Dr. Alexander Kwarteng’s research seeks to elucidate the immune response and molecular mechanisms underlying diseases of poverty including human filarial infections. By extension, he seeks to understand the complex host-parasite interaction and molecular underpinning behind the complications people suffering from filarial infections present with. Alex has key interest in understanding the role of colonizing bacterial in complicating lymphedema development. His research team develops and promotes the use of innovative strategies to alleviate the pain and psychological burden among people suffering from lymphedema (elephantiasis) and hydrocele such as promoting foot and personal hygiene. Alex is doing this using an interdisciplinary approach and a cultural perspective, to fight social stigmatization and depressive mental illness in LF endemic communities in Ghana. In recent years, his research interest has expanded to include: immunology education in developing countries, computational immunology, infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases such as cancer.
Title: Impact of secondary bacterial infection in the development of filarial lymphedema among Ghanaian patients (SECBILE)
Filarial infections are among the most important diseases in sub-Saharan Africa and are strongly associated with poverty. Bacteria and fungi are believed to be important opportunists among individuals living with lymphedema following a break in the skin’s integrity. However, this remains to be documented among individuals with lymphedema in Ghana, where about 20% develop this form of pathology in LF endemic regions. Therefore, this study seeks to address the current knowledge gap by investigating secondary bacterial and fungi populations that are implicated in the development of LE in Ghana. Taken together, these would inform practice with regards to the common secondary microbial populations that could be targeted during the course of LE management in Ghana as well as setting the foundations for the development of novel immunotherapeutic needed for treatment and management of LF.
Project Tile: Investigating mental health and disease-related stress among lymphatic filariasis patients in Ghana (LF-STRESS)
There is growing evidence that neglected tropical diseases predispose individuals to poor mental health given the high stigma and discrimination associated with these diseases. However, it is also estimated that mental health will be the greatest contributor of global health burden by 2030, while the link between lymphatic filariasis and its physiological and psychological impacts remains to be fully established with research evidence. Therefore, this study investigates the psychological and emotional impact of lymphatic filariasis in LF-endemic communities such as Ghana.
Project Title: The frequency of filarial attacks among lymphedema patients: A focus on leg stage, adherence to foot-care hygiene, and the impact of seasonal variations (LF-ATTACK)
Our understanding of the disease (lymphedema) dynamics and the impact of environmental factors on the progression of lymphedema is limited. Therefore, knowledge of the seasonal variations on filarial attacks among lymphedema patients will be key in the development of appropriate interventions for effective management of these attacks. We anticipate that this study will shed lights on the dynamics of LF attacks among lymphedema patients. Through this study, our understanding of the impact of environmental factors (weather) on lymphedema disease progression will be expanded thereby serving as the basis for the development of new management practices or revising existing ones where necessary.
Project Title: Microbial pathogens contributing to non-healing wounds among lymphatic filariasis patients in Ghana (LF-BAC)
Identifying the factors that promote non-healing wounds is crucial in developing novel therapeutics that will eventually make individuals with filarial diseases productive. This project seeks to characterize and compare the microbial populations from wounds of filariasis patients and non-filarial patient’s wounds; to determine the antimicrobial susceptibility of isolated microbial populations; to determine the differential host immune response among patients with advanced filarial wounds and non-filarial patient’s wounds in filarial endemic communities in Ghana.
- Kwarteng A, Yarhands Dissou-Arthur, Sylverken A, Frimpong M, Ahuno TS and Owusu-Dabo E. Key drivers of graduate students’ interest in the subject of immunology in a tertiary institution of Ghana. Cogent Education (2018), 5: 1498162 https://doi.org/10.1080/2331186X.2018.1498162
- Kwarteng A, Frimpong M, Sylverken A, Arthur DY, Ahuno TS, Owusu-Dabo E, Graduate students’ interest in immunology as a discipline. Cogent Education (2017), 4: 1398705 https://doi.org/10.1080/2331186X.2017.1398705
- Kwarteng A, Ahuno ST. Immunity in filarial infections: lessons from animal models and human studies. Scand J Immunol. 2017.
- Kwarteng A, Amuasi J, Annan A, Ahuno S, Opare D, Nagel M, et al. Current meningitis outbreak in Ghana: Historical perspectives and the importance of diagnostics. Acta Trop. 2017;169:51-6.
- Kwarteng A, Ahuno ST, Akoto FO. Killing filarial nematode parasites: role of treatment options and host immune response. Infect Dis Poverty. 2016;5(1):86.
- Kwarteng A, Ahuno ST. The Potentials and Pitfalls of Microarrays in Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Focus on Human Filarial Infections. Microarrays. 2016;5(3).
- Katawa G, Layland LE, Debrah AY, von Horn C, Batsa L,Kwarteng A, et al. Hyperreactive Onchocerciasis is Characterized by a Combination of Th17-Th2 Immune Responses and Reduced Regulatory T Cells. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2015;9(1):e3414.
- Debrah AY, Specht S, Klarmann-Schulz U, Batsa L, Mand S, Marfo-Debrekyei Y,Kwarteng A, et al. Doxycycline Leads to Sterility and Enhanced Killing of Female Onchocerca volvulus Worms in an Area with Persistent Microfilaridermia After Repeated Ivermectin Treatment: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Trial. Clin Infect Dis. 2015;61(4):517-26.
- Arndts K, Specht S, Debrah AY, Tamarozzi F, Klarmann Schulz U, Mand S,Kwarteng A,et al. Immunoepidemiological profiling of onchocerciasis patients reveals associations with microfilaria loads and ivermectin intake on both individual and community levels. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2014;8(2):e2679.
- Arndts K, Deininger S, Specht S, Klarmann U, Mand S, Adjobimey T,Kwarteng A, et al. Elevated adaptive immune responses are associated with latent infections of Wuchereria bancrofti. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2012;6(4):e1611.
- Mand S, Debrah AY, Klarmann U, Batsa L, Marfo-Debrekyei Y,Kwarteng A, et al. Doxycycline improves filarial lymphedema independent of active filarial infection: a randomized controlled trial. Clin Infect Dis. 2012;55(5):621-30.
- Mand S, Debrah AY, Klarmann U, Mante S,Kwarteng A,Batsa L, et al. The role of ultrasonography in the differentiation of the various types of filaricele due to bancroftian filariasis. Acta Trop. 2011;120 Suppl 1:S23-32.
ARNDT – SMALL GRANT