The DOLF Team’s 2022: Year in Review

As we look towards a new year, we wanted to share some highlights from 2022, a year that saw many new advances and developments in our research on Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) and Onchocerciasis (Oncho).

LF research

Cote d’Ivoire. In late winter, DOLF team members traveled to Côte d’Ivoire for 12-month follow-up visits for patients enrolled in a study of the safety and efficacy of new drug regimens to treat LF. Moxidectin combination treatment (MoxA/MoxDA) compared with ivermectin combination treatments (IA/IDA). Early results suggest superiority of moxidectin combinations for sustained microfilaremia clearance. DOLF investigator Catherine Bjerum from Case Western Reserve University presented these exciting results at the ASTMH meeting in Seattle.   

DOLF Investigator Catherine Bjerum presents results from the Cote d’Ivoire study at ASTMH, October 2022

While in country, the DOLF team observed a hydrocele surgery workshop (sponsored by DOLF) to train surgeons to on this procedure. The workshop was organized by Dr. Ben Koudou (CSRS, Cote d’Ivoire) and training was provided by Dr. Adama Guira from Burkina Faso. Approximately 20 men with clinically significant hydroceles that were identified during DOLF surveys had surgical repairs. Local surgeons trained in the workshop will perform this procedure on additional cohorts of patients. The workshop generated a lot of interest, and a local reporter featured our project on the local news.

CSRS Principal Investigator Ben Koudou is interviewed by the local news following successful hydrocele surgeries

Indonesia. In June, DOLF team members traveled to Indonesia to launch a new study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This study, conducted in collaboration with the Indonesian Ministry of Health and Dr. Tania Supali’s group at the University of Indonesia, aims to better understand why LF returned to Belitung district after the area had passed TAS-3 (Transmission Assessment Survey) several years ago.

The team will perform surveys to assess the impact of triple drug (IDA) provided by the Ministry of Health in areas with persistent or resurgent LF in the district. The study will also include studies to assess community acceptance of Mass Drug Administration, potential zoonotic reservoirs for the parasite, and mosquito vectors responsible for LF transmission in Belitung. 

DOLF PI Peter Fischer, the Indonesia country PI Taniawati Supali and the heads of the local and national LF elimination teams at the Belitung District Public Health Office

Onchocerciasis research

Liberia. DOLF team members traveled to Liberia to launch a new clinical trial that is being conducted in partnership with Dr. Patrick Kpanyen and his team at the National Public Health Institute in Liberia (NPHIL). Part I of this project will screen and recruit eligible participants for the study and document the impact of ivermectin treatment on microfilariae in the skin and eyes of study participants. Part II of the study (scheduled to start in mid-2023) will examine the safety and efficacy of new treatment regimens that may have macrofilaricidal activity against O. volvulus.

Community members celebrate the launch of the new clinical trial at the Bong Mines Hospital, Liberia

Ghana. The Liberia study is a natural follow-up to our recently completed study in Ghana, “Safety and efficacy of triple drug therapy for individuals infected with Onchocerca volvulus”. Peter Fischer and Nick Opoku presented the latest results from that study at the ASTMH meeting in Seattle. The results suggest that IDA has significant macrofilaricidal activity relative to the widely used two drug regimen ivermectin plus albendazole. The Ghana study represents progress in the long quest for a safe, oral macrofilaricide. Lessons from the Ghana study informed the design of the new Liberia study mentioned above.  

DOLF PI Peter Fischer presents results from our Ghana study at ASTMH, October 2022

Biomarker research

Dr. Peter Fischer is leading a multidisciplinary team (parasitology, immunology, proteomics, and bioinformatics) in a project on biomarker discovery for Oncho and LF that is also funded by the Gates Foundation. The goal of this work is to identify biomarkers and develop improved diagnostic tests for Oncho and LF. Dr. Bruce Rosa and others have recently published a paper on O. volvulus proteins detected in human serum and urine samples by advanced proteomics methods. Similarly, Dr. Sarah Greene in our group has developed a novel antibody test for LF that is currently undergoing additional validation.

Additional Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) research

Members of the DOLF team in St. Louis are also involved in other NTD research projects. Research on paragonimiasis, an important food-borne trematode infection continued. Dr. Lucia Di Maggio analyzed excretion/secretion products of the lung fluke Paragonimus kellicotti produced in vitro and produced in lung cyst nodules of infected animals by proteomics. Together with Big Eye Diagnostics, San Diego and a paragonimiasis research group in the Philippines, the team obtained a pilot NIH grant to evaluate a new rapid diagnostic test that is based on a recombinant antigen developed by the group.        


We finished the year with 12 new publications. Some of these were included in a Plos Collection on IDA treatment for LF and a special supplement in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene that featured the DOLF team’s work to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of a single-dose IDA for LF – which ultimately led to a new policy recommendation by the WHO. Here is a full list of our 2022 publications:

Growing team

Our team continued to expand as we welcomed three new postdocs this year.

Postdoc Dr. Nikhilesh Joardar is working on biomarker research in Dr. Phil Budge’s laboratory.

Postdoc Dr. Adebiyi Adeniran is a molecular entomologist, epidemiologist, and parasitologist who joins the team from Nigeria where he led the NTD division for SightSavers.

Postdoc Dr. Irina Diekmann from Germany will join our group in January 2023. She brings expertise in parasitology, DNA and metabarcoding and phylogeny.

Also a big congratulations to Postdoc Dr. Obiora Eneanya who left DOLF last July to become an Epidemiologist in the Guinea Worm program at The Carter Center in Atlanta.  Obi accomplished a lot during his time in St. Louis and never stopped smiling despite COVID challenges. We miss Obi but wish him all of the best in his new job!

Postdoc Lucia Sanchez DiMaggio discusses her work on Paragonimus Kellicotti at the ASTMH meeting

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