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Category: publications

Prime-Boost Vaccine Regimen for SjTPI and SjC23 Schistosome Vaccines, Increases Efficacy in Water Buffalo in a Field Trial in China

Schistosomiasis remains a serious zoonotic disease in China and the Philippines. Water buffalo and cattle account for the majority of transmission. Vaccination of water buffalo is considered a key strategy to reduce disease prevalence. Previously, we showed that vaccination of water buffalo with SjC23 or SjCTPI plasmid DNA vaccines, induced 50% efficacy to challenge infection. Here, we evaluated several parameters to determine if we can develop a two dose vaccine that maintains the efficacy of the three dose vaccine. We performed four trials evaluating: (1) lab produced vs. GLP grade vaccines, (2) varying the time between prime and boost, (3) the influence of an IL-12 adjuvant, and (4) a two dose heterologous (DNA-protein) prime-boost. We found the source of the DNA vaccines did not matter, nor did increasing the interval between prime and boost. Elimination of the IL-12 plasmid lowered homologous DNA-DNA vaccine efficacy. A major finding was that the heterologous prime boost improved vaccine efficacy, with the prime-boost regimen incorporating both antigens providing a 55% reduction in adult worms and 53% reduction in liver eggs. Vaccinated buffalo produced vaccine-specific antibody responses. These trials suggest that highly effective vaccination against schistosomes can be achieved using a two dose regimen. No adjuvants were used with the protein boost, and the potential that addition of adjuvant to the protein boost to further increase efficacy should be evaluated. These results suggest that use of these two schistosome vaccines can be part of an integrated control strategy to reduce transmission of schistosomiasis in Asia.


Akram A. Da’Dara, Changlin Li, Xinling Yu, Mao Zheng, Jie Zhou, Lisa M. Shollenberger, Yue-sheng Li and Donald A. Harn. 2019. Front. Immunol.

Targeted Inhibition of Plasmodium falciparum Calcium-Dependent Protein Kinase 1 with a Constrained J Domain-Derived Disruptor Peptide

graphical abstract

To explore the possibility of constrained peptides to target Plasmodium-infected cells, we designed a J domain mimetic derived from Plasmodium falciparum calcium-dependent protein kinase 1 ( PfCDPK1) as a strategy to disrupt J domain binding and inhibit PfCDPK1 activity. The J domain disruptor (JDD) peptide was conformationally constrained using a hydrocarbon staple and was found to selectively permeate segmented schizonts and colocalize with intracellular merozoites in late-stage parasites. In vitro analyses demonstrated that JDD could effectively inhibit the catalytic activity of recombinant PfCDPK1 in the low micromolar range. Treatment of late-stage parasites with JDD resulted in a significant decrease in parasite viability mediated by a blockage of merozoite invasion, consistent with a primary effect of PfCDPK1 inhibition. To the best of our knowledge, this marks the first use of stapled peptides designed to specifically target a Plasmodium falciparum protein and demonstrates that stapled peptides may serve as useful tools for exploring potential antimalarial agents.

Briana R. Flaherty, Tienhuei G. Ho, Sven H. Schmidt, Friedrich W. Herberg, David S. Peterson, and Eileen J. Kennedy. 2019. ACS Infectious Diseases. DOI: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.8b0034

Priority use cases for antibody-detecting assays of recent malaria exposure as tools to achieve and sustain malaria elimination

Measurement of malaria specific antibody responses represents a practical and informative method for malaria control programs to assess recent exposure to infection. Technical advances in recombinant antigen production, serological screening platforms, and analytical methods have enabled the identification of several target antigens for laboratory based and point-of-contact tests. Questions remain as to how these serological assays can best be integrated into malaria surveillance activities to inform programmatic decision-making. This report synthesizes discussions from a convening at Institut Pasteur in Paris in June 2017 aimed at defining practical and informative use cases for serology applications and highlights five programmatic uses for serological assays including: documenting the absence of transmission; stratification of transmission; measuring the effect of interventions; informing a decentralized immediate response;  and testing and treating P. vivax hypnozoite carriers.

