Zika is a mosquito-borne viral disease caused by the Zika virus (ZIKV) that has recently been spreading through the South Pacific and Latin America. In November 2015, preliminary evidence emerged that ZIKV may be associated with an observed increase in neurological complications (Guillain-Barré syndrome) in adults and severe congenital brain malformations in newborns born to mothers infected during pregnancy. The importance of a rapid research response to the Zika outbreak is highlighted by the WHO's declaration on 1 February 2016 that the recent cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Through the Horizon 2020 programme the European Commission is mobilising €10 million for urgently needed research on the Zika virus in response to the upsurge in cases of severe congenital brain malformations across Latin America, and their suspected link to Zika virus infections. If the link is proven, this money could be used to combat the Zika virus, for example, by developing diagnostics and testing potential treatments or vaccines.
Click here for more information on the Pre-publication of a call for proposals. The call is expected to be officially published on 15 March 2016, and the deadline for submission of proposals is expected to be 28 April 2016.