Home / News / World /  Monkeypox virus mutation: Scientists concerned as genes start disappearing

A few months ago, when analysing samples of the monkeypox virus, scientists at the Minnesota Department of Health in St. Paul found that a significant portion of the virus's genome was missing in one sample taken from an infected person. Another portion migrated to a completely different location in the sequence, they found.

Also Read: India’s first Monkeypox death: Do this to avoid ‘silent transmission’

The mutations are unlike those that are often found in the SARS-CoV-2 genome. In some instances, entire genes disappeared. A sample from an infected person in Florida had missing DNA that covered nearly 7% of the genome.

According to computational virologist Elliot Lefkowitz, it is still too early to determine if the alterations are helpful, neutral or harmful to the virus. Health experts may be able to tell that these alterations are aiding the virus's transmission if they notice an increase in the number of virus samples with these mutations.

Also Read: Monkeypox: These new symptoms were never related to the disease

Scientists are closely monitoring the issue, even if they aren't worried, to find out what changed and what it might mean for the current worldwide monkeypox outbreak.

These mutations serve as a stark reminder that even poxviruses, which are DNA viruses that have a tendency to evolve more slowly than RNA viruses like the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, will change over time, as per an expert. The monkeypox virus will have more opportunity to mutate the more human contact it receives, Nature magazine quoted Lefkowitz as saying.

Also Read: Another monkeypox case in Delhi: Nigerian woman tests positive

Three out of every 10 people who contracted smallpox died from it prior to its eradication. Some scientists are concerned that a similar situation could develop with monkeypox. Monkeypox is currently more of a generalist disease that can infect numerous mammals, including humans and various rodent species.

However, since many genes in the vast genome of the monkeypox virus have not yet had their functions fully characterised, forecasting how the behaviour of the virus will alter as it mutates is challenging.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sounak Mukhopadhyay

Sounak Mukhopadhyay, who also goes by the name Sounak Mukherjee, has been producing digital news since 2012. He's worked for the International Business Times, The Inquisitr, and Moneycontrol in the past. He's also contributed to Free Press Journal and TheRichest with feature articles. He covers news for a wide range of subjects including business, finance, economy, politics and social media. Before working with digital news publications, he worked as a freelance content writer.
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