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Study Highlights Potential for Breath-Based COVID-19 Detection

University of Michigan researchers reporting in JAMA Network Open outline a non-invasive, breath-based strategy for detecting Delta variant SARS-CoV-2 based on exhaled volatile organic compounds (VOCs). With the help of a portable gas chromatography device, the team searched for VOC markers in more than 200 breath samples collected between the spring of 2021 and May 2022 from 167 individuals with or without PCR-confirmed COVID-19 infections, focusing in on four VOCs that could differentiate between Delta SARS-CoV-2 infections and non-COVID-19 illness with nearly 95 percent accuracy. In contrast, that VOC set had just over 82 percent accuracy for picking up COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, the authors note. "The emergence of the Omicron variant in 2022 substantially affected the VOC profiles," they caution, "requiring a different set of VOCs to distinguish between the Omicron variant and non-COVID-19 illness."

The Scan

Cancer Survival Linked to Mutational Burden in Pan-Cancer Analysis

A pan-cancer paper appearing in JCO Precision Oncology suggests tumor mutation patterns provide clues for predicting cancer survival that are independent of other prognostic factors.

Australian Survey Points to Public Support for Genetic Risk Disclosure in Relatives of At-Risk Individuals

A survey in the European Journal of Human Genetics suggests most adult Australians are in favor of finding out if a relative tests positive for a medically actionable genetic variant.

Study Links Evolution of Stony Coral Skeleton to Bicarbonate Transporter Gene

A PNAS paper focuses on a skeleton-related bicarbonate transporter gene introduced to stony coral ancestors by tandem duplication.

Hormone-Based Gene Therapy to Sterilize Domestic Cat

A new paper in Nature Communication suggests that gene therapy could be a safer alternative to spaying domestic cats.