REACTing (REsearch and ACTion targeting emerging infectious diseases), the French collaborative research network, was established in 2014 with the aim of facilitating and improving research response to epidemics1. Its aim is to forge a new dynamic to face emergency situations and contribute to national public health decisions and international efforts to control emerging infectious threats. More specifically, the objectives are to increase scientific coordination and improve research preparedness between outbreaks as well as to improve research response capacity in times of infectious disease outbreaks.
The consortium is strengthening interaction with low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and particularly with countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia where French research platforms already exist. It is also establishing close cooperation with existing international organizations/consortiums.
Moreover, REACTing is currently establishing a national collaborative consortium of existing organizations and research groups on animal and human health from different fields:
- Surveillance, prediction, detection and epidemic investigation
- Mathematical, computational and cost-effectiveness models of outbreak analysis and selection of interventions
- Identification of new pathogens and variants, development of tools for diagnosis and pathogen characterization
- Clinical research including drug and vaccine development and evaluation
- Crisis management and communication
Since its creation, REACTing has been involved in the coordination of research efforts during the Chikungunya epidemic in the Caribbean, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and was particularly prompt to react to the Zika outbreak in 2015. REACTing’s activities are continuing during this epidemic.
The specific projects that have been initiated include two studies launched in France’s overseas territories. The first one is a descriptive and prognostic study of arbovirus infections in France (in Martinique, Guadeloupe and on the mainland), based on a hospital cohort of children and adults with suspected arbovirosis. The Principal Investigator is Prof. André Cabié (INSERM Martinique, French West Indies, France). The study aims at elucidating severe forms of arbovirosis by identifying predictive factors and investigating the pathophysiology of the disease. A sub-study of the natural history of arbovirosis is also being conducted with the objective of determining the kinetics of arbovirosis viremia and the antibody response. As at September 2016, the cohort comprises 169 participants.
The second study is a larger research program on Zika virus infection in pregnant women in the French West Indies and French Guyana. The Principal Investigator is Prof. Bruno Hoen (Centre d’Investigation Clinique, Guadeloupe, French West Indies, France). The overarching goals are to better understand the teratogenic effects of Zika (measuring the risk, identifying other complications in the larger Zika congenital syndrome context) and to enhance the knowledge of Zika infection in pregnancy, both in terms of incidence and physiology. The design includes the follow-up of pregnant women with Zika infection clinical symptoms and/or embryofetopathy, and the creation of a biobank including blood, cord blood, and fetal tissues samples. Children born to infected mothers, both apparently healthy and with birth defects, will also be followed up so as to quantify the risk of complications in fetuses and children born to mothers infected with Zika virus.
1 Delfraissy JF, Yazdanpanah Y, Levy Y. REACTing : the French response to infectious disease crises. Lancet. 2016; 387. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)30059-9 REACTing: the French response to infectious disease crises