Virology journal 2017 11 0314(1) 210 doi 10.1186/s12985-017-0880-8
In 1980, smallpox disease was eradicated from nature and Variola virus, the etiological agent of smallpox, was confined to two laboratories, one located in Russia (Moscow) later moved to VECTOR (Novosibirsk, Siberia) and one in the United States (CDC Atlanta). Vaccinations among the general public ceased shortly after the successful eradication campaign, resulting in an increasingly immunologically susceptible population. Because of the possibility of intentional reintroduction of Variola virus and the emergence of other pathogenic poxviruses, there is a great need for the development of medical countermeasures to treat poxvirus disease. It is highly likely that the U.S. FDA "animal rule" will be necessary for regulatory approval of these interventions. Therefore, relevant animal models and the associated supporting assays will require development to stand up to regulatory scrutiny.
An optimized real time PCR assay for the detection of orthopoxviruses has been developed by researchers at the United States Army Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). To support animal studies that will be used to support approval of medical countermeasures by the U.S. FDA, the assay was designed to quantitate poxvirus genomic DNA in a nonhuman primate (cynomolgus macaque) blood matrix as a measurement of viremia. This manuscript describes the validation of the process, including DNA extraction from whole blood anticoagulated with EDTA, for obtaining and quantitating monkeypox genomes by evaluating precision, accuracy, the standard curve, specificity, robustness and stability of the assay and/or components of the assay.
The assay had a lower limit of quantitation of 50 genome copies/5 uL sample, upper limit of quantitation of 5 × 10(7) GC/5uL sample and a limit of detection of 2.5 genome copies /5uL sample. The assay was specific for orthopoxvirus. Matrix effects were detected and suggest the presence of PCR inhibitor(s) that was co-extracted with the target DNA.
The assay has been validated for the purpose of quantitating monkeypox viral load in blood from cynomolgus macaques. This assay has and will continue to support submissions to the FDA for approval of antiviral therapeutics for smallpox.