EbolaMoDRAD

Ebola virus: modern approaches for developing bedside rapid diagnostics
EbolaMoDRADlogo

FACTS & FIGURES

Start Date
End Date
Call
IMI2 - Call 2
Grant agreement number
115843

Type of Action: 
RIA (Research and Innovation Action)

Contributions
IMI Funding
4 300 935
EFPIA in kind
0
Other
0
Total Cost4 300 935

Summary

The EbolaMoDRAD project aims to develop and validate in the field a rapid diagnostic tool that will be both simple and safe to use in low resource settings by people who may not have specialist training. At the same time, the project will implement a large-scale capacity building programme in West Africa with a strong focus on diagnostics, biosafety, and outbreak management. Finally, it will ensure its results are communicated widely.

Rapid diagnostic tests

There is an urgent need for fast, reliable tests to determine if someone is infected with Ebola or not. Three projects, Mofina,  FILODIAG and  EbolaMoDRAD, will pave the way for rapid diagnostic tests capable of delivering reliable results at the point of care in as little as 15 minutes.

The EbolaMoDRAD project aims to develop and validate in the field a rapid diagnostic tool that will be both simple and safe to use in low resource settings by people who may not have specialist training. At the same time, the project will implement a large-scale capacity building programme in West Africa with a strong focus on diagnostics, biosafety, and outbreak management. Finally, it will ensure its results are communicated widely, especially to public health bodies, charities, outbreak management teams, and local hospitals.

A part of the Ebola+ Programme

The IMI Ebola+ programme was launched in response to the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak that started in western Africa in 2014. The comprehensive programme contributes to efforts to tackle a wide range of challenges in Ebola research, including vaccines development, clinical trials, and transport, as well as diagnostics. The programme complements work being carried out with the support of other funding bodies. In addition to Ebola, the programme will also address related diseases, such as Marburg.

About Ebola and related diseases

Ebola virus disease (EVD), previously known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. The virus spreads in the human population through direct human-to-human contact with the bodily fluids of infected patients who are showing symptoms. It has an incubation period of 2-21 days, and it usually begins with flu-like symptoms, but rapidly progresses to multiple organ failure and blood-clotting abnormalities which manifest as internal and external haemorrhages (bleeding). It is fatal in between 25% and 90% of cases. There is currently no licensed treatment against EVD, and the development of treatments and preventive measures such as vaccines is hampered by challenges including manufacturing-related hurdles, the stability of vaccines during transport and storage, vaccine deployment, and the time taken to diagnose cases of EVD.

Ebola is a member of the filovirus family of viruses, which also includes Marburg virus. Like Ebola, Marburg causes cause severe, often fatal haemorrhagic fever in humans and other primates (monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees), and like Ebola, it is transmitted directly from one person to another. (In contrast, other viruses that cause haemorrhagic fevers are spread via intermediate hosts - for example, dengue fever is transmitted by mosquitoes.) There is no specific treatment or vaccine against Marburg haemorrhagic fever.

The 2014-15 Ebola epidemic was unprecedented in its scale and geographical distribution. By the middle of 2015, World Health Organization (WHO) statistics recorded over 27 000 cases and 11 000 deaths from the disease, most of them in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The epidemic highlighted the need for research into better vaccines, diagnostics and treatments to stop future epidemics in their tracks.

Achievements & News

EbolaMoDRAD makes progress in developing a fast, local test for deadly Ebola
December 2017

When it comes to Ebola, diagnosing infected patients quickly and accurately is key to controlling the spread of the virus. However, this can currently only be done in relatively sophisticated laboratory settings, which may be many miles from affected areas.### To tackle this problem, IMI’s EbolaMoDRAD project is developing and validating new diagnostic tests for Ebola that can be carried out wherever patients are located, quickly and safely, without the need for highly technical laboratory equipment or training. The project researchers have investigated various techniques for detecting the Ebola virus infection in blood samples, including testing for the presence of the virus itself and measuring molecules that reflect the immune response to viral infection.

The most promising method is known as isothermal amplification, which detects the genetic material inside the virus. Unlike other gene detection methods that require samples to be taken through multiple cycles of heating and cooling over several hours, isothermal amplification is carried out at a constant temperature of around 60⁰C and takes less than an hour. The team is now validating the test with samples collected from infected patients in West Africa, ensuring that it is accurate, sensitive and reliable enough to be used in the field. As well as detecting Ebola, the isothermal amplification technique can also be adapted to diagnose other similar viruses, such as the Marburg virus. ‘If there is an outbreak of a new disease we can add that to the test and we can detect several viruses with just one assay,’ says project coordinator Ali Mirazimi of Sweden’s Public Health Agency. ‘It is challenging but if we are ready for the next outbreak we can make a difference.’

EbolaMoDRAD finds way to inactivate Ebola virus
October 2016

When it comes to Ebola, one of the major challenges in the field is rapid diagnostics without having to transport suspected patients to major hospitals.### Processing blood samples in the field or in small hospitals was not a good option until now because transporting blood tubes with the virus is a biosafety hazard and laboratories handling these samples need to have high containment facilities. Now there might be a new solution. Researchers working on IMI’s EbolaMoDRAD project found a way to inactivate the Ebola virus so it can be safely handled and transported. They did this by adapting the commonly used vacutainer tubes in a way which deactivates the virus during the sampling procedure, while preserving the virus RNA for at least 5 weeks independently of the storage temperature. The new invention, which was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, reduces the risk of disease transmission during the handling of the samples; makes it possible to perform diagnostics in basic laboratories which may lack the high containment facilities; and makes it safer to transport patients’ samples from smaller hospitals to reference diagnostic laboratories. Although this method was developed in a lab, it is ready to be used in the field and can be validated quickly in the early stages of the next outbreak. In the long run, the EbolaMoDRAD project aims to develop and validate in the field rapid diagnostic tools that will be both simple and safe to use in low resource settings by people who may not have had specialist training. 

Participants Show participants on map

Universities, research organisations, public bodies, non-profit groups
  • (UK) Department of Health, Leeds, United Kingdom
  • Emergency Life Support For Civilian War Victims Ong Onlus, Milan, Italy
  • Folkhälsomyndigheten, Solna, Sweden
  • Inserm Transfert SA, Paris, France
  • Institut National De La Sante Et De La Recherche Medicale, Paris, France
  • Institut Pasteur De Dakar, Dakar, Senegal
  • Institute Pasteur , Paris, France
  • Istituto Nazionale Malattie Infettive Lazzaro Spallanzani, IRCCS, Rome, Italy
  • Københavns Universitet (University of Copenhagen), Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen S, Denmark
  • Stockholms Universitet, Stockholm, Sweden
  • University of Helsinki, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • University of Stirling, Stirling, United Kingdom
  • University of Turku, Turku, Finland
  • Université d'Aix-Marseille, Marseille, France
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-sized companies (<€500 m turnover)
  • AJ Innuscreen GmbH, Berlin, Germany
  • Clonit srl, Milano, Italy
  • Coris BioConcept, Gembloux, Belgium

CONTACT

Project coordinator
Ali Mirazimi
Public Health agency of Sweden
Sweden
0046703672573
Ali.Mirazimi[at]folkhalsomyndigheten.se
Project Manager
Anna Boitard
Inserm Transfert
+33 1 55 03 01 55
Anna.boitard[at]inserm-transfert.fr