SOHRC team collects data to help research into the Zika Virus

During 21st century the Zika virus has spread across the Pacific Islands reaching South America in 2014 and moving through Brazil to Mexico in November 2015 and the Caribbean in Jan 2016 (WHO 2016). A few cases have been confirmed in the UK (Public Health England), and there is now a threat of a potential global epidemic (Peterson et al 2016). 

The Scottish Craniofacial Research Group has established an international reputation in the 3D/4D analysis of facial morphology. The team (Ayoub, Ju, Mossey) travelled to Brazil and established a 3D imaging station at Salvador. The researchers carried a 100Kg stereophotogrammetry system that was provided by Dimensional Imaging Ltd, Glasgow, UK  and was generously donated for the purpose of capturing the craniofacial morphology of the babies diagnosed with Zika virus and a control group from the same geographic location.  

The equipment was kept at the Zika management centre at Salvador for 9 months to complete data collection. This phase has been successfully completed and the data is ready now for analysis. 

The proposed study will enhance surveillance of the Zika virus and disorders that could be linked to it, improve vector control, effectively communicate risks, guidance and protection measures, provide medical care to those affected and fast-track research and development of diagnostics and therapeutics. 

The overall concept underpinning the project is the utilization of the recent advances in stereoscopic imaging combined with advanced facial analysis approaches to develop a mathematical modelling of microcephaly 

The proposed project is an exemplary model of international collaboration to improve the quality of patient care. It provides a unique opportunity to share complementary expertise and facilities between UK & Brazil. The research is of a strategic importance to the UK, it is based on the well stablished excellence in 3D facial analysis that has been established in Scotland over the last 20 years.  The existing research facilities and expertise will be available for colleagues from Brazil to facilitate the diagnosis and management of the Zika virus outbreak.   The study will deliver a robust mathematical grading of microcephaly of the Zika virus to replace the existing imprecise method of assessing the head circumference using measuring tape.

First published: 19 December 2018