New review highlights need for soil-transmitted helminths data sharing platform

New literature review on soil-transmitted helminths provides compelling evidence for the need to develop a data sharing platform to monitor and improve treatment outcomes for this neglected tropical disease.

Man using microscope in field study
Credit: Alaine Kathryn Knipes; Parasitic Disease Branch (DPDx); Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria

Soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) are estimated to affect over one billion people. The most prevalent infections - hook worm, whip worm and round worm - primarily affect the poorest populations in lower and middle income countries and are responsible for exerting a great health and economic toll on the regions worst affected.

STHs are normally treated using two drugs, albendazole and mebendazole. These are both routinely given to children as part of mass drug administration projects such as preventative chemotherapy and transmission control. Although these programmes have been scaled-up significantly over the past few years, very little evaluation or monitoring of drug efficacy takes place to understand how well these treatments are performing.

This study published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases systematically reviewed all studiess published since 2000 to understand the variation in the design, implementation and evaluation of the programmes and projects. They study also reviews the abundance of individual participant data that could be potentially in meta-analyses. The study explored data from 35,000 patients who took part in 129 studies across 39 studies.

The findings of this review suggest that that there is sufficient data to justify a dedicated STH data platform. Creating such a resource for STH could assist clinicians, drug developers and health care policy makers to guide treatment options today and help design better therapies and disease control strategies in the future.

Population of a database with individual participant data from clinical trials would enable the global health community to monitor effectively drug efficacy, to respond accordingly to the changes, and thereby to safeguard the effectiveness of STH control.

Publication details:

Halder JB, Benton J, Julé AM, Guérin PJ, Olliaro PL, Basáñez M-G, et al. (2017) Systematic review of studies generating individual participant data on the efficacy of drugs for treating soil-transmitted helminthiases and the case for data-sharing. PLoS Negl Trop Dis11(10): e0006053.