SWITZERLAND – Swiss multinational healthcare company Roche has announced the development of three test kits to detect the monkeypox virus, which has recently spread outside of its epidemic areas in Africa.

In response to recent monkeypox virus concerns, Roche and its subsidiary TIB Molbiol developed three distinct LightMix Modular Virus kits.

The first LightMix Modular Virus kit detects orthopoxviruses, including all monkeypox viruses from both West and Central Africa, also known as clades.

The second kit contains a test that only detects monkeypox viruses.

A third kit is available for researchers interested in obtaining both of these results: it simultaneously detects orthopoxviruses and provides information on whether or not a monkeypox virus is present.

The research test kits, according to Roche, could help assess the spread of the virus and monitor the potential impact of treatments, vaccines, and public health measures.

Monkeypox, discovered in laboratory monkeys in 1958, is thought to spread from wild animals such as rodents to humans or from human to human.

Multiple monkeypox virus clusters have been reported in the last two weeks in several European countries and North America, where the virus is not normally found.

According to the WHO, endemic monkeypox disease is typically restricted to West and Central Africa. It is unusual to find confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox in multiple countries without a history of travel to an endemic area.

According to WHO data, as of Monday, 19 countries had reported 131 confirmed monkeypox cases and 106 suspected cases, with nearly three-quarters coming from Spain, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.

According to WHO, as surveillance expands in non-endemic countries, more monkeypox cases will be identified.

According to the WHO, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is the “preferred laboratory test due to its accuracy and sensitivity.” Skin lesions and dry crusts are ideal samples for this.

PCR blood tests are usually inconclusive and should not be collected from patients on a regular basis.

BARDA announced last week that it would pay US$119 million to Bavarian Nordic to exercise options for a freeze-dried stockpile of Jynneos, which covers both monkeypox and smallpox. The company has announced another vaccine contract with an unnamed country.

Meanwhile, Emergent acquired the rights to Tembexa, Chimerix’s all-ages smallpox treatment that was approved in 2021. According to Reuters, Moderna is also testing its own vaccine candidate in preclinical studies.

Belgium became the first country to impose a mandatory 21-day quarantine period for confirmed monkeypox patients earlier this week.

This would not be the first outbreak of monkeypox in the United States. Cases first surfaced in 2003, following the arrival of a shipment of animals from Ghana.

According to the CDC, the outbreak was contained through testing and vaccination.

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