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TRAC study samples to be made available to the malaria research community

26 March 2013

With the approaching conclusion to the Tracking Resistance to Artemisinin Collaboration (TRAC) study, investigators are preparing to make samples available to the malaria research community through a formal application process. TRAC is a three-year, multi-centre, clinical trial to assess the susceptibility of Plasmodium falciparum to artesunate, supported by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID). More details of the study and partners involved can be found here. It aims to determine how far artemisinin resistance has spread from its point of origin in western Cambodia, using parasite clearance rate as the primary efficacy endpoint. Patients were enrolled at 16 sites in Asia and Africa with recruitment concluding next month.

Samples are being preserved to examine resistance phenotypes, determine mechanisms of resistance, and identify biomarkers of resistance, including molecular markers, which can be used as tools for surveillance. Several complementary approaches are ongoing or planned by TRAC investigators and collaborators, including candidate marker genotyping, genome-wide association studies, signatures of selection, transcriptional profiling, and metabolite analysis.

WWARN, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been tasked with coordinating the standardized collection, preservation, shipment, and initial characterization of samples. It will also organise the distribution of samples to TRAC investigators and others based on priorities determined by the TRAC Sample Distribution Committee, which is composed of the study site Principal Investigators, the study coordinating institution (Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, MORU), and expert scientific advisors. A formal call for applications to obtain TRAC samples will be announced soon. In the interim, to help WWARN plan for sample distribution, interested parties should contact study representatives, listed below. Though availability of samples cannot be guaranteed for all, every effort will be made to ensure that a maximum number of research groups will receive the minimum amount of materials required for their projects.

Samples include dried blood spots, plasma, and cryopreserved field isolates. In some cases, parasite DNA and RNA extracted from leukocyte-depleted venous blood may also be available, depending on DNA and RNA yield. Since cryopreserved parasite lines become a renewable resource after culture-adaptation, they may be more accessible, subject to the availability of resources to culture-adapt and clone parasites.

For further information on the samples and the application process, or for other related questions, please contact Elizabeth Ashley (liz [at] tropmedres [dot] ac) and Mehul Dhorda (mehul [dot] dhorda [at] wwarn [dot] org).