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A Boost

Booster vaccine doses will likely be needed to stay on top of SARS-CoV-2 changes, Sharon Peacock, who heads COVID-19 Genomics UK, tell Reuters.

"We already are tweaking the vaccines to deal with what the virus is doing in terms of evolution — so there are variants arising that have a combination of increased transmissibility and an ability to partially evade our immune response," she tells it.

According to Reuters, COG-UK has sequenced nearly 350,000 viral genomes, and such efforts have helped uncover viral variants. The UK announced its identification of B.1.1.7 in December 2020. Subsequent studies have indicated that this variant, which has since been found across the globe, including the US, is more transmissible and more deadly.

But Peacock tells Reuters she is most concerned about the B.1.351 variant, which was first uncovered in South Africa, as it contains a E484K mutation that has been linked to reduced immunity. Further, more variants could arise. She adds that booster shots would be needed to deal with future variants and developed at speed.

The Scan

Harvard Team Report One-Time Base Editing Treatment for Motor Neuron Disease in Mice

A base-editing approach restored SMN levels and improved motor function in a mouse model of spinal muscular atrophy, a new Science paper reports.

International Team Examines History of North American Horses

Genetic and other analyses presented in Science find that horses spread to the northern Rockies and Great Plains by the first half of the 17th century.

New Study Examines Genetic Dominance Within UK Biobank

Researchers analyze instances of genetic dominance within UK Biobank data, as they report in Science.

Cell Signaling Pathway Identified as Metastasis Suppressor

A new study in Nature homes in on the STING pathway as a suppressor of metastasis in a mouse model of lung cancer.