Dr Alexander (Sandy) D Douglas MRCP

Research Area: Microbiology
Technology Exchange: Vaccine production and evaluation
Scientific Themes: Immunology & Infectious Disease and Tropical Medicine & Global Health
Keywords: Malaria vaccines and Rabies vaccines

I am an academic clinician and hold a Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellowship for Clinicians (i.e. Career Development fellowship). My main interests are the development of antibody-inducing vaccines against the sporozoite stage of malaria and the development of a novel thermostable rabies vaccine.

In earlier work, I identified the potential of PfRH5 as an antigen capable of inducing highly potent strain-transcending neutralising antibodies against the disease causing blood-stage of Plasmodium falciparum and demonstrated that PfRH5-based vaccines could achieve in vivo protection against a virulent P. falciparum challenge. These vaccines are now in clinical trials.

Antibody targets on Plasmodium spp. sporozoites

Understanding of the mechanism of erythrocyte invasion by P. falciparum merozoites has yielded promising new vaccine targets like PfRH5. Sporozoites are in many ways more attractive vaccine targets than merozoites, but understanding of the mechanism of sporozoite invasion into hepatocytes is poor. I am seeking to identify sporozoite ligands and host receptors required for this invasion process, with the aim of developing interventions to prevent infection by disrupting their interactions.

Rabies vaccines & vaccine thermostabilisation

Many people do not realise that rabies kills around 50,000 people each year. One reason is that existing rabies vaccines require multiple doses, cold-chain storage and are moderately expensive. I am leading a project to manufacture and test in clinical trials an adenovirus-vectored rabies vaccine in a thermostable formulation. In pre-clinical studies, a single low dose of the vaccine achieves protection against rabies challenge for over two years. The thermostabilisation technology has potential to be applied to multiple human and veterinary vaccines, overcoming the challenges and cost of cold chain distribution. The vaccine aims to become a cheap, single-dose tool suitable for mass pre-exposure rabies prophylaxis.

Antibody maintenance

Most candidate malaria vaccines targeting extracellular stages of the parasite require extremely high antibody concentrations to achieve efficacy. Recent clinical trials have shown that current adjuvant formulations are not capable of sustaining such levels for more than a few weeks. I have an interest in the development of protein subunit vaccine formulations capable of enhancing the long-term maintenance of high-level antibody titers.

Name Department Institution Country
Dr Gavin Wright Sanger Institute United Kingdom
Professor Photini Sinnis Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health United States
Professor Adrian VS Hill Jenner Institute Oxford University, Old Road Campus Research Building United Kingdom
Professor Simon J Draper Jenner Institute Oxford University, Old Road Campus Research Building United Kingdom
Professor Hildegund Ertl Wistar Institute United States
Dr Carole Long NIAID United States
Dr Geral C Baldeviano NAMRU-6 Peru
Jin J, Tarrant RD, Bolam EJ, Angell-Manning P, Soegaard M, Pattinson DJ, Dulal P, Silk SE, Marshall JM, Dabbs RA et al. 2018. Production, quality control, stability, and potency of cGMP-produced Plasmodium falciparum RH5.1 protein vaccine expressed in Drosophila S2 cells. NPJ Vaccines, 3 (1), pp. 32. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5) is a leading asexual blood-stage vaccine candidate for malaria. In preparation for clinical trials, a full-length PfRH5 protein vaccine called "RH5.1" was produced as a soluble product under cGMP using the ExpreS2 platform (based on a Drosophila melanogaster S2 stable cell line system). Following development of a high-producing monoclonal S2 cell line, a master cell bank was produced prior to the cGMP campaign. Culture supernatants were processed using C-tag affinity chromatography followed by size exclusion chromatography and virus-reduction filtration. The overall process yielded >400 mg highly pure RH5.1 protein. QC testing showed the MCB and the RH5.1 product met all specified acceptance criteria including those for sterility, purity, and identity. The RH5.1 vaccine product was stored at -80 °C and is stable for over 18 months. Characterization of the protein following formulation in the adjuvant system AS01B showed that RH5.1 is stable in the timeframe needed for clinical vaccine administration, and that there was no discernible impact on the liposomal formulation of AS01B following addition of RH5.1. Subsequent immunization of mice confirmed the RH5.1/AS01B vaccine was immunogenic and could induce functional growth inhibitory antibodies against blood-stage P. falciparum in vitro. The RH5.1/AS01B was judged suitable for use in humans and has since progressed to phase I/IIa clinical trial. Our data support the future use of the Drosophila S2 cell and C-tag platform technologies to enable cGMP-compliant biomanufacture of other novel and "difficult-to-express" recombinant protein-based vaccines.

Payne RO, Silk SE, Elias SC, Miura K, Diouf A, Galaway F, de Graaf H, Brendish NJ, Poulton ID, Griffiths OJ et al. 2017. Human vaccination against RH5 induces neutralizing antimalarial antibodies that inhibit RH5 invasion complex interactions. JCI Insight, 2 (21), | Show Abstract | Read more

The development of a highly effective vaccine remains a key strategic goal to aid the control and eventual eradication of Plasmodium falciparum malaria. In recent years, the reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 (RH5) has emerged as the most promising blood-stage P. falciparum candidate antigen to date, capable of conferring protection against stringent challenge in Aotus monkeys. We report on the first clinical trial to our knowledge to assess the RH5 antigen - a dose-escalation phase Ia study in 24 healthy, malaria-naive adult volunteers. We utilized established viral vectors, the replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus serotype 63 (ChAd63), and the attenuated orthopoxvirus modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), encoding RH5 from the 3D7 clone of P. falciparum. Vaccines were administered i.m. in a heterologous prime-boost regimen using an 8-week interval and were well tolerated. Vaccine-induced anti-RH5 serum antibodies exhibited cross-strain functional growth inhibition activity (GIA) in vitro, targeted linear and conformational epitopes within RH5, and inhibited key interactions within the RH5 invasion complex. This is the first time to our knowledge that substantial RH5-specific responses have been induced by immunization in humans, with levels greatly exceeding the serum antibody responses observed in African adults following years of natural malaria exposure. These data support the progression of RH5-based vaccines to human efficacy testing.

Jin J, Hjerrild KA, Silk SE, Brown RE, Labbé GM, Marshall JM, Wright KE, Bezemer S, Clemmensen SB, Biswas S et al. 2017. Accelerating the clinical development of protein-based vaccines for malaria by efficient purification using a four amino acid C-terminal 'C-tag'. Int J Parasitol, 47 (7), pp. 435-446. | Show Abstract | Read more

Development of bespoke biomanufacturing processes remains a critical bottleneck for translational studies, in particular when modest quantities of a novel product are required for proof-of-concept Phase I/II clinical trials. In these instances the ability to develop a biomanufacturing process quickly and relatively cheaply, without risk to product quality or safety, provides a great advantage by allowing new antigens or concepts in immunogen design to more rapidly enter human testing. These challenges with production and purification are particularly apparent when developing recombinant protein-based vaccines for difficult parasitic diseases, with Plasmodium falciparum malaria being a prime example. To that end, we have previously reported the expression of a novel protein vaccine for malaria using the ExpreS2Drosophila melanogaster Schneider 2 stable cell line system, however, a very low overall process yield (typically <5% recovery of hexa-histidine-tagged protein) meant the initial purification strategy was not suitable for scale-up and clinical biomanufacture of such a vaccine. Here we describe a newly available affinity purification method that was ideally suited to purification of the same protein which encodes the P. falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 - currently the leading antigen for assessment in next generation vaccines aiming to prevent red blood cell invasion by the blood-stage parasite. This purification system makes use of a C-terminal tag known as 'C-tag', composed of the four amino acids, glutamic acid - proline - glutamic acid - alanine (E-P-E-A), which is selectively purified on a CaptureSelect™ affinity resin coupled to a camelid single chain antibody, called NbSyn2. The C-terminal fusion of this short C-tag to P. falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 achieved >85% recovery and >70% purity in a single step purification directly from clarified, concentrated Schneider 2 cell supernatant under mild conditions. Biochemical and immunological analysis showed that the C-tagged and hexa-histidine-tagged P. falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 proteins are comparable. The C-tag technology has the potential to form the basis of a current good manufacturing practice-compliant platform, which could greatly improve the speed and ease with which novel protein-based products progress to clinical testing.

