This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Rebecca Lumley
29 Jun 2022

South Korea's Seegene develops PCR test to detect monkeypox virus

Several countries are stepping up vaccination and testing as monkeypox cases continue to climb

South Korean molecular diagnostics company Seegene has developed a PCR test to detect the monkeypox virus, as cases continue to emerge in countries where the disease is rarely seen.  

The company used its AI-based automated test development system, known as SGDDS (Seegene Digitalized Development System), to create the Novaplex™ MPXV Assay. It specifically targets the monkeypox virus and can identify a positive case in 90 minutes.  

Seegene plans to provide the assays to countries that have detected the virus. 

More than 40 countries where monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the viral disease as confirmed cases exceeded 4,300 this week. According to recent WHO data, the majority of monkeypox cases (86%) were detected in Europe, while the Americas recorded 11% and Africa recorded just 2%.  

Geographical spread of monkeypox cases. Source: WHO. 

Monkeypox is a typically mild viral infection that is endemic in parts of west and central Africa.  It spreads through close contact and can be identified by flu-like symptoms, distinctive rashes and lesions on the skin. It has been spreading largely between men who have sex with men outside the countries where it is endemic, though it is not defined as a sexually transmitted infection.    

The strain currently circulating in the Northern Hemisphere has an estimated fatality rate of between 3% and 6% and is considered especially dangerous for children and those with weak immune systems. 

This week the White House outlined plans to distribute thousands of monkeypox vaccines and to increase nationwide testing. In their latest directive, the federal government called on anyone with possible monkeypox exposure to get vaccinated. Previously, the vaccines were only offered to people who have had a known exposure. 

Earlier this month the European Commission placed an order with Danish biotech Bavarian Nordic for 110,000 doses of their Imvanex vaccine, which is currently only authorised for use against smallpox in the EU. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has since initiated a review of Imvanex data with the intention of extending its use to include protection against monkeypox. European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides announced that the first batch of vaccine deliveries were being shipped to member states with the highest case numbers.  

Speaking on June 28, she announced: ‘As of today, the first deliveries of vaccines in response to the monkeypox outbreak are arriving to the most affected countries. This is a European Health Union that responds in real time to new health threats and protects its citizens. This is the first time that we are, through our Health Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), directly buying and donating vaccines to Member States. With HERA up and running, the EU has significantly reinforced its capacity to respond and address new health threats decisively.’ 

Related News