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Nature Papers Reveal SARS-CoV-2 Substrains

A genomic analysis of more than 45,000 complete SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences was published in this week's Communications Biology, revealing the existence of multiple substrains of the virus in the US, some of which have the potential to become more infectious. In the study, researchers from Michigan State University use SNP calling and other techniques to analyze the SARS-CoV-2 genomes and uncover evidence of four substrains and 11 prevalent missense mutations in the US. Notably, one of mutations is associated with a greater immune response in infected women versus infected men, and two others are likely to strengthen the folding stability of the SARS-CoV-2 spike and ORF8 proteins, which are used by the virus to infect and adapt to its host. Based on the substrains' different mutation profiles, two of them appear to have the potential to become more infectious, the study's authors write.

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.