(CTN News) – According to a team of scientists studying Monkeypox Virus, they have identified specific mutations that allow the monkeypox to evade the antiviral drugs being used against it.
During a recent study, researchers at the University of Missouri examined DNA sequences from more than 200 strains of monkeypox virus spanning almost six decades: from 1965, when the virus first spread, to outbreaks in the early 2000s, and again this year, as well as those in the past.
This is because the monkeypox virus has a similar structure to the vaccinia virus, which is used in the treatment of smallpox as a vaccine.
Thus, the researchers were able to create a 3D computer model of monkeypox virus proteins based on this information. A genetic model was developed to identify the location of specific mutations, as well as how these mutations contribute to the increasing infectious nature of monkeypox.
It is estimated that monkeypox has infected over 77,000 people in more than 100 countries worldwide, including approximately 200 people in Ireland. Earlier this month, the Department of Health announced that it had acquired an additional 15,000 monkeypox vaccines in order to protect the estimated 6,000 – 13,000 people who are at heightened risk of contracting the disease.
As a Senior Research Scientist at the University of Missouri, Shrikesh Sachdev explained how his team set about conducting their research.
As a result of performing a temporal analysis, we were able to determine how the virus has evolved over time. One of the key findings was that the virus is now accumulating mutations specifically where drugs and antibodies from vaccines are supposed to bind to, he explained.
“The virus is getting smarter; it is able to avoid being targeted by drugs or antibodies that are produced by the immune system and continues to spread to more and more people.
According to the researchers, the effectiveness of current drugs approved by the CDC for treating monkeypox has not been optimal.
According to Singh, there is a hypothesis that when patients were being treated for HIV and herpes with these drugs, they may have also been infected with monkeypox without knowing it and the monkeypox virus got smarter and mutated so that it could evade the drugs,” Singh explained.
According to the researchers, another hypothesis is that the monkeypox virus may be hijacking proteins in our bodies and using them to become more infectious and pathogenic by exploiting them.”
What happens if you get monkeypox virus?
Monkeypox is usually a self-limited viral infection with a rash that may be painful. Most people recover on their own after a few weeks.
In some circumstances, people can become very sick and could die. People usually develop symptoms 5 to 21 days after being exposed to the monkeypox virus.