Greenhouse B, Daily J, Guinovart C, Goncalves B, Beeson J, Bell D, Chang MA, Cohen JM, Ding X, Domingo G, Eisele TP, Lammie PJ, Mayor A, Merienne N, Monteiro W, Painter J, Rodriguez I, White M, Drakeley C, Mueller I, Malaria Serology Convening. 2019. Gates Open Res.; doi: 10.12688/gatesopenres.12897.1. eCollection 2019.

Mitochondrial genome sequence variation as a useful marker for assessing genetic heterogeneity among Cyclospora cayetanensis isolates and source-tracking


BACKGROUND: Cyclospora cayetanensis is an important enteric pathogen, causing diarrhea and food-borne cyclosporiasis outbreaks. For effective outbreak identification and investigation, it is essential to rapidly assess the genetic heterogeneity of C. cayetanensis specimens from cluster cases and identify the likely occurrence of outbreaks.

METHODS: In this study, we developed a quantitative PCR (qPCR) targeting the polymorphic link region between copies of the mitochondrial genome of C. cayetanensis, and evaluated the genetic heterogeneity among 36 specimens from six countries using melt curve, gel electrophoresis, and sequence analyses of the qPCR products.

RESULTS: All specimens were amplified successfully in the qPCR and produced melt peaks with different Tm values in the melt curve analysis. In gel electrophoresis of the qPCR products, the specimens yielded bands of variable sizes. Nine genotypes were identified by DNA sequencing of the qPCR products. Geographical segregation of genotypes was observed among specimens analyzed, which could be useful in geographical source-tracking.

CONCLUSIONS: The length and nucleotide sequence variations in the mitochondrial genome marker allow rapid assessment of the genetic heterogeneity among C. cayetanensis specimens by melt curve, gel electrophoresis, or DNA sequence analysis of qPCR products. The sequence data generated could be helpful in the initial source-tracking of the pathogen.

KEYWORDS: Cyclospora cayetanensis; Genotyping; Mitochondrion; Source-tracking; qPCR

Yaqiong Guo, Yuanfei Wang, Xiaolan Wang, Longxian Zhang, Ynes Ortega, and Yaoyu Feng. Parasite Vectors 2019 Jan 21; 12(1):47. doi.1186/s13071-019-3294-1

Trypanosoma cruzi 13C-labeled O-Glycan standards for mass spectrometry


Trypanosoma cruzi is a protozoan parasite that causes Chagas disease, a debilitating condition that affects over 10 million humans in the American continents. In addition to its traditional mode of human entry via the ‘kissing bug’ in endemic areas, the infection can also be spread in non-endemic countries through blood transfusion, organ transplantation, eating food contaminated with the parasites, and from mother to fetus. Previous NMR-based studies established that the parasite expresses a variety of strain-specific and developmentally-regulated O-glycans that may contribute to virulence. In this report, we describe five synthetic O-glycan analytical standards and show their potential to enable a more facile analysis of native O-glycan isomers based on mass spectrometry.

M. Osman Sheikh, Elisabet Gas-Pascual, John N. Glushka, Juan M. Bustamante, Lance Wells, Christopher M. West. 2019. Glycobiology.

Kinetoplast Division Factors in a Trypanosome

Trypanosoma brucei


  • Kinetoplasts (mitochondrial genome nucleoids) are important in bloodstream trypanosomes for the establishment of mitochondrial membrane potential.
  • Many proteins involved in segregation of kinetoplasts have been identified.
  • A region between a kinetoplast and basal bodies is described as a tripartite attachment complex (TAC).
  • A set of TAC-associated proteins (TACAPs) has been proposed as the machinery for kinetoplast segregation.
  • Subcomplexes of TACAPs that form in vivo have been described.
  • Several proteins that do not associate with TAC are involved in the maintenance of the kinetoplast.
  • New kinetoplast-associated proteins have been identified.
  • We are approaching an exciting period in the field when a molecular understanding of how all aspects of kinetoplast biogenesis are executed seems achievable.

