Home / News / World /  Monkeypox getting ‘smarter’: Study shows why the virus is becoming contagious

The monkeypox virus is getting ‘smarter’, experts opined citing that specific mutations are aiding the virus to avoid being targeted by medicines or a body's immune response. Hence, it remains contagious. 

The study has been published in the Journal of Autoimmunity and it can contribute to abetter understanding of existing drugs used to treat monkeypox or developing new medicines that can counter the mutations. 

"By doing a temporal analysis, we were able to see how the virus has evolved over time. A key finding was that the virus is now accumulating mutations specifically where drugs and antibodies from vaccines are supposed to bind," researcher Shrikesh Sachdev said, as reported by PTI. 

"So, the virus is getting smarter. It is able to avoid being targeted by drugs or antibodies from our body’s immune response and continue to spread to more people," he added.

For the study, the team analysed the DNA sequences of more than 200 strains of the monkeypox virus spanning multiple decades, from 1965 when it first started spreading, to outbreaks in the early 2000s and most recently in 2022.

The team examined five specific proteins while analyzing the monkeypox virus strains, namely DNA polymerase, DNA helicase, bridging protein A22R, DNA glycosylase and G9R.

"When they sent me the data, I saw that the mutations were occurring at critical points impacting DNA genome binding, as well as where drugs and vaccine-induced antibodies are supposed to bind," lead researcher Kamlendra Singh said.

"These factors are surely contributing to the virus' increased infectivity. This work is important because the first step toward solving a problem is identifying where the problem is specifically occurring. It is a team effort," he said.

Monkeypox suddenly started spreading across the world in May, and within months more than 73,000 cases and 29 deaths have been recorded in over 100 countries. Nearly 90 percent of the cases have been among men who had sex with men. However, as per the UN health agency, the number of new global cases have dipped significantly in recent weeks.

Earlier this week, World Health Organisation said Monkeypox continues to meet the criteria for public health emergency of international concern. 

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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