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Detection of Zika virus rapidly without the need for a laboratory in Brazil

Backed by Jose Francisco Gouvea Vieira, Sylvia Nabuco, Duda Gouvêa Vieira, Sylvia Braga, Lucia Rebello, Erik Sohn, Mark Hannaford, Isha Datar, Murilo Dantas, Gabriel Baldinucci, and 224 other backers
LIKA Laboratório de Imunopatologia Keizo Asami.
DOI: 10.18258/6724
Grant: Zika VirusGrant: Zika Virus
Raised of $6,000 Goal
Funded on 5/04/16
Successfully Funded
  • $29,345
  • 489%
  • Funded
    on 5/04/16

Project Results

Development and evaluation of a rapid molecular diagnostic test for Zika virus infection by reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplifcation

Yohei Kurosaki, Danyelly Bruneska Gondim Martins, Mayuko Kimura, Andriu dos Santos Catena, Maria Amélia Carlos Souto Maior Borba, Sandra da Silva Mattos, Haruka Abe, Rokusuke Yoshikawa, José Luiz de Lima Filho, and Jiro Yasuda

About This Project

Zika (PORTUGUESE) is a rapidly emerging pandemic, a global health emergency. ZIKV has been associated with central nervous system malformations in babies alongside neurological and immune complications in adults. There is a shortage of labs offering ZIKV testing in Brazil and worldwide. We are developing a new diagnostic assay that identifies the presence of ZIKV and other viruses. The goal is an easy, rapid, economical, local & reliable test without the need of a lab or highly trained personnel

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What is the context of this research?

The current situation in Brazil and Latin America urgently requires an easy to use robust, affordable diagnostic test for the detection of Zika virus. Current estimation for number of infections are over 1.5 million and rapidly rising.

There is a correlation between Zika virus infection, microcephaly(abnormal smallness of the head associated with incomplete brain development) and Guillain-Barre syndrome a rapid-onset muscle weakness, where the immune system damages the peripheral nervous system. However current diagnostic status is underdeveloped as the gold standard is a RT-PCR test that is unavailable in most clinics due to cost, shortage of trained personnel and equipment. The urgent need for new diagnostics that are scalable, accurate and accessible was described on WHO SRF (Feb 2016).

What is the significance of this project?

Currently diagnosis can only be confirmed by slow, expensive and relatively rare laboratory testing for the presence of the ZIKV genome in the blood or other body fluids, such as urine or saliva. There is a problem of cross reactivity with other viruses in some lab tests, making it hard to identify Zika vs Dengue.

Patients with other viral infections including Dengue and Chikungunya are proposed to increase the likelihood of microcephaly and neurological complications. We have designed our assay to be able to differentiate and test for all of these viruses simultaneously. This makes our tool perfect for helping doctors and epidemiologists better understand, disentangle and identify the true cause of ZIKV's freightening complications.

What are the goals of the project?

We have already started to rapidly develop, optimize and verify a specific and sensitive ZIKV test based on isothermal genomic RNA amplification (Wang et al.) from minimally treated samples (heated), without the need for a lab, complex equipment, or highly trained personnel. It will be able to distinguish between closely related viruses, in less than 60 minutes from sample extraction, and results easily seen.

We will first validate and optimize our primer set, using purified Zika genomes, also checking other co-circulating viruses, human and mosquito DNA. We will then test on ZIKV grown in the lab. Finally we will test on real samples of humans and mosquitoes, which we have access to at the LIKA lab in Brazil.

Once we validate >300 samples we will release the kit on an open website


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We have already done the in-silico(computational) work, analyzing over 40 recently sequenced ZIKV variants from the Americas, and have designed multiple isothermal primer sets for different unique regions of the ZIKV genome, taking into account recent mutations, relatedness to other viruses and the human genome. We are ready to order and try them out, just need your help!

In order to optimize our assay and make sure it can work even in low income settings we need to use multiple primer sets in many parallel experiments in different conditions, concentrations of virus and enzymes, pHs, temperatures, durations, using different visualization techniques and samples.

Reagents cost and availability are a rate limiting step for us, this funding will allow us to move faster.

We have a list of supplies needed in order to create and validate the diagnostic: specific short strands of DNA (primers), plastic micro-tubes\plates, heating element, gloves, plastic pipettes, enzymes, dyes, and buffers.

