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Medicineworld.org: Diagnostic Tests for Highly Infectious Agents

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Diagnostic Tests For Highly Infectious Agents

Diagnostic Tests for Highly Infectious Agents The monkeypox virus, shown here, can be deadly to humans. Diagnostic technologies and therapies developed for monkeypox might also apply to smallpox and related viruses. (John Kaprielian, courtesy of CDC/Photo Researchers, Inc.)
Researchers at the Oregon NPRC developed a novel series of tests that show evidence of being more sensitive and accurate in diagnosing human monkeypox infections than current tests approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The studies may lead to improved diagnoses, therapies, and preventive measures for monkeypox and other sometimes-deadly agents that might proliferate in a natural outbreak or a bioterror attack.

NPRC scientists Mark Slifka and Matt Lewis traveled to Wisconsin to examine more than 40 individuals who had been exposed to the monkeypox virus, a close relative of the smallpox virus. In 2003, dozens of people in the Midwest had been exposed to pet prairie dogs infected with monkeypox, and 72 cases of human infections were later reported to the CDC.

The Oregon scientists used a unique series of diagnostic tests to confirm previously unverified human infections. The diagnostic series also identified an additional three individuals whose infections had been undiagnosed because they lacked obvious symptoms. These three people, having been vaccinated against smallpox more than a decade before, were fully protected against monkeypox disease.

Slifka notes that the biocontainment level-3 laboratory associated with the Oregon NPRC is one of the few in the country with the appropriate safeguards, expertise, and authorization to conduct experiments with monkeypox. "Our studies would not have been possible without access to the NPRC or the resources of the General Clinical Research Center, where some blood analyses were performed," Slifka says. "While this research primarily focused on monkeypox, this same technology could also be used to better detect a smallpox outbreak." Eventhough smallpox no longer exists in nature, having been eradicated through effective worldwide vaccine programs, the virus is still considered a significant bioterror threat.

The technology and diagnostic platform developed through these experiments has now been licensed to an Oregon Health and Science University spin-off company, Najít Technologies, which specializes in developing effective diagnostics and antibody-based therapies against potential bioterrorism agents, as well as other rare and neglected diseases. (Nature Medicine 11:1005-1011, 2005).



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Did you know?
Researchers at the Oregon NPRC developed a novel series of tests that show evidence of being more sensitive and accurate in diagnosing human monkeypox infections than current tests approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The studies may lead to improved diagnoses, therapies, and preventive measures for monkeypox and other sometimes-deadly agents that might proliferate in a natural outbreak or a bioterror attack.

Medicineworld.org: Diagnostic Tests for Highly Infectious Agents

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