MAY 2019
Dear All,

As coordinators of the three EU-funded Zika consortia, we are keen to share our latest activities, publications and meetings in this fifth joint newsletter.
In this edition, we would like to highlight the launch of the European Clinical Research Alliance on Infectious Diseases (ECRAID) on 17 January 2019 in Brussels. ECRAID-Plan, funded by the European Commission under Grant Agreement 825715, envisages a European-wide sustainable clinical research organization for infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance that stems from both PREPARE and COMBACTE. As a result, ECRAID-Plan’s vision is to establish a coordinated and permanent European clinical research infrastructure for clinical research on infectious diseases. In addition, ECRAID-Plan will have rapid access to and knowledge of well-developed clinical and laboratory sites. Trials will be conducted continuously, allowing them to expand their experience and knowledge. The three EU-funded Zika consortia (ZIKAction, ZIKAlliance and ZikaPLAN), alongside several other EU-funded projects, networks and organisations, will be active partners of ECRAID-Plan, committed to the creation of open and sustainable clinical trial networks globally.
Copyright: © ECRAID-Plan. 2019
A cross-consortia study published in npj Vaccines in December 2018, found that a yellow fever–Zika chimeric virus vaccine candidate protects against Zika infection and congenital malformations in mice. The particular characteristics of the YF-ZIKprM/E vaccine candidate (in terms of efficacy and safety in the models used and then described in the article) warrant further exploration. In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from ZikaPLAN and ZIKAlliance evaluated motor skills and cognitive development, visual and hearing function, and brain images of 182 children - aged 12-18 months - who had been exposed to ZIKV during their mothers' pregnancies. Of the 131 children who were exposed to ZIKV in utero and who underwent brain imaging, abnormal findings were found in seven of the 112 children. In all the children who underwent neurodevelopmental assessment, sensory organ assessment, or all of these tests, 19 were found to have severe neurodevelopmental delay, sensory organ dysfunction, or both - a higher rate than those reported in previous studies.
Finally, ZikaPLAN and ZIKAlliance organized a workshop to strengthen laboratory capacity in Zika virus (ZIKV) and dengue virus (DENV) diagnosis, March 25-29, at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. ZIKAlliance has recently held its second annual meeting in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) on 2-3 May 2019. Around 100 members from each work package have reported on the latest scientific developments and discussed areas of collaboration, including: clinical biology and immunology, pathophysiology and animal models, ZIKV animal reservoirs, vectors and vector control, clinical cohorts, virology and antivirals, social sciences, data harmonization and data sharing, management, communications and cross-consortia collaboration.
We hope you enjoy this issue of the cross-consortia newsletter, and if you want to provide any suggestions for future content, please contact your consortium’s communication officer: Giuseppe at (ZIKAlliance), Koren at (ZikaPLAN), and Francesca at (ZIKAction).
Best wishes,
Prof. Annelies Wilder-Smith, ZikaPLAN Scientific Coordinator
Prof. Carlo Giaquinto, ZIKAction Scientific Coordinator
Prof. Xavier de Lamballerie, ZIKAlliance Scientific Coordinator

Projects ZIKAlliance, ZikaPLAN, ZIKAction have received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreements No 734548, 734584, 734857 respectively.
Cross Consortia Collaboration
Impact & Dissemination: The study Past and future spread of the arbovirus vectors Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, by Kraemer et al., published in Nature Microbiology, has been picked up by 59 news outlets worldwide, as well as reported and commented in 7 scientific blogs as of 20 May 2019. It currently ranks 357th out of 247,967 tracked articles of a similar age in all journals (99th percentile). READ MORE

Game over for Zika? KU Leuven researchers develop promising vaccine. Scientists at the KU Leuven Rega Institute have developed a new vaccine against the Zika virus. This vaccine should prevent the virus from causing microcephaly and other serious conditions in unborn babies. READ MORE

16th International Course on Dengue, Zika and other Emergent Arboviruses (REGISTRATION CLOSES 20 JULY 2019): 12-23 August 2019, Institute of Tropical Medicine “Pedro Kourí”, Havana, Cuba. Speakers from both ZIKAlliance and ZikaPLAN will attend the course. READ MORE
News & Publications from the Three Consortia
Two novel ZIKV immune complex ELISA for detection of ZIKV specific IgM and IgG introduced in ZIKAction studies: ZIKAction researchers train to use novel ZIKV-detecting assays. 

Sheep as a Model of Zika Virus (ZIKV) Infection: Promising results on ZIKV research using sheep models.

An update on the ZIKAction Vertical Transmission Study in Jamaica: The project enters into a new phase as enrollments end in Jamaican sites.

View All Publications
Second ZIKAlliance’s Annual Meeting in Rotterdam, 2-3 May 2019: The Second Annual Meeting of the EU-funded ZIKAlliance research project gathered around 100 members from 19 countries.

Early Dengue Virus Infection could “defuse” Zika Virus: A new ground-breaking study funded by ZIKAlliance shows that a previous dengue infection can protect against Zika-associated damage.

Impact & Dissemination: A snapshot on the impact of ZIKAlliance’s scientific publications between December 2018 and April 2019.
Cross-Protection of Dengue Virus Infection against Congenital Zika Syndrome, Northeastern Brazil 
Pedroso et al. 
Emerging Infectious Diseases, May 2019

A Viral Polymerase Inhibitor Reduces Zika Virus Replication in the Reproductive Organs of Male Mice
Jacobs et al. 
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, April 2019

The possible role of cross-reactive dengue virus antibodies in Zika virus pathogenesis
Langerak et al. 
PLOS Pathogens, April 2019

The Human Upper Respiratory Tract Epithelium Is Susceptible to Flaviviruses
Vielle et al. 
Frontiers in Microbiology, April 2019

Zika virus infection among symptomatic patients from two healthcare centers in Sao Paulo State, Brazil: prevalence, clinical characteristics, viral detection in body fluids and serodynamics
Tozetto-Mendoza et al.
Revista do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de São Paulo, April 2019
View All Publications
Exploring disease outbreaks: a new MOOC by ZikaPLAN member, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. 

Practical and Theoretical Course on Arbovirus Diagnostics: Scientists and technicians working on arbovirus projects in Brazil and across Latin America meet at a workshop organized by the Mérieux Foundation (ZikaPLAN) and Fundacao Faculdade de Medicina (ZIKAlliance).

New Global Birth Defects website:  
ZikaPLAN’s Birth Defect Surveillance Group launches a comprehensive resource to improve birth defect surveillance. 
Validating linkage of multiple population-based administrative databases in Brazil
Paixão et al. 
PLOS ONE, March 2019

Perinatal analyses of Zika- and dengue virus-specific neutralizing antibodies: A microcephaly case-control study in an area of high dengue endemicity in Brazil
Castanha et al.  
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, March 2019

Infants with microcephaly due to ZIKA virus exposure: nutritional status and food practices
dos Santos et al. 
Nutrition Journal, January 2019

The Role of Amniocentesis in the Diagnosis of Congenital Zika Syndrome
Pereira, Jr et al. 
Clinical Infectious Diseases, January 2019 

Association of Infants Exposed to Prenatal Zika Virus Infection With Their Clinical, Neurologic, and Developmental Status Evaluated via the General Movement Assessment Tool
Einspieler et al.
JAMA Network Open, January 2019

View All Publications
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