Endorsed by

Knowing the researchers in person makes me very excited about this project, as I truly believe that this project has the ability to significantly aid in the combat against Zika in a timely fashion. I wish you all the best.
This project addresses a real and urgent need in Zika-infected regions and beyond. Underlying the project is a potentially winning blend between state-of-the -art technology and it's wide open-source application that ensures its availability where it matters most.
I fully endorse and support this project. The team behind this project is doing an amazing job acting in loco on the ZIKA pandemic epicenter. Besides that, the concept of create a #lowcost #opensource diagnosis kit to be used by people in poor and rural areas is really breakthrough. As an investor in Synthetic Biology and Singularity University alumni (EP & GSP), projects like this increase my faith in humanity, and the power we have when we act together using exponential technologies to solve the greatest humanity problems.
The importance of this project needs no introduction. Right now, Zika is arguably the largest viral threat on the planet, and we know almost nothing about it. This team is proposing to develop a cheap, fast and high throughput method to identify Zika virus from patient samples – a critically important step for our understanding and eventual control of Zika. I have known Gilad for a number of years. His drive and motivation for innovative science and entrepreneurship is inspiring. I give this project my highest support.
I am happy to endorse this project as I believe it will be of great importance to shed light into this major public health problem.
This project is pretty amazing in showing how a group of people can come together in a short period of time to help deal with a serious issue.
The ongoing outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil and its alarming association with infant abnormalities, calls for better diagnostics and treatments for Zika. This project is of importance and timely, and the team of proffesionals lrading it are capable to meet the goal set by them. I gladly endorse them and wish them best of success.
I think this is an exciting and socially very needed project.
As a member of LIKA's research team , I find of great importance the development of this project . The Zika virus diagnostic will help in many ways to understand and prevent neurological and vascular complications. The relevance of the project and the skills of the researchers involved are fully endorsed by me.
This project has a powerful aim: to improve the point-of-care based in new approaches for diagnostics. As an expert in digital disease detection, for us it's very important to have platforms like that, helping to fight against epidemics, like Zika virus. Epitrack is completely favorable and we are glad to see this initiative as a scientific innovation applied to public health.
This is a truly GREAT effort by a fantastic TEAM, aiming at an important, extremely RELEVANT GLOBAL public health PROBLEM of dire consequences for us all, specially the young ones and their families. It is a great honour to be both an endorser and supporter of this project. Silvio M., @srlm
This project is addressing a topic critical for Brazil and other countries health system. Actions like that, trying to ease and speedup the disease detection, are crucial at this moment. The people involved are serious and combine the skills necessary to make a successful project.
This project aims at an essential and challenging goal: fast and cost-effective method to diagnose Zika virus infections in the field, without using laboratory equipment. As a synthetic biologist, I find this an elegant, simple and realistic solution a complicated problem. I highly recommend it. This can save many lives.
This project proposes to develop and validate a rapid, accurate field test for Zika infection, the first of its kind. The researchers running this campaign are well positioned to make a major impact on the clinical diagnosis of Zika virus infection, especially because the areas that have been the hardest hit are the least equipped to diagnose infection. The field test this group would design could be a turning point for similar areas impacted by the Zika outbreak.

Meet the Team

Gilad Gomé
Gilad Gomé
Principal Investigator


Singularity University, Tel Aviv University
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Danyelly Bruneska Gondim Martins
Danyelly Bruneska Gondim Martins
Scientist and Assistant Professor


Federal University of Pernambuco - UFPE
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Maria Amélia Borba
Maria Amélia Borba
Pharmacogenomics expert


Laboratory of Immunopathology Keizo Asami - Federal University of Pernambuco
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Henrique Castelletti
Henrique Castelletti
Genomics Scientist


Agronomic Institute of Pernambuco (IPA)
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Guy Aidelberg
Guy Aidelberg
Head of Science


Weizmann Institute of Science
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Alexander Kumar
Alexander Kumar
Clinical lead


University of Leicester; NIHR
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Jones Albuquerque
Jones Albuquerque
Computational Epidemiology Scientist


UFRPE - Statistical and Informatics Department / Epitrack
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Team Bio

The UK-IL-BR team got together in a short time to solve a big problem. Supported by a major research center in Brazil and advised by Universities, Hospitals and Impact organizations around the world.

Gilad Gomé

Biotech entrepreneur focused on scalable solutions for humanity's greatest challenges.

I am passionate about creating enabling platforms for promoting novel solutions that solve problems where technology allows new opportunities for the creation of for-benefit enterprises.

Danyelly Bruneska Gondim Martins

Ever since I can remember, I am fascinated by science! The curiosity moves me towards different themes and experiences to improve the knowledge and share the good ideas with cool people. In this way, we can make the science get closer to the society and the most needed communities and help them to improve their quality of life!

Maria Amélia Borba

PHD Student at LIKA. Has some experience in molecular diagnosis and pharmacogenomics. In love with science 24 hours a day!

Henrique Castelletti

A science/computer geek focused to find patterns in genome.
I am a dreamer about data integration as a platform to share knowledge and forwarding the development of life quality.

Guy Aidelberg

Broad range multidisciplinary scientist from Weizmann Institute with expertise in: physics, biology, data science. Author of research papers in fields of microfluidics, systems biology and microbiology.

Alexander Kumar

Alex is a British medical doctor currently working as a NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow in Infectious Diseases based at University of Leicester in United Kingdom. He has lived, worked and travelled through 80+ countries and holds experience working in an Ebola Treatment Centre in Sierra Leone and recently completed DTM&H at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Jones Albuquerque

holds a PhD in Computer Science. He is currently Associate Professor at the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Director of Knowledge of Epitrack, Chief Scientist of Innovation Senai Institute in Information and Communication Technologies. He has experience in Mathematics-Computer Software Engineering and modeling applied to Public Health, specifically in computational epidemiology and computational modeling.

Additional Information

After initial validation, calibration and optimization, we will test the assay without using any lab equipment with our kit design. This will assure that the assay can be done anywhere in the world.

Once we validate >300 samples we will release the specifications of the kit to the WHO, PAHO, UNICEF and on an open access website

The Zika Virus is one example for many other viruses that will affect the world and our assay may be used on other emerging viruses with a rapid development process.

We are Located in the LIKA, Recife Brazil and working in the epicenter of the ZIKA virus spread in Pernambuco and Paraiba.

Our team includes Professors and researchers from LIKA, Physicians and infectious disease experts From UK and Scientists from Israel who all got together to innovate "on the ground" and delivering solutions ASAP that will help in solving the problem.

Your support will help us to help others.

Thank you



UK-BR-IL ZIKA Diagnostic mission - March 2016.

* The research is approved by the Ethical Committee. The samples and the clinical data are stored at LIKA.

* The team would like to thank Daniel Uribe and his family for all the help and inspiration.

Project Backers

  • 273Backers
  • 489%Funded
  • $29,345Total Donations
  • $70.86Average Donation
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