Wang C, Hart M, Chui C, Ajuogu A, Brian IJ, de Cassan SC, Borrow P, Draper SJ, Douglas AD. 2016. Germinal Center B Cell and T Follicular Helper Cell Responses to Viral Vector and Protein-in-Adjuvant Vaccines. J Immunol, 197 (4), pp. 1242-1251. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is great interest in the development of Ab-inducing subunit vaccines targeting infections, including HIV, malaria, and Ebola. We previously reported that adenovirus vectored vaccines are potent in priming Ab responses, but uncertainty remains regarding the optimal approach for induction of humoral immune responses. In this study, using OVA as a model Ag, we assessed the magnitude of the primary and anamnestic Ag-specific IgG responses of mice to four clinically relevant vaccine formulations: replication-deficient adenovirus; modified vaccinia Ankara (a poxvirus); protein with alum; and protein in the squalene oil-in-water adjuvant Addavax. We then used flow cytometric assays capable of measuring total and Ag-specific germinal center (GC) B cell and follicular Th cell responses to compare the induction of these responses by the different formulations. We report that adenovirus vectored vaccines induce Ag insert-specific GC B cell and Ab responses of a magnitude comparable to those induced by a potent protein/squalene oil-in-water formulation whereas-despite a robust overall GC response-the insert-specific GC B cell and Ab responses induced by modified vaccinia Ankara were extremely weak. Ag-specific follicular Th cell responses to adenovirus vectored vaccines exceeded those induced by other platforms at day 7 after immunization. We found little evidence that innate immune activation by adenovirus may act as an adjuvant in such a manner that the humoral response to a recombinant protein may be enhanced by coadministering with an adenovirus lacking a transgene of interest. Overall, these studies provide further support for the use of replication-deficient adenoviruses to induce humoral responses.

Payne RO, Milne KH, Elias SC, Edwards NJ, Douglas AD, Brown RE, Silk SE, Biswas S, Miura K, Roberts R et al. 2016. Demonstration of the Blood-Stage Plasmodium falciparum Controlled Human Malaria Infection Model to Assess Efficacy of the P. falciparum Apical Membrane Antigen 1 Vaccine, FMP2.1/AS01. J Infect Dis, 213 (11), pp. 1743-1751. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Models of controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) initiated by mosquito bite have been widely used to assess efficacy of preerythrocytic vaccine candidates in small proof-of-concept phase 2a clinical trials. Efficacy testing of blood-stage malaria parasite vaccines, however, has generally relied on larger-scale phase 2b field trials in malaria-endemic populations. We report the use of a blood-stage P. falciparum CHMI model to assess blood-stage vaccine candidates, using their impact on the parasite multiplication rate (PMR) as the primary efficacy end point. METHODS: Fifteen healthy United Kingdom adult volunteers were vaccinated with FMP2.1, a protein vaccine that is based on the 3D7 clone sequence of apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) and formulated in Adjuvant System 01 (AS01). Twelve vaccinees and 15 infectivity controls subsequently underwent blood-stage CHMI. Parasitemia was monitored by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis, and PMR was modeled from these data. RESULTS: FMP2.1/AS01 elicited anti-AMA1 T-cell and serum antibody responses. Analysis of purified immunoglobulin G showed functional growth inhibitory activity against P. falciparum in vitro. There were no vaccine- or CHMI-related safety concerns. All volunteers developed blood-stage parasitemia, with no impact of the vaccine on PMR. CONCLUSIONS: FMP2.1/AS01 demonstrated no efficacy after blood-stage CHMI. However, the model induced highly reproducible infection in all volunteers and will accelerate proof-of-concept testing of future blood-stage vaccine candidates. CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION: NCT02044198.

Hjerrild KA, Jin J, Wright KE, Brown RE, Marshall JM, Labbé GM, Silk SE, Cherry CJ, Clemmensen SB, Jørgensen T et al. 2016. Production of full-length soluble Plasmodium falciparum RH5 protein vaccine using a Drosophila melanogaster Schneider 2 stable cell line system. Sci Rep, 6 (1), pp. 30357. | Show Abstract | Read more

The Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5) has recently emerged as a leading candidate antigen against the blood-stage human malaria parasite. However it has proved challenging to identify a heterologous expression platform that can produce a soluble protein-based vaccine in a manner compliant with current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP). Here we report the production of full-length PfRH5 protein using a cGMP-compliant platform called ExpreS(2), based on a Drosophila melanogaster Schneider 2 (S2) stable cell line system. Five sequence variants of PfRH5 were expressed that differed in terms of mutagenesis strategies to remove potential N-linked glycans. All variants bound the PfRH5 receptor basigin and were recognized by a panel of monoclonal antibodies. Analysis following immunization of rabbits identified quantitative and qualitative differences in terms of the functional IgG antibody response against the P. falciparum parasite. The antibodies induced by one protein variant were shown to be qualitatively similar to responses induced by other vaccine platforms. This work identifies Drosophila S2 cells as a clinically-relevant platform suited for the production of 'difficult-to-make' proteins from Plasmodium parasites, and identifies a PfRH5 sequence variant that can be used for clinical production of a non-glycosylated, soluble full-length protein vaccine immunogen.

Llewellyn D, Miura K, Fay MP, Williams AR, Murungi LM, Shi J, Hodgson SH, Douglas AD, Osier FH, Fairhurst RM et al. 2015. Standardization of the antibody-dependent respiratory burst assay with human neutrophils and Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Sci Rep, 5 (1), pp. 14081. | Show Abstract | Read more

The assessment of naturally-acquired and vaccine-induced immunity to blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum malaria is of long-standing interest. However, the field has suffered from a paucity of in vitro assays that reproducibly measure the anti-parasitic activity induced by antibodies in conjunction with immune cells. Here we optimize the antibody-dependent respiratory burst (ADRB) assay, which assesses the ability of antibodies to activate the release of reactive oxygen species from human neutrophils in response to P. falciparum blood-stage parasites. We focus particularly on assay parameters affecting serum preparation and concentration, and importantly assess reproducibility. Our standardized protocol involves testing each serum sample in singlicate with three independent neutrophil donors, and indexing responses against a standard positive control of pooled hyper-immune Kenyan sera. The protocol can be used to quickly screen large cohorts of samples from individuals enrolled in immuno-epidemiological studies or clinical vaccine trials, and requires only 6 μL of serum per sample. Using a cohort of 86 samples, we show that malaria-exposed individuals induce higher ADRB activity than malaria-naïve individuals. The development of the ADRB assay complements the use of cell-independent assays in blood-stage malaria, such as the assay of growth inhibitory activity, and provides an important standardized cell-based assay in the field.

