when I learnt about one of the research projects [British Council for Prevention of Blindness, or] BCPB was funding in Sub Saharan Africa which is training eye surgeons quicker, more safely, more effectively, and to an acceptable level of competence to deal with the glaucoma and cataract backlog in the region, I got excited. . . There is still some way to go in proving whether this method of training is the most effective way to deal with the lack of surgeons in Sub Saharan Africa who can deal with glaucoma. However, the initial results from this trial are encouraging.

Upcoming Events 

World Water Day 
March 22, 2019
Marginalized groups – women, children, refugees, indigenous peoples, disabled people and many others – are often overlooked, and sometimes face discrimination, as they try to access and manage the safe water they need. This World Water Day, 22nd March, is about tackling the water crisis by addressing the reasons why so many people are being left behind.

22nd Meeting of the WHO Alliance for the Global Elimination of Trachoma by 2020 (GET2020)
April 9-11, 2019, Maputo, Mozambique 
The purpose is to monitor progress towards elimination of trachoma at global level, exchange information and experience on SAFE (surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness, environmental improvement) strategy implementation, review partnership opportunities at global, regional and national levels, and discuss obstacles and barriers to the achievements of the elimination of trachoma as a public health problem by 2020.

Mobile to Multiplex: Accelerating Innovation in Global Diagnostics
April 11, 2019, Decatur, Georgia
Join experts from nongovernmental organizations, industry, and government as they examine how to meet the needs for diagnostics in global health in the absence of resources to develop these technologies. A panel of the world’s leading diagnostic experts will examine this issue from multiple perspectives and offer solutions for accelerating innovation in this space.

Women Deliver 2019 Conference 
June 3-6, 2019, Vancouver, Canada
The Women Deliver 2019 Conference – the world’s largest gathering on the health, rights, and wellbeing of women and girls – will serve as a fueling station for advocates working to achieve a more gender equal world. In the summer of 2019, over 6,000 world leaders, influencers, advocates, academics, activists, and journalists will flock to Vancouver with dreams of accelerating progress girls and women everywhere.

WHO AFRO NTD Biennial Programme Managers Meeting
July 15-19, 2019, Location TBA
Please hold the week of July 15, 2019 as the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa will be holding its Biennial NTD Programme Managers Meeting. This meeting will focus on Preventive Chemotherapy and Case Management diseases. We will be in touch soon to confirm the location and share all relevant documents.

11th European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health
September 16-20, 2019, Liverpool, UK 
RSTMH is hosting the 11th ECTMIH in 2019, on behalf of the Federation of European Societies for Tropical Medicine and International Health (FESTMIH), at the ACC in Liverpool, UK. Every two years, ECTMIH 2019 brings together more than 1,500 scientists and experts from across the world. The Congress provides a platform for sharing research and innovation in the field of tropical medicine and global health.

The 10th NTD NGO Network (NNN) Conference
September 17-19, 2019, Liverpool, UK 
The chosen theme for the 2019 conference is 'Our vision beyond 2020: many partners, one voice'

6th International Symposium on One Health Research
September 18-19, 2019, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
An opportunity for foreign scientists to interact closely with high-ranking Mongolian leaders who specialize in human and animal research leading to numerous research collaborations and discoveries.

IAPB Council of Members 2019
October 5-8, 2019, Nairobi, Kenya
The next Council of Members will be held 5-8 October 2019 in Nairobi, alongside local partners Sightsavers.

ASTMH 68th Annual Meeting
November 20-24, 2019, National Harbor, Maryland
The ASTMH Annual Meeting draws tropical medicine and global health professionals representing academia, government, non-profits, philanthropy, NGOs, industry, military and private practice. The meeting is designed for researchers, professors, government and public health officials, military personnel, travel clinic physicians, practicing physicians in tropical medicine, students and all health care providers working in the fields of tropical medicine, hygiene and global health. 

Epidemics7: International Conference on Infectious Disease Dynamics
December 3-6, 2019, Charleston, SC
Join us for the Seventh International Conference on Infectious Disease Dynamics to share another three days of intense dialogue on our ideas, data, insight, models and methods. This conference regularly attracts over 400 scientists, with representatives from many of the major research groups in this area worldwide. If you want to meet many of your peers in this field, this is the place to go. 

11th IAPB General Assembly
October 12-14, 2020, Singapore
The General Assembly will mark the end of the VISION 2020: The Right to Sight period. It will present a great opportunity to take stock, celebrate successes and make plans for the future. A key focus will be on the WHO’s World Report on Vision and its framework for the future. The event will have three co-chairs leading on three streams: “Excellence”, “Eye Health in the West Pacific” and “Sustainability”.