Dutch company Molecular Biology Systems (MBS), in collaboration with Amsterdam University Medical Center, and researchers from the Danish Rigshospitalet, has developed a fast typing method to trace monkeypox.
The new method, NextGenPCR, not only detects strains of the virus quickly, it allows for analysis of multiple samples simultaneously. This way, the inventors say, genetic characterization of monkeypox virus can be used in source-and-contact analyses to help determine the measures of choice. Analyzing multiple samples simultaneously, reduces cost per sample, meaning more insight for the same cost.
Gert de Vos, CEO of MBS, said: “We are happy our NextGenPCR technology can contribute to controlling the monkeypox outbreak. The technology will be applicable to other outbreaks in the future, if they happen.”
The method was first tested in the Amsterdam region, which led to new insights regarding the genetic diversity of monkeypox virus, and was employed investigating the infection of the first child in the Netherlands. The characterization of mutations in the virus from the child was compared to other monkeypox viruses in the region.
In a publication from July (2022), in the scientific journal Euro Surveillance, the research into this case and the infectious chain are described. Using source-and-contact analyses, no link with other cases was found. Possibly more undetected infections exist than assumed until now.
The researchers said: “While repeated community outbreaks of monkeypox (MPX) have been reported in African countries and the United States, these were mainly caused by spillover events from animals to humans.
“Many of these cases also involved children, with a case fatality rate between 3.6% and 10.6% depending upon the MPX clade. The current global outbreak of MPX does not appear to have a clear link to Africa and distinguishes itself from previous reported outbreaks in that there is more sustained transmission within the community of men who have sex with men. The infection of children is very rare and warrants further investigation.”
Martin Donker, CEO of Isogen, said: “NextGenPCR tiling saves about 94% of the costs and allows for faster and much better genome coverage of monkeypox. The method was developed with Danish and Dutch scientists together with experts in PCR.”
The companies said an important bonus of this newly developed typing method is the usability for other viruses as well. They explained that by integrating this technique in source-and-contact surveillance early on, insight into the spread of novel viruses can be acquired sooner which, they say, will enable fast, concrete, and accurate action.
The company said multiple international laboratories have indicated their intention to use this method for the genomic surveillance of monkeypox.