“We are a strong collaboration all working together with the same aim to understand what arbovirus infections in pregnancy mean and how to treat them” – Carlo Giaquinto
Earlier this month the fourth annual ZIKAction Consortium meeting took place in Guayaquil, Ecuador. On 8-9th November around 40 scientists and health professionals gathered in the Wyndham Guayaquil Hotel to discuss the ongoing project studies, review the progress already made and to deliberate on the challenges faced on the path towards a successful implementation of the project.
Two days before the meeting, the teams from UCL and Penta took part in local site visits to four hospitals and the Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública e Investigación (INSPI) laboratory in Guayaquil. All of these sites are participating in the Microcephaly case-control study that has just been launched as part of the project and is led by Dr. Greta Miño.
The first day of the meeting began with a warm welcome from our hosts Dr. Greta Miño and Dr. Eduardo Stay Quinde, the Healthcare Coordinator of Guayaquil’s Zonal 8. Their introduction was followed by the global virologic overview of the Zika virus and the scientific overview of the ZIKAction project. The project management team from Penta then provided a technical and financial overview of the project focusing on the project amendment and the second reporting period which has just ended. After an overview of the vertical transmission (VT) studies in Jamaica and Haiti, an exciting presentation on a new mobile phone app-based study in Jamaica captivated the attention of the meeting participants. To close out the day, the pathogenesis work package delivered a fascinating overview of their studies, performed utilizing sheep and placentas.
The second day of the meeting began with paediatric study presentations from Ecuador, Spain, Costa Rica, Brazil, Jamaica and Argentina. Among the talks, the exome analysis study attracted a lot of interest and attention, resulting in further collaboration ideas on the spot. Then several presentations covering the overarching cross-consortia activities followed. The final session of the annual consortium meeting covered the virology studies where we discussed various assay performances and a new returning travelers study. These presentations were followed by an overview of metabolomic analyses, phylogeny of ZIKV isolates in Florida and then a look at the ongoing collaboration with the National Institute of Infectiology in Rio de Janeiro.
Three years down the project line all the studies that have been planned are either ongoing or about to start. As a result, this edition of the Consortium Meeting therefore had a strong focus on the various studies and their progress. It was very satisfying that the preliminary results of some of those studies were presented during the meeting demonstrating the dedication, hard work and flexibility of the Consortium.
A number of important decisions and outcomes were achieved during the meeting. Through our engaging discussions we have reiterated the directions that each work package needs to take in order to fulfil their project goals. Moreover, the Consortium is finally beginning to discuss not only its work, but is also starting to plan a number of publications resulting directly from the work performed within the scope of the project.
We are already looking forward to the next Consortium meeting in Costa Rica in 2020!