Hodgson SH, Ewer KJ, Bliss CM, Edwards NJ, Rampling T, Anagnostou NA, de Barra E, Havelock T, Bowyer G, Poulton ID et al. 2015. Evaluation of the efficacy of ChAd63-MVA vectored vaccines expressing circumsporozoite protein and ME-TRAP against controlled human malaria infection in malaria-naive individuals. J Infect Dis, 211 (7), pp. 1076-1086. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Circumsporozoite protein (CS) is the antigenic target for RTS,S, the most advanced malaria vaccine to date. Heterologous prime-boost with the viral vectors simian adenovirus 63 (ChAd63)-modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) is the most potent inducer of T-cells in humans, demonstrating significant efficacy when expressing the preerythrocytic antigen insert multiple epitope-thrombospondin-related adhesion protein (ME-TRAP). We hypothesized that ChAd63-MVA containing CS may result in a significant clinical protective efficacy. METHODS: We conducted an open-label, 2-site, partially randomized Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) study to compare the clinical efficacy of ChAd63-MVA CS with ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP. RESULTS: One of 15 vaccinees (7%) receiving ChAd63-MVA CS and 2 of 15 (13%) receiving ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP achieved sterile protection after CHMI. Three of 15 vaccinees (20%) receiving ChAd63-MVA CS and 5 of 15 (33%) receiving ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP demonstrated a delay in time to treatment, compared with unvaccinated controls. In quantitative polymerase chain reaction analyses, ChAd63-MVA CS was estimated to reduce the liver parasite burden by 69%-79%, compared with 79%-84% for ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP. CONCLUSIONS: ChAd63-MVA CS does reduce the liver parasite burden, but ChAd63-MVA ME-TRAP remains the most promising antigenic insert for a vectored liver-stage vaccine. Detailed analyses of parasite kinetics may allow detection of smaller but biologically important differences in vaccine efficacy that can influence future vaccine development. CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION: NCT01623557.

Hodgson SH, Douglas AD, Edwards NJ, Kimani D, Elias SC, Chang M, Daza G, Seilie AM, Magiri C, Muia A et al. 2015. Increased sample volume and use of quantitative reverse-transcription PCR can improve prediction of liver-to-blood inoculum size in controlled human malaria infection studies. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 33. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) studies increasingly rely on nucleic acid test (NAT) methods to detect and quantify parasites in the blood of infected participants. The lower limits of detection and quantification vary amongst the assays used throughout the world, which may affect the ability of mathematical models to accurately estimate the liver-to-blood inoculum (LBI) values that are used to judge the efficacy of pre-erythrocytic vaccine and drug candidates. METHODS: Samples were collected around the time of onset of pre-patent parasitaemia from subjects who enrolled in two different CHMI clinical trials. Blood samples were tested for Plasmodium falciparum 18S rRNA and/or rDNA targets by different NAT methods and results were compared. Methods included an ultrasensitive, large volume modification of an established quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) assay that achieves detection of as little as one parasite/mL of whole blood. RESULTS: Large volume qRT-PCR at the University of Washington was the most sensitive test and generated quantifiable data more often than any other NAT methodology. Standard quantitative PCR (qPCR) performed at the University of Oxford and standard volume qRT-PCR performed at the University of Washington were less sensitive than the large volume qRT-PCR, especially at 6.5 days after CHMI. In these trials, the proportion of participants for whom LBI could be accurately quantified using parasite density value greater than or equal to the lower limit of quantification was increased. A greater improvement would be expected in trials in which numerous subjects receive a lower LBI or low dose challenge. CONCLUSIONS: Standard qPCR and qRT-PCR methods with analytical sensitivities of ~20 parasites/mL probably suffice for most CHMI purposes, but the newly developed large volume qRT-PCR may be able to answer specific questions when more analytical sensitivity is required.

Douglas AD, Baldeviano GC, Lucas CM, Lugo-Roman LA, Crosnier C, Bartholdson SJ, Diouf A, Miura K, Lambert LE, Ventocilla JA et al. 2015. A PfRH5-based vaccine is efficacious against heterologous strain blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum infection in aotus monkeys. Cell Host Microbe, 17 (1), pp. 130-139. | Show Abstract | Read more

Antigenic diversity has posed a critical barrier to vaccine development against the pathogenic blood-stage infection of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. To date, only strain-specific protection has been reported by trials of such vaccines in nonhuman primates. We recently showed that P. falciparum reticulocyte binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5), a merozoite adhesin required for erythrocyte invasion, is highly susceptible to vaccine-inducible strain-transcending parasite-neutralizing antibody. In vivo efficacy of PfRH5-based vaccines has not previously been evaluated. Here, we demonstrate that PfRH5-based vaccines can protect Aotus monkeys against a virulent vaccine-heterologous P. falciparum challenge and show that such protection can be achieved by a human-compatible vaccine formulation. Protection was associated with anti-PfRH5 antibody concentration and in vitro parasite-neutralizing activity, supporting the use of this in vitro assay to predict the in vivo efficacy of future vaccine candidates. These data suggest that PfRH5-based vaccines have potential to achieve strain-transcending efficacy in humans.

de Cassan SC, Shakri AR, Llewellyn D, Elias SC, Cho JS, Goodman AL, Jin J, Douglas AD, Suwanarusk R, Nosten FH et al. 2015. Preclinical Assessment of Viral Vectored and Protein Vaccines Targeting the Duffy-Binding Protein Region II of Plasmodium Vivax. Front Immunol, 6 (JUN), pp. 348. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria vaccine development has largely focused on Plasmodium falciparum; however, a reawakening to the importance of Plasmodium vivax has spurred efforts to develop vaccines against this difficult to treat and at times severe form of relapsing malaria, which constitutes a significant proportion of human malaria cases worldwide. The almost complete dependence of P. vivax red blood cell invasion on the interaction of the P. vivax Duffy-binding protein region II (PvDBP_RII) with the human Duffy antigen receptor for chemokines (DARC) makes this antigen an attractive vaccine candidate against blood-stage P. vivax. Here, we generated both preclinical and clinically compatible adenoviral and poxviral vectored vaccine candidates expressing the Salvador I allele of PvDBP_RII - including human adenovirus serotype 5 (HAdV5), chimpanzee adenovirus serotype 63 (ChAd63), and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vectors. We report on the antibody and T cell immunogenicity of these vaccines in mice or rabbits, either used alone in a viral vectored prime-boost regime or in "mixed-modality" adenovirus prime - protein-in--adjuvant boost regimes (using a recombinant PvDBP_RII protein antigen formulated in Montanide(®)ISA720 or Abisco(®)100 adjuvants). Antibodies induced by these regimes were found to bind to native parasite antigen from P. vivax infected Thai patients and were capable of inhibiting the binding of PvDBP_RII to its receptor DARC using an in vitro binding inhibition assay. In recent years, recombinant ChAd63 and MVA vectors have been quickly translated into human clinical trials for numerous antigens from P. falciparum as well as a growing number of other pathogens. The vectors reported here are immunogenic in small animals, elicit antibodies against PvDBP_RII, and have recently entered clinical trials, which will provide the first assessment of the safety and immunogenicity of the PvDBP_RII antigen in humans.

Hodgson SH, Choudhary P, Elias SC, Milne KH, Rampling TW, Biswas S, Poulton ID, Miura K, Douglas AD, Alanine DG et al. 2014. Combining viral vectored and protein-in-adjuvant vaccines against the blood-stage malaria antigen AMA1: report on a phase 1a clinical trial. Mol Ther, 22 (12), pp. 2142-2154. | Show Abstract | Read more

The development of effective vaccines against difficult disease targets will require the identification of new subunit vaccination strategies that can induce and maintain effective immune responses in humans. Here we report on a phase 1a clinical trial using the AMA1 antigen from the blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite delivered either as recombinant protein formulated with Alhydrogel adjuvant with and without CPG 7909, or using recombinant vectored vaccines--chimpanzee adenovirus ChAd63 and the orthopoxvirus MVA. A variety of promising "mixed-modality" regimens were tested. All volunteers were primed with ChAd63, and then subsequently boosted with MVA and/or protein-in-adjuvant using either an 8- or 16-week prime-boost interval. We report on the safety of these regimens, as well as the T cell, B cell, and serum antibody responses. Notably, IgG antibody responses primed by ChAd63 were comparably boosted by AMA1 protein vaccine, irrespective of whether CPG 7909 was included in the Alhydrogel adjuvant. The ability to improve the potency of a relatively weak aluminium-based adjuvant in humans, by previously priming with an adenoviral vaccine vector encoding the same antigen, thus offers a novel vaccination strategy for difficult or neglected disease targets when access to more potent adjuvants is not possible.

