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Ethnicity and the Genetics of Smoking Behavior

In a paper published online in advance in Translational Psychiatry, a team led by researchers at nonprofit institute SRI International shows in a GWAS meta-analysis that a non-coding SNP on chromosome 15q25.1 is associated with smoking quantity — as measured by cigarettes per day — in African Americans. In their paper, members of the Study of Tobacco in Minority Populations Genetics Consortium say that this variant "is present in the 5'-distal enhancer region of the CHRNA5 gene," and that additional, informative associations — at 15q25.1 within PSMA4, CHRNA5, and CHRNA3 — approached, but did not reach, genome-wide significance for smoking quantity. These additional SNPs "are associated with a second signal previously reported in studies in European ancestry populations," the team says.

Overall, the authors write, larger studies are needed to validate the suggestive loci "and further elucidate the contribution of genetic variation to disparities in cigarette consumption, SC [smoking cessation], and smoking-attributable disease between African Americans and European Americans."

The Scan

Highly Similar

Researchers have uncovered bat viruses that are highly similar to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Gain of Oversight

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Biden Administration is considering greater oversight of gain-of-function research.

Lasker for mRNA Vaccine Work

The Scientist reports that researchers whose work enabled the development of mRNA-based vaccines are among this year's Lasker Award winners

PLOS Papers on Causal Variant Mapping, Ancient Salmonella, ALK Fusion Test for NSCLC

In PLOS this week: MsCAVIAR approach to map causal variants, analysis of ancient Salmonella, and more.