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Removal Inquiry

The US National Institutes of Health is looking into the removal of SARS-CoV-2 data from a gene sequence database it oversees, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In June, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's Jesse Bloom reported in a preprint posted to BioRxiv that he was able to reconstruct from Google Cloud data some early SARS-CoV-2 sequences that had been deposited in the Sequence Read Archive but later removed. Bloom, as Science reported then, suggested that the sequences had been removed from the database to "obscure their existence."

The New York Times further reported at the time that the researchers who added the sequences to the database had asked the SRA to remove them as they were being updated and would be deposited to a different database. The Times reported in August that those sequences were now housed at a database maintained by China National Center for Bioinformation and that the researchers attributed their removal request to a misunderstanding.

As the Journal reports, the episode concerned three lawmakers in the US, who wrote to NIH Director Francis Collins to seek further explanation. It adds that, in response, Collins said a review at NIH was underway to examine "whether appropriate steps were taken to assess this withdrawal request."

The Scan

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.

Circulating Tumor DNA Linked to Post-Treatment Relapse in Breast Cancer

Post-treatment detection of circulating tumor DNA may identify breast cancer patients who are more likely to relapse, a new JCO Precision Oncology study finds.

Genetics Influence Level of Depression Tied to Trauma Exposure, Study Finds

Researchers examine the interplay of trauma, genetics, and major depressive disorder in JAMA Psychiatry.

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.