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Zika diagnostic named finalist for the Katerva Award

The low-cost, paper based Zika diagnostic system developed by Wyss Core Faculty member James Collins and research collaborators has been named a finalist for the Katerva Award in Human Development. Each year, Katerva, a non-profit organization with the mission to identify and accelerate disruptive sustainable innovations from around the world, identifies winners and finalists in 10 award categories, including Human Development. The Human Development category covers all initiatives related to maintaining and improving the quality of life for all people despite the growing population.

The Zika diagnostic system was chosen as a finalist among numerous game changing ideas that leap efficiency, lifestyle, consumption and action a generation ahead of current thinking. These ideas are selected following a rigorous review process involving 600+ professionals, 4 filtering phases, and 2 stages of focused review in order to be called the best, most promising on the planet.

The paper-based diagnostics technology developed at the Wyss Institute can be customized to detect the genetic signatures of RNA viruses like Ebola, Zika, SARS, measles, influenza, hepatitis C, and West Nile fever within one week after the causative agent is identified. The ability to pinpoint a strain-specific diagnosis in the field could prove valuable to national and global health organizations for tracking the spread of a viral outbreak in real time and for preparing containment strategies and treatment plans. The rapid response time of the sensors would allow for targeted administration of antibiotics, reducing the chance of a contagion becoming drug resistant.

In this video, a team of collaborators led by Wyss Core Faculty member James Collins discuss a low-cost, paper-based diagnostic system that they developed for detecting specific strains of the Zika virus, with the goal that it could soon be used in the field to easily screen blood, urine, or saliva samples. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University
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