The UK has just launched a dedicated consortium, made up of scientists, researchers and experts from leading institutes, to help tackle the monkeypox outbreak.
As monkeypox diagnoses have declined across the UK in recent months, the country is trying to keep pace with the virus on a global scale with its new research center.
Led by the Pirbright Institute and the MRC-University of Glasgow Center for Virus Research, the £ 2 million (nearly € 2.3 million) project was funded by the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council, both of which of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
What will the monkeypox research center do?
The research will examine several important aspects of the disease; first, it will examine the virus itself, its characterization, how it evolves and the human immune response.
In terms of fighting and controlling the virus, the researchers are also hoping to produce tests similar to the lateral flow tests we’ve all known and loved since the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This will help people identify the virus quickly and proactively before contacting medical professionals for treatment.
“The implications of the current monkeypox epidemic are enormous,” said Professor Bryan Charleston, co-head of the Pirbright Institute.
“In addition to dealing with the current epidemic, we also need to be fully prepared for the next epidemic, because there is a huge reservoir of infection all over the world. One of the main ways to do this is to develop rapid tests, which are very important to help. doctors on the front line to manage the disease “.
Perhaps the most important part of this project will be finding a drug that effectively fights monkeypox in human cells.
It will also test the effectiveness of smallpox vaccination against the disease.
“This new national consortium will study the unprecedented monkeypox epidemic to better understand how to deal with it,” adds Professor Melanie Welham, Executive President of BBSRC.
“This will rapidly fuel global public health strategies, developing new diagnostic tests and identifying potential therapies.”
Ultimately, the findings will inform the response to the monkeypox virus on an international scale.
Should we worry about monkeypox?
Right now, monkeypox numbers are lower than they have been for a while.
In early summer 2022, there was a sharp increase in infections, but only 3,500 cases were reported across the UK as of September.
For most people, the symptoms will resolve on their own within a few weeks. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) notes that infants, children and people with underlying immune deficiencies may be at increased risk for more severe symptoms.
Monkeypox is spread through close physical interaction – including sex – with an infected person.
If you think you have been exposed to the virus and are showing symptoms, we recommend that you contact your doctor.