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UW Medicine conducting trial on new monkeypox drug, looking for volunteers

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Researchers at UW Medicine have announced that a study of a new monkeypox drug, tecovirimat, is looking for around 500 participants, including those who have the disease, and especially those who are pregnant or who are autoimmune deficient.

Unlike the COVID-19 virus, monkeypox has been around long enough for a vaccine to have already been developed for treatment. While the current wave of the zoonotic disease has been traced to the United Kingdom, its impact on the local region has been significant.

Monkeypox cases in King County have continued to fall from the peak of 64 new cases per week at the end of July, although many in the area are still dealing with its effects. 

“There is an urgent need for monkeypox treatments, and this study will help us get critical information about the safety and effectiveness of tecovirimat at treating this infection,” Dr. Rachel Bender Ignacio, physician-scientist and assistant professor of allergy and infectious diseases at UW School of Medicine, said. 

Tecovirimat is already approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration for those suffering from smallpox. As it is not yet approved for treating monkeypox, additional studies have to be conducted before it can get full approval. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has authorized the drug for monkeypox use as a compassionate use medication.

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According to the National Cancer Institute, compassionate use drugs are “promising but not yet fully studied or approved” courses of treatment that have the potential to cure a patient. These drugs are also sometimes referred to as “expanded access” by the CDC. 

“People living in the Seattle area who have monkeypox have the opportunity to make a huge contribution by participating in this study,” Ignacio said.

Reach News Editor Luke Amrine at Twitter: @amrine_luke

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