Kojo Mensa-Wilmot, Benjamin Hoffman, Justin Wiedman, Catherine Sullenberger, Amrita Sharma. 2019. Trends in Parasitology.

Survival and Internalization of Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7 Sprayed onto Different Cabbage Cultivars during Cultivation in Growth Chambers



BACKGROUND: Cabbage may become contaminated with enteric pathogens during cultivation. Using multiple cabbage cultivars at two maturity stages (small plants or plants with small heads) in growth chamber studies, the fate (internalization or surface survival) of Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7 (0157) were examined in conjunction with any potential relationships to the plant’s antimicrobial content.

RESULTS: Internalized Salmonella was detected in cabbage within 24 hours with prevalence ranging from 62% (16 of 26) for the ‘Super Red 80’ cultivar to 92% (24 of 26) for the ‘Red Dynasty’ cultivar. The fate of Salmonella and O157 on small cabbage plants over nine days was significantly affected by cultivar with both these pathogens surviving the least and most on the ‘Capture’ and ‘Farao’ cultivars, respectively (P < 0.05). Survival of O157 was slightly higher on cabbage heads for O157 than small plants suggesting that the maturity stage may affect this pathogen’s fate. An inverse relationship existed between antimicrobial levels and a pathogen’s fate on cabbage heads (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: The fate of pathogens varied with the cabbage cultivar in growth chamber studies highlighting the potential to explore cultivar in field studies to reduce the risk of microbiological contamination in this crop.

Marilyn C. Erickson, Jye-Yin Liao, Alison S. Payton, Peter W. Cook, Ynes R. Ortega. 2019. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Thirty-Day Daily Comparisons of Kato-Katz and CCA Assays of 45 Egyptian Children in Areas with Very Low Prevalence of Schistosoma mansoni

Egyptian children

Forty-five Schistosoma mansoni egg–negative/circulating cathodic antigen (CCA) low (Trace-1+) positive children in areas of very low prevalence were followed up daily for 30 days. Stool and urine specimens were collected and examined each day from each child. At the midpoint of the study, three egg-positive control persons with light intensity infection were included in the protocol. Stool samples were examined by the Kato–Katz (four slides/stool sample) technique and all S. mansoni egg–negative stools were further tested by the “miracidia hatching test” (MHT). Urine samples were examined by the point-of-care CCA assay (POC-CCA). Over 30 days, only one of 1,338 consecutive stool samples from study subjects was S. mansoni egg and MHT positive (0.07%). Egg counts fluctuated daily in stools from positive controls and S. mansoni miracidia were detected in all but two samples by the MHT. Point-of-care–circulating cathodic antigen bands were scored from G1 to G10 and then translated to standard Trace, 1+, 2+, 3+ banding patterns. In two districts, the POC-CCA assays were Trace or 1+ for both the study children and the positive controls. In the third district, the POC-CCA assays were Trace or 1+ for the study children and 1+ or 2+ for the positive control. We conclude that in areas with extremely low prevalence S. mansoni egg–negative and CCA-Trace or 1+ children are unlikely to pose substantial risks to continued transmission of schistosomiasis. In this setting, POC-CCA Trace or 1+ readings are likely to be false positives or perhaps represent low-level single-sex schistosome infections.

Ayat A. Haggag, Amal Rabiee, Khaled M. Abd Elaziz, Carl H. Campbell Jr., Daniel G. Colley, and Reda M. R. Ramzy. 2019 The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Efficacy and side effects of doxycycline versus minocycline in the three-dose melarsomine canine adulticidal heartworm treatment protocol


Background: The American Heartworm Society currently recommends the use of a monthly macrocyclic lactone, a 28-day course of 10 mg/kg doxycycline BID, and the 3-dose protocol of melarsomine dihydrochloride for the treatment of canine heartworm disease. Doxycycline is necessary for the reduction of the bacterium Wolbachia, found in all heartworm life-stages. Previous price increases and decreasing availability prompted us to evaluate alternative tetracycline antibiotics, i.e. minocycline, for the reduction of Wolbachia during canine heartworm treatment.

