Diagnostic accuracy of molecular methods for detecting markers of antimalarial drug resistance in clinical samples of Plasmodium falciparum: Protocol for an update to a systematic review and meta-analysis
Burrow R., Fanshawe TR., Humphreys GS.
Background: Each year, infection with Plasmodium causes millions of clinical cases of malaria and hundreds of thousands of deaths. Resistance to different antimalarial medications continues to develop and spread, threatening effective prophylaxis and treatment. Surveillance of resistance is required to inform health policy and preserve effective antimalarial drugs; molecular methods can be used to surveil likely parasite resistances. However, there is no consensus on the most accurate molecular methods, and large variation exists in practice. The objective of this update to this systematic review is to improve and update identification of the sensitivity and specificity of each molecular method for detecting selected antimalarial drug resistance markers. Methods: We will include diagnostic accuracy studies that compare at least two of any molecular methods to examine blood samples from patients diagnosed with, or suspected of having malaria, to detect at least one selected marker of antimalarial drug resistance. We will search PubMed, EMBASE, BIOSIS, and Web of Science from 2000 to present. Two reviewers will independently screen all results, extract data, consider applicability, and evaluate the methodological quality of included studies using QUADAS-2. We will carry out a meta-analysis and use statistical methods to compare results from homogenous studies. We will use narrative to synthesise and compare results of heterogeneous studies. Discussion: This review will help to identify sub-optimal molecular methods for antimalarial marker detection which may be discontinued and identify more sensitive and specific methods which may be adopted. More sensitive and specific detection of drug resistance can be used to improve the breadth and accuracy of surveillance. This would enable the identification of previously undiscovered areas of antimalarial resistances and susceptibilities, improve the precision of estimates of the prevalence of resistances, and improve our ability to detect smaller changes in these patterns. Higher-quality evidence generated by more accurate and detailed surveillance can be used to inform guidelines on the use of antimalarial drugs, leading to better outcomes for more patients. Systematic review registration: This systematic review protocol was registered with PROSPERO on 22 November 2017 (registration number CRD42017082101).