In low-resource settings, resilience to infectious disease outbreaks can be hindered by limited access to diagnostic tests. Here we report the results of double-blinded studies of the performance of paper-based diagnostic tests for the Zika and chikungunya viruses in a field setting in Latin America. The tests involved a cell-free expression system relying on isothermal amplification and toehold-switch reactions, a purpose-built portable reader and onboard software for computer vision-enabled image analysis. In patients suspected of infection, the accuracies and sensitivities of the tests for the Zika and chikungunya viruses were, respectively, 98.5% (95% confidence interval, 96.2–99.6%, 268 serum samples) and 98.5% (95% confidence interval, 91.7–100%, 65 serum samples) and approximately 2 aM and 5 fM (both concentrations are within clinically relevant ranges). The analytical specificities and sensitivities of the tests for cultured samples of the viruses were equivalent to those of the real-time quantitative PCR. Cell-free synthetic biology tools and companion hardware can provide de-centralized, high-capacity and low-cost diagnostics for use in low-resource settings.

30th March 2022 • comment
18th August 2017 • comment

Institut Pasteur Shanghai-Chinese Academy of Sciences (IPS-CAS), a partner of the ZIKAlliance consortium, announced that it has entered into a collaborative research agreement with Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products Stock Co., Ltd. (Zhifei) for the clinical studies and commercialization of a recombinant Zika virus subunit vaccine developed by IPS-CAS.

5th April 2017 • comment

In response to the recent World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Vector Control Response document (, ARCTEC at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is working with The Global Health Network, the WHO and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop an exciting new initiative called The Global Vector Hub. The project is being part-funded by an EU H2020 grant as part of the recently formed ZikaPLAN consortium.  We have been invited by the Wellcome Trust to submit an application for a Biomedical Resource and Technology Development Grant to help fund the website. We have successfully advanced through the first round of grant proposals. The full application is now being prepared and is due for submission on 3rd April, 2017. To demonstrate the need for the Global Vector Hub, we are collecting letters of support from potential stakeholders. It would be great if you could distribute this e-mail to your contacts and ask them to provide letters of support.

20th March 2017 • comment

The key message from this study is that the large uncertainty around the risk estimate needs to be further investigated because of a) the possible existence of co-factors that are yet to be validated, b) the assumptions that the authors needed to make in the absence of good data for the proportion of women who were infected during pregnancy.

10th March 2017 • comment
3rd March 2017 • comment

This pioneering study provides a precise follow-up of incident cases and seroprevalence in blood donors, and it also provides important insights into the management of blood donations during ZIKV outbreaks and into the natural history of ZIKV infection in adults. It suggests that the study of blood donors during outbreaks of emerging pathogens has become a key element of epidemiological surveillance.

23rd January 2017 • comment

A study performed by the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) team of Dr Ali Amara (U944, Paris, France) and published in Cell Reports sheds new light on the mechanisms allowing ZIKV to infect cells within the human nervous system. Amara et al. showed that the protein Axl is expressed in a number of brain glial cells and that the entry of ZIKV into these cells requires another protein, Gas6, to act as a bridge between the ZIKV particles and the glial cells.

18th January 2017 • comment

Hosted by University Sao Paulo Medical School at the Centro de Convenções Rebouças ZIKAlliance, the multinational and multidisciplinary consortium coordinated by Inserm, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, and  created in response to a Horizon 2020 funding call by the European Commission’s Directorate-General Research and Innovation, has officially started its activities with the kick-off meeting held in Brazil over the 4th and 5th December 2016.

9th December 2016 • comment