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Challenge Trial Gets OK in UK

The UK has approved a trial in which volunteers will deliberately be exposed to SARS-CoV-2 to better understand how the virus infects people, Reuters reports.

The UK announced in October that it was investing £33.6 million (US $43.5 million) in the study — which will be conducted by Imperial College London, the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, and the lab and clinical trial services company hVivo — despite critics arguing that deliberately exposing people to a potentially deadly disease is unethical. 

As Reuters reports, the trial is to begin within the month and will expose 90 healthy volunteers to small amounts of the original strain of the virus to determine how much of a dose is needed for an infection. The participants will be closely monitored and quarantined for 14 days at the Royal Free Hospital, it adds. 

"These human challenge studies will take place here in the UK and will help accelerate scientists' knowledge of how coronavirus affects people and could eventually further the rapid development of vaccines," Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK business secretary says, according to the Guardian.

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.