Large-scale surveillance of molecular markers of anti-malarial drug resistance is an attractive method of resistance monitoring, to complement therapeutic efficacy studies in settings where the latter are logistically challenging. Between 2014 and 2017, this study sampled malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), used in routine clinical care, from two health centres in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau. In order to obtain epidemiological insights, RDTs were collected together with patient data on age and sex. A subset of positive RDTs from one of the two sites (n = 2184) were tested for Plasmodium DNA content. Those testing positive for Plasmodium DNA by PCR (n = 1390) were used for library preparation, custom designed dual indexing and next generation Miseq targeted sequencing of Plasmodium falciparum genes pfcrt, pfmdr1, pfdhfr, pfdhps and pfk13. The study found a high frequency of the pfmdr1 codon 86N at 88-97%, a significant decrease of the pfcrt wildtype CVMNK haplotype and elevated levels of the pfdhfr/pfdhps quadruple mutant ranging from 33 to 51% between 2014 and 2017. No polymorphisms indicating artemisinin tolerance were discovered. The demographic data indicate a large proportion of young adults (66%, interquartile range 11-28 years) presenting with P. falciparum infections. While a total of 5532 gene fragments were successfully analysed on a single Illumina Miseq flow cell, PCR-positivity from the library preparation varied considerably from 13 to 87% for different amplicons. Furthermore, pre-screening of samples for Plasmodium DNA content proved necessary prior to library preparation. This study serves as a proof of concept for using leftover clinical material (used RDTs) for large-scale molecular surveillance, encompassing the inherent complications regarding to methodology and analysis when doing so. Factors such as RDT storage prior to DNA extraction and parasitaemia of the infection are likely to have an effect on whether or not parasite DNA can be successfully analysed, and are considered part of the reason the data yield is suboptimal. However, given the necessity of molecular surveillance of anti-malarial resistance in settings where poor infrastructure, poor economy, lack of educated staff and even surges of political instability remain major obstacles to performing clinical studies, obtaining the necessary data from used RDTs, despite suboptimal output, becomes a feasible, affordable and hence a justifiable method.
- Amplicon sequencing
- Molecular markers of antimalarial resistance
- Next-generation sequencing
- Plasmodium falciparum
- Rapid diagnostic tests