Cécile Baronti is a passionate roller bladder at heart, often seen skating in full 80s gear while, by day, she manages the virus production platform ... read more
EVAg is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the characterisation conservation production distribution of biological materials in the field of virology.
For that purpose, EVAg maintains high control standards and develops appropriate methods directly relevant to human and animal virology. The EVAg consortium also ensures:
- that materials are supplied non-profitably or at cost to all bona fide applicants,
- that biosafety and security measures are appropriately addressed by the supplying and recipient labs,
- that the available materials meet the highest scientific standards in terms of quality and characterization,
- that the property of the provided materials remains with the originators.
Concept and approach
We are the first and currently, the only 21st century global virus collection conceived as a modern and innovative support organization for scientific research, education and disease control through human and veterinary health programmes.
The project objectives meet the needs of scientists, worldwide, by generating a carefully authenticated animal virus collection that is larger than any existing repository, and readily available to all laboratories that meet approved ethical, safety and security standards.
Development of innovative tools
Joint Research Activity (JRA) is used to exchange know-how between EVAg partners and also to create new tools to develop the infrastructure. Another aspect of tool creation is focused on new techniques and concepts to provide easier and less expensive access to virological materials, taking advantage of the recent advances in science including techniques dedicated to:
- sequencing of viral genomes (NGS)
- genome synthesis
- study of the links between infectivity and mutagenesis
- methods for long term virus conservation
- molecular and serological diagnostics
- bioinformatics and genome-based virus classification (taxonomy)
- virus discovery
- in vivo vertebrate and invertebrate animal studies
EVAg will develop a huge number of innovation end points particularly from joint research activities that will enhance virus diagnostics and promote the prospects of creating antiviral approaches. In particular, EVAg will provide the following assets, which will greatly enhance the infrastructure´s capabilities and services (both within the consortium as well as to outside customers):
- Cell lines with an enhanced potential to isolate and produce viruses from primary clinical samples. Cell lines will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and provided physically to recipients within the consortium as well as to customers (outside the consortium) as an access.
- Improved approaches to the sequencing of viruses, from field samples, with the intention of discovering novel viruses.
- Antibodies and proteins based on new and available viruses which can be used by the diagnostics industry to create new detection assays, and by research entities across Europe to enhance the capabilities of studying viral life cycles.
- Molecular detection assays for immediate deployment in cases of emerging epidemics. Cooperation agreements have been issued with the WHO and the OIE corresponding to the worldwide institutions in charge of publicising guidelines that refer to diagnostic procedures.
The technical advances of EVAg will lead to heightened attention in the research community to the consortia as well as to manufacturers of diagnostic tools. The participation in ENIVD and WHOCC will ensure dissemination by relating EVAg to the international public health laboratory community during outbreaks and in times when novel diagnostic recommendations are being issued because of (re-) emergence of viruses.
Quality is an essential part of the project as it proved to have been a major component for the success of EVAg. The Quality Management System has the ultimate goal of distributing “gold standard products” to the scientific community at large and to improving current practices in the laboratory. It also has to be seen to be a means of strengthening the “team spirit” within the consortium by the establishment of regular exchanges on the issues arising.
Quality & Regulations
EVAg's approach to the convention on Biological & Toxin Weapons: The EVAg project places great importance upon the need to ensure open and fair access to viruses and associated products for research, disease surveillance and anti-viral development.
We stress equally that the supply of biological resources of high pathogenicity is carried out under a process of review by an appointed panel of experts, to ensure the recipients of these reagents are bona-fide researchers with appropriate expertise and containment facilities.
Response to Emergence
Preparedness and response to emerging viral diseases will be addressed and developed through interaction with national centres. Partners specializing in this task will generate standard operation procedures (SOP) for the application of all diagnostic methods derived from the project work.
Specific attention will be given to the development of a dedicated Intellectual Property Rights policy aiming at encouraging partners to adopt an appropriate and efficient strategy in terms of results and data protection. The knowledge and Intellectual Property management will include coverage of intellectual property policy, ownership, disclosure of inventions and licensing.
Direct cooperation with the WHO, OIE, CDCs, ENIVD will ensure and reinforce the authorisation of EVAg to generate and distribute globally, diagnostic materials and protocols in the event of epidemiological emergencies.
Our ultimate goal is to provide global access to standardised diagnostic, therapeutic and research tools that will significantly enhance our efforts to control diseases and improve human and animal health.
Being constantly updated, the EVAg Portal enable to provide an overview on all EVAg qualified resources and capacities: virus, reagents, platforms, protocols, processes as well as trainings and expertise available from all the partners .
This unique platform thus constitutes a cornerstone for virus research projects aimed at epidemic/pandemic preparedness and response, in providing both essential resources as well as a platform for the continuation of project-derived products.
Extension of EVAg network and Integration of new resources
EVAg establishs close relationships and collaborations with international organizations involved in public health (WHO, OIE and FAO). EVAg also develops proposals to become the repository of other relevant European Institutions/networks/research/infrastructures projects, not directly participating in EVAg, in order to ensure the viability of reference viruses used and developed within EU-funded research programmes dealing with viral infections. Thirdly, in global terms, biological resources are scattered among many public health and research institutions. Most of the existing collections are held in laboratories where there is limited access to new technologies for virus characterization (i.e. high throughput sequencing due to lack of equipment, bioinformatic analysis and/or funding) and limited capability for exploitation of their potential value. By strengthening a global network of collaboration, these countries will benefit from the know-how of EVAg partners and EVAg will benefit from access to isolates of more viruses of interest to be included in the virus collection.
The EVAg project is interconnected with the Infravec2 European project (H2020) that can provide end-users with insect vectors infected with some of the EVAg viruses.
The European Virus Archive goes global and become a European project of the Horizon 2020 - Research and Innovation Framework Programme. The EVA project (FP7) was a proof of concept and serves as a robust foundation to build a new and significantly improved project: The European Virus Archive goes Global (EVAg), by including an international group of 25 laboratories including; 16 EU member state institutions and 9 non-EU institutions. Closely collaborating with the core partners are Associated Partners (at this date 10 institutions from 7 non-EU member states and 3 EU member states), each sharing the same interest for the generation of an international virus collection.
EVA was in its fifth year of existence under FP7 and has evolved highly effective operational procedures: approximately 2000 products have been distributed worldwide. One of its major contributions has been its role in the control of the emerging MERS-CoV disease in Saudi Arabia. EVA through its partners, has provided PCR control materials to 151 laboratories worldwide in 54 countries. In addition to sending these materials directly to laboratories at no cost, EVA has provided reagents, free of charge, to WHO regional offices, including the Regional Office for South-East Asia (SEARO) and the Regional Office for the Western Pacific (WPRO).
On December 2012, the WHO in its interim guidelines entitled “Laboratory testing for novel coronavirus”, recommended PCR assays as the method to detect the virus in blood samples. The European Virus Archive was identified in the referenced guidelines, as the provider for the delivery of these assay reagents (positive controls). On request, and with assistance from the WHO, EVA has provided the material, free of charge in the context of its Trans-national Access activities, to institutions and hospitals worldwide.
The EVA project released its first web-based catalogue. A user friendly interface with a system of cart was implemented. It enabled the project with online enquiries. Viruses and derived products were added regularly to this catalogue and the project started receiving online enquiries.