Genomic Surveillance Crucial to Mitigate and Contain COVID-19

Researchers say that genomic surveillance to mitigate and contain COVID-19 is equally crucial to detect variants that are phenotypically or antigenically different well before they spread throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world. Genomic surveillance leverages applications of next-generation sequencing and phylogenetic methods to facilitate greater early anticipation as well as initiation of effective strategies to mitigate and contain outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 variants and other novel viruses.

SARS-CoV-2 Worldwide Replication Drives Rapid Rise and Selection of Mutations

The number of COVID-19 variants is growing rapidly, so much that the scale and scope of mutation may pose a threat to the continuing successful use of the current vaccines and therapies. The findings, by an international team that includes University of California researchers, are being published in the June edition of the peer-reviewed journal EMBO Molecular Medicine. The pace of variation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus strains makes plain the threat that rapidly evolving new strains might give rise to escape variants, capable of limiting the efficacy of vaccines, therapies, and diagnostic tests.

Hopkins-Led Research Team Takes Gene Mutation Detection in Blood to the Next Level

Next-generation gene sequencing (NGS) technologies —in which millions of DNA molecules are simultaneously but individually analyzed— theoretically provides researchers and clinicians the ability to noninvasively identify mutations in the blood stream. Identifying such mutations enables earlier diagnosis of cancer and can inform treatment decisions. Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers developed a new technology to overcome the inefficiencies and high error rates common among next-generation sequencing techniques that have previously limited their clinical application.

New Study Shows How Mutations in SARS-CoV-2 Allow the Virus to Evade Immune System Defenses

Research reveals how mutated SARS-CoV-2 evades immune system defenses

In lab-dish experiments, the mutant virus escaped antibodies from the plasma of

COVID-19 survivors as well as pharmaceutical-grade antibodies

Mutations arose in an immunocompromised patient with chronic SARS-CoV-2 infection

Patient-derived virus harbored structural changes now seen cropping up independently in samples across the globe

Findings underscore the need for better genomic surveillance to keep track of emerging variants

Results highlight importance of therapies aimed at multiple targets on SARS-CoV-2 to minimize risk of resistance

Earliest interbreeding event between ancient human populations discovered

The study documented the earliest known interbreeding event between ancient human populations— a group known as the “super-archaics” in Eurasia interbred with a Neanderthal-Denisovan ancestor about 700,000 years ago. The event was between two populations more distantly related than any other recorded.

New Tool Monitors Real Time Mutations In Flu

A Rutgers-led team has developed a tool to monitor influenza A virus mutations in real time, which could help virologists learn how to stop viruses from replicating. The gold nanoparticle-based probe measures viral RNA in live influenza A cells, according to a study in The Journal of Physical Chemistry C. It is the first time in virology that experts have used imaging tools with gold nanoparticles to monitor mutations in influenza, with unparalleled sensitivity.

Researchers Discover New Mutations in Gene Associated with Disease That Causes Weakening of the Heart

Researchers from the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute in Salt Lake City have identified new mutations in a gene commonly associated with non-ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy (NIDC), a disease that weakens the heart muscle, making it more difficult to adequately circulate blood to meet the body’s needs.

New Clues as to Why Mutations in the MYH9 Gene Cause a Broad Spectrum of Disorders in Humans

Researchers have used the Drosophila embryo to model human disease mutations that affect myosin motor activity. Through in vivo imaging and biophysical analysis, they demonstrated that engineering human MYH9-related disease mutations into Drosophila myosin II produces motors with altered organization and dynamics that fail to drive rapid cell movements, resulting in defects in epithelial morphogenesis.

Scientists Discover New Antibiotic in Tropical Forest

Scientists from Rutgers University and around the world have discovered an antibiotic produced by a soil bacterium from a Mexican tropical forest that may help lead to a “plant probiotic,” more robust plants and other antibiotics. Probiotics, which provide friendlier bacteria and health benefits for humans, can also be beneficial to plants, keeping them healthy and more robust. The new antibiotic, known as phazolicin, prevents harmful bacteria from getting into the root systems of bean plants, according to a Rutgers co-authored study in the journal Nature Communications.