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In a pair of articles, researchers from Trinity College Dublin and the University of Pittsburgh examined how often de novo genes crop up and how important they are when they do. In their article appearing in eLife this week, the researchers used conserved synteny to examine the portion of orphan genes — genes that don't look like any other genes — that can be attributed to complete divergence, finding that it accounts for about a third of eukaryotic orphan genes.

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Moderna reports its vaccine is effective against new SARS-CoV-2 strains, though it is also developing a booster, according to the New York Times.

A new analysis suggests the B.1.1.7 strain of SARS-CoV-2 could be deadlier than previous ones, according to the Guardian.

NPR reports Merck is halting the development of its two candidate SARS-CoV-2 vaccines following disappointing Phase 1 results.

In PLOS this week: gene mutation linked to inherited venous thrombosis, lncRNA patterns in the Asian tiger mosquito, and more.