Wright KE, Hjerrild KA, Bartlett J, Douglas AD, Jin J, Brown RE, Illingworth JJ, Ashfield R, Clemmensen SB, de Jongh WA et al. 2014. Structure of malaria invasion protein RH5 with erythrocyte basigin and blocking antibodies. Nature, 515 (7527), pp. 427-430. | Show Abstract | Read more

Invasion of host erythrocytes is essential to the life cycle of Plasmodium parasites and development of the pathology of malaria. The stages of erythrocyte invasion, including initial contact, apical reorientation, junction formation, and active invagination, are directed by coordinated release of specialized apical organelles and their parasite protein contents. Among these proteins, and central to invasion by all species, are two parasite protein families, the reticulocyte-binding protein homologue (RH) and erythrocyte-binding like proteins, which mediate host-parasite interactions. RH5 from Plasmodium falciparum (PfRH5) is the only member of either family demonstrated to be necessary for erythrocyte invasion in all tested strains, through its interaction with the erythrocyte surface protein basigin (also known as CD147 and EMMPRIN). Antibodies targeting PfRH5 or basigin efficiently block parasite invasion in vitro, making PfRH5 an excellent vaccine candidate. Here we present crystal structures of PfRH5 in complex with basigin and two distinct inhibitory antibodies. PfRH5 adopts a novel fold in which two three-helical bundles come together in a kite-like architecture, presenting binding sites for basigin and inhibitory antibodies at one tip. This provides the first structural insight into erythrocyte binding by the Plasmodium RH protein family and identifies novel inhibitory epitopes to guide design of a new generation of vaccines against the blood-stage parasite.

Murphy SC, Hermsen CC, Douglas AD, Edwards NJ, Petersen I, Fahle GA, Adams M, Berry AA, Billman ZP, Gilbert SC et al. 2014. External quality assurance of malaria nucleic acid testing for clinical trials and eradication surveillance. PLoS One, 9 (5), pp. e97398. | Show Abstract | Read more

Nucleic acid testing (NAT) for malaria parasites is an increasingly recommended diagnostic endpoint in clinical trials of vaccine and drug candidates and is also important in surveillance of malaria control and elimination efforts. A variety of reported NAT assays have been described, yet no formal external quality assurance (EQA) program provides validation for the assays in use. Here, we report results of an EQA exercise for malaria NAT assays. Among five centers conducting controlled human malaria infection trials, all centers achieved 100% specificity and demonstrated limits of detection consistent with each laboratory's pre-stated expectations. Quantitative bias of reported results compared to expected results was generally <0.5 log10 parasites/mL except for one laboratory where the EQA effort identified likely reasons for a general quantitative shift. The within-laboratory variation for all assays was low at <10% coefficient of variation across a range of parasite densities. Based on this study, we propose to create a Molecular Malaria Quality Assessment program that fulfills the need for EQA of malaria NAT assays worldwide.

Douglas AD, Williams AR, Knuepfer E, Illingworth JJ, Furze JM, Crosnier C, Choudhary P, Bustamante LY, Zakutansky SE, Awuah DK et al. 2014. Neutralization of Plasmodium falciparum merozoites by antibodies against PfRH5. J Immunol, 192 (1), pp. 245-258. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is intense interest in induction and characterization of strain-transcending neutralizing Ab against antigenically variable human pathogens. We have recently identified the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5) as a target of broadly neutralizing Abs, but there is little information regarding the functional mechanism(s) of Ab-mediated neutralization. In this study, we report that vaccine-induced polyclonal anti-PfRH5 Abs inhibit the tight attachment of merozoites to erythrocytes and are capable of blocking the interaction of PfRH5 with its receptor basigin. Furthermore, by developing anti-PfRH5 mAbs, we provide evidence of the following: 1) the ability to block the PfRH5-basigin interaction in vitro is predictive of functional activity, but absence of blockade does not predict absence of functional activity; 2) neutralizing mAbs bind spatially related epitopes on the folded protein, involving at least two defined regions of the PfRH5 primary sequence; 3) a brief exposure window of PfRH5 is likely to necessitate rapid binding of Ab to neutralize parasites; and 4) intact bivalent IgG contributes to but is not necessary for parasite neutralization. These data provide important insight into the mechanisms of broadly neutralizing anti-malaria Abs and further encourage anti-PfRH5-based malaria prevention efforts.

Llewellyn D, de Cassan SC, Williams AR, Douglas AD, Forbes EK, Adame-Gallegos JR, Shi J, Pleass RJ, Draper SJ. 2014. Assessment of antibody-dependent respiratory burst activity from mouse neutrophils on Plasmodium yoelii malaria challenge outcome. J Leukoc Biol, 95 (2), pp. 369-382. | Show Abstract | Read more

New tools are required to expedite the development of an effective vaccine against the blood-stage infection with the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. This work describes the assessment of the ADRB assay in a mouse model, characterizing the functional interaction between antimalarial serum antibodies and FcRs upon neutrophils. We describe a reproducible, antigen-specific assay, dependent on functional FcR signaling, and show that ADRB activity is induced equally by IgG1 and IgG2a isotypes and is modulated by blocking FcR function. However, following immunization of mice with the blood-stage vaccine candidate antigen MSP142, no measurable ADRB activity was induced against PEMS and neither was vaccine efficacy modulated against Plasmodium yoelii blood-stage challenge in γ(-/-) mice compared with WT mice. In contrast, following a primary, nonlethal P. yoelii parasite challenge, serum from vaccinated mice and nonimmunized controls showed anti-PEMS ADRB activity. Upon secondary challenge, nonimmunized γ(-/-) mice showed a reduced ability to control blood-stage parasitemia compared with immunized γ(-/-) mice; however, WT mice, depleted of their neutrophils, did not lose their ability to control infection. Thus, whereas neutrophil-induced ADRB against PEMS does not appear to play a role in protection against P. yoelii rodent malaria, induction of ADRB activity after challenge suggests that antigen targets of anti-PEMS ADRB activity remain to be established, as well as further supporting the observation that ADRB activity to P. falciparum arises following repeated natural exposure.

Douglas AD, Williams AR, Illingworth JJ, Kamuyu G, Biswas S, Goodman AL, Wyllie DH, Crosnier C, Miura K, Wright GJ et al. 2013. Erratum: Corrigendum: The blood-stage malaria antigen PfRH5 is susceptible to vaccine-inducible cross-strain neutralizing antibody Nature Communications, 4 (1), | Read more

Sheehy SH, Spencer AJ, Douglas AD, Sim BKL, Longley RJ, Edwards NJ, Poulton ID, Kimani D, Williams AR, Anagnostou NA et al. 2013. Optimising Controlled Human Malaria Infection Studies Using Cryopreserved P. falciparum Parasites Administered by Needle and Syringe. PLoS One, 8 (6), pp. e65960. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) studies have become a routine tool to evaluate efficacy of candidate anti-malarial drugs and vaccines. To date, CHMI trials have mostly been conducted using the bite of infected mosquitoes, restricting the number of trial sites that can perform CHMI studies. Aseptic, cryopreserved P. falciparum sporozoites (PfSPZ Challenge) provide a potentially more accurate, reproducible and practical alternative, allowing a known number of sporozoites to be administered simply by injection. METHODOLOGY: We sought to assess the infectivity of PfSPZ Challenge administered in different dosing regimens to malaria-naive healthy adults (n = 18). Six participants received 2,500 sporozoites intradermally (ID), six received 2,500 sporozoites intramuscularly (IM) and six received 25,000 sporozoites IM. FINDINGS: Five out of six participants receiving 2,500 sporozoites ID, 3/6 participants receiving 2,500 sporozoites IM and 6/6 participants receiving 25,000 sporozoites IM were successfully infected. The median time to diagnosis was 13.2, 17.8 and 12.7 days for 2,500 sporozoites ID, 2,500 sporozoites IM and 25,000 sporozoites IM respectively (Kaplan Meier method; p = 0.024 log rank test). CONCLUSIONS: 2,500 sporozoites ID and 25,000 sporozoites IM have similar infectivities. Given the dose response in infectivity seen with IM administration, further work should evaluate increasing doses of PfSPZ Challenge IM to identify a dosing regimen that reliably infects 100% of participants. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01465048.

