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Large-scale Genomics Study Points to New Treatment Possibilities & 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.
Maximum-likelihood phylogeny based on a partitioned analysis of a concatenated data matrix of 21,649 amino acid sites from 202 single-copy orthologous proteins present in at least 23 of the species.



Lymphatic filariasis

How lymphatic filariasis was eliminated from an urban poor setting in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Manuel Gonzales et al.
International Health
We selected the urban poor area of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. With three rounds of [mass drug administration, or] MDA and with good coverage, elimination was achieved. We wanted to understand contributing factors to achieving good coverage. A qualitative study analyzed context, barriers and facilitators using a predefined framework based on review of the literature.

Coverage and compliance towards mass drug administration programme against lymphatic filariasis in Vijayapura (Bijapur)...

Praveen Kulkarni, et al.
International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health
Lymphatic filariasis or elephantiasis is the most debilitating and disfiguring scourge among all diseases. The National Health Policy (2017) has set the goal of elimination of lymphatic filariasis in endemic pockets in India by 2017. The concept of MDA is to approach every individual in the target community and administer annual single dose of anti-filarial drugs. The objectives of the study were to assess the coverage, compliance and causes for noncompliance towards MDA in Vijayapura district and to assess the rates of directly observed treatment, source of information on MDA and incidence of side effects related to MDA Programme

A comparison between paper-based and m-Health tools for collating and reporting clinical cases of LF and podoconiosis

Sarah Martindale et al.
As part of a [lymphatic filariasis, or] LF and podoconiosis burden assessment conducted in Hawella Tula and Bensa districts in Ethiopia, this study compared the standard paper-based methods with the new MeasureSMSMorbidity tool for clinical cases data collation and reporting. . . The rank correlation showed the same villages would be prioritised for delivery of [morbidity management & disability prevention, or] MMDP services, with time and cost-savings observed using SMS reporting, suggesting it is an effective and efficient alternative tool to help facilitate care to those who need it most.


Update on the current status of onchocerciasis in Côte d’Ivoire following 40 years of intervention: Progress and challenges

Benjamin Koudou et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
There have been significant reductions in both microfilarial prevalences and community microfilarial loads in sentinel villages that had implementation of vector control and/or mass drug administration coverage rates of at least 65%. Although onchocerciasis persists in some areas, changes in management of the programme in 2015 together with improved political stability and increased support from key donors may lead to its elimination over the next 10 years.


Schistosomiasis in Kenya: an interview with Dr. Maurice R. Odiere

Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium
The forthcoming Phase III clinical trial of the Pediatric Praziquantel (PZQ) Consortium Formulation program will be conducted in Kenya, in addition to the Ivory Coast. We asked Dr. Maurice R. Odiere, Head of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Unit at the Centre for Global Health Research, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), how the new formulation might impact schistosomiasis in Kenya, and about his work on diagnosis, treatment and operational challenges across different areas of Kenya.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Barriers and gaps in utilization and coverage of MDA program against soil-transmitted helminth infection in Bangladesh

TC Nath, RS Padmawati, and EH Murhandarwati
Journal of Infectious Public Health
Despite several rounds of [mass drug administration, or] MDA, the government is still facing challenges to achieve the target coverage and utilization of the intervention. This study was done to explore and explain the barriers and gaps that hinder the utilization and coverage of MDA for [soil-transmitted helminthiasis, or] STH. . . Some major barriers associated with MDA coverage found in this study were drug distribution policy, accessibility to schools, poor record keeping, follow-up, and information dissemination. Inadequate information about population dynamics and rumors about side effects of MDA drugs adversely affected the compliance of the intervention. Insufficient training of drug distributors and poor motivation among stakeholders also added to the barriers.

The soil-transmitted helminths in Sri Lanka: a review of the recent literature

NR de Silva
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The major soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections caused by Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura and Necator americanus have been recognized as endemic in Sri Lanka for over a century. Although prevalence rates have declined drastically over this period because of mass deworming programmes and improved housing, these infections are still found in high risk communities with poor access to sanitation. The available scientific literature published on STH infections in Sri Lanka from around the year 2000 onwards is reviewed here in three broad areas: prevalence of STH infections and factors affecting transmission, impact of control activities on prevalence and drug resistance, and the impact of STH infections on the health of infected individuals. In conclusion, an overview of the current control strategy adopted by the Ministry of Health in Sri Lanka is presented.

Knowledge, attitude and practice with respect to soil contamination by Soil-Transmitted Helminths in Ibadan...

D.A.Oyebamiji, A.N.Ebisike, J.O.Egede and A.A.Hassan
Parasite Epidemiology and Control
Ancylostoma duodenale, Necator americanus, Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura, the four major Soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) and also Strongyloides stercoralis infect humans worldwide. Most studies on Soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) carried out in Ibadan were faecal examination based while relatively few soil examination based studies were carried out mostly around school premises using limited number of sampling locations. This study was therefore designed to assess the level of soil contamination with STH and associated risk factors in the eleven local government areas of Ibadan.


