Project  ZIKANET

Epidemiological, phylogenetic, and molecular studies on the emerging Zika virus in Brazil

The ZIKANET project comprised the following four actions: (1) study of the genetic evolution of the Zika virus (ZIKV) since its introduction to Brazil, (2) assessment of the impact of other major arboviruses such as dengue on the spread of ZIKV in Brazil, (3) investigation of viral factors involved in the pathogenicity of ZIKV, and (4) evaluation of the protective effect of medicinal plants from La Réunion against ZIKV infection.

The ZIKANET program successfully met the expectations of a France-Brazil scientific collaboration on the issue of Zika fever emergence by proposing an innovative approach focused on harnessing tropical biodiversity in the broader context of combating vector-borne infectious diseases. Such a partnership allowed, on one hand, to bring together teams in virological research in France and Brazil around a common goal, which is the control of medically important arboviruses such as Zika fever but also dengue, and on the other hand, to share expertise (molecular virology, experimental virology, phytochemistry) and cutting-edge technologies (reverse genetics to generate viral molecular clones, high-throughput screening) between the two countries. This sharing of skills and collaborative work is an example of synergy between excellent laboratories operating in tropical zones of the Indian Ocean and Latin America. These teams are able to offer attractive prospects for other island regions affected by tropical infectious diseases, including in the Indian Ocean zone. The research conducted on natural anti-infective substances for the ZIKANET program validated medicinal plants from La Réunion as sources of antiviral bioactive molecules. The information obtained has enabled Prof. EL KALAMOUNI (UMR PIMIT) to launch the international PHYTODENGUE program funded by the FEDER funds of the Réunion Region, which valorizes the biodiversity of the Indian Ocean zone in the broader context of combating dengue fever, which became epidemic in Réunion from 2018 onwards. During the Brazil-France missions, Brazilian researchers hosted in Réunion were invited to present their research work at the hosting unit PIMIT, which accommodates students preparing their Master's or Doctoral degrees.

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Project duration : 2017-2021
Geographical area : Reunion, Brazil
PIMIT coordinator : Philippe DESPRES (PI)
Partners :
Fondation Oswaldo CRUZ (Instituto Carlos CHAGAS)
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