Sheehy SH, Douglas AD, Draper SJ. 2013. Challenges of assessing the clinical efficacy of asexual blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum malaria vaccines. Hum Vaccin Immunother, 9 (9), pp. 1831-1840. | Show Abstract | Read more

In the absence of any highly effective vaccine candidate against Plasmodium falciparum malaria, it remains imperative for the field to pursue all avenues that may lead to the successful development of such a formulation. The development of a subunit vaccine targeting the asexual blood-stage of Plasmodium falciparum malaria infection has proven particularly challenging with only limited success to date in clinical trials. However, only a fraction of potential blood-stage vaccine antigens have been evaluated as targets, and a number of new promising candidate antigen formulations and delivery platforms are approaching clinical development. It is therefore essential that reliable and sensitive methods of detecting, or ruling out, even modest efficacy of blood-stage vaccines in small clinical trials be established. In this article we evaluate the challenges facing blood-stage vaccine developers, assess the appropriateness and limitations of various in vivo approaches for efficacy assessment and suggest future directions for the field.

Goodman AL, Forbes EK, Williams AR, Douglas AD, de Cassan SC, Bauza K, Biswas S, Dicks MDJ, Llewellyn D, Moore AC et al. 2013. The utility of Plasmodium berghei as a rodent model for anti-merozoite malaria vaccine assessment. Sci Rep, 3 (1), pp. 1706. | Show Abstract | Read more

Rodent malaria species Plasmodium yoelii and P. chabaudi have been widely used to validate vaccine approaches targeting blood-stage merozoite antigens. However, increasing data suggest the P. berghei rodent malaria may be able to circumvent vaccine-induced anti-merozoite responses. Here we confirm a failure to protect against P. berghei, despite successful antibody induction against leading merozoite antigens using protein-in-adjuvant or viral vectored vaccine delivery. No subunit vaccine approach showed efficacy in mice following immunization and challenge with the wild-type P. berghei strains ANKA or NK65, or against a chimeric parasite line encoding a merozoite antigen from P. falciparum. Protection was not improved in knockout mice lacking the inhibitory Fc receptor CD32b, nor against a Δsmac P. berghei parasite line with a non-sequestering phenotype. An improved understanding of the mechanisms responsible for protection, or failure of protection, against P. berghei merozoites could guide the development of an efficacious vaccine against P. falciparum.

Douglas AD, Edwards NJ, Duncan CJA, Thompson FM, Sheehy SH, O'Hara GA, Anagnostou N, Walther M, Webster DP, Dunachie SJ et al. 2013. Comparison of modeling methods to determine liver-to-blood inocula and parasite multiplication rates during controlled human malaria infection. J Infect Dis, 208 (2), pp. 340-345. | Show Abstract | Read more

Controlled human malaria infection is used to measure efficacy of candidate malaria vaccines before field studies are undertaken. Mathematical modeling using data from quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) parasitemia monitoring can discriminate between vaccine effects on the parasite's liver and blood stages. Uncertainty regarding the most appropriate modeling method hinders interpretation of such trials. We used qPCR data from 267 Plasmodium falciparum infections to compare linear, sine-wave, and normal-cumulative-density-function models. We find that the parameters estimated by these models are closely correlated, and their predictive accuracy for omitted data points was similar. We propose that future studies include the linear model.

Williams AR, Douglas AD, Miura K, Illingworth JJ, Choudhary P, Murungi LM, Furze JM, Diouf A, Miotto O, Crosnier C et al. 2012. Enhancing blockade of Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte invasion: assessing combinations of antibodies against PfRH5 and other merozoite antigens. PLoS Pathog, 8 (11), pp. e1002991. | Show Abstract | Read more

No vaccine has yet proven effective against the blood-stages of Plasmodium falciparum, which cause the symptoms and severe manifestations of malaria. We recently found that PfRH5, a P. falciparum-specific protein expressed in merozoites, is efficiently targeted by broadly-neutralizing, vaccine-induced antibodies. Here we show that antibodies against PfRH5 efficiently inhibit the in vitro growth of short-term-adapted parasite isolates from Cambodia, and that the EC(50) values of antigen-specific antibodies against PfRH5 are lower than those against PfAMA1. Since antibody responses elicited by multiple antigens are speculated to improve the efficacy of blood-stage vaccines, we conducted detailed assessments of parasite growth inhibition by antibodies against PfRH5 in combination with antibodies against seven other merozoite antigens. We found that antibodies against PfRH5 act synergistically with antibodies against certain other merozoite antigens, most notably with antibodies against other erythrocyte-binding antigens such as PfRH4, to inhibit the growth of a homologous P. falciparum clone. A combination of antibodies against PfRH4 and basigin, the erythrocyte receptor for PfRH5, also potently inhibited parasite growth. This methodology provides the first quantitative evidence that polyclonal vaccine-induced antibodies can act synergistically against P. falciparum antigens and should help to guide the rational development of future multi-antigen vaccines.

Sheehy SH, Duncan CJA, Elias SC, Choudhary P, Biswas S, Halstead FD, Collins KA, Edwards NJ, Douglas AD, Anagnostou NA et al. 2012. ChAd63-MVA-vectored blood-stage malaria vaccines targeting MSP1 and AMA1: assessment of efficacy against mosquito bite challenge in humans. Mol Ther, 20 (12), pp. 2355-2368. | Show Abstract | Read more

The induction of cellular immunity, in conjunction with antibodies, may be essential for vaccines to protect against blood-stage infection with the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. We have shown that prime-boost delivery of P. falciparum blood-stage antigens by chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (ChAd63) followed by the attenuated orthopoxvirus MVA is safe and immunogenic in healthy adults. Here, we report on vaccine efficacy against controlled human malaria infection delivered by mosquito bites. The blood-stage malaria vaccines were administered alone, or together (MSP1+AMA1), or with a pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine candidate (MSP1+ME-TRAP). In this first human use of coadministered ChAd63-MVA regimes, we demonstrate immune interference whereby responses against merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1) are dominant over apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) and ME-TRAP. We also show that induction of strong cellular immunity against MSP1 and AMA1 is safe, but does not impact on parasite growth rates in the blood. In a subset of vaccinated volunteers, a delay in time to diagnosis was observed and sterilizing protection was observed in one volunteer coimmunized with MSP1+AMA1-results consistent with vaccine-induced pre-erythrocytic, rather than blood-stage, immunity. These data call into question the utility of T cell-inducing blood-stage malaria vaccines and suggest that the focus should remain on high-titer antibody induction against susceptible antigen targets.