Trachoma on track to be eliminated in Australia within two years, health officials say

Tom Joyner
ABC News (Australia)
The campaign to fight the disease, while steered at an international level, has been largely driven from within Indigenous communities themselves over the last decade. "It's involved schools, clinics, and community members. There's tiers and layers of involvement," said Fiona Lange, a health promotion officer from Melbourne University. In communities like Warakurna in the remote Ngaanyatjarra Lands, with a population of 180, it is the simplest of measures that have had lasting effects. "[We encourage] blowing your nose with a tissue until it's empty, washing your hands with soap, washing your face whenever it's dirty and even tooth brushing," Ms Lange said.

SAFE Succeeds in Cutting Trachoma Burden in Sudan

Ashley Lyles
MedPage Today
A new strategy appeared effective in reducing the prevalence of trachomatous inflammation-follicular (TF) in Sudan, results of an impact survey indicated. After implementation of the so-called SAFE program, the researchers assessed the current prevalence of TF in Sudan in the 14 non-Darfur localities that were endemic. Of those localities, nine were under 5% TF and mass drug administration (MDA) had stopped. Three localities were scheduled for impact survey and had 5% to 9% TF, reported Angelia Sanders, MPH, MA, of the Carter Center in Atlanta, at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) meeting. These results, Sanders suggested, were indicative of real progress against chlamydial trachoma with SAFE in Sudan.

VIDEO: War on Trachoma- Isiolo county says its almost eradicating Trachoma

MediaMax (Kenya)
Guracha Sarite, the Isiolo county Public Health Officer, say the county has achieved the World Health Organization standards- meaning it is almost eliminating the disease.


Comparative genomics of the major parasitic worms

International Helminth Genomes Consortium
Nature Genetics
Parasitic nematodes (roundworms) and platyhelminths (flatworms) cause debilitating chronic infections of humans and animals, decimate crop production and are a major impediment to socioeconomic development. Here we report a broad comparative study of 81 genomes of parasitic and non-parasitic worms. We have identified gene family births and hundreds of expanded gene families at key nodes in the phylogeny that are relevant to parasitism. Examples include gene families that modulate host immune responses, enable parasite migration though host tissues or allow the parasite to feed.

Priority Review Vouchers Revitalizing Neglected Disease Drug Development

Joshua Cohen
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) impact more than one in six people worldwide, often the poorest, but are allocated less than 0.5 percent of global pharmaceutical investment. . . Nevertheless, there's room for cautious optimism. And much of it has to do with priority review vouchers (PRVs). PRVs for NTDs are granted if a pharmaceutical company obtains approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a drug or vaccine for a neglected disease indication.

Developing mobile health applications for neglected tropical disease research

Andres Navarro et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Mobile applications (apps) can bring health research and its potential downstream benefits closer to underserved populations. Drawing on experience developing an app for detecting and referring cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis in Colombia, called Guaral/app, we review key steps in creating such mobile health (mHealth) tools. These require consideration of the sociotechnical context using methods such as systems analysis and human-centered design (HCD), predicated on engagement and iteration with all stakeholders. We emphasize usability and technical concerns and describe the interdependency of technical and human considerations for mHealth systems in rural communities.


Beneficial effects of benznidazole in Chagas disease: NIH SaMi-Trop cohort study

Clareci Silva Cardoso et al.
PLOD Neglected Tropical Diseases
Benznidazole has been recommended for treatment of the disease based mostly in physiopathological assumptions and relatively small observational studies and, recently, a negative trial was published, showing the absence of benefit of benznidazole in patients with Chagas cardiopathy. Thus, there is an urgent need not only of new therapeutic options but also of further evidence of the utility of benznidazole, at least in those patients with less severe disease. We evaluated, using data from the NIH-sponsored SaMi-Trop prospective cohort study, if previous treatment with benznidazole is associated with lower mortality, less advanced cardiac disease and lower parasitemia in patients with chronic [Chagas disease, or] ChD.

New treatments offer hope for tropical diseases in Africa

Evelyn Lirri
The East African
Sleeping sickness remains endemic in over 20 African countries, although about 76 per cent of all cases in 2017 were reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone. Dr Wilfred Mutombo, the coordinator of the Sleeping Sickness Clinical Trial Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, noted that the old treatment involved patients being administered of painful injections, with drugs that were highly toxic. “At the time, these old drugs came with considerable side effects, to a point where up to five per cent of patients who were receiving treatment died,” he said. Most patients were also presenting at the hospital with stage two of the disease, which is more difficult to treat. This prompted scientists to find a short term solution to this problem by developing a combination therapy using two old drugs — nifurtimox and eflornithine combination therapy (NECT) — as a way of offering better treatment to patients. But for better treatment outcomes, scientists are pinning their hope on Fexinidazole, a drug that once approved for use, will be administered to patients orally.

