In 2016, Diamond and co-inventor Daved Fremont, a professor of pathology and immunology, identified and characterised an antibody and developed into diagnostic test for Zika that detects the virus proteins. Like other mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria, Zika virus can be hard to detect with most patients developing no symptoms during the initial stages. Worse, Zika virus in pregnant women can cause infants to be born with microcephaly and other congenital malformations, known as congenital Zika syndrome. The virus has also been linked to brain swelling and to Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological condition involving muscle weakness and paralysis in children and adults.
The diagnostic test for Zika has been granted market authorisation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), promises to resolve this problem. The test uses Diamond and Fremont’s antibody – as well as other components – to detect anti-Zika antibodies in the blood of people recently infected with the virus. However, the test is not meant to be used as a stand-alone proof of infection.