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PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases Calls for Papers

Mycetoma Collection

Mycetoma is typically a disease of poor populations and the disease is endemic in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It receives little international attention yet it affects thousands of people and there are major issues regarding diagnosis and treatment; control efforts are virtually non-existent.

The exact burden of mycetoma is unknown and more information is needed. The role of genetic predisposition, co-infection with other endemic diseases, immune responses and interplay with ecological factors need to be addressed. Diagnosis is mainly clinical which may lead to an incorrect diagnosis and management. A sensitive and affordable point-of-care test is much needed. While in some centers the diagnostic process may be supplemented by direct and microscopic examination of aspirates or biopsies including culture, conclusive identification of the pathogen involved is often not possible and for this purpose more accurate molecular tools are most promising. Identification of relevant antigens may form the basis of the development of a vaccine.

Mycetoma clearly fulfills the criteria for a Neglected Tropical Disease and in a May 2013 side meeting during the World Health Assembly it was recognized by the WHO as a neglected condition associated with the seventeen diseases recognized as NTDs and given standing on their website.

We encourage authors to contribute their work and address the above mentioned priorities in order to increase our knowledge of mycetoma. This will hopefully enable improved management and design of control efforts for the populations affected by this chronic, mutilating and stigmatizing condition.

PLOS NTDs will dedicate a special issue to mycetoma in collaboration with Ed Zijlstra, Ahmed Fahal and Wendy van de Sande. We invite any original research work on epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment and pathogenesis. A number of reviews will be commissioned.

The deadline for submission is May 1st, 2014. While submitting your paper, please indicate in your Cover Letter that your paper is intended for this collection. All papers will undergo standard peer-review and be published under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

For any questions relating to the collection, please contact plosntds@plos.org

Visceral Leishmaniasis and HIV Co-infection Collection

HIV has been identified as one of the emerging challenges for visceral leishmaniasis (VL) control. HIV infection dramatically increases the risk of progression from asymptomatic infection towards disease (VL) and VL accelerates HIV disease progression. Whereas HIV has contributed to the re-emergence of VL in Europe in the 90's, this problem is now increasingly being reported globally and is especially severe in some areas of Eastern Africa, in particular north Ethiopia where up to 40% of patients with VL are co-infected with HIV. The problem is also on the rise in South-America and the Indian subcontinent.

Similarly as tuberculosis (TB)-HIV co-infection, VL-HIV co-infection is characterized by a number of complexities including challenging diagnosis, high mortality, increased drug toxicity, overall poor treatment outcomes and high relapse rates. Concerns have been raised that co-infected VL patients could serve as a source for emergence and spread of resistant Leishmania parasites. Despite its global emergence and important clinical and public health implications, the knowledge and operational gaps remain huge. Few studies have focussed on the molecular and cellular interaction between the two pathogens, and the immunopathogenesis of VL-HIV is poorly characterized. Diagnosis still relies on invasive procedures or requires high-tech tools often not available in VL-endemic regions. There are no tools to improve treatment responses and prevent relapses. In many areas, HIV-VL co-infected individuals are highly mobile, with overall poor access to treatment and high rates of loss to follow-up from HIV treatment programs.

Several VL-HIV research initiatives have emerged over the last few years, especially in the hardest hit areas. VL-HIV researchers and clinicians are linking-up internationally and networks are being established. In East-Africa, a clinical trial evaluating secondary prophylaxis in VL-HIV co-infection is currently on-going, a trial exploring the efficacy of combination therapy is planned to start by the beginning of 2013. At the same time, basic and translational research is being conducted to better understand the parasitic, host and immunological factors that characterize VL-HIV co-infection.

PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases will dedicate a special collection to VL-HIV co-infection in collaboration with Johan van Griensven, Ed Zijlstra and Asrat Hailu. Besides a number of commissioned reviews, this collection will be open to any paper with a primary focus on VL-HIV co-infection. This will include, but not limited to, basic and molecular work, immunological and diagnostic studies, clinical studies, and public health aspects. Operational and implementation research studies and articles for the magazine section will be welcomed as well. For the magazine articles a presubmission inquiry is highly recommended.

We encourage authors to submit their work on VL-HIV to help address this emerging challenge and contribute to filling the knowledge gap and creating a momentum for enhancing research and disease control efforts. Publishing this highly needed research via open access in PLOS NTDs will ensure that it is widely distributed and accessible, particularly for the individuals and countries that need it most.

The deadline for submission is December 31st, 2013. While submitting your paper, please indicate in your Cover Letter that your paper is intended for this collection. All papers will undergo standard peer-review and be published under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

For any questions relating to the collection, please contact plosntds@plos.org