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New Delta Variant

A new version of the Delta SARS-CoV-2 variant has been spotted in 11 different countries, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Officials in India, it adds, have dubbed the variant Delta Plus and it contains a K417N mutation in the spike protein not seen in the original Delta variant. But whether Delta Plus is more transmissible or deadly than the original Delta is unclear, the Journal notes. The University of Cambridge's Ravindra Gupta tells it that though the K417N mutation is not in the original Delta, it is found in versions of the Alpha variant but has not made the Alpha more dangerous.

"There is no reason to think at this point it's worse than Delta, but there is no reason to think it's an innocuous variant," Anurag Agrawal, director of the CSIR Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, adds at the Journal.

According to CNN, the Indian government says whether the K417N mutation affects "immune escape, disease severity or increased transmissibility etc. is under continued surveillance." CNN adds that Delta Plus has been found in the UK, US, Canada, and Japan, in addition to in India and a few other countries.

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.