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SARS-CoV-2 Infection Affects Mitochondrial Function, Study Finds

A new study suggests that therapies that boost mitochondrial function could potentially alleviate symptoms of severe COVID-19. Building on previous work showing that SARS-CoV-2 binds to mitochondria proteins and possibly affects oxidative phosphorylation, glycolysis, and other metabolic processes, researchers from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and elsewhere analyzed mitochondrial gene expression of about 700 nasopharyngeal samples from people with early-stage COVID-19 and 35 autopsy tissue samples from patients who had severe disease. As they report in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers found SARS-CoV-2 blocked the expression of oxidative phosphorylation-related mitochondrial genes while inducing glycolysis and immune responses in early-stage disease. But while in late-stage disease the virus was largely cleared and the expression of mitochondrial genes appeared to return to normal in the lungs, mitochondrial genes remained affected in other organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys. In animal models, the researchers further confirmed this pattern, but also noted effects in the brain. "Therapies that enhance mitochondrial function, minimize mROS, and block mtDNA release potentially could reduce the more severe symptoms of acute SARS-CoV-2 infection and mitigate the symptoms of long COVID," the researchers say.

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.