Methods: Thirty-two heartworm-positive dogs were randomized to receive 10 mg/kg or 5 mg/kg of either doxycycline or minocycline for 28 days BID, for a total of 8 dogs per experimental group. All dogs received 6 months of Heartgard Plus® (ivermectin/pyrantel) and the 3-dose protocol of 2.5 mg/kg melarsomine dihydrochloride. Blood samples were collected prior to the initiation of treatment, every 7 days throughout tetracycline treatment, and then monthly thereafter until the dog tested negative for the presence of heartworm antigen. DNA was isolated from circulating microfilarial samples and qPCR was performed on each sample.

Results: A greater number of dogs in the 10 mg/kg doxycycline and minocycline treated groups experienced gastrointestinal side effects as compared to the 5 mg/kg doxycycline and minocycline treated groups. All eight dogs in the 10 mg/kg doxycycline-treated group tested negative for the presence of Wolbachia DNA by 28 days post-tetracycline treatment. A total of two dogs in both the 5 mg/kg doxycycline- and 10 mg/kg minocycline-treated groups and three dogs in the 5 mg/kg minocycline-treated group remained positive for the presence of Wolbachia DNA by the end of tetracycline treatment.

Conclusions: No lung pathology was assessed in this clinical trial, therefore the clinical effect of the remaining Wolbachia DNA in the 10 mg/kg minocycline-, 5 mg/kg doxycycline- and 5 mg/kg minocycline-treated groups cannot be determined. Owner compliance in the proper administration of these tetracyclines may be impacted by the increased severe gastrointestinal side effects reported for the 10 mg/kg doxycycline- and minocycline-treated groups. We recommend that veterinarians prescribe the recommended 10 mg/kg doxycycline for canine heartworm treatment and reduce the dosage to 5 mg/kg in cases of severe gastrointestinal side effects in order to improve owner compliance in administration of medications.

Molly D. Savadelis, Katherine M. Day, Jenna L. Bradner, Adrian J. Wolstenholme, Michael T. Dzimianski, and Andrew R. Moorhead. 2018. Parasites & Vectors; 11:671.

Translating preventive chemotherapy prevalence thresholds for Schistosoma mansoni from the Kato-Katz technique into the point-of-care circulating cathodic antigen diagnostic test

The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined goals for schistosomiasis morbidity control to be reached by 2025 that are based on preventive chemotherapy. Intervention thresholds for Schistosoma mansoni are currently defined for prevalence measured by stool microscopy using the Kato-Katz technique. However, the Kato-Katz technique shows low sensitivity, particularly for the detection of light-intensity infections. Replacing it with the semi-quantitative point-of-care circulating cathodic antigen (POC-CCA) urine cassette test requires translation of the thresholds and precise characterization of the diagnostic sensitivity and specificity. In this study, we applied a novel egg-count model to a suite of data obtained from different settings in Africa and the Americas with diverse endemicity levels. We used a simulation study to infer on the relation between Kato-Katz and POC-CCA prevalence. Based on our study, we were able to provide recommendations for POC-CCA thresholds taking into account semi-quantitative results of the test. We found that a S. mansoni prevalence of 10% based on duplicate slide Kato-Katz thick smear is equivalent to 15–40% POC-CCA prevalence when trace results are considered positive and to 10–20% POC-CCA prevalence when trace results are considered negative. Our results have important bearings for mapping, control, surveillance, and verification of elimination of intestinal schistosomiasis.

Oliver Bärenbold, Amadou Garba, Daniel G. Colley, Fiona M. Fleming, Ayat A. Haggag, Reda M. R. Ramzy, Rufin K. Assaré, Edridah M. Tukahebwa, Jean B. Mbonigaba, Victor Bucumi, Biruck Kebede, Makoy S. Yibi, Aboulaye Meité, Jean T. Coulibaly, Eliézer K. N’Goran, Louis-Albert Tchuem Tchuenté, Pauline Mwinzi, Jürg Utzinger, Penelope Vounatsou. 2018. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.