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Keeping it the Same

Part of the allure of mRNA vaccines is the ease with which they can be updated, but that capability has not yet been utilized to combat new variants of SARS-CoV-2, WBUR reports, noting that vaccine developers have been working on Delta-specific vaccines.

But, according to WBUR, a Delta-specific vaccine might not add that much more protection. The original vaccines, which are targeted at the viral spike protein, provide a high degree of protection against severe disease and hospitalization from the Delta variant. Dan Barouch, an immunologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center who worked on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, tells it that Delta's spike protein isn't that different from that of the original strain. Instead, he tells it that Delta likely causes breakthrough infections through its high infectiousness and the sheer number of viral particles it produces.

At the same time, WBUR says that as there are currently vaccine doses going unused in the US and the introduction of a new, variant-specific vaccine might further undermine their adoption.

Instead, the Broad Institute's Bronwyn MacInnis tells it that the vaccines' reprogrammability might be best saved for any future variant with a more changed spike protein.

The Scan

Study Links Genetic Risk for ADHD With Alzheimer's Disease

A higher polygenic risk score for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is also linked to cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, a new study in Molecular Psychiatry finds.

Study Offers Insights Into Role of Structural Variants in Cancer

A new study in Nature using cell lines shows that structural variants can enable oncogene activation.

Computer Model Uses Genetics, Health Data to Predict Mental Disorders

A new model in JAMA Psychiatry finds combining genetic and health record data can predict a mental disorder diagnosis before one is made clinically.

Study Tracks Off-Target Gene Edits Linked to Epigenetic Features

Using machine learning, researchers characterize in BMC Genomics the potential off-target effects of 19 computed or experimentally determined epigenetic features during CRISPR-Cas9 editing.