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COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance Study Reveals Shifting Relationship to Clinical Disease

Stanford University researchers reporting in JAMA Network Open present findings from a wastewater testing-based analysis of SARS-CoV-2 infections in the US during 2022. Using PCR-based analyses, the team assessed wastewater samples collected between January and September from 268 counties spanning 22 US states, demonstrating that higher-than-usual levels of SARS-CoV-2 circulating in wastewater samples tended to coincide with increased case reports and COVID-19 hospitalization levels in the first few months of the year. After the first quarter of 2022, on the other hand, the authors saw separation between wastewater levels of the virus and apparent clinical severity of disease, potentially owing to improved treatment and vaccination options that dialed down the virulence associated with infections. Even so, they suggest, the current results indicate that "wastewater surveillance can provide an accurate assessment of county SARS-CoV-2 incidence and may be the best metric for monitoring [the] amount of circulating virus as home testing increases and disease acuity decreases because of vaccination and treatment."

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.