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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

More Boosters for US

Following US Food and Drug Administration authorization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, the Washington Post writes.

From a Pig

A genetically modified pig kidney was transplanted into a human without triggering an immune response, Reuters reports.

For Privacy's Sake

Wired reports that more US states are passing genetic privacy laws.

Science Paper on How Poaching Drove Evolution in African Elephants

In Science this week: poaching has led to the rapid evolution of tuskless African elephants.