Cited:

112

Scopus

Sheehy SH, Duncan CJ, Elias SC, Choudhary P, Biswas S, Halstead FD, Collins KA, Edwards NJ, Douglas AD, Anagnostou NA et al. 2012. ChAd63-MVA-vectored blood-stage Malaria vaccines targeting MSP1 and AMA1: Assessment of efficacy against mosquito bite challenge in humans Molecular Therapy, 20 (12), pp. 2355-2368. | Show Abstract | Read more

The induction of cellular immunity, in conjunction with antibodies, may be essential for vaccines to protect against blood-stage infection with the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. We have shown that prime-boost delivery of P. falciparum blood-stage antigens by chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (ChAd63) followed by the attenuated orthopoxvirus MVA is safe and immunogenic in healthy adults. Here, we report on vaccine efficacy against controlled human malaria infection delivered by mosquito bites. The blood-stage malaria vaccines were administered alone, or together (MSP1AMA1), or with a pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine candidate (MSP1ME-TRAP). In this first human use of coadministered ChAd63-MVA regimes, we demonstrate immune interference whereby responses against merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1) are dominant over apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) and ME-TRAP. We also show that induction of strong cellular immunity against MSP1 and AMA1 is safe, but does not impact on parasite growth rates in the blood. In a subset of vaccinated volunteers, a delay in time to diagnosis was observed and sterilizing protection was observed in one volunteer coimmunized with MSP1AMA1 - results consistent with vaccine-induced pre-erythrocytic, rather than blood-stage, immunity. These data call into question the utility of T cell-inducing blood-stage malaria vaccines and suggest that the focus should remain on high-titer antibody induction against susceptible antigen targets. © The American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy.

de Cassan SC, Forbes EK, Douglas AD, Milicic A, Singh B, Gupta P, Chauhan VS, Chitnis CE, Gilbert SC, Hill AVS, Draper SJ. 2011. The requirement for potent adjuvants to enhance the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of protein vaccines can be overcome by prior immunization with a recombinant adenovirus. J Immunol, 187 (5), pp. 2602-2616. | Show Abstract | Read more

A central goal in vaccinology is the induction of high and sustained Ab responses. Protein-in-adjuvant formulations are commonly used to achieve such responses. However, their clinical development can be limited by the reactogenicity of some of the most potent preclinical adjuvants and the cost and complexity of licensing new adjuvants for human use. Also, few adjuvants induce strong cellular immunity, which is important for protection against many diseases, such as malaria. We compared classical adjuvants such as aluminum hydroxide to new preclinical adjuvants and adjuvants in clinical development, such as Abisco 100, CoVaccine HT, Montanide ISA720, and stable emulsion-glucopyranosyl lipid A, for their ability to induce high and sustained Ab responses and T cell responses. These adjuvants induced a broad range of Ab responses when used in a three-shot protein-in-adjuvant regimen using the model Ag OVA and leading blood-stage malaria vaccine candidate Ags. Surprisingly, this range of Ab immunogenicity was greatly reduced when a protein-in-adjuvant vaccine was used to boost Ab responses primed by a human adenovirus serotype 5 vaccine recombinant for the same Ag. This human adenovirus serotype 5-protein regimen also induced a more cytophilic Ab response and demonstrated improved efficacy of merozoite surface protein-1 protein vaccines against a Plasmodium yoelii blood-stage challenge. This indicates that the differential immunogenicity of protein vaccine adjuvants may be largely overcome by prior immunization with recombinant adenovirus, especially for adjuvants that are traditionally considered poorly immunogenic in the context of subunit vaccination and may circumvent the need for more potent chemical adjuvants.

Douglas AD, Andrews L, Draper SJ, Bojang K, Milligan P, Gilbert SC, Imoukhuede EB, Hill AVS. 2011. Substantially reduced pre-patent parasite multiplication rates are associated with naturally acquired immunity to Plasmodium falciparum. J Infect Dis, 203 (9), pp. 1337-1340. | Show Abstract | Read more

Naturally acquired immunity to Plasmodium falciparum's asexual blood stage reduces parasite multiplication at microscopically detectable densities. The effect of natural immunity on initial prepatent parasite multiplication during the period following a new infection has been uncertain, contributing to doubt regarding the utility of experimental challenge models for blood-stage vaccine trials. Here we present data revealing that parasite multiplication rates during the initial prepatent period in semi-immune Gambian adults are substantially lower than in malaria-naive participants. This supports the view that a blood-stage vaccine capable of emulating the disease-reducing effect of natural immunity could achieve a detectable effect during the prepatent period.

Douglas AD, Williams AR, Illingworth JJ, Kamuyu G, Biswas S, Goodman AL, Wyllie DH, Crosnier C, Miura K, Wright GJ et al. 2011. The blood-stage malaria antigen PfRH5 is susceptible to vaccine-inducible cross-strain neutralizing antibody. Nat Commun, 2 (1), pp. 601. | Show Abstract | Read more

Current vaccine strategies against the asexual blood stage of Plasmodium falciparum are mostly focused on well-studied merozoite antigens that induce immune responses after natural exposure, but have yet to induce robust protection in any clinical trial. Here we compare human-compatible viral-vectored vaccines targeting ten different blood-stage antigens. We show that the full-length P. falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homologue 5 (PfRH5) is highly susceptible to cross-strain neutralizing vaccine-induced antibodies, out-performing all other antigens delivered by the same vaccine platform. We find that, despite being susceptible to antibody, PfRH5 is unlikely to be under substantial immune selection pressure; there is minimal acquisition of anti-PfRH5 IgG antibodies in malaria-exposed Kenyans. These data challenge the widespread beliefs that any merozoite antigen that is highly susceptible to immune attack would be subject to significant levels of antigenic polymorphism, and that erythrocyte invasion by P. falciparum is a degenerate process involving a series of parallel redundant pathways.

Duncan CJA, Sheehy SH, Ewer KJ, Douglas AD, Collins KA, Halstead FD, Elias SC, Lillie PJ, Rausch K, Aebig J et al. 2011. Impact on malaria parasite multiplication rates in infected volunteers of the protein-in-adjuvant vaccine AMA1-C1/Alhydrogel+CPG 7909. PLoS One, 6 (7), pp. e22271. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Inhibition of parasite growth is a major objective of blood-stage malaria vaccines. The in vitro assay of parasite growth inhibitory activity (GIA) is widely used as a surrogate marker for malaria vaccine efficacy in the down-selection of candidate blood-stage vaccines. Here we report the first study to examine the relationship between in vivo Plasmodium falciparum growth rates and in vitro GIA in humans experimentally infected with blood-stage malaria. METHODS: In this phase I/IIa open-label clinical trial five healthy malaria-naive volunteers were immunised with AMA1/C1-Alhydrogel+CPG 7909, and together with three unvaccinated controls were challenged by intravenous inoculation of P. falciparum infected erythrocytes. RESULTS: A significant correlation was observed between parasite multiplication rate in 48 hours (PMR) and both vaccine-induced growth-inhibitory activity (Pearson r = -0.93 [95% CI: -1.0, -0.27] P = 0.02) and AMA1 antibody titres in the vaccine group (Pearson r = -0.93 [95% CI: -0.99, -0.25] P = 0.02). However immunisation failed to reduce overall mean PMR in the vaccine group in comparison to the controls (vaccinee 16 fold [95% CI: 12, 22], control 17 fold [CI: 0, 65] P = 0.70). Therefore no impact on pre-patent period was observed (vaccine group median 8.5 days [range 7.5-9], control group median 9 days [range 7-9]). CONCLUSIONS: Despite the first observation in human experimental malaria infection of a significant association between vaccine-induced in vitro growth inhibitory activity and in vivo parasite multiplication rate, this did not translate into any observable clinically relevant vaccine effect in this small group of volunteers. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov [NCT00984763].

