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How Many and For How Long?

Researchers are hoping to develop a blood test to gauge whether SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are effective as well as how long their protection may last, NPR reports. It adds that such a test may be needed if new or updated vaccines are necessary to combat viral variants.

According to NPR, researchers at the University of Oxford are exposing people who previously had COVID-19 to the virus to learn what level of antibodies are needed to fight off infection. Knowing that cut-off titer could help determine how long vaccine-induced protection lasts, it says.

At the same time, researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are analyzing blood samples from people taken the day they received the Moderna vaccine as well as the day they received their second dose and a few weeks after that. This analysis, too, could give insight into antibody levels needed to prevent infection, particularly if any of the 1,600 people in the study later develop COVID-19.

"Everyone in the field is waiting for those results to give more confidence in being able to approve other vaccines more quickly and more reliably. So, we're getting close. We're almost there, actually," the Fred Hutch's Peter Gilbert says.

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.