Dr. Teerawat Wiwatpanit, BIOTEC researcher from Protein-Ligand Engineering and Molecular Biology Research Team, Medical Molecular Biotechnology Research Group, was selected among the 5 finalists in a crowdfunding contest to build capacity to raise funds for his infectious diseases research: “Blocking Zika virus maternal-to-fetal transmission.”
The transmission of Zika virus from mother to fetus poses significant threat in South Asia, South East Asia and Africa. Babies born to Zika virus-infected women are born with microcephaly and other neurological disorders causing health issues and socioeconomic problems. Although researchers start putting many efforts to understand the mechanisms of Zika infection, there is still a challenge in developing drug to treat the vertical transmission. To address the problem, the research proposes to develop treatments to combat the Zika virus transmission during pregnancy period. In this study, three-dimensional human endometrial organoids is used to develop an in vitro model to analyze the uterus cells infected by Zika virus. Not only does this model shed light upon how Zika virus infection affects the female reproductive tract and how to neutralize the virus but it also replicates accurate organ in the human body, making it ideal for clinical trials. Furthermore, as a class of anti-dengue antibodies is proved to effectively neutralize Zika virus in various experimental models, the antibodies’ class will be testing in stopping the Zika virus transmission in the endometrial organoids. With the success of the organoid experimental system, it will result in the reduction of poor infant health and lifelong neurological defects in the South Asia, South East Asia and Africa.
Blocking Zika virus maternal-to-fetal transmission is a coalition effort led by Dr. Wiwatpanit with contribution from Dr. Bunpote Siridechadilok, BIOTEC researcher from Molecular Biology of Dengue and Flaviviruses Research Team, Dr. Juthathip Mongkolsapaya, Assist. Prof. Katika Nawapun, and Assist. Prof. Suwanit Therasakvichya from Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University.
The crowdfunding contest is launched by Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) in partnership with Social Entrepreneurship to Spur Health (SESH) with the goal to help researchers in the field of infectious diseases in low- and middle-income countries gain funds for their social-impact research.
In 2019, 121 researchers from 37 countries submitted proposals to the challenge contest. The five finalists have been identified to match with 10 TDR Global mentors for mentorship and join workshop to enhance their proposals and develop sharp pitches for crowdfunding.
About TDR Global
TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, is a global programme of scientific collaboration that helps facilitate, support and influence efforts to combat diseases of poverty. It is co-sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and World Health Organization (WHO).
How to fund the project to successfully stop the Zika virus transmission?
Dr. Wiwatpanit plans to launch the campaign in February 2020. You are invited to support his fundraising effort. We will keep you posted.
Posted on 23 December 2019.