Douglas AD, de Cassan SC, Dicks MDJ, Gilbert SC, Hill AVS, Draper SJ. 2010. Tailoring subunit vaccine immunogenicity: maximizing antibody and T cell responses by using combinations of adenovirus, poxvirus and protein-adjuvant vaccines against Plasmodium falciparum MSP1. Vaccine, 28 (44), pp. 7167-7178. | Show Abstract | Read more

Subunit vaccination modalities tend to induce particular immune effector responses. Viral vectors are well known for their ability to induce strong T cell responses, while protein-adjuvant vaccines have been used primarily for induction of antibody responses. Here, we demonstrate in mice using a Plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein 1 (PfMSP1) antigen that novel regimes combining adenovirus and poxvirus vectored vaccines with protein antigen in Montanide ISA720 adjuvant can achieve simultaneous antibody and T cell responses which equal, or in some cases surpass, the best immune responses achieved by either the viral vectors or the protein vaccine alone. Such broad responses can be achieved either using three-stage vaccination protocols, or with an equally effective two-stage protocol in which viral vectors are admixed with protein and adjuvant, and were apparent despite the use of a protein antigen that represented only a portion of the viral vector antigen. We describe further possible advantages of viral vectors in achieving consistent antibody priming, enhanced antibody avidity, and cytophilic isotype skew. These data strengthen the evidence that tailored combinations of vaccine platforms can achieve desired combinations of immune responses, and further encourage the co-administration of antibody-inducing recombinant protein vaccines with T cell- and antibody-inducing recombinant viral vectors as one strategy that may achieve protective blood-stage malaria immunity in humans.

Neequaye SK, Douglas AD, Hofman D, Wolz M, Sharma R, Cummings R, Hands L. 2009. The difficult venous ulcer: case series of 177 ulcers referred for vascular surgical opinion following failure of conservative management. Angiology, 60 (4), pp. 492-495. | Show Abstract | Read more

Venous leg ulcers are common, chronic, debilitating, and expensive. Evidence supports use of compression bandaging, with superficial venous surgery in selected cases, but these interventions frequently fail to achieve healing. We describe a series of 152 consecutive referrals from a nurse-led specialist dermatology clinic to a vascular surgical service; a group posing particularly challenging problems. This observational study, with median follow-up of 18 months, describes outcomes in a number of important clinically identifiable subgroups. Its findings may assist service planning and discussion of the surgical role within multidisciplinary ulcer management.

Douglas AD, Jefferis J, Sharma R, Parker R, Handa A, Chantler J. 2009. Evaluation of point-of-care activated partial thromboplastin time testing by comparison to laboratory-based assay for control of intravenous heparin. Angiology, 60 (3), pp. 358-361. | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Patients on intravenous heparin require regular activated partial thromboplastin time monitoring. Laboratory-based activated partial thromboplastin time assays necessitate a delay between blood sampling and dose adjustment. Point-of-care testing could permit immediate dose adjustments, potentially enabling tighter control of anticoagulation. AIM: To assess equivalence of activated partial thromboplastin time measured by conventional laboratory assay and by a novel proprietary point-of-care testing system (Hemochron Response, ITC, Thoratec Corporation, Edison, NJ) among surgical ward patients on intravenous heparin. METHODS: A total of 39 blood samples from patients on intravenous heparin were tested with both laboratory and point-of-care assays. Assay equivalence was assessed by Bland-Altman analysis. Results. Point-of-care measurements exceeded laboratory activated partial thromboplastin time by a mean of 15 seconds (standard deviation 19). In 19 cases (49%), the point-of-care measurement would have resulted in different heparin dosing from the laboratory activated partial thromboplastin time. CONCLUSIONS: The Hemochron Response system is not sufficiently accurate for routine ward use compared with laboratory activated partial thromboplastin time assays.

Sanderson F, Andrews L, Douglas AD, Hunt-Cooke A, Bejon P, Hill AVS. 2008. Blood-stage challenge for malaria vaccine efficacy trials: a pilot study with discussion of safety and potential value. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 78 (6), pp. 878-883. | Show Abstract

There is increasing interest in malaria vaccines targeting the asexual blood stage of Plasmodium falciparum. Without accepted immunologic correlates of clinical protection, challenge studies are useful for assessing the efficacy of candidate vaccines in vivo in healthy volunteers. We report a pilot study of a safe and robust challenge protocol using a blood-stage inoculum. We have applied well-validated trial endpoints and twice daily real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction monitoring of parasitemia to blood-stage challenge, which enabled direct comparison with sporozoite challenge. We found that greater accuracy in quantification of blood-stage growth rates can be achieved with blood-stage challenge. This finding may provide greater power to detect partial efficacy of many blood-stage candidate vaccines. We discuss the potential utility of blood-stage challenge studies in accelerating malaria vaccine development.

Wang C, Hart M, Chui C, Ajuogu A, Brian IJ, de Cassan SC, Borrow P, Draper SJ, Douglas AD. 2016. Germinal Center B Cell and T Follicular Helper Cell Responses to Viral Vector and Protein-in-Adjuvant Vaccines. J Immunol, 197 (4), pp. 1242-1251. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is great interest in the development of Ab-inducing subunit vaccines targeting infections, including HIV, malaria, and Ebola. We previously reported that adenovirus vectored vaccines are potent in priming Ab responses, but uncertainty remains regarding the optimal approach for induction of humoral immune responses. In this study, using OVA as a model Ag, we assessed the magnitude of the primary and anamnestic Ag-specific IgG responses of mice to four clinically relevant vaccine formulations: replication-deficient adenovirus; modified vaccinia Ankara (a poxvirus); protein with alum; and protein in the squalene oil-in-water adjuvant Addavax. We then used flow cytometric assays capable of measuring total and Ag-specific germinal center (GC) B cell and follicular Th cell responses to compare the induction of these responses by the different formulations. We report that adenovirus vectored vaccines induce Ag insert-specific GC B cell and Ab responses of a magnitude comparable to those induced by a potent protein/squalene oil-in-water formulation whereas-despite a robust overall GC response-the insert-specific GC B cell and Ab responses induced by modified vaccinia Ankara were extremely weak. Ag-specific follicular Th cell responses to adenovirus vectored vaccines exceeded those induced by other platforms at day 7 after immunization. We found little evidence that innate immune activation by adenovirus may act as an adjuvant in such a manner that the humoral response to a recombinant protein may be enhanced by coadministering with an adenovirus lacking a transgene of interest. Overall, these studies provide further support for the use of replication-deficient adenoviruses to induce humoral responses.

Douglas AD, Baldeviano GC, Lucas CM, Lugo-Roman LA, Crosnier C, Bartholdson SJ, Diouf A, Miura K, Lambert LE, Ventocilla JA et al. 2015. A PfRH5-based vaccine is efficacious against heterologous strain blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum infection in aotus monkeys. Cell Host Microbe, 17 (1), pp. 130-139. | Show Abstract | Read more

Antigenic diversity has posed a critical barrier to vaccine development against the pathogenic blood-stage infection of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. To date, only strain-specific protection has been reported by trials of such vaccines in nonhuman primates. We recently showed that P. falciparum reticulocyte binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5), a merozoite adhesin required for erythrocyte invasion, is highly susceptible to vaccine-inducible strain-transcending parasite-neutralizing antibody. In vivo efficacy of PfRH5-based vaccines has not previously been evaluated. Here, we demonstrate that PfRH5-based vaccines can protect Aotus monkeys against a virulent vaccine-heterologous P. falciparum challenge and show that such protection can be achieved by a human-compatible vaccine formulation. Protection was associated with anti-PfRH5 antibody concentration and in vitro parasite-neutralizing activity, supporting the use of this in vitro assay to predict the in vivo efficacy of future vaccine candidates. These data suggest that PfRH5-based vaccines have potential to achieve strain-transcending efficacy in humans.

