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Keeping Up

As new variants of SARS-CoV-2 arise, the Atlantic writes that tests for the coronavirus may need to be updated.

It notes that, currently, most tests are performing well, but adds that "keeping tabs on test performance is crucial, especially while the pandemic rages on in many parts of the world," and adds that the US Food and Drug Administration has put together a list of tests that could be affected by viral mutations.

Most tests in use in the US, the Atlantic says, detect specific parts of SARS-CoV-2's RNA genome, such as stretches of its nucleocapsid protein gene and spike protein gene. While changes to those viral genes may stymie tests' abilities to detect the virus, most tests detect multiple parts of the viral genome and can still determine whether the virus is present, it notes.

But going forward, the Atlantic writes that newer tests are both focusing on parts of the viral genome that are less likely to change and on multiple targets. "[R]esearchers and companies are keeping close watch, tracking the virus's many modifications and ensuring that tests are still up to snuff, similar to what's been done for years with the flu," it says. "Testing is, at its core, about keeping the virus in our line of sight — even through a costume change or two."

The Scan

NFTs for Genome Sharing

Nature News writes that non-fungible tokens could be a way for people to profit from sharing genomic data.

Wastewater Warning System

Time magazine writes that cities and college campuses are monitoring sewage for SARS-CoV-2, an approach officials hope lasts beyond COVID-19.

Networks to Boost Surveillance

Scientific American writes that new organizations and networks aim to improve the ability of developing countries to conduct SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance.

Genome Biology Papers on Gastric Cancer Epimutations, BUTTERFLY, GUNC Tool

In Genome Biology this week: recurrent epigenetic mutations in gastric cancer, correction tool for unique molecular identifier-based assays, and more.