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Amid rising cases of monkeypox that continues to be a cause of worry in several countries struggling to ensure proper supply of vaccines, University of Oxford has launched a trial named PLATINUM to test the efficacy of a drug against monkeypox.

Siga's Tecovirimat, sold as brand name Tpoxx, was initially used to treat diseases that are caused by the family of orthopoxvirus that includes smallpox, monkeypox and cowpox by the European Union and United Kingdom. However, the drug got approved by the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to be used for extreme cases of monkeypox. But there is still very limited data to prove the efficacy of the drug in monkeypox treatment.

It is worth noting that the team from Oxford university that has taken up this trial project was earlier involved in the RECOVERY trials, that involved testing the efficacy of four COVID treatments.The trial is carried under the leadership of Sir Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infections and Global Health at the University of Oxford.

The UK government has funded the project with 3.7-million-pound grant. Under the trial, the Oxford team is aiming to recruit at least 500 participants, who will either be provided with a certain dose of tecovirimat or a placebo.

"I'm hoping that we can have a result before Christmas, but it depends on the rate of recruitment," said Sir Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infections and Global Health at the University of Oxford and the director of the new Pandemic Sciences Institute.

Also Read: Monkeypox update: Virus can linger on common household items, says CDC study

The trial has come as a hope for countries that are facing a constant surge in monkeypox cases and are looking for effective monkeypox treatments. 

Over 80 countries, where virus is not endemic, have reported more than 40,000 confirmed cases of the contagious virus. Out of those 80 countries, 35 per cent of the cases are reported from the USA. The cases are also constantly rising in UK. 

The virus is mainly transmitted through close human contact with the infected person. The infected person begins to show symptoms of fever, rash, puss filled skin lesions, and swollen lymph nodes in the first two days. It generally takes, two to four weeks for a person to recover fully from the virus.

Also Read: India's first indigenous monkeypox test kit launched

In the study, scientists will observe the healing time of skin and mucosal lesions in patients to find the impact of tecovirimat in the treatment. Along with this, they will also study the reduction in time taken until throat and lesion swabs turn negative after the medication.

Despite limited study on the efficacy of the drug, Tpoxx manufacturing company Siga, has already begun receiving orders of oral tecovirimat this year. As of now, it has received orders worth $60 million for the drug. As the only approved monkeypox vaccine, made by Bavarian Nordic is running short in supply, tecovirimat becomes the only hope for the countries to deal with the rising monkeypox cases. 

With inputs from Wire agencies

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