Dengue, WASH and new models of collaboration in an era of climate change

Aaron Hoyles
Infectious Thoughts
With the vector finding a hospitable home in parts of the world previously untouched by dengue, the risk of new outbreaks is growing. Responding to this will demand new approaches to vector and disease surveillance, so that the public health community can accurate and swiftly detect outbreaks. The solution will be a collective response to a shared challenge. Fortunately, novel approaches to using technology are driving changes to how we tackle the burden of dengue. The promising approach being developed by Break Dengue with the eBarometer vector-borne disease surveillance tool is representative of the advances being made.

Mycetoma: WHO calls for development of better prevention tools and diagnostics

Ashok Moloo
World Health Organization
The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for more focus on research to improve current tools and medicines to effectively prevent and treat mycetoma – a chronic disease of the foot that affects poor people, mainly manual workers, labourers and herdsmen.

Insecticide resistance in Anopheles gambiae from the northern Democratic Republic of Congo, with extreme knockdown resistance...

Amy Lynd et al.
Malaria Journal
This study provides rare data on insecticide resistance and mechanisms in Anopheles from the centre of Africa, with the first detection of N1575Y. Nord Ubangi populations of An. gambiae s.s. show insecticide resistance mediated by both metabolic mechanisms and Vgsc mutations.

A new lease of life for bednets

Hilary Hurd
Previous trials have shown that, when this insecticide [pyriproxyfen, or PPF] is incorporated into bed nets with permethrin (trade name Olyset Duo), mortality and blood feeding activity of pyrethroid-resistant mosquitoes was reduced more successfully than permethrin-only treated nets, and mosquitoes that survived an encounter with these nets did not produce offspring. A more extensive comparison of these two types of nets, assessing both entomological parameters and the incidence of clinical malaria in infants sleeping under the nets, has now been carried out in Burkina Faso.

CDC director warns that Congo’s Ebola outbreak may not be containable

Lena H. Sun
Washington Post
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said Monday that the Ebola outbreak in conflict-ridden Congo has become so serious that international public health experts need to consider the possibility that it cannot be brought under control and instead will become entrenched. If that happened, it would be the first time since the deadly viral disease was first identified in 1976 that an Ebola outbreak led to the persistent presence of the disease. In all previous outbreaks, most of which took place in remote areas, the disease was contained before it spread widely. The current outbreak is entering its fourth month, with nearly 300 cases, including 186 deaths. Some sick people have refused to go to treatment centers, health-care workers are still being infected, and some people are dying of Ebola or spreading the virus to new areas. An estimated 60 to 80 percent of new confirmed cases have no known epidemiological link to prior cases, making it very difficult for responders to track cases and stop transmission.

De-throning “The Throne” at the Reinvent the Toilet Expo in Beijing, China

Ryan Bell
The Optimist
The flush toilet hasn’t changed much since it was invented in 1596 by Sir John Harington. (Yes, the inventor of "The John" was named John. See also: Thomas Crapper.) Sure, there have been other advancements – waste treatment plants, underground sewers, etc. – but these complicated, expensive, and hard-to-manage technologies don’t do much good in developing countries where 950 million people still have to defecate outdoors.

Grant Opportunity: Innovation for WASH in Urban Settings

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Global Grand Challenges
We seek digital technology-based solutions that promote access to essential resources and services (clean water, sanitation) and can make a difference in reducing morbidity and mortality to promote healthy, safe, and productive lives. We know that technology does not automatically or inevitably improve people's lives; creative solutions must be contextually grounded and designed in response to on-the-ground needs of women, children, and families living in challenging urban environments.

Upcoming Events 

Women Leaders in Global Health London 2018
November 8-9, London, United Kingdom
Celebrating women in global health leadership and cultivating the next generation of women leaders. 

APHA 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo
November 10-14, San Diego, California
Theme: "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Health Equity Now."  

ISNTD Water 2018
November 15, London
ISNTD Water provides the multidisciplinary platform and network for the research, charity and business sectors to partner and collaborate to address diseases and conditions of poverty worldwide.

Why and how to engage in Voluntary National Reviews?
November 21, Webinar
This webinar intends to provide an introduction to the VNR quick guide developed by Together 2030, CAFOD and Uniting to Combat NTDs and create a space to discuss the opportunities for engaging in the process. In addition, this webinar will offer a national perspective from civil society from countries that presented or will present their national voluntary reviews and will share their experience at engaging in the VNRs process at national level. 

Vector-Borne Diseases in the UK - Biennial Meeting, 2018
December 3-4, Norwich, United Kingdom
This meeting will be the fourth we have held on this topic, with previous meetings in 2012, 2014 and 2016, and like before we will bring together members of the major UK research groups who have an interest in vectors or vector-borne diseases which could be a threat to the UK; groups with wider but related areas of interest; members of key UK Government Departments and their Agencies; and representatives of European organisations with an interest in this topic. 

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.

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.