Monkeypox: Landmark new study reveals extent of mutation in virus

A new medical study has found 13 new mutations in the monkeypox virus gene. 

The preliminary scientific report by bioRxiv took samples from 96 people suspected of having monkeypox. 

Swaps were taken from individuals’ nasopharyngeal (the upper part of the throat behind the nose) and oropharyngeal (part of the throat just behind the mouth). 

Further collected samples were taken from lesion crusts and fluids, with 90 to 99 per cent of the monkeypox genome being retrieved from these samples in positive cases. 

The participants were identified as positive cases based on a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using monkeypox-specific primers.

A final sample set included five samples from Kerala in India, with international travel histories, and five from Delhi, India, with no history of recent international travel. 

Negative samples were then further screened for enterovirus and varicella-zoster virus and positive samples underwent analysis. 

Genome analysis from the study has revealed 13 new apolipoprotein B editing complex (APOBEC3) mutations and 16 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). 

In monkeypox strains circulating in India, the study identified 25 additional APOBEC3 mutations. 

The study reports 13 new mutations in the monkeypox virus APOBEC3 gene that could potentially be involved in the evolution of the virus. 

According to News Medical, the first known human case of monkeypox was in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This case spread to countries in west and central Africa, with subsequent outbreaks in the United States in 2003 and the United Kingdom in 2018. 

The bioRxiv report has not been peer-reviewed and so should not be regarded as conclusive.

PinkNews previously reported on the US announcing its first confirmed monkeypox death on 12 September. 

It followed Texas sharing news of a person who had been diagnosed with the virus dying in August, but it’s not been confirmed if the virus caused the death. 

Mexico and Peru were among the countries where people with monkeypox have died, despite the global outbreak slowing down.