Alexander Kumar, NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow, and his colleagues have won the Experiment Zika Virus Challenge Grant for their work in developing an affordable diagnostic test for the detection of the Zika virus.

Working in Brazil, the multi-national team got together in a short time to try and tackle the virus which is a rapidly emerging pandemic and global health emergency. It has been associated with central nervous system malformations in babies alongside neurological and immune complications in adults.

Supported by LIKA lab at UFPE, a major research institute and university in North East Brazil and advised by Universities, Hospitals and Impact organizations around the world, the team’s goal is an easy, rapid, economical, local and reliable test without the need of a lab or highly trained personnel.  The team has raised over $28,800 to fund development of this test on site in Brazil.

Alexander Kumar, an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow specialising in infectious diseases based at the University of Leicester and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust is the Clinical Lead for the team, he said:

“It’s been very hard seeing and hearing stories first-hand from mothers and families whose lives have been affected by the Zika virus. A test that is reliable and affordable, but is not complicated in that it could be performed by a twelve year old, living in a resource limited setting, is a potential game changer for doctors and patients worldwide. Using a Silicon Valley approach to innovation; crowd-sourcing funding with very low overheads; That’s what we are working towards.  There is no luxury, no waste, only practicality, efficiency and collaboration with Brazilian scientists, to help those most in need.”

NIHR - Zika Challenge