Wright KE, Hjerrild KA, Bartlett J, Douglas AD, Jin J, Brown RE, Illingworth JJ, Ashfield R, Clemmensen SB, de Jongh WA et al. 2014. Structure of malaria invasion protein RH5 with erythrocyte basigin and blocking antibodies. Nature, 515 (7527), pp. 427-430. | Show Abstract | Read more

Invasion of host erythrocytes is essential to the life cycle of Plasmodium parasites and development of the pathology of malaria. The stages of erythrocyte invasion, including initial contact, apical reorientation, junction formation, and active invagination, are directed by coordinated release of specialized apical organelles and their parasite protein contents. Among these proteins, and central to invasion by all species, are two parasite protein families, the reticulocyte-binding protein homologue (RH) and erythrocyte-binding like proteins, which mediate host-parasite interactions. RH5 from Plasmodium falciparum (PfRH5) is the only member of either family demonstrated to be necessary for erythrocyte invasion in all tested strains, through its interaction with the erythrocyte surface protein basigin (also known as CD147 and EMMPRIN). Antibodies targeting PfRH5 or basigin efficiently block parasite invasion in vitro, making PfRH5 an excellent vaccine candidate. Here we present crystal structures of PfRH5 in complex with basigin and two distinct inhibitory antibodies. PfRH5 adopts a novel fold in which two three-helical bundles come together in a kite-like architecture, presenting binding sites for basigin and inhibitory antibodies at one tip. This provides the first structural insight into erythrocyte binding by the Plasmodium RH protein family and identifies novel inhibitory epitopes to guide design of a new generation of vaccines against the blood-stage parasite.

Douglas AD, Williams AR, Knuepfer E, Illingworth JJ, Furze JM, Crosnier C, Choudhary P, Bustamante LY, Zakutansky SE, Awuah DK et al. 2014. Neutralization of Plasmodium falciparum merozoites by antibodies against PfRH5. J Immunol, 192 (1), pp. 245-258. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is intense interest in induction and characterization of strain-transcending neutralizing Ab against antigenically variable human pathogens. We have recently identified the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5) as a target of broadly neutralizing Abs, but there is little information regarding the functional mechanism(s) of Ab-mediated neutralization. In this study, we report that vaccine-induced polyclonal anti-PfRH5 Abs inhibit the tight attachment of merozoites to erythrocytes and are capable of blocking the interaction of PfRH5 with its receptor basigin. Furthermore, by developing anti-PfRH5 mAbs, we provide evidence of the following: 1) the ability to block the PfRH5-basigin interaction in vitro is predictive of functional activity, but absence of blockade does not predict absence of functional activity; 2) neutralizing mAbs bind spatially related epitopes on the folded protein, involving at least two defined regions of the PfRH5 primary sequence; 3) a brief exposure window of PfRH5 is likely to necessitate rapid binding of Ab to neutralize parasites; and 4) intact bivalent IgG contributes to but is not necessary for parasite neutralization. These data provide important insight into the mechanisms of broadly neutralizing anti-malaria Abs and further encourage anti-PfRH5-based malaria prevention efforts.

Douglas AD, Edwards NJ, Duncan CJA, Thompson FM, Sheehy SH, O'Hara GA, Anagnostou N, Walther M, Webster DP, Dunachie SJ et al. 2013. Comparison of modeling methods to determine liver-to-blood inocula and parasite multiplication rates during controlled human malaria infection. J Infect Dis, 208 (2), pp. 340-345. | Show Abstract | Read more

Controlled human malaria infection is used to measure efficacy of candidate malaria vaccines before field studies are undertaken. Mathematical modeling using data from quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) parasitemia monitoring can discriminate between vaccine effects on the parasite's liver and blood stages. Uncertainty regarding the most appropriate modeling method hinders interpretation of such trials. We used qPCR data from 267 Plasmodium falciparum infections to compare linear, sine-wave, and normal-cumulative-density-function models. We find that the parameters estimated by these models are closely correlated, and their predictive accuracy for omitted data points was similar. We propose that future studies include the linear model.

Williams AR, Douglas AD, Miura K, Illingworth JJ, Choudhary P, Murungi LM, Furze JM, Diouf A, Miotto O, Crosnier C et al. 2012. Enhancing blockade of Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte invasion: assessing combinations of antibodies against PfRH5 and other merozoite antigens. PLoS Pathog, 8 (11), pp. e1002991. | Show Abstract | Read more

No vaccine has yet proven effective against the blood-stages of Plasmodium falciparum, which cause the symptoms and severe manifestations of malaria. We recently found that PfRH5, a P. falciparum-specific protein expressed in merozoites, is efficiently targeted by broadly-neutralizing, vaccine-induced antibodies. Here we show that antibodies against PfRH5 efficiently inhibit the in vitro growth of short-term-adapted parasite isolates from Cambodia, and that the EC(50) values of antigen-specific antibodies against PfRH5 are lower than those against PfAMA1. Since antibody responses elicited by multiple antigens are speculated to improve the efficacy of blood-stage vaccines, we conducted detailed assessments of parasite growth inhibition by antibodies against PfRH5 in combination with antibodies against seven other merozoite antigens. We found that antibodies against PfRH5 act synergistically with antibodies against certain other merozoite antigens, most notably with antibodies against other erythrocyte-binding antigens such as PfRH4, to inhibit the growth of a homologous P. falciparum clone. A combination of antibodies against PfRH4 and basigin, the erythrocyte receptor for PfRH5, also potently inhibited parasite growth. This methodology provides the first quantitative evidence that polyclonal vaccine-induced antibodies can act synergistically against P. falciparum antigens and should help to guide the rational development of future multi-antigen vaccines.

Douglas AD, Andrews L, Draper SJ, Bojang K, Milligan P, Gilbert SC, Imoukhuede EB, Hill AVS. 2011. Substantially reduced pre-patent parasite multiplication rates are associated with naturally acquired immunity to Plasmodium falciparum. J Infect Dis, 203 (9), pp. 1337-1340. | Show Abstract | Read more

Naturally acquired immunity to Plasmodium falciparum's asexual blood stage reduces parasite multiplication at microscopically detectable densities. The effect of natural immunity on initial prepatent parasite multiplication during the period following a new infection has been uncertain, contributing to doubt regarding the utility of experimental challenge models for blood-stage vaccine trials. Here we present data revealing that parasite multiplication rates during the initial prepatent period in semi-immune Gambian adults are substantially lower than in malaria-naive participants. This supports the view that a blood-stage vaccine capable of emulating the disease-reducing effect of natural immunity could achieve a detectable effect during the prepatent period.

Douglas AD, Williams AR, Illingworth JJ, Kamuyu G, Biswas S, Goodman AL, Wyllie DH, Crosnier C, Miura K, Wright GJ et al. 2011. The blood-stage malaria antigen PfRH5 is susceptible to vaccine-inducible cross-strain neutralizing antibody. Nat Commun, 2 (1), pp. 601. | Show Abstract | Read more

Current vaccine strategies against the asexual blood stage of Plasmodium falciparum are mostly focused on well-studied merozoite antigens that induce immune responses after natural exposure, but have yet to induce robust protection in any clinical trial. Here we compare human-compatible viral-vectored vaccines targeting ten different blood-stage antigens. We show that the full-length P. falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homologue 5 (PfRH5) is highly susceptible to cross-strain neutralizing vaccine-induced antibodies, out-performing all other antigens delivered by the same vaccine platform. We find that, despite being susceptible to antibody, PfRH5 is unlikely to be under substantial immune selection pressure; there is minimal acquisition of anti-PfRH5 IgG antibodies in malaria-exposed Kenyans. These data challenge the widespread beliefs that any merozoite antigen that is highly susceptible to immune attack would be subject to significant levels of antigenic polymorphism, and that erythrocyte invasion by P. falciparum is a degenerate process involving a series of parallel redundant pathways.

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