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Another Branch

A new coronavirus has appeared to have killed a man from Saudi Arabia and sickened a Qatari man who had traveled to Saudi Arabia, reports the BBC. The Qatari man was flown to London for treatment, and NPR's Shots blog adds that scientists from the UK Health Protection Agency have examined the virus' gene sequence and say that this virus is not SARS. Rather, the scientists say that it appears to be related to a group of bat viruses. "It is genetically very different than SARS," says Ralph Baric from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The London scientists have dubbed the virus London1_novel CoV 2012.

Baric adds that sequencing advances are helping in faster and more accurate characterization of viruses, even rapidly mutating ones. "There's tremendous expertise and capabilities for identifying and tracking new viruses" he tells the Shots blog. "This is a huge public health advantage and it's been put in place [since the SARS epidemic] to protect the global health."

Peter Openshaw, who directs the Centre for Respiratory Infection at Imperial College London, tells Reuters that the virus likely was only identified because of improved testing and that he is not currently worried about the virus. "For now, I would be watchful but not immediately concerned," he says.

The Scan

Wolf Howl Responses Offer Look at Vocal Behavior-Related Selection in Dogs

In dozens of domestic dogs listening to wolf vocalizations, researchers in Communication Biology see responses varying with age, sex, reproductive status, and a breed's evolutionary distance from wolves.

Facial Imaging-Based Genetic Diagnoses Appears to Get Boost With Three-Dimensional Approach

With data for more than 1,900 individuals affected by a range of genetic conditions, researchers compared facial phenotype-based diagnoses informed by 2D or 3D images in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

Survey Suggests Multigene Cancer Panel VUS Reporting May Vary Across Genetic Counselors

Investigators surveyed dozens of genetic counselors working in clinical or laboratory settings, uncovering attitudes around VUS reporting after multigene cancer panel testing in the Journal of Genetic Counseling.

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.