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      A Research Agenda for Helminth Diseases of Humans: Intervention for Control and Elimination

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          Recognising the burden helminth infections impose on human populations, and particularly the poor, major intervention programmes have been launched to control onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, soil-transmitted helminthiases, schistosomiasis, and cysticercosis. The Disease Reference Group on Helminth Infections (DRG4), established in 2009 by the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), was given the mandate to review helminthiases research and identify research priorities and gaps. A summary of current helminth control initiatives is presented and available tools are described. Most of these programmes are highly dependent on mass drug administration (MDA) of anthelmintic drugs (donated or available at low cost) and require annual or biannual treatment of large numbers of at-risk populations, over prolonged periods of time. The continuation of prolonged MDA with a limited number of anthelmintics greatly increases the probability that drug resistance will develop, which would raise serious problems for continuation of control and the achievement of elimination. Most initiatives have focussed on a single type of helminth infection, but recognition of co-endemicity and polyparasitism is leading to more integration of control. An understanding of the implications of control integration for implementation, treatment coverage, combination of pharmaceuticals, and monitoring is needed. To achieve the goals of morbidity reduction or elimination of infection, novel tools need to be developed, including more efficacious drugs, vaccines, and/or antivectorial agents, new diagnostics for infection and assessment of drug efficacy, and markers for possible anthelmintic resistance. In addition, there is a need for the development of new formulations of some existing anthelmintics (e.g., paediatric formulations). To achieve ultimate elimination of helminth parasites, treatments for the above mentioned helminthiases, and for taeniasis and food-borne trematodiases, will need to be integrated with monitoring, education, sanitation, access to health services, and where appropriate, vector control or reduction of the parasite reservoir in alternative hosts. Based on an analysis of current knowledge gaps and identification of priorities, a research and development agenda for intervention tools considered necessary for control and elimination of human helminthiases is presented, and the challenges to be confronted are discussed.

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          Most cited references 150

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          Control of neglected tropical diseases.

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            Efficacy of current drugs against soil-transmitted helminth infections: systematic review and meta-analysis.

            More than a quarter of the human population is likely infected with soil-transmitted helminths (Ascaris lumbricoides, hookworm, and Trichuris trichiura) in highly endemic areas. Preventive chemotherapy is the mainstay of control, but only 4 drugs are available: albendazole, mebendazole, levamisole, and pyrantel pamoate. To assess the efficacy of single-dose oral albendazole, mebendazole, levamisole, and pyrantel pamoate against A lumbricoides, hookworm, and T trichiura infections. A systematic search of PubMed, ISI Web of Science, ScienceDirect, the World Health Organization library database, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (1960 to August 2007). From 168 studies, 20 randomized controlled trials were included. Information on study year and country, sample size, age of study population, mean infection intensity before treatment, diagnostic method used, time between evaluations before and after treatment, cure rate (the percentage of individuals who became helminth egg negative following treatment with an anthelminthic drug), egg reduction rate, adverse events, and trial quality was extracted. Relative risk, including a 95% confidence interval (CI), was used to measure the effect of the drugs on the risk of infection prevalence with a random-effects model. Single-dose oral albendazole, mebendazole, and pyrantel pamoate for infection with A lumbricoides resulted in cure rates of 88% (95% CI, 79%-93%; 557 patients), 95% (95% CI, 91%-97%; 309 patients), and 88% (95% CI, 79%-93%; 131 patients), respectively. Cure rates for infection with T trichiura following treatment with single-dose oral albendazole and mebendazole were 28% (95% CI, 13%-39%; 735 patients) and 36% (95% CI, 16%-51%; 685 patients), respectively. The efficacy of single-dose oral albendazole, mebendazole, and pyrantel pamoate against hookworm infections was 72% (95% CI, 59%-81%; 742 patients), 15% (95% CI, 1%-27%; 853 patients), and 31% (95% CI, 19%-42%; 152 patients), respectively. No pooled relative risks could be calculated for pyrantel pamoate against T trichiura and levamisole for any of the parasites investigated. Single-dose oral albendazole, mebendazole, and pyrantel pamoate show high cure rates against A lumbricoides. For hookworm infection, albendazole was more efficacious than mebendazole and pyrantel pamoate. Treatment of T trichiura with single oral doses of current anthelminthics is unsatisfactory. New anthelminthics are urgently needed.
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              “Rapid-Impact Interventions”: How a Policy of Integrated Control for Africa's Neglected Tropical Diseases Could Benefit the Poor

              Controlling seven tropical infections in Africa would cost just 40 cents per person per year, and would permanently benefit hundreds of millions of people.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS Negl Trop Dis
                PLoS Negl Trop Dis
                PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                April 2012
                24 April 2012
                : 6
                : 4
                [1 ]Institute of Parasitology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
                [2 ]Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
                [3 ]Lymphatic Filariasis Support Centre, Department of Parasitology, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
                [4 ]Queensland Institute of Medical Research, University of Queensland, Herston, Australia
                [5 ]Department of Microbiology, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru
                [6 ]Department of Schistosomiasis Control, Jiangsu Institute of Parasitic Diseases, Meiyuan Yangxiang, Wuxi, People's Republic of China
                [7 ]Tropical Disease Research Laboratory, Division of Experimental Pathology, Department of Pathology, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand
                [8 ]Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology, Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute, New York Blood Center, New York, New York, United States of America
                London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom
                Author notes
                Prichard et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 14
                Diagnostic Medicine
                Drugs and Devices
                Global Health
                Infectious Diseases

                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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